Fitness to Stay Strong at Any Age: How to Stop Getting "Old"Posted on May 16th 2011 11:00AM by That's Fit Editors
Stop right there.
You don't have to accept aging as a synonym for declining health. Becoming a shadow of your former self does not have to be a reluctant rite of passage. I'm here to tell you that as you age, you don't have to get old.
You Don't Have to Get Old
Study after study shows that the right lifestyle interventions can prevent, delay or even reverse aging and age-related diseases. I believe the studies, and I also know first-hand how and why they speak the truth. People ask me: "Are your photos real? How did you turn a 60-year-old, potbellied body into a healthy, 30-something physique?" I'm not offended or embarrassed. At 72, I know that I don't look or act like most men my age. I have been able to achieve great health, a strong, muscular physique and an active sex life. But it wasn't always this way.
Back in 1998 I was sick and tired of being sick and tired: my self-esteem had never been lower and my waist never bigger. Worse, my sex life was nonexistent, leading to a daily battle with anxiety and depression. The irony, of course, was that I was a physician who should know better. But that's exactly what the issue was: I didn't.
Old Man to Grand Champion
Around that time, someone had given me an issue of Muscle Media. I took it home that night and read it cover to cover. Coincidentally, I ran into an old nursing colleague who was super fit. She told me about her personal trainer, Ernie, a Navy Seal who fought two tours of duty in Vietnam, then incorporated all he learned into physical fitness training. When I met Ernie and told him what I wanted, he said, "I don't know, old man. You look like quite a challenge."
One month into his program, I entered the 1998 Body-for-LIFE contest because I was so motivated by my results. My LDL (bad cholesterol) went from 164 down to 80, and I started feeling better and stronger. I was beginning to like the guy in the mirror. I enrolled in a master's degree in sports nutrition, and even amazed myself that I had the energy to keep up with the 20 year-olds in class, practice medicine full time and prepare for the Body-for-LIFE challenge. After just 19 weeks of eating and training right, I was chosen as the Grand Champion.
Living the New Lifestyle
I started incorporating my new lifestyle into my medical practice. I continued to train consistently and ate pretty clean. But a few years later, I noticed that I was once again losing ground-gaining abdominal fat and losing muscle mass, plus my energy and sexual function were also taking a hit. In 2003, I went to meet several Cenegenics Medical Institute doctors who promoted an exercise and nutrition program in combination with correcting hormonal deficiencies, an entirely new concept for me.
I went back home and got my levels checked at my local lab, and learned I had major deficiencies in testosterone, DHEA and growth hormone. That explained my losing muscle mass, strength, and endurance, as well as why I was accumulating body fat and battling low energy levels, sluggish thinking and even depression. The diminished hormones also explained the other major wall I had hit: a decrease in sexual function.
Exhausted to Exhilarated
Enough was enough. I decided to pursue my new doctor's approach. Within the first two months I experienced profound changes in my physique and energy levels. My physician had corrected my hormone deficiencies and I continued to follow my own low-glycemic/low-fat diet, combined with the right exercise and key supplements. I went from exhausted to exhilarated as I started getting my strength back. Once again I was losing body fat and gaining clarity in my thinking. My sexual function came back as well. Reversing hormone deficiencies had helped me regain what aging was taking away from me.
Thirteen years later I still feel great and I've been able to actually improve my physique. More importantly, I have reduced my cholesterol levels, reduced internal or "silent" inflammation, reduced blood sugar levels, avoided diabetes and stopped the progression of heart disease. I have mental focus, clarity and sharpness like I never had before. I am more productive and creative than ever, and I'm stronger and have more muscle mass than ever. At 72, I love my life, my wife, my job and my Harley. I love being energetic, lean, fit and muscular. I love training hard with people half my age.
The only thing I'm sick and tired of now is the way the uninformed continue to take pot shots at age management medicine. I can't promise you'll live longer, but I do know that you can certainly add a lot more zest to your life once you take a proactive approach to your health.
So stop believing that you're too old to lose the weight or that you can't be the man you once were. And stop listening to the so-called experts who blast those of us correcting hormone deficiencies. Thousands of men just like me are here to tell you that science is on your side: getting older means getting better.
Jeffry Life, M.D., Ph.D., has a thriving age management medicine practice in Las Vegas, Nevada. His first book, The Life Plan, has just been published Atria Books, a division of Simon and Schuster. For more information, visit his website at www.drlife.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.