Last year, I turned 75. It’s a milestone, but my only reflection was, “How did I get here so quickly?” In a few months, I’ll turn 76. My thoughts this year are a bit deeper: “What do I want to do 10 years from now? And am I doing what I need to do today to increase the chances of being able to do those things?”
The first question is easy: I’d like to do what I do now 10 years in the future: cycle three to four times a week, do strength training and play golf twice a week and travel internationally. Now to the second question: Am I doing what I need to do in order for this to happen?
About a year ago, I dropped 8 pounds as a result of improved eating habits and exercise. This year, I’m down another 8 pounds for the same reasons. Maintaining my current weight for the next 10 years would be fine, as long as I retain most of my muscle mass. My strength training regimen is important. I’ll lose some muscle mass as function of aging, but I need to work to keep all I can.
Early this year, I cut red meat from my diet significantly. After reading several books and watching the video “Forks Over Knives,” my wife and I recently became pescatarians; we no longer eat red meat, fowl or dairy products. Our menu consists of plant-based foods and fish. Now that we’ve settled into this new way of eating, we feel terrific. What are the benefits? Fewer calories and less fat, which means I can maintain my weight more easily and have a lower risk for heart disease.
Last year, I celebrated my birthday by riding 75 miles with my son and 10 friends. Recently, I purchased new, top-of-the-line wheels for my bike, and I’ll ride 76 miles this birthday with my son and some friends. Aside from something nice for the annual birthday ride, the wheels provide motivation to ride farther and climb higher. They are a one-time expense, an investment that will encourage me to cycle for the rest of my life.
My golf game suffers from age and lack of practice. My scores are higher, and the enjoyment is lower. I’ve signed up for lessons with a superb teacher and have committed to practice at least four times a week for 30 minutes each time. (Quality practice time trumps quantity.) I’m also doing more range of motion exercises, a key ingredient of golf—and also healthy aging.
With continued strength training, improved eating habits, more cycling and improvement in my golf game, I’m on track to be able to do what I enjoy at 86. What do you want to do in 10 years? And are you doing what you need to do today to increase the chances of being able to do those things? The future belongs to the fit.