6 Keys to Aging Healthfully

middle aged man in great shapeWhat Am I Doing Differently Than Other People?

As we enter a new year I have been reflecting on my potential life in 2014 – and the amazing possibilities that MAY lie ahead for me. This thought was coupled with an awareness of the many blessings I have been given by those that touched my life and enabled me to identify and become committed to my life purpose.

This life purpose is simply: To inform, inspire – and move to action – people of all ages to become more – and achieve more – in their own lives by practicing the 6 principles of healthy aging that I have used consciously – or unconsciously – throughout my own life.

This article is intended to illuminate our possibilities of living a healthy and productive life by becoming committed to inspired choices – and creating new paths of exploration – that truly inspire us to reach for more than we ever dreamed possible for ourselves!

6 Keys to Aging Healthfully

#1:  Make your health & fitness needs #1 in your life.

When I worked in the corporate world following my service in the Air Force, my continued focus on my fitness needs remained a priority in my life – regardless of the hours I worked, the miles I drove for work, or the demands placed upon me by my night time MBA program. I never failed to put my running program on my schedule so after these past 48 years I have remained faithful to this priority and to this day it remains at the top of my “to do” list. It is my position that we cannot be of service to others if we have NOT been of service to ourselves FIRST– and this includes family.

#2: Make your thoughts, words and behavior consistent with your belief systems and treat people the way you wish to be treated.

This key is designed to enhance not only your experience in life but also to elevate your consciousness of gratitude and forgiveness. Carrying outdated or unexpressed feelings of resentment, grief, guilt, anger or bitterness WILL make you age badly. The reality is that life is created from our perceptions of ourselves and our worth as we – and others – have defined them. Being “clear” about our self worth releases our inner power to transform our lives for the better. As I have been writing these articles I have been “discovering my voice” and this has given me my purpose for the years ahead. This process of revealing our true nature is a most important aspect of healthy aging. I have been told that I look 20 years younger than I am which gives me the feeling that I have been on the right track all these years. I read once in a journal that by the age of 50 we have the face that we deserve! What does your face look like to you today?

#3: Make your choices and decisions in life thoughtful ones and become accountable and responsible for every aspect of your life.

The “blame game” is a bad game to play when it comes to healthy aging and the way your life unfolds. Being “in the moment” allows you to reflect in “real time” about what is happening in your life. I never used to believe in the “power of the moment” and made many choices and decisions from my emotions and not from my rational side. In making poor choices I ended up with many painful consequences and it took years of growth and investigation on my part to learn the basic truth of life and that is that WE create EVERY aspect of our lives! Becoming aware of consequences BEFORE choosing can save us a great deal of unnecessary grief and discomfort. If you find you are in this situation just STOP and don’t decide until some time has passed and your emotions have calmed down.

#4: Make every effort to discover your purpose in life and be steadfast in moving toward your new life.

This particular key is what has been driving me since I became a speaker in the 80’s and started learning the principles of sharing what I have learned and believe is important with others. Learning to “walk the talk” is a lifelong process of connecting what we believe to be true with what others may need from us in order for us to help them correct something in their lives. “Telling” is NOT the same as sharing and inspiring others to act. I am NOT interested in telling people HOW to lives their lives but I AM interested in helping people see something in themselves that they may not be able to see because they may be too close to the issue to identify it clearly. Knowing WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU REPRESENT means everything when it comes to healthy aging because WHO YOU ARE speaks volumes BEFORE you ever say a word!

#5: Become a “critical thinker” and use BOTH sides of your brain – the creative and imaginative AND the rational.

Accepting “anecdotal” evidence as fact is not a good idea. It means that we cannot think for ourselves and as this process becomes a daily practice it becomes “habitual” and we seek out others for validation and reinforcement. I believe one of the challenges within the fitness industry is the notion of the “expert” – someone who is apart from us and KNOWS what is best for us. I also believe that the pharmaceutical industry and medical profession want us to believe that all they tell us is GOOD for us. Being on multiple medications is NOT the answer to life’s problems and relying on doctors totally makes no sense to me either. When my father was diagnosed with cancer in the early 80’s, he literally turned his body over to the doctors to “fix” and by 1983 he died anyway – a painful death which I observed firsthand. He was only 64 at the time of his death and that image of his struggle NEVER left me. I will NOT allow others to determine the outcome of my life – that is my job.

#6: NEVER MAKE EXCUSES – it is a loser’s game.

I have served hundreds of people over a 20 year span as a personal trainer and lifestyle consultant. They represented all ages and backgrounds from young to very old. The common theme among ALL of my clients was that they arrived at a decision to train after struggling on their own to solve complex emotional, physical, and lifestyle problems. The idea that we can REACT to life’s challenges and make sensible choices is totally wrong in my book. The corollary to this point is excuses. We MAKE excuses every day for what goes wrong in our lives and we often blame others when things don’t work out as we thought they “should”. I never found myself making excuses for NOT working out and I developed a philosophy over the years that said “if I am not sick or hurt, I am training”. This past 2 years I have accomplished a very difficult goal of running over 4000 miles. I have been feeling the pressure of that goal in these last weeks of 2012 and yet I am inspired and feeling a sense of exhilaration and accomplishment as I achieved this milestone on December 23rd. I could never have accomplished this lofty goal if I had made ANY excuses along the way. Everything in life comes with a price and my question to you is: “Is it worth my effort and am I willing to pay it?”

Final Thoughts

These keys to healthy aging have worked for me and ALL of them are still a “work in progress”. We NEVER arrive at a destination because life is always changing and everyday is unique providing us with new and unknown challenges to address.  Our ability to remain youthful depends entirely on our attitude and how we treat ourselves. It is the KEY to living a happy and fulfilling life.

I will NOT retire because with each day I grow older – and wiser – but NOT old. I am engaged, curious, happy, grateful, forgiving, open, receptive, active, loving, joyous, enthusiastic, powerful, and hopeful. This is, in the final analysis, the only thing that matters to me. The rest will take care of itself – including money and recognition – if they are to be.

Remember I am NOT telling you anything – I am merely sharing what has – and is – working in my own life that MAY help you as well. May your 2013 be a year of growth and discovery!

Author Profile: Nick Prukop

Website: HealthyHappyFit.com      Email: [email protected] Nick is an author, teacher, and speaker and has been a certified personal trainer and lifestyle and weight management consultant since 1992. He is currently recognized as a master trainer by the IDEA International Health and Fitness Association. He has been a runner since 1964 and has accumulated over 60,000 miles in that time.

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ask The Trainer.
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