Keeping healthy in your 20s is easy…in theory. Your metabolism is still on its speed binge leftover from puberty and, unless you’re dealing with a weight problem, you can usually burn off everything you eat fairly effortlessly.
Then you turn thirty. You think it would be a gradual, relatively smooth process of your metabolism slowing down, your joints occasionally feeling stiff or sore, and your stamina showing the early stages of petering off, so to speak. To rehash an adage from my parents’ generation, it’s as if your body’s warranty lasts until you’re thirty and on the morning after your thirtieth birthday, your body breaks down and you’re SOL. The things you did an the foods you ate now become either an asset or a major liability, and you put laser focus on these things that were formerly dismissed with youthful reckless abandon.
Now into my mid-thirties, I’ve come to realize that a lot of the bullshit cliches I heard from men when I was a child had some truth in them. I was under the impression that as long as I ate well (most of the time) and got plenty of exercise (when I could) that I would be fine. I discovered that this is true, but there was more to it that simple diet and exercise…or at least, it was easier said than done.
Rather than piss and moan that I’m not a teenager anymore and resign myself to getting the dreaded “dad bod” or simply saying “fuck it” and going full-on fat guy, I’ve made the decision to not be the guy who lets himself go as he ages and remind myself that there are men MUCH older than I am who are in amazing shape and don’t make the excuse that they’re adolescent days are behind them. Yes, I realize that people like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and the ageless Dorian Grey, I mean David Beckham, have millions of dollars and the world’s best personal trainers at their disposal. But they still have to put in the work. They still have to wake up in the morning, eat a breakfast of protein, healthy fats, and slow-digesting carbs. They still have the exact same twenty-four hours in a day that the rest of us get. And they get shit DONE.
Fortunately, while I lack the financial resources of these men and am aware that eating healthy in this country can be on the obscenely expensive side (looking at your, Whole Foods,) I do know what good nutrition LOOKS LIKE and I have sites like Men’s Health, AskMen, and The Art of Manliness as resources to guide me along the process. They’re not EXACTLY like having a ripped, tribal tattoo-sporting personal trainer named Brace barking “you got this” at me on the bench press as I clench my poor kegel muscles, but they’ve done the trick for years and never cease to be full of useful shit. (Disclosure: Yes…I am a schill for Men’s Health Magazine but an unpaid one, doing so voluntarily. I am open to this arrangement evolving into a professional one at any time, gentlemen.)
This may all sound completely self-explanatory and maybe even a bit kiss-ass at times. It is. On both accounts. The point of it all is that you guys in your mid-to-late twenties need to be told this. And not by your fathers, your mothers, or anyone who’s twenty or thirty years removed from crossing over into that decade that ostensibly makes us men and is a big indicator of how we’re going to live the rest of our lives; what kind of career(s) we have, what kind of husband and father we are going to be, and the legacy that we leave.
All of that is bullshit if your body is falling apart before you’re old enough to run for President (it’s 35 if your Civics knowledge isn’t what it should be.) Hearing that you need to “take care of your body” or that “at least you have your health” are not just platitudes that idiots rattle off without thinking twice. They are, and they do, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not true. Cliches exist for a reason, and if you treat your body like a trash can, you shouldn’t be surprised when it starts to resemble one, smelling awful and leaking a disgusting garbage juice cocktail, made up of god knows what.
So go to the doctor. Get that physical you’ve been putting off or have completely never considered. Skip any restaurant with a drive-through window. Shop on the outside walls of the supermarket. Do a damn yoga class. Get a workout partner and join the gym they just opened up near your house. Just don’t complain or keep saying that you’ll do it. It’s bullshit and you know it. Either do it or don’t. You either choose to live comfortably and feel great, or you look like Jabba the Hut before you’re forty.