ATTACKING THE FILTHY FIFTIES

Keep Moving Forward, There's Only One Finish Line and We Ain't Crossed It Yet.

Let’s face it… there are millions of fitness blogs and websites out there these days. While some are just out to grab a chunk of the 80 billion dollars the health and fitness industry generates every year, most of them are written by amazing  people, who really know what they are talking about. They usually have years of education and experience behind them and typically, they are experts at what they do.

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I am not one of these people.

Some have even gone through amazing personal transformations or life changing experiences that have made them grow as individuals. Using their dynamic personalities, they share their stories and experiences to help motivate and inspire others to overcome their own personal obstacles.

I’m afraid I’m not one of those people either.

Frankly, I am pretty much the opposite of those guys . I know very little about health or fitness, and for the record, I’m really not even sure what a blog is.

In fact, I’ve spent the better part of my adulthood making incredibly bad life choices. Nothing too terrible mind you, just the basic run of the mill poor health decisions that plague most adults in our society today:  smoking, drinking and eating Awesome food (yeah, I call it Awesome food because even though it will kill you, foods like cheese fries, tacos and calzones are freaking Awesome, and I refuse to say an unkind word about them). Add the fact that I got little or no exercise most of my life and you can probably start to get an idea of my current physical condition.  I have never been what anyone would refer to as  athletic, nor have I ever been  physically fit (except when I joined the Army, but I’ll save that story for later).

So why the heck would I be writing a healthy lifestyle blog? That’s a real good question and to be honest, I’m really not too sure myself. I guess the best way to answer that is to go back a few years.

Like most folks my age, I woke up one day, and realized to my horror that forty-some-odd years of my life had passed and I was in terrible shape. My blood pressure was elevated, along with my cholesterol. My knees and back were shot from what I liked to think was the result of working hard as a young man, carrying things like lumber and concrete forms around for a living;  but in reality it was more than likely the result of being lazy as an old man, carrying around twenty pounds of fat that I didn’t need. The only smart move I had made in the past few years was giving up smoking,  but because of the all the years I had smoked, my lungs were junk. The mistakes from my past had started to creep up on me and the time to pay the proverbial piper was drawing near. I figured if I didn’t do something quick, my time on this planet would be drastically cut short.

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Me in all my glory, roughly five years ago. The sad thing is I really believed I was making the bow of that boat look good!

So I did what every adult does when the realization of their pending senior years become painfully evident, and the thought of being an invalid was becoming a reality: I made a vow to change. Big deal right? We’ve all done that at one time or another.  I was serious though, I looked in the mirror and I said to my reflection, “Today, I am going to do things different! I am going to eat right and get in shape starting right now!” Looking back, I don’t think my reflection even believed me. He may have been nodding with me, but I think he knew I was full of shit.

Two or three days later, I woke up and made that vow again when my first vow didn’t stick. This time I wasn’t fooling around though. I knew where I went wrong and I wasn’t going to let it happen twice. A few weeks later I had to make that vow again after slowly reverting back to my evil ways. Then again… and again…. You get the idea. The pattern just kept repeating itself and I kept slipping back into my old routine. Like so many other folks I know, I’ve done this dance with my vices over and over for years. They say the road to disaster is paved with good intentions, well apparently the road to nowhere is too, because even though my  intentions were good, I always lacked the drive and determination to effectively change my habits.  There was something I wasn’t doing right, but I didn’t know what it was.

As I approached my 50th  birthday, I realized that I was in the worst shape of my life. I was close to 235 pounds, my blood pressure and cholesterol were at the point of needing to be medically treated, and I had fallen into a severe state of depression. My fatness had even contributed to me losing my job, as it became difficult for me to meet its physical fitness requirements, and my employer kindly asked me to go be fat somewhere else (more on that later as well). Suddenly my unhealthy lifestyle had stopped being a game. The joke was over and I could no longer accept that fact that growing older meant I had to be fat and out of shape.

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After three years of vowing to get in shape, you can see I was looking pretty ripped.  At age 49, I wasn’t getting very far. Plus that was one of the coldest summers I can remember.

That’s a big part of the problem too, because when your fitness level declines and you become weaker and overweight, you reach a point that you feel that there is nothing you can do. You start to accept the fact that inevitably as you age, you are going to be old, fat and out of shape. To alleviate the thought of your impending downward spiral, you start to make light of your situation by cracking jokes at your own expense, and possibly make fun of those people you see working out and eating right. You also like to hang around with other people like you, who share your feelings of futility  and this helps justify your decision to be old and fat. This group consensus – that it’s too late to turn back now – makes you feel better about yourself and your decision to be unhealthy becomes justified. After all, there is nothing you can do about it, so you may as well have fun while you can and enjoy life while you’re still here. We’re all gonna die one day, right?

I had a lot of friends like this, and we all made light about our age and declining health. One of my buddy’s favorite sayings was “I’m not here for a long time, I’m here for a good time!” He’d proclaim this proudly when we were out drinking and some killjoy would tell us we should slow down.  As we got older, he’d also love to say  ” No one dies healthy,” when it was suggested he should give up some of his bad habits.  Well, he was right, he’s gone now. His good time ended at the ripe old age of 46. He was also right about dying healthy… he wasn’t. His life was cut short by an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm most likely caused from tobacco use, high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries. His death hit me like a punch square in the face. Harder, since I’ve been punched many times in my life, and often it made me re-think they way I should talk to people, but never hard enough to make me re-think my life. His untimely and unnecessary passing lit a fire under my ass to look at the way I’d been living and finally make a change, not just in my habits, but my whole friggin attitude. That is where I needed to start. He did not need to die young, and neither do I. It is true that I’m not here for a long time, but whatever time I do have left, I don’t want to spend it heavily medicated or dragging an oxygen bottle around on the back of my scooter while I’m shopping at Wal-Mart.  Don’t get me wrong, I got nothing against scooter shoppers, I just really don’t ever want to be one of them, and now I believe that I don’t have to be.

So this brings us back to the original question:

Why am I writing this blog?

Because I want to find out if it is too late.  After treating my body like a landfill for the last fifty years, am I too far gone to turn things around?  Can an average working guy who has never been physically fit – EVER –  alter his lifestyle in a manner that will allow him to get in shape and get healthy enough  to enjoy his golden years?

And possibly the most important question HOW DO I DO IT?

That’s what this page/blog is all about (I’m still not sure what the difference between page and a blog is). I’m going to explore as many health and fitness options as I can. I already do CrossFit and running, and I’ve tried Yoga,  but I’m also going to try things like Spartan Races, maybe some martial arts  and other goofy shit that may be fun and even possibly be beneficial. I’ll write about what it was like for me at least and if it sounds like something you may want to try, then knock yourself out, because you know if I did it, then anyone can.  I’ll also try a variety of diets and nutrition plans and hopefully find an acceptable way to eat healthy without totally giving up all the food I love, because like I said before, food is Awesome. It is one of the things that makes life worth living and there is no sense in reaching my 100th birthday if I have to eat tofu and grass for the next fifty years. Plus I absolutely refuse to live in a world without Ice Cream.

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I’m not kidding when I say I love food. I ate at this restaurant when I was visiting Charlotte last year, and it was so Awesome that when I was coming home from Myrtle Beach six months later,  I drove 200 miles out of my way just for their Cajun Meat loaf. It was so worth it!

Maybe all of these things will work.

Maybe none of them will.

Maybe we can be here for a good time, as well as a long time. I don’t know, but as I try these different health and fitness options, I’m not going to do anything that the average person couldn’t do. Any class or fitness program I try will have to be something anyone could do without dramatically changing their daily routine (at least not in the beginning, but who knows? You may quit your job to become a professional paddle-boarder). So there will be no month-long retreats to live in a commune, or crazy weekends spent in a sweat lodge looking for my spirit animal. Everything I do will be  geared to those of us  in our fifties – or approaching our fifties – who want to find a way to get healthy and have a good time doing it. You have to make the decision to get healthy alone, but you don’t have to do it alone. Together, we won’t only survive the Filthy Fifties, we will come out of them better than ever.

13 thoughts on “Why Would A Guy Like Me Be Writing A Blog?

  1. Bryant Mitchell says:

    I’m not 50… yet, but looking forward to reading about your adventures Mark!

    Like

  2. David says:

    Mark, I am also in your shoes and probably less active, sitting in front of the computer each day, working as a web designer. I WILL follow your blog, and hopefully, it will inspire me to make some life changes, as well.

    Keep up the good work!!

    David

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Christopher Dennis says:

      Do it brother.

      Like

  3. Marilyn Nylen says:

    Mark,
    You absolutely can do this. I turned 50 in August and am in the best shape of my life. I go to a personal trainer gym where I work with a trainer twice a week and run. I have completed my second full marathon a few weeks ago. First, don’t diet, I know that sounds silly. Execise portion control, your protein should be the size of a deck of cards. Add in more green leafy vegetables and fruits. Healthy fats are also a must, nuts are good for that. Try eating smaller “meals” more often. It really does work, it keeps your blood sugar stable and you never get to the point of feeling so hungry that you need food right then. That’s when we grab the quick comfort foods. Feel free to reach out if you have questions on anything I have offered for advice.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Jerilynn says:

    Mark , I really enjoy your blog
    Realizing changes need to be made to eat healthier , drink less alcohol,
    Less sugars and enjoy better foods.
    I can wait to see what you come up with …
    All the best
    Jerilynn

    Like

  5. April says:

    Good luck Chatty! I know you can do anything you put your mind to! Rock on my friend!

    Like

  6. nhsgtmom says:

    Wow. Losing him stunned us all. He’d be so happy to know that he has a hand in helping you make these changes, and would be telling you to get your ass in gear, bud! All with that wonderful smile on his face and glint in his eyes!!
    Whatever your motivation, you are capable of doing this, Chatty. Hell, if I can, you can. Now I feel challenged to dig in and work harder. Do you?? Wait until I tell Kevin I found your blog, he’s going to love this!!😈😊💪❤👍☝😃

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is most excellent, Mark! I’m not in my 50s yet but I plan on being IN shape rather than OUT of shape when I get there. I’ll be watching and learning from your successes and failures, hopefully more of the latter.

    I’ve got a workout room i’ve just completed and plan on spending some quality time there in the winter and have a kayak I plan to use more.

    Good Luck and I’ll be here on the internet, near the Cloud (still can’t find it), spying, lurking and generally commenting when something doesn’t require it. 🙂

    Like

  8. Carl Osborne says:

    Hey Chatty, I’m so thrilled to read your blog when I see a new one pop up. I always look forward to seeing how many parallels there are to my own life of “on again off again” fitness goals that swirl around my life. Like you, I’m new to this whole 50’s thing and like you I wanted to attempt to get in the best shape of my life, today! If you remember back when we stayed at my deceased Grandmother’s house back our late teens, I was pretty heavy into fitness. I tried it all going on into my mid to late 20’s!! Hockey, soccer, power lifting, arm wrestling, boxing, karate, bla bla bla.. only to find myself 25 years later looking like my office chair was my number one piece of fitness equipment. Standing 5′ 8″ and 192 pounds wasn’t exactly motivational when I would tune in to UFC fight and see the same size 5′ 8″ guy weighing in at 150 pounds and looking like they just stepped of the cover of Men’s Health magazine. Granted, they are still in there 20’s, but I say what the hell?? Why don’t I look like that? Or even a vague version of that but with 25 more years on my odometer.

    Like you, I decided just under a year ago that it was time for a change so I joined a boxing fitness club in Concord. I love the work out, I feel more in shape, but up to a couple of weeks ago i still stood at 5′ 8″ and weighed 190 pounds. Yup, That’s a whole 2 pounds lost over a 10 month period. Heck, I can do that by not eating dinner. Much to my surprise, it turns out that the key for me was digestion! in other words, my body just couldn’t take what I was throwing at it in the same way that it could up to only a few short years ago. I’ve never been a big beer drinker and I have been known for my iron gut and never getting sick, but to balance the scales out I used donuts as my favorite food to insure that I looked like I do today. Add to that the late night meals of anything that I could pull out of the freezer or that I could have the nice chef at a local restaurant prepare for me. That is what I needed to change. Heck, there are times over the past year that I have gone to the doctors because I thought I felt nagging lower chest pains in the morning, only to find out on both occasions that it was constipation! Yup, aside form a few “full of shit” jokes from my wife, that was a pretty big wake up call that food can either be my friend or my enemy, that decision was up to me. Now being in my 50’s, that decision was coming home to roost.

    What it boiled down to was the simple matter that my body needed real food with natural prebiotics and probiotics. Without those in my system, my body’s digestive capability had come to a screeching halt. Especially at night. As it turns out, pizza, burgers and onion rings don’t make a happy body, no matter how hard I pushed it at the gym and how sweaty my shirt got. My natural reaction was to run to the health food store and buy as many probiotics and prebiotics that I could stand to take in a day, only to find that this approach was not going to work. Much to my sweet tooth’s disappointment, I finally broke down and purchased a basket full of real food. Peppers of all colors, brocilli, asparagus, summer squash, chicken, shrimp, meats, fruits, yogurts, you name it and I got it. The only requirement was that the food I was buying had real ingredient, and it was real food. Now that I have gone through almost a couple weeks of at least one meal a day consisting of this “real food” (usually dinner) and trying my best to cut the sweets out of the rest of the day and hitting the gym 3 times a week, FINALLY the results are showing. I’m only down 6 pounds from the day that I decided to fill my grocery basket with all of that food that I avoided for years, but the turn around has been more then encouraging! No more pains in the morning and my all around attitude about health has been turned on it’s head.

    Now, I’m not saying that I’ve become a natural food saint or some kind of foodie freak, but for me, eating better and trying to eat a “whole food” dinner before 8:00 pm was the key to shortening the “50’s delay” that seemed to be built into any fitness regimen that I dove into.

    Keep up the awesome work bud!!! I look forward to your next inspiring and equally amusing installment of Filthy Fifties.

    Like

    1. Thanks! That was such a great response, and exactly what I’m talking about. I really appreciate your input.

      Like

  9. katrubie says:

    Hi! I read this and I have to say a few things: 1. You are a great writer! 2. I can really relate to just about everything you said. 3. You use humor well to drive home a very serious point! And 4. I have decided I like what you have to say and your style, so I am going to follow you! Thanks for such a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are much too kind. Thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

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