The hardest part about getting older is understanding you are never as good as you once were.
There was a time when I could play 80 minutes of rugby, deadlift 700+, and bench in the low 400’s. I was an athlete, plain and simple.
That made for some great memories, some amazing stories, a lot of fun, but it is over.
I could be like every other Al Bundy and remember that 4 TD game for Polk High, or I could take the path of re-invention and bury the old me in a deep, dark grave.
The memories you hold are just that, distant memories of a different day. We evolve, we grow, we adapt, we deal with life, we grow wiser, and we grow into what we are now. You can roll with the punches like an aging heavyweight or you can try to square up and be defeated by your memories.
This is often a difficult crossroads to decide on because it is, in essence, admitting you aren’t what you used to be. It is also an awakening because it will free you from the shackles of the past.
You do not need to prove anything to anyone anymore. You don’t need to live up to your self-imposed standards of the past, you are free to recreate what you think is ideal for you and your life.
There are some simple steps to help you with this and they won’t be pretty to come to grips with.
Kill your old self
I don’t mean literally, but figuratively. There isn’t a single person who gives a shit about what you used to do, but rather what you are now. Take a look at people like Howie Long, Mark Schlereth, and Mike Golic. Three men who played on the line in the NFL and had outstanding careers. There is a generation of people who have never seen these three dudes play and only know them by one thing; their time in front of the screen discussing sports.
They lost the playing weight, regained their health, found new careers, and moved on.
They have memories, but the past is dead. No more reliving glory years, now they make new ones.
When it comes to you and your goals; this means realizing maybe you can’t pull 700 pounds again (I am speaking to myself here), but you can still be strong, drop the extra weight, find a goal to shoot for, and go after it.
Maybe it is adding some cycling and cutting down on the carb intake, because we all know most people don’t need 400 grams of carbs per day.
Maybe it is having fun with training and doing things you haven’t done in a while, such as metabolic conditioning and focusing less on being the biggest baddest dude on the block. Maybe it is trying yoga to limber up some. Don’t worry, you won’t be laughed at.
This takes some deep soul searching, which requires some humility and realistic thinking. Not everyone is capable of this which is why we see 50+ year old men in gyms still trying to bench 405 when everything hurts.
At that point you have to analyze what is more important to you, numbers or quality.
Eat like a 40 year old man, not a 20 year old child
A carb is not a carb, unless you mistakenly believe that fruits and vegetables have the same nutritional impact on your body as a pack of Starburst. Sure it all ends up as sugar in your body, but that is such an elementary, and foolish, way to look at carbs.
In fact when people say that I want to smack them.
I have this theory. The older we get, the less we can tolerate junk food. The more we deviate from healthy eating, the larger impact it has on our body. That isn’t backed by any study that I know of, but merely coaching people for years and generating this hypothesis from feedback and body composition reports.
This is the time when you can re-configure your eating plan and there is one great place to start.
This simple diet was developed by Dan Duchaine and it is 33% carbs, 33% fat, 33% protein. One percent is missing so throw that where you want to.
Let’s do some quick math here for you.
You are 250, you want to be 220 and leaner.
220 * 10.5 (basic multiplier I use for a goal weight) = 2310 calories
33% fat is 85g
33% carbs is 190g
34% protein is 196g
But wait, that is only 196 grams of protein per day!! But the research says….
I know damn well what the research says and I also know that most people do not need to eat that much protein. 196g a day is more than enough for a 250 pound man who wants to cut fat, be healthier, live life, and still hit some goals.
Of course if your goal is to be a shredded machine these numbers ain’t for you.
Let’s face it, not everyone likes to eat protein all day. Carbs and fats are more emotionally satisfying that yet another portion of ground beef. Exceptions do exist and I love me a good steak, but I also love me a nice big dollop of peanut butter.
The isocaloric style leaves plenty of room to enjoy all three macros without having to stress about finding a protein source that will destroy your fat macros for the day.
Here lies the catch. Every meal needs to have a vegetable.
You must eat mostly whole food items.
If you want to enjoy something nutritionally void, you will have willpower and pick a designated day of a week to do so. I would choose Saturday because it’s a weekend.
I know this is weird advice and it’s not for everyone, but you are not everyone. You are a washed up winner who is working to reinvent yourself. Falling back into “well this slice of cake will fit my macros today” may not be the smartest course of action for you to get back into mentally.
Building healthy habits takes massive effort and I don’t give a shit what the moderation kings say, people like you and me aren’t really good with moderation.
So save that fucking Snickers bar for Saturday and don’t be an asshole about it.
Stop chasing numbers and start chasing feelings
I don’t mean the romantic kind either. I mean train with what feels good for your body.
If you are like me, you live and die by performance. This presents a slight problem in the gym as you get older because you don’t perform like you used to and the mental fuckery it generates can be quite crippling.
Bench Pressing hurts your shoulder. Deadlifts are a lesson in agony. Wide stance squatting makes your hips feel like they are going to explode.
What to do?
Can you incline bench? Can you use Bench Blokz? Can you buy a trap bar? Can you narrow your stance? Can you front squat?
There is always a way around the ego if you stop chasing the wrong things.
This goes with all aspects of training, not just the main lifts. If doing unsupported barbell rows aggravate your back, do chest supported dumbbell rows. It is a similar movement pattern without the potential lumbar stress. If you can’t press overhead with a barbell, can you use a Swiss Bar or neutral grip dumbbell pressing?
If shit hurts too much and isn’t getting any better, call a doctor, but if you are dealing with the wear and tear of beating yourself to death for your sport, you are going to have to modify how you train in order to find progress again.
Maybe you will never squat 700 pounds again, but you can front squat 365-405 which is more than most people will ever do.
When it comes to reinventing yourself, you are limited by your ego. Let it go and start feeling better.
“I am good enough, smart enough, and doggone it people like me”
Stuart Smalley had one thing right, you are good enough, but if people don’t like you either you are an asshole or you need a shower. Fix that.
Daily affirmations are going to be new for a lot of you, but when you are looking daily at the prospect of “shit, I can’t do what I used to do” you will need to have a mental escape before you are bogged down with the past.
I am going to give you some harsh words here, and they tie into the “kill your old self” part of this post.
You ready for them?
Who fucking cares? You are alive. You were able to compete at a level most people would never dare to try. It is over now, there isn’t any turning back, there is only moving forward.
Are you going to waste your time lamenting what was like you are a whiny child who wants candy or are you going to grab shit by the horns and move forward like a winner.
This is what separates the men from the boys, the ability to close one page, open another, and write a new story of victory.
This time, this victory is for the rest of your life, not for the short time you were on top of the world.
Reinventing yourself is hard, I deal with the mental aspects of it on a regular basis. I am supremely hard on myself, I will shame myself into change. While that isn’t for everyone, if you are a hard charger who used to throw caution to the wind, tough love will work for you.
Fuck what you used to be, go and create a new you.
These are your Daily Affirmations – stop living in the fucking past.
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