‘I’ll never be as fit as I was when I was thirty’ is a complaint (excuse?) that we often hear when talking to people about the Silver Grey Sports Club, when explaining that we write about and film people over the age of fifty who do extreme and adventure sports. People then almost inevitably indulge in nostalgia for some mythical youth with limitless energy with which to go out and enjoy life and all it has to offer.
The reality is that unless your name is Usain Bolt or Dina Asher-Smith it’s probably not true that you’ll never be as fit as you were at thirty. Unless you happened to be a world champion at something the chances are that you didn’t fulfil your potential entirely. And if you didn’t there may well be some ‘headroom’ to exploit to enable you to become more fit than you were at thirty. It all depends on how fit you were at that age. How fit were you - really?
That’s one way of looking at that probably baseless excuse for not doing everything you can to enjoy your later life, that’s to say keeping yourself in the best shape available to you, depending on your particular circumstances.
The other way is to turn the whole question around and look at it from a different perspective. Let’s say that you were somewhat in good shape at thirty, and now at fifty, sixty or whatever age from which you are looking back with regret at how you used to be and thinking ‘If only...'. Well, how about looking back at how you are now from the viewpoint of being ten, twenty, thirty years older than your current age? How will your current physical capability seem to you then? Probably quite acceptable, really!
The French have a saying which goes ‘Be happy with the face you have now as it’s the face that in ten years time you’ll wish you had’. Or at least they did. Perhaps they still do, unless they, like the rest of the world, have been taken over by the seemingly unstoppable idea that a face without wrinkles, however bizarrely shaped it has become, is the best thing you can do for yourself as you become older.
This idea, of looking at yourself now from a viewpoint decades in the future, can apply to your body as well as your face, it can apply to your physical capabilities.
Instead of bemoaning the changes that have taken place since you were thirty, have a think about how you will probably be when ten, twenty or thirty years older than you are now - then think about how good your current physical condition might appear from that viewpoint. That’s how good your body is now, how capable you are now, and that level of physical capability is what you can now look to preserve, or even improve. Seeing yourself now from the perspective of yourself at an age of twenty or thirty years older, you are a god! You have capabilities now that you will certainly envy quite as much in twenty or thirty years as you now do your thirty-year-old self.
So don’t just sit and bemoan how things used to be. The past has gone and can never be altered. But the future? That’s a different matter. The course of your future is quite uncertain and how it goes is very much in your own hands.
So, think about your thirty-year-old self if you must and wish you now had those physical capabilities. But the more positive thing to do is to take stock of how you are now, a condition that in twenty or thirty years time you’ll certainly wish you still had - and do everything you can to make sure that the body you have now ... is the body you’ll have then. Or at least as close as humanly - not surgically - possible!