Aging is for idiots

If you follow me long enough, you will hear me quote Tony Horton a lot. I mean, like several times in the course of a day. A few weeks ago I got to do a group workout with the maestro in Nashville at the Team Beachbody Coach Summit, and he used the phrase “Aging is for idiots” repeatedly.

Tony also made a joke out of the fact that some people have criticized him for his word choice with this catch-phrase. I really couldn’t do it justice here because it was all about the timing. Suffice to say, it was funny, and made it perfectly clear that Mr. Horton thinks you need to lighten up… a lot.

But I’ve really taken this phrase to heart. I’m not an idiot. Well, most of the time anyway. And I like the phrase because it means I can think my way around this whole aging thing.

About 9 or so years ago I was sitting in my doctor’s office, getting an annual physical and things were not looking good. Blood pressure was too high. Cholesterol was too high. I was fat. (I’m not going to mince words. If you’re offended by me calling myself fat when I’m talking about being 60 pounds overweight – which for my height means carrying around half of another whole me – then please go away. You and I will not get along.) And I had a list of health problems that stemmed from all of the above that was both uncomfortable and embarrassing.

My wonderful doctor looked me in the eye and simply said, “Joe, you’re a smart guy. You know what you need to do. I want to see you in six months and if these numbers aren’t improving I’m going to put you on medication.”

He was right.

I did know what I needed to do. I mean, not specifically, but I knew I needed to exercise more and improve my diet. I also knew I was smart enough to find resources to support what I needed to do if I didn’t have them already. Like the doctor said, I’m a smart guy.

I really do think what holds so many people back, whether it’s in improving their health and fitness, or improving other aspects of their lives, is this, frankly, stupid idea that if you don’t have the answers, you’re screwed.

Whatever you don’t know how to do, someone else does.

And here’s the kicker, if you ask for help, you’ll get it.

In the midst of my own fitness journey I got stuck. I made progress and plateaued. I could have been prideful and refused to acknowledge what I didn’t know. Instead I asked people who I’d seen make the kinds of changes I wanted to make what they did. Then when I got stuck again I looked for a coach to guide me.

So many people believe being smart means having all the answers. That’s wrong. Someone with the answers has knowledge, and knowledge and intelligence may not be the same thing. Being smart means you know what you don’t know, and you’re open and willing to learn.

There’s also this – a smart person is self-aware enough to accept being wrong. I’m wrong a lot. One of the more fascinating statistics about people who have heart attacks or suffer other serious consequences from serious illness is that 90% follow their doctor’s advice in making the lifestyle changes necessary to lessen the chance of a recurrence… but only temporarily. Only a small percentage of those folks make permanent changes.

Why would you, after suffering a traumatic illness, revert to the behavior that led to that illness?

I think, for many, it’s pride. It’s an inability to admit they were wrong. That they had, in fact, been responsible for the problem, and had it in their power to change. Admitting you were wrong takes humility. It requires you to open your mind and seek a different answer than the one you came up with before.

These are, in my opinion, the same folks who are offended when Tony Horton says, “Aging is for idiots.”

Admitting that you don’t know. That you need some guidance – that takes courage and humility.

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