Is 30 the New 20?

True Story— Recently the distance runners on our team were running repeat sprints around the track. They were accompanied by our distance coach (Ricardo Cuevas) who runs about 3-5 miles per day.  An adult walking around the track stopped near our runners while they were on a break. He approached one of them and said, “You guys are very fast, keep running while you can because when you get my age you won’t be able to run like that.”

“How old are you,” asked one of the athletes?

“I’m 48,” he replied.

“Oh….” One of the kids paused, and reluctantly mumbled, “Our coach is 49.” He motioned toward Coach Cuevas, who had been running every lap with the athletes, while reminding them to stay relaxed and focus on their breathing.

The man smiled and walked away.

Is 30 the new 20? 40 the new 30? 36 the new 26? Wouldn’t I like to think so? I recently had my 36th birthday so it’s fitting to discuss age, aging, and the fear associated with it. The bottom line is; we all age. Like it or not, there are 365 days in a year and every year one of those days will be your day of birth. Although aging is inevitable, we do have control over how well or poorly we do so. So many myths about aging exist. Yet so many people seem to have a grasp of how to age gracefully.

I have known Coach Cuevas for over 15 years. In that time I have seen 3 of his children (2 boys, 1 girl) come through the high school and college programs that I’ve coached. I have also seen him beat each one of them at different stages of their careers. Coach Cuevas recently turned 50 and has undoubtedly clutched and controlled aging.

If one were to ask Coach Cuevas, “how old are you?”

He would reply, “I am 50 but I run and feel like I am 18.”

Anti-aging has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Anti-aging creams, soaps, and lotions promise a “fountain of youth” in a box but renege on that promise over and over again. Clothes that promise to make us look hip actually make us look like we are trying too hard. Let’s face it, we are being lied to and laughed at. The fountain of youth does exist but not in a bottle or pair of sagging jeans.

Six years ago, I decided to start running in Master’s Track and Field Championship meets. At first I thought it would be a bunch of washed up old fogies, like myself, who thought they still “had it.” When I stepped into the stadium at the University of Hawaii, I was shocked. The old fogies actually did still have it. Times and distances rivaled college times and distances. Competitors in the 50-54 year-old bracket were mistaken for 40-44 year-olds.

Competitors in my bracket all looked at each other thinking the same, “no way he is older than 25.” I was amongst my people; a gathering of adult athletes who didn’t want to give up a sport they loved.

The truth is, no matter what we wear, how fast we run, or how many surgeries we have, we age every year, and the younger generation notices. Aging gracefully is more than having others say, “You look young for your age.” (Although that never hurts either) It’s about how you feel. If you feel like an old, worn out, run down, tired scrap of metal, chances are it’s because you haven’t taken care of yourself properly.

Exercise isn’t the only element to slowing the aging process. Certain foods also help us live longer, more thriving lives. These foods include:

Salmon are high in anti-inflammatory omega 3 essential fatty acids. This keeps the skin agile, glowing, and wrinkle free. It also keeps the brain functioning at an optimal level.

Beans and Lentils have lots of fiber and are very low glycemic which means they keep the blood sugar at bay and prevent dull, dry, sagging skin. Other great sources of fiber are apples, bran cereal, and potatoes.

Brightly colored fruits and vegetables have antioxidants in them which slow the aging process by protecting the body from harmful free radicals. We should replenish these fruits and vegetables every 4-6 hours as they are water soluble and don’t stay in the body very long.

Pistachios and Almonds are rich with good fats like monounsaturated fats which can lower bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol. As we age our LDL levels rise. Foods that raise HDL help rid the body of LDL which allows blood to flow freely through the arteries and lower the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Let whatever age you are be your new 10 years younger. Make the decision and change today. Is 36 the new 26 for me? I’m sure it is!

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