Have you heard of the tale of the two wolves? I’ll paraphrase for those who have not. It’s about perspective — usually consisting of two variations: one good and one bad.
I have one grandparent left, and he is turning 89 this year. He is actually the “real” Ed Mckenna, as he puts it. Whenever we are together and meet new people, that is how he introduces himself. I’m not kidding. They laugh every time. He is Ed Mckenna, Sr., and I am Ed Mckenna III, hence, why he is the “real” one.
My other grandfather, Andy, passed away 14 years ago. I called him “Grandpa.” These two men are two of the smartest, most hardworking men I have ever known. They both started their own engineering companies, had families, and lived great lives. But they shared one huge difference: one exercised, and the other didn’t.
Ed McKenna, Sr. (aka “Popa”) was the guy who ran every day of his life starting at a young age and is still an avid gym goer. Grandpa was the guy sitting in his car smoking a cigarette and making fun of people while they jogged in place waiting for the light to change. These two were opposites in how they took care of themselves.
They had countless similarities in what kind of men they were, but that one difference in exercise separated them. As I got older and found myself in the business of health and training, I started paying attention to the people around me more closely, specifically how they were living.
On the one hand, I have Popa traveling the world with his new wife playing golf anywhere he desired, and on the other, I had Grandpa, a prisoner in his own home, attached to an oxygen tank. As I witness this take place, I think to myself, “I’ll go with option A.” Traveling the world playing golf, not worrying about taking the stairs, not afraid of tripping over my own feet, not needing assistance getting out of my own chair all sound like great alternatives to the latter.
This was my Popa and Grandpa when they were in their 70s. Now, Popa is almost 90 years old, and he still plays golf and pickleball, goes to the gym, and can still get out of a chair without help.
It is easy to be nearsighted when you start on your fitness journey. You feel like an idiot. Everyone is lifting more weight than you, working out hurts, and your desired results never come fast enough. Then you have your friend telling you that all that weightlifting is going to damage your joints. Let me tell you right now, those are going to hurt regardless. Just like your skin gets wrinkly and your hair turns gray, your connective tissues within your body also begin to break down.
Please do not fret, because it has been proven that resistance training (weightlifting) has shown signs that it can slow down or stave off the degradation of bones, ligaments, and tendons. Now, all you have to do is decide how you would like to suffer.
I think of my mom and dad, who are 70 and 65, who attend my workout classes regularly every week. They choose to suffer through the workouts, usually not smiling until they leave. My mom and dad are not afraid of retiring in a two-story house. They say taking the stairs is what is going to keep them alive longer.
I think about how I want to live in my later years and what I need to do. I choose to suffer now through my workouts, what goes into my body, and the time I choose to invest in myself. I will never be afraid to take the stairs, nor will anyone need to help me out of my chair. What about you? spt