Saturday, June 5, 2010
Friday, May 7, 2010
I wouldn’t call it a “defining moment”, but it sure left a lasting impression.
It happened about 25 years ago, as I was approaching 30. I entered a 10K run with expectations of a personal best and finishing easily in the top third of the pack. I was in good shape and the run was going according to plan – well behind the elite runners - but feeling so good, that about five miles in, I picked up the pace. And then it happened! First one, then two, then four guys blew right by me. No big deal, except I noticed these guys all had something in common: each was thirty to forty years my senior! I stared ahead, incredulous, as they continued to pull away and eventually vanish from my sight. After the race, dejected and confused, I made a point to seek them out. What I soon realized was that I had nothing to be ashamed of. These guys were all dedicated runners in incredible shape. And it was at that moment that all the thoughts and stereotypes that I held about aging and about people over 50 being “old” changed forever.
That experience and my reformulated thoughts have stayed with me as I’ve aged, even as I’ve experienced first-hand most of the symptoms of the loss of youth. (Think pulled muscles, torn ligaments, back and hip pain, sciatica problems, chronic aching, etc.) And now, well into my 50’s, I find myself questioning the seemingly inevitable physical deterioration long associated with aging. Is it really attributed solely to age, or is a gradual change in lifestyle that’s been doing me in? After all, in my twenties, I fed my body a steady diet of tennis, racquetball, basketball, mountain biking and jogging, with regular visits to the gym mixed-in. Seems each year as I’ve grown older, some form of activity has fallen by the wayside, victim to a shrinking quantity of free time and growing responsibilities that seemed to chain me to my desk and computer. So then, was my noticeable decline due entirely to the natural aging process? Or was it more a consequence of my self-imposed sedentary lifestyle? (Translation; sheer laziness?)
In search of answers, I decided to embark on a bold experiment. One late night a few weeks ago, impressively multi-tasking (channel surfing while downing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s), I stumbled upon an infomercial that I’d come across before but always clicked off. But this time, I kept watching. Tony Horton, founder of the Beachbody series of exercise videos, was hawking his “mother of all workout” programs, the P90X (“X” stands for “extreme”). The first thing I noticed was that Tony is no spring chicken, maybe 45 or 50, but he’s got a physique that any twenty-year old would trade up for. His message has a powerful hook too: “P90X will get you in the best shape of your life”. But he doesn’t lure you with false promises. He straight up tells you you’ve got to work. Hard. “Bring it” every day for 90 days. The results are flaunted on the screen in a series of before and after photos of program grads (regular folk) who had undergone undeniable physical transformations.
So what? We’ve all seen this before. What got and kept my attention was Tony’s theory of “muscle confusion”. Stop doing all the same exercises day after day, he said. Whoa! That’s me, I thought! Doing the same routines 3 times a week in the gym had gotten me nowhere. Any muscle I had left was now buried under a growing layer of flab around my midsection. I had duped myself into a false sense of fitness, convinced that showing up at the same gym every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and going through the same motions on the same machines for 10 plus years was somehow enough to keep myself in tip-top shape. My muscles weren’t confused at all. They knew exactly what to expect. Even though I kept doing the same thing every time, I kept expecting different results. The classic definition of insanity! So as I sat there on the couch that night, suddenly everything made total sense. It was time to mix it up, to shock my body with alternating doses of yoga, aerobics, pull-ups (could I even do one anymore?), push-ups, stretches, weights, plyometrics and core exercises. In a nutshell, replicate the kind of lifestyle I had in my twenties when I was in good shape. I was genuinely inspired and actually looking forward to the inevitable torture.
Just before beginning my very first workout session, I was hit with an ominous disclaimer….”There are many fitness alternatives if you have weaknesses or are prone to injury, but P90X is not one of them”. I briefly hesitated, taking inventory of my many weaknesses, but decided to forge ahead anyway. Needless to say, the workout sessions are challenging. My breathing is labored and the sweat pours off my forehead in buckets. Yet something about the energy, the honesty and the encouragement packaged in each DVD makes me come back day after day, with a passion I haven’t felt for years. And Tony keeps things interesting with a unique combination of inspiration, comedy, corniness (there’s lot’s of this) and philosophy. Most of all, his enthusiasm and optimism is contagious. Halfway through the Kenpo X workout, he pauses briefly between sets to share his mantra: “I don’t believe in age. I don’t believe in aging. I believe in moving and eating good. Take care of your body and it will take care of you. You keep getting older but you can get better.” Wow! There it was. Tony Horton, a giant in the field of physical fitness, fully embracing the NOT DEAD YET message, an unknowing ambassador of resilience, spirit and wisdom. My excitement over this workout regiment became so infectious, that before long I had Frank, my fellow Original NOT DEAD YET Guy, ordering the DVD’s and courageously committing to the program.
I’m about halfway through the 90 days now and already feeling sensational. My daughter called the other day to remind me of the upcoming community 5K/10K run. Maybe with a few more weeks of P90X under by belt, I can pull off a personal best. And maybe, just maybe, I can shock a few twenty-somethings down the homestretch.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Too Old For Braces?
That was a question I asked myself several years ago when I first considered improving the appearance of my teeth. It was one of those “gosh I am no longer a young guy anymore” questions I think we all have. Is it too late to try to make myself look better? Before we get off track, let me make it perfectly clear (as our infamous former president once said) that I am not one of those guys who is going through a mid-life crisis (or am I?) and I am not a fan of plastic surgery or any other what could be termed “artificial means” of improving my appearance. I do not want at any time to be injected, inserted, inflated, or deflated, or any of the myriad means we can use to change our appearance. I am a strong believer in eating right, exercising, and maintaining balance in life as the most reliable and best means of remaining healthy and youthful in body and spirit. I just was asking myself would it be too self indulgent to get braces on my teeth at my ripening age?
Like many of you old enough to remember, my elementary school would have an annual dental day where we would all line up, class by class, and a dentist would briefly examine our teeth. I distinctly remember the dentist saying to me and then checking the box on the form to take to my parents “recommend orthodontist”. Of course, when I brought the form home, my parents just said “honey, your teeth are fine”. Sound familiar anyone? Well, because my teeth weren’t really bad and were relatively free of cavities, I just didn’t think about it for another, oh 40 years! But as many of you who are now parents know, we started putting braces on our kids’ teeth as early as the 3rd grade in some cases and the use of an orthodontist is as common for our kids as the 6 month check up was for us. All three of my kids had braces and all three have incredibly perfect teeth and beautiful smiles. And then shockingly in the last few years, my kids started giving me a hard time about my teeth! The nerve! I figured I had invested about $15,000 or more on their perfect smiles and now they are giving me grief? Oh the injustice of it all! Well, I thought about it for about two years off and on and the more I thought about it the more I became convinced I should do it. My wife, being the angel that she is, told me I was being silly and that my teeth were just fine and that I just needed to whiten them. I said oh thanks!
Now, not only were my teeth in need of braces, but now they need whitening too? Oh the pain and reality of middle age is sometimes tough to take! Well practical guy that I am, I just figured that the most inexpensive way to improve the appearance of my teeth was to whiten them and I thought I could do that without being too self indulgent. I paid a visit to my dentist and took the steps to have trays made and soon was feeling very good about my newly bright white teeth. Incidentally, I do recommend this as a boost to your self esteem. I immediately felt better about my teeth and even received a few positive comments (not that I needed that kind of shallow reinforcement, at least that is what I kept telling myself). But white teeth and all did not satisfy my adorable kids with the perfect smiles who remained unafraid to point out my flaws! I kept trying to think of a reason that a man my age could get braces without it being perceived as a total self indulgent endeavor (other than getting my kids off my back). For years my “former” dental hygienist would comment on the crowding of my lower teeth and how difficult it was to clean them (I finally changed my dentist about 10 years ago after years of this semi-annual reminder of how difficult my mouth was to work on). My new dentist is a goddess by the way and I never miss an appointment! My new dentist, and her dental hygienist, never pointed out my flaws, but responded very positively when I asked about whitening, and also when I had my several conversations with her about braces. She is the one who encouraged me to move ahead and that she had numerous patients in their 40’s or 50’s who decided to get braces and were very happy with the result. She even opined that it just might have a positive effect on plaque build-up and gum health by realigning. Now that was good reason! It would enhance the health of my mouth! I had my excuse! As I considered this option, my good friend and fellow Original Not dead Yet Guy, Vince, showed up at lunch one day with a mouth full of metal! It was all the additional reinforcement I needed to get me over the hump.
I immediately made the appointment with the orthodontist recommended by my goddess dentist and was on my way. I was fortunate that my “bite” didn’t need adjustment so I was a good candidate for “Invisalign”. Invisalign does the same job as traditional braces but are less visible, but somewhat more expensive. They are a series of trays that slowly but surely, just like traditional braces, realign your teeth. And unlike my good friend Vince, no rubber bands! I began my regimen and in 18 months, I had the teeth that my kids could no longer abuse me over. It was well worth the time invested and my teeth have never been healthier as a result. Much less plaque during my routine cleanings, my gums are healthier, and most importantly, I smile even more now than ever. And isn’t that what life is about? So if you are thinking about getting braces on your teeth and you are no longer in your teens or twenties, I say go for it! You are NOT DEAD YET and should never be afraid to look your best. You deserve it!
Sunday, March 7, 2010
NOT DEAD YET – Attitude of Gratitude
NOT DEAD YET is up and running and I must say I’m amazed at the range and diversity of our initial followers. NOT DEAD YET truly transcends all age, genders, and lifestyles.
NOT DEAD YET has attracted a group of college kids on the East Coast and Extreme Snow Boarders in California. We’ve heard from military veterans appreciative of their freedom and thankful to be alive. We’ve heard from Moms that have raised their children and want to get back to school or start a second career. There are also so many people dealing with the toughest financial times they’ve ever faced. Regardless of the circumstance or obstacle, they all believe The Best is Yet to Come.
The most emotional Not Dead Yet Fans are those that have faced life threatening situations or illnesses. David Liddy is one of those survivors, you can read his amazing story on the NOT DEAD YET Facebook page Discussion Tab. Another beautiful story came from a lady that lost her brother to cancer. She said that even though he’s not with us he would have loved the NOT DEAD YET message.
Barbara responded to our first blog, “I’m so grateful for the perspective that comes with age, and the humility to appreciate the vastness of truths yet to be revealed. My favorite quote of late is: If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space!” What’s yours?” You can read the rest of Barbara’s comments from the first blog on our website.
There have been numerous others that have embraced the NOT DEAD YET theme as their new mantra. We’re so thankful that this message is inspirational to so many. That’s what makes this endeavor so enjoyable. There’s a NOT DEAD YET passion waiting to erupt in all of us.
NOT DEAD YET folks share many common qualities. One that I’ve noticed is they have an “Attitude of Gratitude”. There’s something special about people that appreciate what they have. I read somewhere that the healthiest human emotion is not love but gratitude. It actually increases your immunities. It makes you more resistant to stress and less susceptible to illness. People who are grateful are happy. But people who are ungrateful are miserable because nothing makes them happy. They’re never satisfied. It’s never good enough.
So if you cultivate the attitude of gratitude, of being thankful in everything, it reduces stress in your life.
I enjoy collecting positive affirmations. Here’s on I received this week that I wanted to share with you. Enjoy.
I am Thankful: For the wife who says its hot dogs tonight, because she’s is home with me, and not out with someone else.
For the husband who is on the sofa being a couch potato, because he is home with me and not out at the bars.
For the teenager who is complaining about doing dishes because it means she is at home, not on the streets.
For the taxes I pay because it means I’m employed
For the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.
For the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat.
For all the complaining I hear about the government because it means we have freedom of speech.
For the alarm that goes off in the early morning because it means, I AM ALIVE.
Live well, Laugh often, & Love with all of your heart!
Do you have an Attitude of Gratitude? What are you thankful for?
Thanks for reading and Please continue to share the NOT DEAD YET MESSAGE. Optimism & Hope are contagious.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
NOT DEAD YET PHOTO CONTEST
Greetings NOT DEAD YET Fans! Thank you so much for your loyal support of our online store launch last week. Now we want to provide you an opportunity to GET LUCKY, and enter our St. Patrick’s Day Photo contest. When you purchase a NOT DEAD YET shirt from notdeadyet.com, please take a photo of yourself wearing it and post it to our NOT DEAD YET Facebook page. The photo of you wearing your NOT DEAD YET shirt posted by midnight March 16th will qualify your name for our St. Patrick’s Day Raffle. And yes, all of you that already purchased a shirt are eligible to win. The Original Not Dead Yet Guys will pick two winners on St. Patrick’s Day, Wednesday March 17th and the winners will receive a $50 American Express Gift Certificate. The raffle will be videoed and posted to our Facebook page later that day. We look forward to seeing your smiling faces! Good Luck everyone and don’t forget to identify yourself or tag your photo so we know who you are.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Frankly Speaking, February 5th, 2010
Welcome to the inaugural NOT DEAD YET Blog. I’m Frank and I am one of the Original Not Dead Yet Guys. You may be wondering what all this “Not Dead Yet” stuff is all about. For me, it started when I noticed how some people began addressing me as sir, or treating me like I was an old man. Hey I’m only 53! I don’t feel 53, ok sometimes I do physically, but not mentally. In my mind I’m still 35. So back up, I’m Not Dead Yet. I don’t have to submit to this misconception “Not Dead Yet” for me simply means, I’m not done yet. I’ve got a lot left to give, a lot left to do. I’m not slowing down…I’m just getting started, the best is yet to come!!!
Lately I’ve been reflecting on my life experiences. Taking a look back at where I’ve been, where I’m at now, and what I’d like to be doing. When I was younger I remember listening to Zig Ziglar at a motivational conference. He was about 65 at the time and he said something I remember to this day. He said “I figure it’ll be about 20-30 more years before I even peak”. I liked his attitude then and I like it even more now.
Together, we Original Not Dead Yet Guys came up with three words that exemplify what NOT DEAD YET is all about; Resilience, Spirit, Wisdom.
Resilience – People who never give up regardless of what obstacles life throws at them; they refuse to lose. People who are survivors and can’t wait until tomorrow because they’re getting stronger every day.
Spirit – People with the Spirit of Joy, Appreciation, Adventure, Passion, and Compassion
Wisdom – People who have experienced life, who are wise enough to know that we’re all unique but also share many similarities. Wise enough to know that they’re never too smart to learn. Wise enough to be content with who they are. Wise enough to realize that while they can’t change the past, they can influence the present and the future.
I’ve got 4 wonderful children, ages 12 thru 21 and a beautiful two and a half year old granddaughter. I want to see what the world has in store for them. I want to learn how to play the piano, learn to speak Italian, complete my MBA, and travel with my beautiful wife. I want to volunteer and serve others and give back to my community. Maybe I’ll be a High School teacher and a baseball coach. Something I’ve always wanted to do. It feels like halftime for me. There’s so much more to learn and do.
I know I’m not the only one in this state of mind. What about you? What do you think about? What would you like to accomplish? Are you inspired by people who are adventurous, still growing and taking on new challenges? Are you full of life? Do you see the best in others and want to make an impact where you can?
Please share your Not Dead Yet story or the story of someone you know. Optimism and Hope are contagious. Keep an eye out at notdeadyet.com. The Grand Opening is coming real soon.