Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
You’ve read about it. Thought about it. You’ve watched Mark’s message calling all readers. You’ve even imagined yourself taking part in this month’s Challenge. You’ve toyed with it, considered it, but ultimately held back. For whatever reason you’re a straggler, a dawdler, maybe just slow to warm up, perhaps unsure, apprehensive – for whatever reason undecided, uncommitted.
Mind if we ask…why? What’s holding you back? When you imagine taking up the Challenge, what scenarios, what predicaments come to mind that ultimately convince you to sit this one out? What self-talk, if you don’t mind us asking, finally persuades you to forgo the investment in yourself? And, hey, can we get in on that conversation? Pardon us while we brazenly interject ourselves into that floating thought bubble above your head and put in our two cents.
Ah, here we see what’s been going on. Rationalizations, reasons, excuses of all stripes. Justifications galore. Some, to be sure, are compelling. Others not so. A few humorous in a self-deprecating, tongue-in-cheek kind of way. The point is, we’re right there with you. “Really?” you ask. “How can that be?” Let’s put it this way. We get it. We’ve all had to start from somewhere. (And some of us have had to restart.) Ask all of us here among the masses of modern day Groks who’ve already committed to the Challenge, and you’ll likely find circumstances that bear a broad, if not striking likeness to your own. Mind if we burst those bubbles?
There’s a collective cultural assumption/joke that you can do anything in your twenties and most of your thirties without any real consequences. Eat crappy food? Check. Sleep only at convenient times (as defined by young children’s schedules or busy social calendar). Check. Exercise a) not at all, b) on weekend warrior adventures with friends, or c) all the time, chronic cardio/sergeant spin class style. Check. (All of the above being the wrong choice, by the way.) Sure, you bounce back faster and easier in your younger years than you will later on, but listen up, Gumby. Your level of fitness and fortitude in your 40s has everything to do with what you do (and eat) today. Abuse your body now, and you’ll age much more quickly and have a harder road ahead if/when you decide to finally get serious.
If you’re still young, you have the best body you’ll possibly ever have. You’re working off of the best muscle base and hormonal balance. You still have the ability to reach peak lifetime health. Don’t blow the opportunity. Won’t you wonder later what it could’ve felt like?
Yes, the vitality of youth isn’t to be wasted, but it isn’t the end all. (Those of us in this category can speak to that, I imagine.) Obviously, Mark isn’t one to believe the best is past. He’s said many a time that he feels better today than at any point in his adult life. You still have that opportunity as well – make no mistake (or excuse) about it. You have the chance to extend or reclaim the health most people associate with youth. What you do today can actively prevent disease, build muscle mass and epigenetically set the clock back.
And it’s important to realize that things won’t get any easier, especially once you’ve hit this age. Five years, even one year from now it will likely be more difficult to get in shape, lose weight, gain muscle. It follows that tomorrow will be incrementally more difficult than today, and the following day incrementally more difficult than tomorrow. The increments may be small, but over time the trend is powerful. Use today to your advantage.
Our culture often teaches complacency – particularly with age. We’re shown images of aging “gracefully” that reflect passivity and acquiescence to physical decline. There’s no reason your later years can’t offer vitality. If you’re a senior, small changes now could mean thriving in the coming years instead of just surviving.
The key is understanding that there’s more to be written. Your actions and choices feed the conditions of health or disease, ability or limitation. Men and women in their later years who take up exercise programs can make crucial, significant strides in physical strength and endurance. A healthy diet can minimize inflammation and beat back disease. Time is certainly of the essence, it’s true, and every day impacts both future vitality and longevity.
Here it is, the universal, catchall, everyman/woman rationale and blanket justification. (We couldn’t possibly skip this one.) The details vary, but the “no time” excuse inevitably follows the same template. Fill in your own blanks here, and then hear the real reality check. Time is always a scarce commodity. There will never be a time when “achieving fitness, eating right, and sleeping adequately” will be convenient. The house will always need some repair. Your kids will always need you. Your job will always impose demands and stress. Your family/social life will always involve commitment and probably some drama – the good and the grief. All of us find ourselves in this picture somewhere.
The key is to make your health a priority in the midst of life’s commotion. Make your life fit your priorities and not just the other way around. Healthy eating isn’t an add-on to your meal prep. Active living inhabits your full day rather than just a slot in your planner book. Adequate sleep means your waking hours are that much more awake – efficient, focused and productive. Look at it as infusing your life with healthful practices rather than heaping them on top or squeezing them in the middle. Shift your perception and practices rather than your calendar.
We know we haven’t covered every possible excuse. However, we hear these particular ones often, and we’re pretty sure they’re among those floating around in the minds of many of our readers. Our intention with these refutations here isn’t to belittle, to diminish or to dismiss legitimate difficulties. A Challenge is, well, exactly that. Our hope is to rally your better judgment, your bolder vision for what your life can be – not next year or next month but now, today, in the imperfect reality of daily life.
Now about that Challenge… Sure, there’s already a sizable throng of motivated, thoughtful folks already committed this month. They’re responsive and enthusiastic in the forum and boards, and we love it. However, we know there are more of you out there. Call us brazen or stubborn, but we’re not satisfied until we’re sure we’re speaking to every last reader out there. However much a chronic straggler, a reticent onlooker, or a casual lurker you might be, we’re talking to you today. This is our challenge to you, and you know who you are. Be honest. By all means, start from where you are. But start. Today. Make this your opportunity to turn the page on old habits, big regrets, small thinking and deferring, defeatist attitudes. Make this your time. Your month. Your commitment to yourself. You’re worth the time. The results you’ll see – physical and otherwise – will be worth the effort.
So, what’s going on in those thought bubbles now? Did we argue profusely enough with the self-talk? Counter the nay saying influences and convince you finally? We’re hoping to welcome you aboard. What say you?
For those of you already on board, what are your “in spite of” stories? What are the circumstances that could be excuses, and what made you choose to see the situation differently? What ultimately made you take up the Challenge (this month or maybe years ago), and what would you say to others still sitting on the fence now?