The Lie of Aging – Part 1

I’ll make sure I start today’s post with how to contact us because I believe I might ruffle a few feathers today as I get into the subject that rears its head in every single talk that I do, and in probably every conversation that I have.  It is the topic that I speak on the most. And it’s one that really goes against the grain. I’m hoping to change your mind today, I’m hoping that we can put to bed one of the oldest lies known to man. And you’ve heard me refer to it as “the lie of aging”. It’s a large topic.  And it’s so ingrained in our thought process, that it’s going to take me more than one post to do this. So make sure you keep up with it, check out all the posts because we’re going to do a five-part series on The Lie of Aging.  This all started 35 years ago, with a conversation, an argument actually, if you will, with a rather prominent physician, who I have the utmost respect for, and I still do. This conversation dealt with how we age and whether or not we deteriorate as time passes on the calendar. It’s grown to such a point now that not only do I speak on it, not only do different podcasts and blogs on it, but I actually have a book coming out by the same title. And this is the subject matter that we’re going over today. Now I’ve got to give you some background and why I call it the “lie of aging”. Why I say it’s a new thought process that we have, it’s one that we really need to put to bed so I’m going to give you some background on it and where this came from and point out how you’ve probably thought some of these same things yourself. So I’m gonna start off with a couple of headlines. These are headlines of articles that I have clients bring me all the time and I think you’ll start to see a running theme here. The first one is in the water you’re weightless, The 99-Year-Old Swimmer Breaking Records!  Number 2: A 75 and Over Florida Softball League is Keeping Seniors Healthy & Active. 104-Year-Old Cyclists Named World’s Greatest Centenarian Athlete.  Don Pelmet Goes Above and Beyond at Sunday’s San Diego Senior Olympics. Now of course, with my background, I’ve got to put this one in here. 79 year Old Woman is Pole Vaulting Record Breaker!  These 80 Year Old Athletes Will Blow Your Mind.  Athletes Oer 60 Who Can Kick Your Butt, and Meet the 98 Year Old 100 Meter Runner and His Biggest Rival, Who is 96. The reason I bring these articles up is to note the running theme here- the amazing things that people who have been on this earth a long time, who have many years on the calendar, people of “age” are doing.  I’m sure that you’re familiar with articles like this. And back when there were newspapers, these were very common. You see these things pop up on social media, they’re usually big, bold headlines. They’re amazing stories.  The reason I bring these up is that I’ve been in this field now for 28 years. And whenever we see these types of articles, we’re always amazed. Flabbergasted. Oh, my Lord, 100 Year Old Man Breaks Five Olympic World Records. I mean, those do sound like amazing stories. And they are the reason why 35% of the clientele that we see in our facility are over the age of 65. Of course, this is great stuff. I think it’s amazing. I think it’s fantastic. But unbelievable?  I don’t think so.  I’m not going that far. Let me tell you why. 


You know I like to use analogies. Analogies take the connotations out, so that’s why I use them a lot. For this analogy, let’s talk about machines and the oldest car. I’ve talked about this before in one of my podcast episodes. La Marquis is the world’s oldest running automobile, and it was built in 1884. And it’s still running today. One of the oldest machines ever built is a light bulb. It’s been providing illumination for 115 years. The oldest lightbulb is located in a firehouse out in Northern California. The oldest airplane was built in 1909 and is still flying today. It is used in exhibitions. It’s not foreign for us to think that these machines that have been around for a long haven been kept up and well maintained. They’ve been taken care of and maintenance has gotten better over the years. But there were better techniques for taking care of the motors, taking care of the engines. What happened is that people have cared for them and they’ve made sure that these machines are still going; it’s a labor of love. I mean these car collectors typically like going to see other classic cars. They love these motors and take really good care of them. The one thing you don’t hear them talk about though is how long that machine will last. In fact, if it’s a collector car, collector watch, or any other collector machine, these machines usually increase in value. As time passes on the calendar, they go up in value. If they were like we think the human body is, well then, they would go down in value. And the reason being is that we would expect them to deteriorate every single year, just like we believe we deteriorate every year. But instead, these machines go up in value. I’ve talked about this before, the V8 engine was invented in 1902, and in the 1930s, Ford and Chrysler actually got into perfecting it. So we’ve been studying this machine for about 80 years. And I would guess that the original V8 engine, we know pretty much everything there is to know about that V8. Now there are still improvements people are doing, I understand that. But as far as how the machine itself works, we know everything there is to know about it and have known for years. Well, the human body is the most complex, sophisticated, smart machine ever produced, ever created. And we have been studying this machine basically, since the beginning of time. I did some digging and found out that the first autopsies on human bodies were carried out in 300 BC, in Alexandria, Egypt, and the first ones were actually carried out on some criminals. And they said that the king actually was involved in some of the dissections. So that means we’ve been studying the human body for over 2000 years. What’s interesting about that, though, unlike the V8, we don’t know that all there is to know about the human body. We’ll learn some more next year, we’ll know more, probably next month.  We’ll know more because there are studies that are constantly going on. This is why it’s called the science of medicine. But the reason I bring those up is that, unlike a classic car, classic boat, classic plane, that’s been well taken care of, and goes up in value. We don’t think of those machines as deteriorating as years go by. But we do believe that the human body every year is deteriorating strictly because of time. And what’s so ridiculous about that is unlike those other machines that I mentioned, that go up in value that is going to get better.  If somebody else buys this car, he’s going to maintain it even better. Unlike those machines, this machine, the human body, can take care of itself and take care of a lot of its own problems. It fixes a lot of its own problems and when maintained, it will replace almost every part of the machine over a course of time on the microscopic level. But we still believe that every year it’s going to get worse. 


For the machines I mentioned earlier, obviously, the reason they’re kept up is that the mechanics have had copious amounts of time with that engine.  If you have a collector that’s buying a 60s model, let’s go with Shelby Cobra, one of my favorite cars. Most likely he’s had some time with a Shelby Cobra, he’s spent some time working on them. So it’s not his first oil change. He knows some advanced techniques with that. And that comes with time with the machine, time with the equipment. Well with the human body, If you are 60 years old, you’ve had that machine for 21,900 days. If you’re 75, that’s 27,375 days, let’s jump ahead. If you’re 99 years old, you’ve had that machine, knowing how it operates, knowing how to maintain it, knowing how it works now on how to make it faster, and how to improve it. You’ve had that for 36,135 days. Now if we think of an athlete, and the first time he ever steps foot on a football field, we don’t expect dynamic things out of this individual. Sure you’ll have a phenom go out there and do some things that most people starting don’t do. But I don’t know of any athlete that stepped on the field and was the best that they ever were on their very first day. Why? Well, they spend time practicing, making themselves better with the more time that they have, they get better. Think about it. A rookie in the NFL, he’s played for years, but he’s still a rookie.  The coaches are worried about him starting the game. They’d rather he’d be a veteran before he should start because he’s gonna know more. He’s got more time. He’s got more time to get better. Well, it’s this exact same point I’m making. We’ve had this machine for all this time. We’re not rookies, this machine that replaces its own parts, this machine that can fix many of its own problems. We’ve had it for a long time. But still, we think that the machine’s going to get worse tomorrow. That’s what I refer to as the lie of aging. Now, I always like to start out with a definition. My definition of the lie of aging is; the inherent belief that the human body deterioration is inevitable, solely due to time passing on the calendar. That’s what many people believe aging means; the inherent belief that the human body is automatically going to deteriorate only because of time passing on the calendar. Maybe you’ve heard these words talking about fighting aging. Well if you don’t believe that you get worse, you deteriorate strictly because time passes on a calendar. If you don’t believe that then why are you fighting something there’s nothing to fight. It is a made-up competitor buying age-defying products. Why do we have such a thing as age-fighting products just because time passes on a calendar?  If we didn’t believe that we automatically deteriorate because time passes on the calendar.  This whole thought process of age being an enemy. It’s ridiculous. I’ll show you what I mean if we think that age, and whenever you mention age to somebody, you’re talking to somebody of age, and you’re talking about age, you’re talking about negative, you’re talking about deterioration. That’s what you’re talking about. So if that were true, then the Age of Enlightenment, the Industry age, the Romantic Age, all of those would be the deterioration of those particular ideas. Age of Extensionism was not the deterioration of it, it was actually the enhancement of it. But yet, when we think of our human bodies we think of ourselves deteriorating.  How about happy youth, as I call it, the happy youth thoughts.  You’re going to be surprised that as a personal trainer, I’m actually saying this, that I feel that this is a negative phrase, “you’re only as young as you feel”. The reason I say this is a negative phrase is that that sounds happy. And I know that a lot of people in my field like to say that, but by doing that, you’re classifying age as a determinant or measurement of wellness or fitness.


Here’s your reminder to drink water. I want everybody to stay hydrated. And we have a fun drinking game here.  When I drink water, I want you to drink water. If we’re talking about youth, we’re talking about age, the fountain of youth, as I call it is water and protein and I make sure I stay hydrated please, you stay hydrated too. 


Back to happy youth phrases. “How old would we be if we did not know how old we are?”  Let me say that again.  “How old would we be if we did not know how old we are?” I like this quote, I think it’s fantastic. But again, we’re putting age as a determinant of ability. And here’s another one. “ _______ is the new ________.  I’ve heard this for so many years and the numbers keep changing, but let’s just say that “60 is the new 30”. Again, they’re absurd, ridiculous things that create aging as an enemy to happy youth comments. Now you get the backhanded compliments also, and this is where again, these are things that I’m sure you have heard. You may have used these phrases.  You may have thought about this, and this is why I’m showing that we you think of age as just deteriorating.  The backhanded compliments. “You look good for your age”.  There was a lady in France, who was the oldest living human. They used to wheel her out on her birthday because she broke another record and they wanted to interview her and hear what she had to say about all the things she does, or avoids, of course.  And somebody said to her, “You look great for your age”. And she just smiled and said, “Exactly what are you using as a point of reference?” Because she’s the only person that’s been that old.  But I think that’s a backhanded compliment. You look great for your age.  What’s that got to do with anything?  One of the phrases that are actually causing a problem: when a health practitioner of any sort tells you, “you’re doing great for your age”. Or if you have a problem that you mention to your doctor, and the first thing they ask you is what your age is.  If I had an injury or something wrong on a part of my body, and I showed it to my healthcare practitioner (or chiropractor, doctor, personal trainer, physical therapist, occupational therapist, massage therapist, whoever), and they said, well, Garrett, is that blond hair that you have? Yeah, man that caused me to develop a complex about the color of my hair. This kind of talk is incredibly dangerous. I’ll show you why; it leads to self-limiting, not only taught but also thought. It leads you to start thinking that way about yourself.  “Well, Garrett, I, I’m 63, man I’m not sure I can do that”. I ran into a man downtown one night at one of our art walks. And he was working with a humane organization, and we were talking about Animal Rescue. And I was talking to him about possibly fostering and he said, “Yeah, I’d love to but man, you got to understand, I’m 53”. That was the first thing he started with? “I’m 53”. I thought of a couple of things. I was like, firstly, why are you starting this whole conversation with your age? What’s that got to do with the price of tea in China? And the other thing I thought was that I’m 51, I guess I got a lot of deteriorating to catch up on. I’m way behind this guy. There’s a lot of lifestyle changes, in a negative way, that needs to happen in order to catch up to him. But again, I can understand why he starts with that because we’ve made that normal in our society. We’ve made that determinant on fitness level and ability. 


On the other hand, there are some popular magazines that come out with this topic every year or every other year. I’m actually looking at my computer right now because a presentation that I give has three of them: one from Time magazine, one from National Geographic, and one from the Washingtonian.  Right around the first year, you’ll see one of these come out, and it has a picture of a baby. And on the cover, it’ll say something along the lines of, this baby will live to be some magical, large number, that blows our mind and makes us want to buy the magazine.  I’ve got one that says 100. The next one says 120.  Another one that says this baby will live to be 142 years old. Our life expectancy is increasing. If I asked you that, you would tell me it’s increasing. In the 1850s the average life expectancy was 35 years, in 1972, 73 years life expectancy, in 2008 it was 76, and in 2019 it was 78.7 years. We know that we’re living longer, I don’t think anybody debates that we expect to live longer, but we constantly believe that we are deteriorating, I think I’ve more than soundly beat that to death. 


Let me take you to the next part, boil this down a little bit. There are five components of aging. Now, these aren’t Garrett’s Five Components. These are the five components of aging. They are genetics, stress, nutrition, activity/fitness level, and healthcare. Genetics, stress, nutrition, activity/fitness level, and healthcare. Of those five components, four of them are 100% controllable, they are 100% your responsibility. If you want to get even more direct, they’re 100% your fault. And that’s a good thing. I’ll tell you why. Well, first thing, let me tell you the fifth one that’s not controllable: genetics.  You can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your parents. But other than that, stress, nutrition, fitness/activity, and health care are 100% controllable. And like I say, they’re your fault- trust me, you want it that way. Think about it. If it’s up to you, then you have control of it. You can decide which way it goes. If you want to go downhill, fine. But if you want to get better go for it. It’s no different than a basketball player with three seconds left on the clock, and the coach looks at him, and he’s a star player, says what do you want to do? And he says, Give me the ball. I want the responsibility. I can make this happen. If you have kids. And I said to you, their success, their health, and wellness, or whether or not they’re going to be successful is 100% up to you, I bet they would be successful. And that’s why you want control of these things. But that’s not really what I’m talking about. 


Wow, all, this time, you’re talking about aging. Now you say that after the five components of aging, you’re not talking about aging? No, that’s not what we’re all concerned with. Your main concern is, you know, Garret, gosh, if I could just do all those amazing things I did back when I was picked an age. And the reason I say pick an age is that some people were dynamic at age 23. Some people felt it was 17. Some people thought, 35. And there’s no magic number in there. But if you could physically do all of those things that you could do at that magic age in your mind, if you could still do that. And if you could do it the rest of your life, would you feel that you had aged as we believe it? If you could do all of those things now and do it for the rest of your life the same way, same abilities, same everything, would you really feel like you had aged? What are we talking about?  We’re talking about ability.  I’m not talking about age spots, not talking about gray hairs. I’m not your guy for that,  I could care less about that. What I care about is ability. Well, there are four components of ability. Just like I said about the five components of aging, these aren’t Garrett’s Components of Ability. These are the actual four components of ability. Number one is activity or fitness level. Number two is nutrition. Number three is a lifestyle. And number four, if you don’t hear anything else I’m saying today if there’s anyone post out of this five series that you pay attention to and get something out of, and understand, is that fourth one, and that fourth one is the mindset. And that is the most important one.  If you get the fourth one wrong, it doesn’t really matter what you do with the other three.   Activity, fitness level, nutrition, lifestyle, and mindset. They’re 100% under your control, they’re 100%, your responsibility, and they are what you can control, what we call aging. This is wonderful news because I’m going to show you why.  If we would stop believing this and stop thinking this way, we would enhance our lives to a level I don’t think anybody would believe. Our life expectancy rate would skyrocket. And if nothing else, we can add more life to your years. The Lie of Aging. I’m going to break it all down for you. I’m going to take care of all the questions you have concerning this topic. I’ll take care of what I call the “But What About?”  “But what about this, but what about that?” Because every “but what about” begets another “but what about” and I’m going to answer all those for you in this five-part series. I want to thank you so much for reading along. Please stay tuned for the rest of the story of The Lie of Aging. I want everybody to stay hydrated, but most importantly, please everyone, seek your own level of wellness.


Thanks for reading the Personal Edge Fitness Blog, by Garrett Williamson. Ask questions by calling 251-278-EDGE (3433) or message us on Facebook and Instagram @PersonalEdgeFitness or @TeamPE on Twitter and visit us at