Jumping is something we don't do so often anymore, once we leave childhood behind us. That's a shame. Why did we stop?
We were built to move in a variety of ways, but as we get older we limit ourselves to the basic movements that get us from A to B... and we wonder why we get stiff.
I've decided I want to get back my abilities to move with the ease and grace of a child again... and that includes jumping. I caught a local news-report a time back, on a trampoline hall that was open to the public here in Amsterdam - and I made a mental note. One day I'd try that out. Today was the day.
It magnificent place - a whole hall covered wall-to-wall with trampolines fixed to each other... no way to fall off.
I did some trampolining, some 30 or so years ago when I was studying. It's probably the only time in my life since leaving school that I did anything sporty. I'd spend a couple of hours, once a week, just jumping. I taught myself to do forward and backward somersaults. I had my fair share of accidents - getting caught in the springs, and springing too far to end up crashing to the floor - but in the end I got quite good at them. So good that I could do them from a stand-still, perched on the edge of the trampoline.
My interest stopped abruptly though when, feeling way too confident, I thought I could do a somersault on the mat. I should've been able to do it too. But fear of landing on my head made me curl up my body at the wrong moment... and I landed on my head.
I've been on a trampoline a couple of times since then, but I never did find the courage again to try to do a somersault. This has always annoyed me personally... but now that I feel in such good condition, now that I feel strong again, now that I've got my determination back... now's the time to give it another shot.
So I went along and just jumped for an hour, just to get the feel for it again, get my balance back. I did some twists and turns... some bounces onto my butt and my knees... even managed a cartwheel... but no somersault. Oh no... not just yet. But soon. Maybe the next visit (in a couple of days)... maybe then I'll get my nerve back... I just know I can do it.
I promise you - when I achieve this, I'll make a video of it. But until then I can give you an idea what it's like with this video... I definitely recommend it.
Let's be honest and truthful here... 50 is NOT old!
It used to be... but times have changed. The problem is that society's view of being 50 hasn't changed. It's still locked in to the belief that 50 is the definitive end to our prime years, and that it's too late for dreams and ambitions, for new learning, for new practices and new goals. Everything is so much more difficult after 50 than ever before.
But there's a huge discrepancy with this view - because when we DO reach 50, we realize that we don't actually feel any different in our hearts and heads... we don't feel old there, we feel the same. And yet our bodies tell a different story. They seem to confirm our fears, and tell us that it's time to slow down, that we shouldn't expect too much, that we've probably only got another 20 years or so left on this earth, so we need to take it extra careful.
But society is lying to us; our bodies are lying to us; our fears and conditioned minds are lying to us. It's all a lie - complete and utter nonsense.
At fifty, you are still very much in the prime of your life... and your life is bursting with potential. Especially on the physical level is this important to realize. At 50, and for many years after, we have the capacity to be as fit, strong, sleak, toned, flexible and active as we've ever been.
Ask yourself how you would like to be physically. Think back to your youth and ask yourself if you reached your physical potential then. Probably not - only top athletes get close to that. But just as in your youth you only used a fraction of your potential, so is it now. And using more of your potential NOW, is very likely to see you in better shape than you allowed yourself to be when you were younger.
To use myself as an example: I'm 53, and I'm in better shape than I've been most of my adult life. This isnt the result of years of training - far from it. I've led a rather sedentary, unsportive life, relying on my natural metabolism (and under-eating) to keep me thin, and a little manual labour to keep me strong. But then came the hormonal changes that slowed my metabolism, and started storing fat around my belly and eating away at my muscle tone.
My body followed the "normal" patterns of middle-age. But I was convinced that it didn't have to be like this - and that's when I bought the Shapeshifter program and transformed my physique in 6 weeks. Just 6 weeks to turn around the effects of years of physical neglect.
A return to the youth of 10 or 20 years ago? We can't have that. But we don't need it, because there's enough youthful vitality still in our "aged" bodies. And we don't want it either, because we would probably take it for granted and waste it again as we did back then. The point is to NOT waste your potential now, but rather discover it and develop it - so you're not looking back in another 10 years from now, wishing you could be young again like you were when you were fifty.
You've got to understand that the "magic source of eternal youth" is within you... it IS you. It's your committment to yourself, your respect for your body, your belief in your still undiscovered potential - it's your "decision" to be a better physical you... now. To be your own role-model... be your own hero.
Let the world think what it wants. You can still be any shape you want, be as fit as you want, live any life that you want. Fifty years has given you the life experience, the self-awareness, the insight and the wisdom to understand this.
If you don't believe this, let's look at what it takes to get in shape. What you lost from your youth was muscle-tone, strength and mobility. What you got in return is body-fat. This is the simple result of the slowing of your metabolism - partly due to hormonal changes; partly to your lifestyle habits and physical inactivity. To get back your youthful figure, you just need to get rid of the fat, and build up the muscle-tone - right?
Can you lose fat after 50? Yes. I did. It's simple when you combine the correct nutrition with exercise designed to increase metabolism.
Can you build muscle-tone after 50? Yes. I did. It's easy when you combine exercise that is designed to increase strength, with eating enough of the muscle-building nutrients.
Does it take long? I got my results in 6 weeks (not long). The more fat you need to lose the more time it takes; the more muscle you want to build, the more time it takes. The older you are, the more time it takes. But time shouldn't be an issue - regardless of the time it takes, improving your body at any age, is always better than never.
No, you can't go back... but you CAN go forward in excellent shape.
What is it that you want to hear? That you ARE old? That it's dangerous to try to improve yourself physically after a certain age? That it's so hard that it's not worth it? Some people really DO want to hear this - it gives them a good excuse not to do anything... to continue neglecting their bodies and blaming it on their age. But there are no excuses. You're body may require more attention than it used to, but that is not an excuse to give it none.
After fifty, we can look back on a life rich in the experiences befitting each life-phase:
*Our 20's were a time for self-discovery and definition,
*Our 30's for establishing our role in society,
*Our 30's and 40's for the sacrificing of our egos in the service of our children...
All these phases have made us wise - but not old.
Now, in our 50's, we are free'er. We have more time for ourselves. We can reflect on who we've been, how we played the "societal" game, and we can define ourselves anew. We are above the game, we can choose our own values, independent of peer-approval. We can be our own creators in mind and body.
So who are you?
Some people are old at 35, others are young at 75 - which are you?
Some people are grunting and groaning already at 40 - others are running marathons into their 90's - who do you want to be?
YOU can decide who you want to be - and then recreate yourself in the image of that "ideal".
The chances are good that you will reach 80, or beyond... but in what state? The more attention you give to your body now, the more you increase those chances in your favour. The choice is always yours: to take charge of your body and improve it, optimize it for a rich experience of the next 30 or more years... or lay down the towel now, at the halfway stage, never discovering your potential, continuing on a well-trodden path to an expected demise - getting old and worn-out by 70, helpless and dependent by 80 - giving away what may be your BEST years, just because you don't believe in them.
It just occured to me how dependent we are on the advice of experts. And how easy it is for them to tell us what's good for us and what's not. Seth Godin
– I read his blog often, looking for words and ideas that will make me feel good. For words that motivate and reassure me. One of his latest posts was, funny enough, on the reassurance of the lizard brain
in us, and how this brain holds us back from just moving forward.
.How easy it is to do something once you've already reached the goal, already got the results in from your efforts, and they've proved successful.
I'm a fan of Seth Godin – but it's easy for him to talk – he's got his success, he doesn't have to struggle – he doesn't have to face doubt, ride on hope – if something new doesn't work, he's still got his success to back him.
It's easy for him to say – go out and just do it, be courageous, believe in yourself – when it's already worked for him.
For the rest of us, we're still at the beginning – we're hoping for success but there's no guarantee that we'll succeed. We're still facing the dangers, we've still got the obstacles to climb over, still got the fear to conquer.
I know this because I quit my job and I'm putting all my hopes in my dream of creating an online income. I also know this because I have just finished a workout program to get rid of my bodyfat and build me a new, better looking, better functioning body.
In the first case I'm still haunted by thoughts of “what if this doesn't work?” And it doesn't matter how much I read Seth Godin's insightful and motivating words – all the pressure is still on me and I know it won't go away until I've got the outcome I hope so desperately for.
In the second case I've succeeded, and I never have to go through that process again. I'll still have to watch my diet, and I'll still have to exercise to stay in shape – but I know it works for me, I know I can make it work, I know I
have the control to get the results I want.
So I share this with others – and I offer advice, saying – believe in yourself, be courageous, and go out and just do it. And I realize that it's easy for me to talk – I've got my success, I don't have to struggle, face doubt, ride on hope.
What this tells us, tells me, is that ultimately we are alone. We can search and find motivating words, find our rolemodels and heroes, follow their advice and use their tactics, use their stories and successes to comfort us in our own trials... but we are alone. We still have to take our own steps, and we won't feel release from the pressure until we
get the outcome we hope so desperately for.
An old friend once insinuated (20 years ago) I was a loser because I hadn't accumulated as much"wealth" as he had at the time (big car, big house, big income...). I told him there was plenty of time... no hurry.
That friend passed away a little while ago at 52 years of age.
Another friend admitted to me, when we were both 30, that he'd given up on his dream of becoming a rockstar... and advised me to do the same, saying we were both too old.
As a youth, I told everyone that I intended to be a millionaire by the time I was 30. I wasn't. My sister has never let me forget it. My response is that there is still time, and what does it matter if I'm a little late.
I have to admit, I still cherish my dreams - I believe there's always time. Older people than me are creating million-dollar businesses on the internet. Others older than me have made their first albums, distributed them over the internet and been "discovered" on YouTube.
How could I give up on my dreams while others are achieving them?
There is never really a time to give up, and you're never to old to start. Life is not over til it's over.
What would you rather have - a million dollars at 75, or never?
What would you rather have - to get fit, healthy and slim after 50... or never?
Why is it always 100? Why not 150?
Reaching 100 these days is getting to be so commonplace - more and more people are doing it, more and more people are realizing they can do it too... it's like the four-minute-mile.
Is this all it takes to get us all to that goal? I think so.
70, 75, 80... these ages have been the accepted general limit for way too long. With people of 80, 90 even 100, running marathons, you'd have to be naïve to still consider yourself fortunate in making it to 75. Come on... it's a walk in the park... life begins at 50!
If you put a limit on your lifespan, you're pretty likely to create the self-fulfilling profecy of only reaching that limit - or you'll end up facing the dissappointment of passing it... shame about all those inactive years waiting for the man with the scythe to come calling.
I don't care what the scientists say about human lifespan. Their research and findings are only based on their science - and that's just another form of perception. It works if you believe in it; it's the truth as long as nothing disproves it; you get what you are looking for. But nothing is definitive. Just because no-one has yet lived to be 150, doesn't mean it can't be done.
Not believing it possible, is a sure way of making it impossible - but imagine the day someone does reach 150... proof! Then everyone should be able to do it. That's really going to piss-off a lot of people up there in heaven who threw in the towel at the halfway point.
You want to reach 75? Don't change anything. Want to reach 80 or 90? Set your goal to 100. A goal is not always a place to reach, but a place to aim for - the farther you aim, the farther you come. Want to reach 100? Aim for 150... and live your 50's, 60's and 70's as if you're still in the prime of your life. This alone will give you the motivation and inspiration to stay physically active enough to assure the probability of reaching your goal.
Want to live to 150? Aim for 200... and see how that alters your perception.
One of the standard recommendations from experts to people wanting to improve themselves or their performance in any area, is to find a rolemodel. Find someone who has already achieved what you want to achieve, and emulate their techniques and tactics... even their personality.
If they can do it, so can you - if you do the same things they did in the same way.
Sound advice for sure - no point in re-inventing the wheel, taking risks, wasting time.
But how far do we go in "cloning" ourselves around the model of another? We are all unique, and there are limitless variables that can influence the results of our actions, even if we are following someone else's patterns.
Better I think, to model yourself on yourself... on your ideal of yourself. You can never be sure of your limitations or capabilities until you put them to the test - and therein lies the true adventure of being you. And no-0ne is better suited to creating a better you, than yourself.
Aim to be the best that you can be - and in doing so, you'll set an example to others... maybe even become their rolemodel.
A friend of mine told me the other day that she's always wanted to play the saxophone.
I asked her if she had one - she said no.
I asked her if she thought she could learn without one - again she said no.
I told her it was probably a good idea, then, to get one, learn to blow it, then learn to play it... she agreed.
Wanting, wasn't going to help her learn - only doing. All the years she'd spent not having a saxophone, all the hours of practice she'd had not learning to play it, hasn't gotten her anywhere. One day she may stop wanting - but that would be a shame.
In the same way... wanting to lose weight, to get fitter, to build muscle, to get more flexible, to be more active, to learn to ski or skydive, eat healthier, improve your life, change your life - whatever - is futile, until you start doing something about it.
Not doing, only feeds the wanting, and leaves you feeling miserable. Without "doing", often the only other option is to discard the "want", file it away under "dreams unfulfilled", and try to forget you ever wanted it, while watching how the gap fills up with the unpleasantness of regret.
Stop wanting - start doing. It really is as simple as that.
Some of my friends and colleagues thought I was crazy, bordering on stupid; some thought I was naïve and a dreamer; others said I was courageous. All of them though are curious.
What did I do? At 53, I quit my job and my steady monthly income, with only 3 months of supporting funds, to start a new life involving my creative interests, and pursuing a "ludicrous and whimsical" quest to recreate myself physically, using some (dubious) internet program of strange workouts and eating protocols.
I consider myself neither stupid nor courageous... I just don't consider myself "over the hill". My son is 19 and his whole life lies ahead of him. Filled with excitment and dreams, he's embarking on that great adventure of independency and self-discovery. He has no room in his head or heart for thoughts of old-age, security, pensions, impossibilities, improbabilities, societal conventions or expectations. "Life" lies ahead... and he wants to live it.
I feel exactly the same way... with all my further life ahead of me.
Over the hill?... please! I feel more like I'm on top of the hill - looking out over the vastness of a world still to be experienced. Freed from the baggage of peer-influence and insatiable youth-hormones; armed with the wisdom, clarity, emotional maturity and self-awareness of my years; and clothed in warm, fond memories of love and togetherness... I can take on the world.
There are other hills to climb. other strange, fresh, untrodden terrains to negotiate, other obstacles to conquer. But, more importantly, unlimited other aspects of myself and life to discover. I'm on top of a hill, but only one of many - and if I go over the hill, it's only to reach the foot of the next one and take on the challenge of climbing it.
Geert is an old friend and ex-colleague of mine. We've played music together, and philosophized many a long hour over self-awareness and development, spirituality, human conditioning... and the lot, challenges and destinies of the individual.
But we've never done any sport together - and that's my fault.
Geert is a man of routine - without it he doesn't evolve. Routine in his sport, routine in his work, routine in his music practice... He says he has no talent, and only through routine, constant practise and determination can he develop his abilities to a level that looks like talent.
I'm a man of improvisation - and according to Geert I do have talent. But I don't have the routine. He's been trying to get me out on one of his weekly runs for the last 15 years, but I've always found excuses why it wasn't important or necessary enough for me... or that I just didn't have the time.
Until now. Now I have no excuses. On the contrary, now I have more than enough reasons to want to go running. So we made an appointment, and met up at 2 o'clock in the afternoon on the 5th January, and we ran together around one of his favourite routes in the forest of Amsterdam.
The route is about 10 kilometers, longer than I'm capable of (or used to) running non-stop. But Geert wasn't out to test me, or to show off. We ran slowly, relaxed, no pressure, unstressed... and interspersed the running with short walking breaks. And we talked of running, of his new "barefoot" technique and new running shoes, of his marathon training and experience 15 or so years ago. We talked about my lifestyle changes and physical ambitions, and of the Shapeshifter training that has so miraculously and quickly improved my condition that I'm able to join him on this run.
Our first run together - but not our last. Geert has a lot of intensely fascinating things to say about the way we think and feel and do... and he practises what he preaches in everything he does - including his running, his life, his interaction with others, his work, his music, his discovery-of-self and his "life-themes"...
I plan to feature him in more depth in a later post - discuss running and life more deeply with him. His insights are illuminating, his logic irrefutable, his humor confronting, and his methods persistently effective. You don't just run with Geert...
If you ever had doubts about the physical capabilities of an old body, watch this video
. I stumbled onto this in my search for tips to help me with my handstand-pushup project. This makes me more determined to master it. And there are many more "old-man feats" videos to match this one.