7 Rules To Be YOUNGER Next Year

Today is our first book club episode, and I’m warning you, I am fired up. Before we even launched this channel, I knew I wanted to start with this book, “Younger Next Year.” But I’m even more fired up right now.

Welcome back to Century Ride. I’m Kelly Patchet. Today is our first book club episode, and I’m warning you, I am fired up. Before we even launched this channel, I knew I wanted to start with this book, “Younger Next Year.” But I’m even more fired up right now. All around me are family, friends, friends of friends that are being diagnosed with serious diseases. Maybe it’s the age that I’m at, but these people I care about are too young.

Look, I think you could do everything right and still get dealt a bad hand, but it shouldn’t take a life and death situation to jolt us into action, into taking care of ourselves. And for those of us who are escaping the big diseases, so many of us just let our vitality slip away – things like mobility, flexibility, strength, mental sharpness. And according to this book, it happens quickly and totally unnecessarily. We just let it go. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Even though I consider myself relatively fit and dedicated at my age, or really any age, I was utterly failing in at least a couple of the seven rules to live long and strong in this book. I hope you read the book, but if you don’t, it’s my goal to have you leave this conversation with enough information to make some changes of your own. So let’s dig in.

“Younger Next Year” is the story of a patient who all of a sudden finds himself aging way too fast and who, by luck, finds a young doctor who’s aghast at the state of health care, or more accurately, disease care. He describes it as transactional, a one-shot deal. You hurt your knee, you have a heart attack, and you see a specialist. A short intensive period of repair follows, and the parties go their separate ways, probably forever.

Chris Crowley, the patient, convinces Dr. Henry Lodge, or Harry, the doctor, to write a book about rethinking aging. This book took the world by storm. It has sold millions of copies, it’s in 27 languages, and 20 years later, it’s still not only relevant, but there are echoes of it in the newest books I’m reading. Listen to Harry’s perspective on aging:

“It is inexplicable that our society, plagued by soaring medical costs and epidemics of obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer, cares so little about these things. The simple fact is that we know perfectly well what to do. Here’s the big point: some 70 percent of premature death and aging is lifestyle-related. Heart attacks, strokes, the common cancers, diabetes, brittle bones, most falls, fractures, and serious injuries, and many more illnesses are primarily caused by the way we live. If we had the will to do it, we could eliminate more than half of all disease in women and men over 50, not delay it, eliminate it.”

Normal aging isn’t normal. And he goes on. The more I looked at the science, the more it became clear that such ailments and deterioration are not a normal part of growing old. They are an outrage, an outrage that we have simply gotten used to because we set the bar so shamefully low. A lot of people unconsciously assume that they will get old and die. That when they get old and infirm, they will die soon after, so a deteriorating quality of life does not matter. That is a deeply mistaken idea and a dangerous premise for planning your life. In fact, you will probably get old and live. You can get decrepit if you like, but you’re not likely to die. You’re likely to live like that for a long, long time.

So let me say that again. You may well live into your 90s, whether you like it or not. But how you live those years, on the other hand, is largely under your control. This fight can be led, fought, and won one person at a time, starting with you. So not only can we avoid much of what people consider aging, we can reverse it and get back to what we had, and then hang on to it for a long, long time. It turns out how you age is largely a choice.

Here are your options. Door number one is the slippery slope, or what we accept as normal aging. Sometime in your 40s, you start to decay, and it happens at a good clip. Average lifespan is shortened by the big diseases. But if you do survive, your quality of life is greatly diminished. If you choose door number one, you don’t have to do much. You just have to curl up on the couch with a glass of rosé and Netflix, and it’s going to take care of itself. The pounds pile on, your joints start to hurt, and then those things make you feel a little down, maybe even low-grade depressed. And then we get a little less social, a little more isolated. You trip more than you used to. It’s in the book, and you may break a hip, and then it just gets worse from there.

And I think what’s really important to note is that by about 65 or 70, half of your healthfulness, half of your strength, your bone density, all those things are gone. So even though you’re still around, and let’s say you live even longer, you can see that you’re living without much of your health. So you could just as easily choose door number two, where you could just as easily tell your body to live as if it were 45 or 50 for most of the rest of your life. If you’re willing to send your body some different signals, you can get off the slippery slope and stay much as you are until 80 and beyond. You want to skip the long goodbye. This is the goal. You want to live long and strong, and then the end comes quick.

But for most of us, like 95 percent of us, we actually get fitter and stronger, maybe even fitter than you were in your 20s or 30s. That happens a lot, and then hang on to it. Check this out. By the time you’re 65 or 70, here you are, actually fitter than you were in your 40s. That is where you want to be, and then you’re going to hang on to it. So not only are you living longer, but those decades in between are so much better and fuller and richer, and you’re able to do the things that you can do at the halfway point in your life.

Keep in mind that sometime in your 40s or early 50s, the free ride of youth is over. A switch in us flips, and your new default is decay. So if you’re choosing door number two, you’re going to need to adopt Harry’s seven rules.

Rule number one is get a haircut in the middle of your YouTube video. That’s not new. Rule number one, bonus points for you if you noticed, rule number one is really workout six days a week for the rest of your life. I know, I could hear you right now – six days a week, come on. Hang with me, don’t disappear right now. It’s going to make sense in rules two and three.

First of all, if you’re the kind of person like me who is out on the weekend on your bike, putting in four hours on Saturday and then another hour and a half on Sunday – five and a half hours – that’s almost like an hour a day for six days. And you think, “So if I don’t fit it in between Monday and Friday this week, I’m good because I’ve done almost six hours.” But it doesn’t work that way, right? Because we’ve learned from what we’ve talked about. You have to send the signal every day or almost every day. So you can’t kind of adopt what we call the weekend warrior mentality. It’s got to be regular inputs.

And then the other thing I want to just float by you for your consideration – I want you to think that when we work out three days a week, like we used to, we would do all this like calendar math in our heads. It would be on Monday, like, “Okay, I’ve got this on this day and this on that day, so I won’t be able to go to spin class on this day.” It’s far less complicated when you know you work out almost every day. It’s like brushing your teeth, although I’m kind of hoping you do that seven days a week and not six days a week. You’re going to be fitting that in every day, and it just becomes more a part of your routine. We’re going to talk in other videos about how to make that happen because it can be frustrating trying to get there. But then, you know, like all habits, it kind of gets baked into your life, and that’s what a habit is, right?

Let’s move on to Harry’s rule number two. Do serious aerobic exercises four days a week for the rest of your life. Okay, so the first one was you’ve got to work out six days a week. The second one is really a subset, right? So four of those days need to be serious aerobic exercise. Serious is relative. If you’ve been doing nothing, you are responsible for your health, you and your doctor. So just make sure the way that you approach this is appropriate for you. Only you can know that. I think what makes this book successful for a lot of people is this accessible. The science is understandable. I think when you understand the “why,” it makes doing the four days a week of aerobic exercise understandable. They do a great job of talking about cytokines, which are messenger molecules that trigger all of these processes in your body. But instead of talking about the hundreds, if not thousands of them, they just boil it down to two – there’s C6 and C10.

So C6 is that drip, drip, drip of decay inside of you. And so if you’re overly sedentary, sitting around, eating Cheetos, having another glass of wine, and there’s always the stressors of life, and there are big stresses – all of those things is a stream in you of C6. In order for you to combat that decay in your body that we talked about, you have to exercise. And when you exercise, that C6 surges, and what happens is it triggers C10. So if C6 is sort of the demolition crew, C10 is the cleanup and renovation crew. And you want that surge of C6 to trigger C10, and that’s how you’re stronger the next day. And that’s how you are younger next year. It’s really important that you get your four days, and I don’t think that going for a walk – well, a walk is a good first step if you’re doing nothing. You want to get to the point where you’re getting a little sweat on and your breathing is up. You don’t have to be going all out, but you do have to work up to the point where you’re getting breathy and a little bit of sweat going in order to trigger the cleanup crew of C10. Does that make sense?

Rule number three is: do serious strength training two to three days for the rest of your life. You knew that was coming, right? Okay, so now we’re at – you’re exercising six days a week. Four of them are aerobic, and let’s say two are strength training. This is the one that I was utterly failing at because I was telling myself all kinds of stories. I’m a mountain biker, I do both. I’m going up rocky, rooty hills, that’s enough. And it’s just not. It’s not. You’ve got to do it. It’s so correlated with longevity, it’s crazy.

So after successfully avoiding going downstairs in my building where there is a great gym, I wouldn’t even do that. And now I’m 20 weeks in, and interestingly yesterday, I just did an interview with my strength trainer about how to approach strength training. So if you’re 50 plus and you haven’t been strength training, look out for that because that is coming next for our channel. It’s really important to approach this properly. I learned something in this book, and it’s this concept of proprioception. And that is the brain-body connection. It’s not hand-eye coordination, it’s how your brain just knows where your hands and your feet are.

I mentioned earlier that we trip more as we get older, and that’s because that connection between our brain and our body decays after we hit the middle age of life. Strength training helps not only keep that connection alive, but it can help repair it and restore what it was. That really convinced me to get going on this, and I want to give you another stat that might really seal the deal for you. And it’s a scary one. If you’re 65 and you fall and break a hip, you are somewhere between 30 and 40 percent likely to be dead in the next 12 months. At 65, that’s young, and that’s crazy and preventable.

So I hope that this helps you too to get on board with me because I made the commitment and I’m doing it to do the strength training component of this. Rule number four is: spend less than you make. The bit of obvious, and but the reality is if you’re going to live a long time, you don’t want to outlive your money. And secondly, if you choose door number one, the slippery slope, I’m going to suggest that you need more money for things like stair lifts and home care, or assisted living, or God forbid, a nursing home. So maybe an investment in working out and exercise is money in the bank for you.

Rule number five, you knew it was coming: don’t eat crap. That’s it, right? This isn’t really a diet book. There isn’t a diet plan in here because I really think like so many of the uber brains of the scientific world these days is like whatever plan that you can sustain is the right plan for you. But what I find really interesting is that it reminds us that the point of exercise isn’t to burn calories. I mean, you do burn calories, right? Yay. But the point of aerobic exercise is to trigger that C10 we talked about, the cleanup crew, the renovation crew, so that you’re stronger next year, younger next year. You can undo all the work of exercise by too much caloric volume, too many calories, the wrong foods, too much food – so you kind of got to be aware of what you’re taking in so that you’re getting the optimal benefit of your investment in exercise. So I was thinking, you know, with all the exercise that we’re doing – four days of cardio, two days of strength training – the last thing I want to do is undo this thing. And I find I just start eating better and just being a little bit more strict about our way of eating. So I Googled that, and it turns out a University of Texas study – they put these young adults on a fitness program. They did not ask them to change their way of eating, but most of them did. They just willingly started eating better. And it’s because you know you want to lock in the gains. So one thing leads to another, right?

Rule number six is care. So if rule number five was “don’t eat crap,” I really think they should have called this “give a crap,” because that’s what it’s all about. It’s about waking up in the morning and still feeling purpose in your life. You can’t wait to get going on your day. You’re looking forward to all the things ahead in life. And we take that for granted – that we’re always going to have that feeling. But I think sometime in the second half of life, those things can often melt away. Because you think about it, your kids are gone, and maybe they have kids now, and they’re busy with their lives. And you could go through a divorce, unfortunately, or lose somebody that you love. These things all prey on our feeling of well-being. And so we really have to work hard in the second half to make sure that we have things that are lighting us up.

I’ve talked about this before, and it’s so important. I think of it as being intentional about your life. And for other people, I think they reference something called the “exam in life.” And I’m not quite sure who came up with the exam in life, but it’s super important that you keep crafting a life that makes you feel like you can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning. Whatever that is – you may be the best retired person in the world. For me, I’ve said it before, it probably won’t be that. I need structure of my day. I want to be learning things. You may be volunteering – whatever that thing is, it is essential to your well-being to make sure that you continue to care.

After the seventh rule, I’m going to sort of share with you my big takeaway from this book, and we’ll bring all these things back together. But before we do that, let’s talk about the seventh and final rule – connect and commit. And this is all about working on your social connections, your friendships, your family, and the love in your life. As you do for your exercise, it’s all important. And for me, this one I took to heart, because last fall I was working so hard that I really didn’t have enough time for my friends and family, and my life was becoming smaller. And I was starting to care less. So these things go hand in hand, right? And I’ve really changed so many things in my life, and I am working on this, and my life is better. And it’s all because I really took this information to heart.

Harry, the doctor, warns that in isolation, we die. That’s a scientific fact – that as humans, we cannot exist in isolation. This isn’t some kind of like woo-woo advice. He writes, “Older people who have at least one close friend have cardiovascular systems that are younger by a series of objective measures than those of isolated people.” I found really interesting is he talks about the limbic brain, which is often referred to as the lizard brain. So before we ever have a thought, we have an emotion. And so if that emotion is negative, we tend to have a negative thought. Conversely, if we have a positive emotion, we have a positive thought. And then that positive thought loops back to the limbic or the lizard brain, and it becomes like a feedback loop.

So why is this important? It’s important because we need to construct our lives and our environments in a really positive way so that as much as possible, you can be having positive emotions and positive thoughts. So a lot of this is within your control, and that’s why it’s so important to be the one who reaches out, be the one who joins, try volunteering, do different things. Some of them are going to work out, some of them aren’t. But on the whole, your life is going to be richer and bigger because you’ve made the effort – just like with your exercise – to do this.

Those are the seven rules, like seven buckets that we’ve got to keep full at all times. Here’s a scary fact: only 17 to 19% of adults claim to do any kind of strength training. Put another way, around 82% of us do nothing in terms of strength training. But I decided to nip that one in the bud this year. And let me tell you, I was going to approach that all wrong – like in a really bone-headed way. But thankfully, we have an interview coming up with art strength coach Roshan Chopra. So be sure to keep an eye out for that because he’s going to tell us how to approach strength training when you haven’t been doing it in your 50s, 60s, 70s, and yes, even 80s – because it’s never too late. So keep an eye open for that, and we’ll see you soon.