April 6

Unsolicited Advice About Aging

Filed under Anti-Aging, More Than Raw Foods by Frederic Patenaude

Turning 40 #1a

Ever since I turned 40, less than three weeks ago, I’ve been hearing many pieces of (sometimes unsolicited) advice and opinions on what turning 40 is supposed to mean, and what I should expect in the next ten years.

These views are sometimes contradictory, so it shows me that people have different experiences when it comes to aging. I’ve listened to them, put them in a little corner of my mind, but have not incorporated all of them. I ask myself: is this person projecting their experiences or do they have something valuable for me to know?

A new co-worker I met is 45. He’s got the body of a marathon runner and looks trimmer than most 30-year-olds. After a few relationships that were too intense too quickly, and turned sour, he’s wised up when it comes to falling in love. “I used to get in way over my head and fall in love quickly. Now I’m taking my time!”

My hairdresser is 49. When I first met him, he had the “silver fox” look, which I thought looked great on him. But he’s someone who started going gray in his 20s, so he was never comfortable with this look. He’s tall and handsome, and his skin looks quite youthful. One day he got tired of the gray hair and dyed it. Now it’s hard for me to imagine him with gray hair. He’s dating like crazy but (so he says) will be 100% upfront with the women he meets about whether he thinks it’s going to work long term or not. So he has a high dating turnover. My first thoughts: I don’t want to have to go through that at 49! Oh, and he advertises that he’s 45 on dating sites…

Regarding health, I got many pieces of advice. From a few people, I heard “When I turned 40, my metabolism slowed down.” A few people told me that they started gaining weight more easily after 40. “I never had abdominal fat before!” At the same time, I met people in their late 40s who did not seem to have that problem.

I have a few great friends who are about 20 years older than me.

A close friend told me that turning 40 is the hardest. “I think the challenge is that when we come out of our 30’s and regain consciousness if you allow me to phrase it this way, we have two big emotions going on at the same time. We are craving and almost desperate to have what we don’t have yet, or to improve upon what we already have. We want want want…….and yet, we are almost desperately afraid too. Afraid that we’ve run out, or will run out of time, money, energy, opportunity; you name it. And yet what we need to do most is SLOW down and really think things through. It’s hard.”

My mom told me that she wasn’t a good place in her life when she turned 40. That’s when I realized that my parents got divorced at 39! She lost both of her parents after that while raising two teenagers. Tough years! I can appreciate that.

Another friend in his 60s recalls fondly the time when he was 41. “I was 30 pounds lighter. My hair was black. I had a mustache. I was FREAKIN’ YOUNG.”

Many people said — that 40s are the best. “You’ve worked out all the bugs in your 30s so you can now focus on enjoying life!”

I often heard that your 20s are for exploring, your 30s for consolidating your skills, networks, relationships, your 40s for thriving in your career and relationships, and hopefully if you’re in a good place by your 50s, to focus on enjoying your life! Although, it surely makes sense to enjoy life AND keep learning at any age.

One thing that stands out for me among all of this seemingly contradictory advice is this: now that you’ve made some mistakes, focus on what works and grow in the direction that you want!

I feel that my 30s were exciting and fun. I took lots of risks, made plenty of HUGE mistakes, learned new things about myself and made big progress in my life, but in the manner of three steps forward, two steps back.

Some of the efforts that seemed pointless in my 20s and 30s are paying off. I paid more attention to my diet and health than most people of my age, and now I find myself with a BMI of 22.5, normal blood pressure, no health issues and in reasonable, although not great, shape.

One thing that I’m glad I worked out in my 30s is my diet. The food experimentation was necessary to find what works, but it’s not something I could keep up for the rest of my life. It’s good to experiment, but once you’ve found what works, it’s about sticking with it! And my current diet works best for me regarding health, digestion, and energy.

One thing I had trouble focusing on in my 20s and 30s is exercise. I worked out on and off, but I never found a program that I stuck with for extended periods of time. I made many mistakes, suffered injuries from exercising the wrong way, had to take time off working out and had trouble finding a routine that worked for me.

After a couple years of learning from those mistakes, I think now that I have found what the problems were and how to work out in a way in a sustainable way, improving weak areas and strengthening the good ones.

One piece of advice that I heard is that when turning 40, there’s “no time to mess around.”

Or to put it in another way: don’t rest on your laurels.

How you live in your 40s will determine how you will spend your 50s, 60s, etc. This statement applies to the financial, health and relationship realms. Keep building and strengthening your social networks. Get on the program with exercise and diet. And save!

I’ve met people who did not seem to worry about any of this stuff. They simply got along with their lives. Some of them were happy, and some of them were not in a good place. Because of their attitude of “going with the flow,” they didn’t end up where they thought the river would lead them!

It’s all a question of perspective, but I found it interesting to write those thoughts and share them with you this morning.

Do you have any thoughts on turning 30, 40, 50 you’d like to share?

8 Responses to “Unsolicited Advice About Aging”

  1. Ronald Robertson says:

    Hi Frederic:
    Enjoy your blog, thanks so much.
    I am 64 so my next hurdle is “etc.” lol. I am happier and more adjusted than ever. Best romantic relationship of my life for past 18 months. I owe it to some nasty life experiences with religion, drugs, and my personal character defects. Been working 12 step program for 9 years, and so have a sense of spirituality independent of human dogma, started running just before my 60th birthday. Have always believed in variety and change up of any routines whether diet, activity, hobbies, etc. Just took up scuba diving which I had dreamed of all my life. Never had much medical intervention due in part to lack of money/insurance and I wonder whether that wasn’t a good thing. Smoked about 10 cigarettes in my entire life although I smoked a lot of a few other substances. I am so very grateful and humble now for the simple things and turn to sources outside my self for help and direction including you and my fellow recovering addicts. Funny how much more I enjoy sex, and just breathing now that I am not hung up on how I look and am doing in others eyes. I don’t know how you get that at any age cause I wished for it for much of my life except apparently in the 12 steps.

  2. Sandra Pita says:

    All you are sharing is true. I turned 40 on January and I am in a good place now. I struggled a lot in my 30s trying to find the perfect diet and perfect way to live, but all I did was to end frustrated and depressed because I couldn’t stick with what in my mind was the ideal diet, exercise and life style. So getting close to the end of my 30s, I was overweight and with a lot of health issues, so I decided I was not going to let my frustration to ruin my 40s. I started from zero and I’ve lost now all my extra weight, I’m in good shape, my BMI is 21,1, I regained my good health and I’m happier and more aware than ever of the great life than I have ahead. I’m not going to let past bad experiences to shade my future. Thank you for sharing Frederick, I always read your posts and I always like them 🙂

  3. Peter Tomkinson says:

    My favourite comedian (Billy Connolly) said that at age 40 he noted that his doctor was no longer interested in his manhood side and was focussing on the back-end. At 50 he noted that the hair in his nose and ears was growing thicker and faster than ever and feared what nature had in store that required this burst of growth.
    Approaching 60 he asked a musician friend what he should expect as was told, three things as he would not remember more then three. First, go pee every chance you get as you never know when you will desperately have to. Second, never trust a fart as you never know what will come with it and third, for a man never waste an erotic moment even if you are alone, they won’t come along so often.
    Native populations do not make such a fuss over age. You are a child in that you are not a responsible adult, then you are an adult, and then you are a wise older person and allowed to take life a little easier, although not meant sit on your butt every hour of the day mind. So live life to the full, it won’t come by again and who the hell cares what number it is. It is about how you use it not how many you have.

  4. Amy Guttery says:

    I looked at myself at 39 and decided to lose an excess of 50 pounds because I wanted to turn forty and fabulous. Turning forty felt better than any birthday yet!

  5. Carmen says:

    I worked 37 years as an international flight purser, service manager, flight attendant, and then was pulled into domestic runs because of airline acquisition. Starting with Pan Am, I went to TWA which was taken over by American….lots of battles, gender, age, locations (Vietnam, Middle East), familial (teenagers), equal pay for equal work, the right to keep your job past 35(!), union strikes, and so on. As a mother, commuter (commuted from Tel Aviv for 10 years to JFK, then BOS), and wife, university instructor, and other side jobs, there was never time to think about self-care, or care about age. I don’t remember turning 40. My system was to say I was older than I was. If I turned 41, then I made myself to be 45. That way, there was a surprise when I got to 45. Gee, I’m only 45? So now I am 75, if people ask, though I am really only 71 3/4. I have always battled bad habits, i.e., myself too. Still having such problems. We put too much importance on age when it’s the content of your life and what you do to improve it for yourself and others. Do include yourself, get into self-care. You can take care of others without taking care of yourself though, as I did it all my life. Now it’s my turn and I started with raw food becoming a raw chef and continuing with FP’s info on such things as how to take care of your teeth, gums, and mouth.

  6. Frederic Patenaude says:

    Congrats on the achievement!!!

  7. Viviane says:

    What I remember from Deepak Chopra’s book ”Ageless Body, Timeless Mind”, is that one of the reason why we age is that we think about age too often and we program our mind to age. I realized how true it is in so many instances. So, I focus on learning and having fun, instead of thinking of my age. I remember my 40’s as great and easy, the 50’s just as good with even more freedom, and in my 60’s, I decided to step out of my comfort zone! The cell is supposed to live until 120 if you give it what it needs and remove what it does not need, so I still have 60 years ahead of me!

  8. Kathleen says:

    I’m 70 yrs old & have never felt better. I believe the secret is to find something that you’re passionate about. The other secret is to do what you love. To keep me healthy I’m a fruitarian & sun gazer with strong practices in Tai Chi, yoga, & iRest Nidra Yoga (meditative yoga). I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. I barefoot walk with my dog every morning with the sunrise.

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