Why I believe we should resist aging. Just like Papa did.

A few months ago I published a video titled, ‘Why at 50 I look my age‘.

The point of this was not to make a judgment on myself over how I’ve aged, but to add my voice to the #ilookmyage social media campaign which wants to challenge stereotypes and the cycle of comment around how old or young someone looks for their years.

We celebrate the stars who look ‘youthful’ in later life, compounding the anxiety felt by those who feel they don’t measure up.

BUT, this doesn’t mean I think we should lie down to age and have it do its worst to us. Not at all.

Saying no to ageism isn’t accepting the downsides of aging

In fact, as I start moving through my fifties and further down the line of trying to figure out what aging well looks like, I can tell you for sure what it doesn’t look like.

Allowing your muscular strength to decline and your weight to build are a fast-track to mobility and health problems.

Not keeping socially and mentally active can contribute to cognitive decline.

And poor skin health – skin that is chronically dry and/or irritated, heavily sun damaged and possibly experiencing some level of underlying inflammation, has also been linked with wider health problems.

I’m sympathetic to those anti-ageism campaigners like Luisa Dunn, who is doing a great job on social media of calling out the prejudice and miss-held conceptions we might have around what it means to age well.

Luisa Dunn, model and anti-ageism campaigner in one of her Instagram posts
Luisa Dunn, model and anti-ageism campaigner

She, and others, are concerned we are instilling a fear of aging among ourselves and younger generations.

It’s a valid concern.

We shouldn’t fear aging, but I for one fear loss of mobility and loss of memory and I want to do everything I possibly can to make sure I hold on to them until the end ideally.

While I can’t guarantee it because genetics play their part and we don’t know what’s around the corner, I can try.

We don’t have to be biohackers to age well

I also regularly have my days where I fall well short of eating as healthily as I might have intended or getting as much exercise as I could do. I’m no biohacker in that sense and I don’t think we have to live ultra-strict lives to age well.

It’s more about your general behaviors in the sense of what you eat and drink, your attitude and overall activity levels that make the difference.

So as much as I think we should portray aging as a positive thing, I think it’s even more powerful to portray ‘aging well’ positively.

My grandfather (Papa) was fully mobile, driving and enjoying life up until his last breath at 91 and those are the footsteps I’m trying to follow in.

He never identified with the idea of being old. He refused to slow down and worked in a care home until his late eighties, despite being older than many of the patients he was helping.

My grandfather sitting arms folded in a restaurant.
My aging inspiration, Papa.

One of the most common criticisms I receive on my YouTube channel when I’m exploring how to age well, is that I’m not facing up to the inevitable – and even making people feel bad about aging.

But at a time when life expectancy is actually FALLING in the US and UK, when health services are overwhelmed with an aging population in poor health, I feel it’s more critical than ever to be honest with ourselves and others.

Without committing to living an active lifestyle and eating a diet based around natural foods that best support it, we dramatically increase our risk of age-related disease at an earlier stage.

We have a choice

And just as I want to protect my bones, my muscle, my gut health and my brain, I also want to protect my skin.

Vanity is involved and I don’t deny it, but damaged skin that is not protected from the sun is a contributor to health issues. We are learning more about this with every passing year and so there is good reason to look after our skin.

So, age resistance may be getting a bad rap for being ageism dressed up as a health movement, but there is an important message there.

We have little to fear from aging if we can embrace the many positives it brings while resisting the pressures it can put on our health and mobility.

Aging is a natural process we should accept. Even healthy, protected skin ages as will muscle and bone, but we have the tools to slow the speed of decline.

So I’ll continue walking in my grandfather’s footsteps in the hope they lead me to the same place.