A Young Man at 31

Yesterday I turned 31. I spent the day at a local amusement park with some of my students, my wife, and because our schools both planned a day to the same amusement park, also Jonathan. All-in-all a pretty cool way to spend a birthday. I am not one to moan about getting old. My life has gotten so much better as I have gotten older. When I was in my early 20s I was a depressed, whiny, college student. Maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but I wouldn’t trade my current life for my teens or early 20s. Now, I feel much more disciplined and stable, spiritually, mentally, and in how I approach my health. I guess that is what a fully developed brain does for a person! I am in a happy marriage. I enjoy where I live, and get to keep up with my friends in person, and with others, on Facebook. So, you see, I have no desire to be 15, 18, 21, or whatever again.

Nonetheless, being 31 brings challenges that I wouldn’t have had to face as a younger man. I believe that I am in the best shape of my life. I don’t want to sound like I am bragging, so I will save you the details, except to say that I exercise more, eat better, and weigh less than I did in high school. When I was younger, I knew I could mess around my health and still be basically healthy. At 31, I can’t do this any more. My knees were beginning to hurt a few years ago. The reason was that I was trying to be active, but carrying too much weight. As I lost weight, my knees finally started feeling a little better. However, to truly improve my knees, I had to take extra steps, namely working out my quads more. I went from leg-curling roughly 50 pounds, to being up to 190 now. Yeah, I think my quads were crying out for development! I use this as example of something that I would have just “gotten over” as a younger man, but that at my age, I have to watch and maybe work a little harder on. I also have to start thinking about preventing cancer, heart disease, and other conditions which are more common among older peopple.

Some of the things I do to help ward off the bad effects of aging (as opposed to good effects, like maturity, which I will gladly keep) include the following:

– exercising intensely regularly

– lifting weights every other day

– keeping my brain sharp by reading, writing, etc

– eating foods high in fiber

– eating foods high in Monounsaturated fats

– eating foods high in Omega 3 fats

– eating foods rich in phytonutrients (e.g. cabbage, broccoli, onions, etc)

– getting fresh air

– getting plenty of Vitamin D

– praying and worshiping regularly

– taking Knotweed supplements, a source of Resveratrol

– taking enzyme supplements

– hanging out with family and friends

– minimizing stress

– enjoying life! Everyday is a new great day. Seriously. I am alive.

Reflections on Being an Old Man

Tomorrow I turn 31. It’s not as eventful as turning 30 when I felt kind of depressed that I’d left behind the 20’s for good. Each birthday is often a mixture of depression and happiness. Happiness because I’m alive and healthy another year, depressing because I’m a year older. Nothing wrong with being older, except that I work in a field of youth (teaching) and our society values youthfulness more than anything. I remember when a student of mine said that caring about voting was something only an old person did, you know, like someone who’s 30. She is Korean, so maybe it was a language barrier. Nah. I do care about voting, I have and love my family, I enjoy the McLaughlin Group, and I think contemporary pop music sucks. But, I’m hardly Grandpa Simpson. I also workout almost daily, can outrun, outlift, and outlast guys and girls half my age. And, most importantly I can usually out-think them, which I’ve discovered helps achieve a whole lot in athletics and fitness. Another student told me I looked 18, which was a nice, but real lie. I think I’m somewhere in the middle: not as old as I fear, but not 18 either. And, my friends, that’s a good thing.

In fact, I think I’m doing pretty damn well. I’m at my fittest, healthiest, and in spite of everyday challenges, my happiest. The 20s were a struggle where some things worked, but a lot did not, sometimes disastrously. In the 30s, I feel in the zone, at least most of the time. So, while I take a lot of anti-aging supplements (resveratrol, anyone?), eat healthily, workout a lot, and have begun applying wrinkle reducing face creams, I’m pretty comfortable with 31. Maybe it’s because I’m fighting the 30’s with everything alternative medicine can offer; or maybe I’m in denial. Either way, I think 31 and beyond will be good years.