- in aging , fitness , guest/interview by allan
How to become a superager with Jim Owen
Jim Owen (author of the book Just Move: A New Approach to Fitness After 50 is a 40-year veteran of Wall Street and is also the founder and CIO of the center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership. He is the best-selling author of The Try, The Secret to Success in Life and Career, Cowboy values, recapturing what America once stood for, and the Prudent Investor. On his 70th birthday, he looked in the mirror and didn't like what he saw. He committed to change. And now at 82, he's in the best shape of his life. He shares many of his super-ager strategies and tactics during this interview.
Let's Say Hello
[00:01:18.550] – Allan
Hey, Ras. How are things?
[00:01:20.460] – Rachel
Good, Allan. How are you today?
[00:01:22.810] – Allan
Well, we are now out of the closet, out of the bedroom, into the house. My wife Tammy got covid, so we've had her quarantined for this week. And I've been living upstairs in one of our rooms, which is not bad. It's a really nice place, but just having to take care of her, having to take care of everything else. And it's been a lot. But it's a good week.
[00:01:52.840] – Rachel
Yeah. She's feeling better?
[00:01:54.650] – Allan
She is now symptom free, so she's gotten over it.
[00:01:58.420] – Rachel
[00:01:59.320] – Allan
She had tested positive on Monday and she tested herself and then she tested positive again. She went to the hospital and tested and got a positive. So this at home test, you can get false positives sometimes she got a positive, I got a negative. And then we quarantined her. She went to the hospital the next morning and it was positive. So she finished up her fifth day yesterday, the day before yesterday, and then just out of precaution stayed another day and a half, two days. So she's just now coming out of the apartment today.
[00:02:36.110] – Rachel
Cool. That's good news. Very exciting.
[00:02:40.030] – Allan
How are things up there?
[00:02:41.570] – Rachel
Oh, great. Mike and I went camping this weekend and had a great weekend out. Our first weekend of camping. And it was a beautiful time. Nice, peaceful, relaxing. It was a good time. Nice to be out.
[00:02:55.330] – Allan
All right. Well, are you ready to have this conversation with Superager Jim?
[00:02:59.090] – Rachel
[00:03:35.350] – Allan
Hey, Jim, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
[00:03:37.820] – Jim
Thank you, Allan. I'm delighted to be here.
[00:03:40.640] – Allan
You know, you're in your 70s, mid-70s now, I guess, right? 76, maybe.
[00:03:46.380] – Jim
Allan, I will be 82.
[00:03:50.290] – Allan
Okay, we're going to play some of the video. We're going to save some little clips here and there. And so I want people to look at this because you don't look like a normal 82-year-old. Not by normal, I mean an American 82-year-old man. You look very different than most of us think we're going to look or would look when we're 82. And a lot of it is the stuff that you shared in this book.
[00:04:15.600] – Jim
And that's kind of the real story, because I'm nobody special, believe me, if I can do this, because when I was 70, very different story. That's what we're talking about, my story.
[00:04:28.710] – Allan
Okay, well, the book is called Just Move: A New Approach to Fitness after 50. And I started when I was in my mid-40s, realized that my job was killing me. My life was killing me. I was unfit, unhealthy, and just going downhill and fairly miserable. So I started making some changes. And those changes reflected who I changed into. And in many ways, it's the same for you. You came upon it, said, hey, I got to do something, and you started making some changes. Can you talk a little bit about your story?
[00:05:02.770] – Jim
Well, Allan, when I turned 70, I was in terrible shape. My back was killing me. I'm not talking about a little back pain. I'm talking about excruciating back pain. Both knees were shot and my right rotator cuff was frozen. If that weren't enough, I was probably 20 to 25 pounds overweight. But when I think about it, and I'm sure that many of your listeners had the same thing, the worst of it all was low energy. I just didn't have the energy I had when I was younger. And I said, boy, I said to my wife, I look in the mirror. I don't forget as long as I live on my 70th birthday. And Allan and I said, My God, I'm an old man. And I said to my wife, I'm an old man. She said, Sweetie, don't worry, you've still got game. She paused and then she said, unfortunately, that game is being gone. That's a true story. So that got me thinking, okay, I got to do something. Today, I'll be 82 in October. And now I'm in the best shape of my life. I couldn't do one push up on day one on my 70th birthday, I could not do one push up.
[00:06:40.490] – Jim
I can bang out 50. I don't do it every day because it's not good for your shoulder. But I can bang out 50, and I weigh less than I did today than I did in high school. And I look back and say, yeah, it's transformation. But, Allan, I think the takeaway for your audience is I'm just an average guy. So if I can do this, go from being weak and overweight and so on, anybody can do it. I'm nobody special. I'm not a Superman or any of that stuff. I think the basic message to your audience is, if you want to get more fit like you did, you want to get healthier, you can. It's never too late. Doesn't matter. Obviously, if I'd done this earlier in my life like you did, I wouldn't have had to have worked as hard. Let's be honest about it, okay. But if you're 75 years old, you still get more fit. And still now 82, and all I can say is I'm in the best shape of my life. I feel lucky. But it wasn't a gift. I had to show up and do the work. And that's the basic message to your audience.
[00:08:06.800] – Jim
You have to show up and do the work, and you have to have kind of a long term view. And maybe you can help me out. If there's a secret, if there's a pill I could have taken, there's a shortcut. I never found it, frankly. I just showed up, did the work. But anybody can do this. You don't have to kill yourself. You don't have to have a gym membership. You don't have to have a personal trainer. Not really. So that's my story.
[00:08:39.280] – Allan
Well, if there is a magic to it, and I think this is where most people struggle is, and you would have struggled with this a lot as well. You hurt, you're in pain, but you're in a bad place. And you know that there are two directions. You're kind of at a fork in the road. And as you said, it's your stark reality.
[00:08:59.140] – Jim
Absolutely. Fork in the road is a great way to look at this.
[00:09:04.510] – Allan
And now for you, it seems, because I was looking at it kind of the same way of saying I'm either going to keep dying or I'm going to start living. And that's the way I kind of looked at it. But being inactive was really, I think, one of the big problems both of us kind of faced at that point in our lives. We weren't active. What are some of the risks that we were facing when we're not moving our bodies and not doing the things we're supposed to?
[00:09:30.370] – Jim
Well, this is one of this book I wrote. I wrote this book, I guess five years ago, published by National Geographic. They've never done a book like this, but they were sort of fascinated by this whole concept. Let me just say this, Allan. I came across one statistic that I want to share with you and your audience, and this is really what got me motivated. If you make it to 70. Statistically, out of a very large sample of people, I'm not talking about ten people from Denmark. I'm talking about 100,000 people. Statistically, you will live another 15 years on average. And I said to myself, If I feel this bad now, can you imagine? In 15 years, I'll be in a wheelchair, I'll have a cane, I'll be slumped over, whatever. That was my motivation, to be honest about it. What happens if I do make this? So the reason that you and I are on this health kick I think, it has nothing to do with I need to lose 10lbs or I need this or that. It's not about living longer. Maybe this to you. It's not to me. Okay. But I want to live as happy and as full of life as I can.
[00:11:05.010] – Jim
The killer. And that's why this book is called Just J-U-S-T I'm a Southern accent. Just move. Is that one of the problems is that all of us today, or most of us sit too much. The average adult. This is not my opinion. This is, I think, Harvard or somebody, or maybe I think it's Harvard Medical School says the average American adult sits between 8 and 11 hours a day. That's between the computer, hunched over a computer, watching TV, kind of relaxing, whatever you want to call it. That's part of the problem. That's why my basic thing is just move. It doesn't matter what you do, as important as you've got to do something as opposed to sitting. The reason that sitting is bad. I know it's a cliche, Allan, but sitting is kind of the new smoking. If you sit, you will have aches and pains. There's no doubt every doctor will tell you that. And the doctors themselves probably sick too much. Okay, we all do. That's just part of our culture. I've worked hard my whole life. I deserve some relaxation, that's all true. But you will have aches and pains. You will have tight hips.
[00:12:35.250] – Jim
Absolutely true. The tight hips are often what leads to this back pain. I didn't know that. Again, I'm not a doctor, I'm not a kinesiologist. I don't have an advanced degree in Gerontology. I'm just an ordinary guy. That said, if I feel this bad now, how am I going to feel in 10 years or 15 years? And that was the motivation for me.
[00:13:04.890] – Allan
Yeah. I was looking at my life with my daughter going on and doing things like CrossFit and obstacle course races. And I was thinking to myself, she wants me to come and be there with her. But she was thinking of it in terms of me being a spectator.
[00:13:24.330] – Allan
Sit. And watch her do her event. And when she started talking about those things, I was like, Well, I don't want to spectate. I want to participate and I can't. I'm not there.
[00:13:36.630] – Jim
That sums up. And I did.
[00:13:38.710] – Allan
And then as I really got into thinking, about this long term what this means as far as my path, my aging curve. I noticed my grandfather, he was in his ninety s and he could not take care of himself. And so then it became this mantra of I want to be able to wipe my own butt when I'm 105. So it's kind of funny, kind of silly, but it's kind of those concepts of I want to be able to do the things I enjoy doing with my family. We didn't have mud runs when I was younger, so now we have mud runs. And when I have grandkids, I don't know what they're going to be doing. But I also don't likely want to be a spectator for much of it if I can participate in any way. And the only way I'm going to do that is to keep myself healthy and strong. The only way I'm going to live to see 105 and still be healthy and strong is if I'm doing the right things day in and day out. And the next thing is avoiding mistakes, because I can tell you over the course of the eight years I was trying to figure all this stuff out because we don't come with an operating manual, although now your book gives us a lot of that.
[00:14:41.730] – Jim
[00:14:42.280] – Allan
Your book does give us a lot. What are some common mistakes that we make as older individuals trying to start an exercise program?
[00:14:50.970] – Jim
I would say the first thing is that most people and I live in a senior community, as we call it. Okay. And I see people I'm probably a young person, to be honest about it. My wife and I, we've been married 52 years.
[00:15:08.860] – Allan
[00:15:10.240] – Jim
I think the biggest mistake is that people don't have a goal, which I don't ask you where it came from just out of my head. But when I started this program, I had one goal, and it was I want to be 80 years young. And at the time, I was 70 years old. So I wrote this down. I'm 80 years old. I want to be 80 years young. What do I have to do? And Allan, again, I'm not an exercise nut or some freak or gym rat. I didn't know what to do to be honest about it. And observing people was part of this, Allan. And what I noticed was that there were people who were 60 who looked and moved like they were 80. There were people who were 80 who looked to move like they were 60. And I said, what do these folks know who are 80? I said, I want to be one of those. And I call these super-agers. That's my term for it. I don't know if that's not a medical term. I call them super agers. Now let me be clear. I didn't say super men and I didn't say super women or Wonder Woman.
[00:16:47.710] – Jim
These are ordinary people who made a decision Allan, just like you did. What do I have to do? Okay. To lead a happier, more full life, not to be 100 years old or whatever. I'm not saying you can exercise every day, but one big lesson out of all this is that DNA is not your destiny. And what I did, I talked to people who were what I call Supe-Agers, people who are 80 years old, 85 years old, what the heck do they do? And there were some very common traits of these people, and that's how I developed a plan. The other mistake people make is they say, okay, I want to get fit. Okay. Do you have a plan for getting fit? No, I do the treadmill. I go walking. Well, I'm going to tell you, walking alone is not enough. People in your audience you're going to go, he doesn't know what he's talking about. Well, I love to walk. Okay, so let's make it real clear. Walking alone is not enough. So whether you have a gym membership or work out at home or whatever it may be, there are other activities you have to do if you want to get more fit.
[00:18:28.050] – Jim
And I talked to the experts, for what that's worth, there are lots of conflicts of interest. There's a lot of showman in the fitness industry. I'm a little bit cynical, as I suspect you are about the industry itself. Everybody's promoting something, but it doesn't matter when I talk to the experts, plus people who are actually what I call Super-Agers. And that's where I developed a program and I want to show you my T shirt. I call this, Geezer fitness is what I call this. So the best advice I got ever, I want to share with you and your audience and I can get a kick out of this. The best advice I ever had, somebody who was probably 85 years old, I was never quite sure how he was, but he looked like a million dollars. And he said, Jim, if you want to get motivated and stay motivated, I'm going to give you a secret. I said, Gosh, we love secrets. What's the secret? He said, Buy a couple of compression shirts. I said, what is a compression shirt? And he showed me, he says, what the athletes wear. So on day one, I show up and I had a double, the highest thing you could have, okay, whatever it was.
[00:20:02.610] – Jim
And people looked at me on day one and said, this guy has no pride at all. And the fact you try wearing a compression shirt if you're 5lbs overweight the fat hangs out. And people would look away and say, this guy has no pride at all. And to be honest about it, that's what kept me motivated. Pretend I've worn one every day since, and I love putting stuff on here. I've got one called Spartacus. So if I'm really at my best shape, I say Spartacus. If I'm not such good shape, and now I'm wearing a medium. So that's kind of what kept me motivated. People just couldn't believe it. Does this guy know how awful he looks? So try a compression shirt. And if you're 10lbs overweight, it's really embarrassing. So anyway, that's what I did and it kind of worked. It just kept me motivated day after day. And all of a sudden I started wearing a large and now wear a medium T shirt. And for a guy, one problem that men have is that they develop that punch okay and very difficult to get this off. So one mistake that people make, Allan, which I didn't know about, I didn't know what core meant.
[00:21:29.610] – Jim
I thought core referred to a six pack. Now, core is a band that goes around your upper extremity. It starts about here and goes down to your thighs. And if your core is weak and mine was incredibly weak, you will have back pain, I guarantee you. So one mistake that I would guess that 80% of people make in your audience, they don't do enough core. Again, I didn't know this. I'm not a medical doctor, I don't have a PhD. But what I found out the hard way was one reason for my lower back pain was a weak core. So for the first, probably two or three years, I would guess at least a third of my workouts exercising was on the core. Here's the good news, Allan. I'll be 82. I have zero back pain. None. Nada. So I look back and say, whatever I did seem to have worked. But a big part of this was the core. So it's not about being in a dynasty, it's not about Allan how many pull ups can you do? I can do. It has nothing to do with the ego. It has to do with, quote, functional fitness.
[00:22:58.030] – Jim
So I'm going back to what I said earlier about mixing it up. There are basically five dimensions of functional fitness. Now, when you're young, you're motivated. I want to look good in a bathing suit. Nothing wrong with that, okay. Or I'm getting married in four months. I need to lose 15lbs. So it's very vanity driven when you're older, older, being 50, 60, 70, 80, whatever. Presumably you're less vanity driven and more driven, as you said you were, by the desire to be functional, to be able to go through a day without aches and pains, without being slumped over like this, being able to stand up straight, not having a Walker, not having complaining all day about, oh, God, my back hurts this and that and so on. And so that's what it's done for me. When I say I'm in the best shape of my life, well, I have no aches and pains. What is that worth any amount of money? I can tell you that had a good career in the investment world. All I can say is the hour a day that I spend on exercising working out is the best investment I ever made.
[00:24:21.580] – Jim
How do you put a price on this? I don't know how to do it. I can say all the money in the world if you're 80 years old and let's say you're a rich person, whatever that means, and you end up in a doctor's office three or four times a week, what have you achieved? So, Allan, I call all this stuff winning at life. That's how I frame what I do. My goal, I want to win at life. How do you look back on your last days and aches and pains and the doctor you know your doctor better than you do your kids and your loved one? I don't think that's winning at life, personally. I don't think being dependent upon your kids to take care of you when you're older. I don't think that's winning at life.
[00:25:13.150] – Allan
Let's take a quick step back, because before we get too far away from the functional fitness, I think this is important for someone, particularly someone that's just starting out to understand. So the gym culture. I've been in the gym a lot over the course of my life. There's this thing, and you'll notice all the cardiovascular machines are really close to the door. And that's where 90% of the people that come in, they stop right there at the treadmill because it's easy. They understand it. You turn it on, you walk, you turn it off, you go home. And kind of the funny thing is you might live a mile away from the gym, but you're going to walk 3 miles on the treadmill and not walk to the gym. But a lot of people stop there and they look to the rest of the gym, either by not knowing what to do or even having, like you said, a plan. And for the plan to be successful, as you mentioned, it has to address functional fitness. And you mentioned Core. And we were going to say, yeah, the walking and cardiovascular endurance is important. Those are two facets of functional fitness.
[00:26:13.420] – Allan
But what are the other three that we should be looking toward to be a super ager?
[00:26:18.850] – Jim
Well, a clear one is strength. And when you say that, wait a minute, I'm not a muscle head. I'm not trying to be Mr. or Ms. Adonis. I'm not talking about that. Here are the statistics. When I did this book just move the National Geographic, it took me about two years to do the book. And when I got through and turned in the manuscript and they said, this is great. Oh, by the way, we need to have an expert read every page and evaluate it. I said, what?
[00:26:55.690] – Jim
Oh, yeah. Well, I said, I don't think anybody can do that or would do it. They found somebody out of Duke University who was, I guess, a gerontologist, and she read every paragraph. And so we agreed upon that. And then they said, Jim, oh, by the way, one more step. You have to source everything you said. What does that mean? Well, we don't want your opinion. You have to say, where did your opinion come from? I said, why don't you tell me about that? Because you would never have signed the contract. So I had to source it. And I said, because there's so much BS in the fitness world. So when I threw out these statistics, it's not my opinion. It could be Mayo Clinic, it could be whomever. But the book was not my opinion says this or that. Okay. But what I learned was from the experts is that how important strength training is. And that does not mean lifting heavy. That's what people get in trouble. You can do a lot of stuff with very light dumbbells. So my advice to your audience is maybe you're using 15 or 10 pound dumbbells. That's okay.
[00:28:22.450] – Jim
I can show you some exercises that you're going to say, I suspect you're in good shape, that you're going to say, Gosh, this is hard, Allan. 15 lbs can be hard depending on what you do. Okay. But here's the reason why in a nutshell, is because you lose strength as you get older, that unless you do something to offset that, here are the statistics. You're going to lose about 40% of your muscle mass by the time you're 70 or 75. And this often leads to the problems. So you have weak bones and so on. And so, again, I'm not a medical expert, but that's what the experts says, not an expert alive they wouldn't agree with that. That strength training and it's not being a muscle head and it's not lifting heavy at all. It has nothing to do with that. You don't need a gym membership. You can do it at home. I can show you exercises to do, just push ups, that kind of stuff that anybody can do them. You don't need a trainer, although a trainer is very helpful in sort of laying this out. But the first one is strength training that you have to do as an adult.
[00:29:46.790] – Jim
And the second, the other one is balance. So here are the statistics. One in three, there could be one in four adults, 65 and over fall every year. Now think about that again. I'm living in a senior community. Allan, if I told you how many friends we have or acquaintances where you want to call them fall, you would not believe it. And typically it's at night and for some reason it's in the bathroom. I don't know why, but we'll see somebody said, Where's Joe? Where's Nancy? Oh, man, she fell last night, banged her head. Then you're talking about something that's pretty awful.
[00:30:36.090] – Allan
Yeah. One of the statistics you had in the book that I'd like to share is that a quarter of a million people fall and go to the hospital with a hip fracture every single year. That's insane.
[00:30:53.370] – Jim
It's stunning. And these are people who are not in such bad shape. Something happens. Now let me explain to you. I fell myself and broke my wrist three months ago. Say what? Yeah. I got through working out, had a cup of coffee in my right hand, tripped. We have Oriental rugs, for better or for worse. We have Oriental rugs, tripped on the rug and said, If I spill this coffee, my wife is going to really kill me.
[00:31:31.230] – Allan
That thought would be it, but that was the thought in my head.
[00:31:34.830] – Jim
I think I did.
[00:31:38.190] – Allan
You flung the cup across the room.
[00:31:40.280] – Jim
No, I didn't spill the coffee. I fought with one hand. If I fell with two hands, guess what? I'd catch myself. Broke my wrist. I was in the cast for it's been four months now, and it's still not quite okay, but I'm a lot better. And so this goes to show you and my wife said, what happened? I said, well, I didn't spill the coffee, but I broke my wrist. It was a clean break, thank goodness. But even so, it could happen to anybody. In my case, I tripped on a rug after working out. It could happen to anybody. So you could fall this afternoon because you're walking along with a friend or your daughter and you're talking and you're not looking down. And there's whatever reason, the concrete, there's a bump in the road, whatever it may be, in the trail, for example. You'd be surprised how many people are trail walkers and they trip because of, who knows, a branch comes in, they're talking, not looking down. And so you have to do something about some kind of balance training. Now, we're not talking about this takes 2 hours. One thing that's very important. There's a big difference between training and exercising.
[00:33:12.890] – Jim
I didn't learn this in year one or year two, but training is what I've been doing. Training means you're working toward a goal. Exercising, Allan, is what most people do. They go to the gym, they do a slow slog on the treadmill while they're watching the news. That's most people who are older. I don't think that works. So when you're working toward a goal, you tend to be more efficient. So when I see an hour a day, in order to do that, you've got to be efficient. I think the magic number for me, at least is 30 minutes of walking. I do walk and think everybody needs to walk some kind of cardio endurance. I think the magic number personally is 30 minutes. I think it's diminishing returns. If that's the only message I'll leave you with today, there's diminishing returns in all of this stuff, whether it's walking or push ups or sit ups or whatever it may be. And you have to sort of understand and you learn this the hard way because the goal is to be efficient. What can I do? How can I use this hour efficiently? And what you learned, what I learned is that people who are in shape learn how to be efficient, how to squeeze stuff that's essential into 1 hour.
[00:34:56.860] – Jim
It could be 45 minutes. And nobody says that you can't exercise for 20 minutes three times a day. No big deal, 45 minutes a day. But I find out that works for me is an hour a day. And I do balance. I do my cardio on the days I do strength training. What I should have told you was, here's my program. I do strength training three times a week. Okay. I do cardio three times a week. So I walk pretty actively. But I don't run. I don't jog because my knees, I walk. Stretching is critical. If you don't stretch, it's a big mistake when you're older. You will have aches and pains. There's no way around that. Now you can say, Jim, I do yoga. Great. Pilates. Terrific. Okay. But these are the main things that someone has to do, and every older person is I don't know what to do. I don't have a plan. Well, there's some trial and error, and you sort of have to learn what works for you. The best motivation on is getting results. Here's some good news for you. If you're in bad shape like I was, the results come very quickly.
[00:36:23.770] – Jim
That's what people don't realize if all you do is walk. When I started out, I literally out on day one, could not walk more than probably four blocks. And I was huffing and puffing. That's how bad the shape I was in. But I said, you know, I'm going to do a 30 day deal now. Why 30 days? I have no idea. I just said 30 days. It could have been 45 days or 20 days. I was amazed by simply every day trying to do a little bit more. I wasn't running or jogging or any of that stuff, just walking. At the end of 30 days, I felt so much better. You have no idea. My wife's friend said, what is Jim doing? What do you mean? He looks so much more energetic. When you're older, that's what happens when you walk. Okay. And so what I found for me was the sweet spot was about 30 minutes, and I do it three times a week. Beyond 30 minutes, it's kind of missing returns. I'd rather use those other 30 minutes to do strength training and other activities. That's all it is.
[00:37:40.960] – Allan
right. Well, in your book, Just Move, there's a ton of these types of tips. You talk about how much time you dedicate from each workout, the different things you have images of some of these exercises. So there's a lot in this book. But if you wanted to just say, what are a couple of your favorite takeaways from the book that if someone were thinking about buying your book that you want them to know, want them to look for, what would that be?
[00:38:05.240] – Jim
Well, that's a great question. And I think what I would say is you have to find your why. What is your why? Why are you even thinking about taking up some kind of a program? Okay, now your why might be, I don't want to be a burden to my kids. I don't want to say, well, I'm sorry I can't go with you on this trip. I've got to take care of my dad. Man, I don't want that. I want to be able to play with my grandkids. Everybody has their own try, but that's sort of the motivation. My motivation again, was I want to be 80 years young. That may not be your goal. It was my goal. Okay? You have to find that. And the other important takeaway is you have to have a plan. Without a plan, a goal is just a dream, in my opinion. So a goal and a plan. And then you have to actually show up and do the work so you can talk about this stuff all day long. I think the only mistake the other takeaway is the goal is not perfection. So I know you like to exercise and it's really improved your life and that kind of stuff, but perfection is not the goal.
[00:39:31.830] – Jim
The exercises that I do, I don't do very well. I try, but we all have our issues. So the other thing I want to make sure that everybody understands is you can work out every day, okay. And it's true that your DNA is not your destiny. That's an important concept to me. That means you can do activities that will help lower the risk of a serious disease. Heart attack, stroke, okay? Certain cancers, all that's true. But I have to tell your audience this. When you get 80 years old, you will have issues and no amount of exercise, no amount of eating right. No amount of managing stress, none of that good sleep habits. You will still have stress. I don't know anybody who's 80. It's like having a car. Okay? You have a great car, but there's a certain mileage. I don't know. It's 150,000 miles. Your car is going to break down. Well, guess what? Your body breaks down, but it's okay because you're in shape. And I've had some issues. I don't want to go into them myself other than a broken wrist. But the big pay off from all this stuff, Allan, the big pay off is what you have to think about,
[00:41:03.900] – Jim
What's Jim want to payoff from all of your exercises, all of your hard work? You know what it is? It's the confidence that whatever life throws at me, I can deal with it. And what I'm suggesting is the real benefit of all this stuff is mental as much as physical. So given where I came from, getting where I am now doesn't mean I'm not going to have issues. That's just BS. I do have issues. I will have issues. But it's the confidence I can deal with whatever life throws at me. I don't care what it is. If I get hit by a truck, if I get cancer, if I get all the bad things that happen because of the confidence that comes from hard work and getting results, you can deal with it. The other thing out of the book that I want everybody to really kind of think about, these are all just insights. There are no rules that I know of, but they're insights. The other big insight that I think is important is that attitude is so critical. Okay, so all we're talking about here is looking forward and not back. Allan, I cannot tell you how many people I know who live in the past and every single one of them is in bad shape.
[00:42:43.270] – Jim
I'm looking forward. Now, I'm going to say this to your audience, and I believe it. I honestly believe my best days still lie ahead. Is that positivity? That's a critical element. If somebody says I don't need exercise, I don't need to eat healthy or eat clean, I don't need any of that stuff. Okay, that's fine. That's your choice. Ok. The problem is you're going to end up at some point, you might lose your loved one, then you're going to be by yourself. Okay, maybe you have a caretaker, but your world is going to shrink. It's the opposite out of what you said. Your world is going to shrink. You spend your day in a small apartment when you're 80 or 85 years old. Loneliness. And all of this is what tends to lead to depression, but even worse, Alzheimer's and dementia. Now, I may end up with dementia or Alzheimer's, but I'm doing everything I can. Okay. Staying active. And also, I want to share with you one last thought is that we talk about physical fitness, and that's very important because fitness is the foundation of healthy aging. That's the other message. But there's more to healthy aging than that.
[00:44:18.830] – Jim
There's also mental fitness, and there's emotional fitness, and they're equally important. So in my case, the reason I'm doing this interview is not to sell books. If my story can inspire somebody to get off the couch and just move, as opposed to just sitting, that's my legacy. To be honest about it, I wrote a best selling book called Cowboy Ethics. 160,000 copies. Best selling book. This book maybe 25,000 Max. You don't sell excise. Books like this don't sell unless it's written by George Clooney or Brad Pitt. That's the truth. So the money I make off this book is not worth even talking about. To be honest about it, it doesn't matter. This is for me, is a legacy. If my story of going from incredibly bad shape and back pain and terrible feeling and so on to where I am right now in the best shape of my life, I weigh less I did in high school, and I'm just an average guy. I'm not anything special, okay? If that can inspire somebody that's more important to me, that's my legacy. I want to look back on my life and say, and this is the whole idea of purpose.
[00:45:50.270] – Jim
Now, you're too young. I suspect even think about this.
[00:45:55.340] – Allan
I'm 56 years old.
[00:45:57.590] – Jim
That's young. You're a kid.
[00:45:59.990] – Allan
I am a kid. I agree.
[00:46:04.070] – Jim
But what keeps you going, what keeps you alive is that having the passion or the purpose. I look back on it and say, I will look back on my life on the last day of my life and say, Did I leave things better than I found it? If it's true that I did it's because of my writing and my speaking, I made my money, so to speak, in my career. Not that I'm a rich, rich guy, but I have enough money. Okay? So I'm lucky on that score. But the legacy is what's important to me. It's not the books I think sells on Amazon for $15 or whatever. Okay. And if you think somebody is going to make a living off of writing a book, well, I guess Michelle Obama can do it, but most of us can't do it. I sure couldn't do it. But it's the legacy factor that is so critical to me. And that's why I do all this stuff. You have no idea. I get emails from so many people, and I'm not big computer guys. I told you to be honest about it. That's just not me.
[00:47:21.520] – Jim
I don't like emailing, any of that stuff. But if my story can make a difference and that's why I do all this stuff, that gives me more satisfaction. I also did a film. I produced a film called The Art of Aging Well, and it took two years. Now, when I say produce, what does that mean? Well, producer of a film hires the people. I'm not behind the camera, hires the people, oversees the quality, and basically does the marketing. Okay. Jim Havey, who's out of Denver. I've known Jim for 30 years. Jim has won three or four Emmys. I've not won an Emmy, but we did a film together again. He's the film guy. The Art of Aging well, and just when we got it finished, this pandemic hit, I can't go on the road and speak about this. I'm basically a communicator. That's kind of what I do. I get in front of an audience, it could be 20 people, it could be 1000. I don't get rattled with an audience. And I said what I'm going to do, I've got two years invested. I can't go on a plane and go any place anymore.
[00:48:42.640] – Jim
So I said, maybe, just maybe a PBS would carry this thing. Well, we got on PBS, and I'm very proud to say 124 PBS stations carried this. And your audience, there's no charge for it. I raised the money from I had sponsors. That's what I was. But your audience can look at it's called theartofagingwell.com. It's free.
[00:49:13.830] – Allan
[00:49:14.980] – Jim
I'm very big on what you're doing. For example, I really think it's the emotional connection that you make with it's, not the information. If information was the answer, everybody would be working out, eating clean, managing stress, getting a good night's sleep, that kind of stuff. Information doesn't do it. I can give you a 700 page thesis. You're not going to read it, much less take action. But what you're doing with your communication skills, I hope what I'm doing with my writing and creative process inspires people to make these changes. And all I can say is small steps add up over time. So don't think about, that's why I had a ten year goal. My ten year goal was to go from being 70 years old to 80 years young. I never found it. If it was a pill, believe me, I'd be taking it right now. I don't know where the pill? There may be a pill that I do.
[00:50:29.870] – Allan
There's a pill. It's called exercise. And you're doing it six days a week.
[00:50:35.230] – Jim
To me, I would rather spend. So I look back on that and say, Jim, what have you learned from all this stuff? Well, me, I'd rather spend an hour a day doing what I'm doing right now. Okay. As opposed to an hour a day in the doctor's office. And that's what it's going to be like. I don't want to be in a wheelchair. I don't want to have a Walker. I don't want to be bent over like this. I want to be as healthy and as alive and have the energy as long as I can. Having said that, there will be a time. It could be tomorrow. But, Allan, it ain't going to be today. Okay, that's all you can do.
[00:51:22.370] – Allan
Jim, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
[00:51:30.520] – Jim
that's beautiful. I think you've done probably a better job of this stuff than I did. Again, I'm just an ordinary guy. But one of the messages is one, it's never too late to get started. Don't think for a second when I'm 75, there's no point now. I might as well have that three dips of chocolate ice cream or something like that. It doesn't matter with your the sooner you start, the better. There's no question. Now, does Jim Owen wish he had started this program when he was your age? Absolutely. Okay. There's no question about that. But I didn't. I started at 70. You can start at 75. And it's not about getting fit. It's about getting more fit than you are. Now, I had took a long view. Ten years. Okay. I guess you could say I'm fit. I don't know what else I can do, but your DNA does play a part in these underlying conditions. But I like to think that 75% of your health and wellness is lifestyle driven, and we can argue all day long about this. Well, maybe it's more like 60%. I believe it's about 75% lifestyle. Now what does lifestyle means?
[00:53:04.990] – Jim
Exercising, eating clean, okay, managing stress, which is critical. Okay. Getting sufficient sleep, it's that kind of thing. But also and this is what the exercise people don't talk about all that's great. But that's physical health, physical wellness. There's also that mental wellness and emotional wellness, and that's what I'm into now. I want to be a better husband, a better father, a better friend. And that to me today, means more than saying, Gosh, I just had a personal best with pushups. I suspect that I'll be in no better shape in two or three years. I am right now. I don't know what I could do because you can get injured when you're older. So if you do too much with your shoulders or whatever, maybe legs, whatever, you can have a problem. So do I work out as hard as I did before? No. The reason is we all have low energy days. That's another message I want to give to your audience. At my age, you have to recognize the recovery days are critical. So today I'll be working out this afternoon. Do I work out as hard? No, but I work out pretty hard for me.
[00:54:49.550] – Jim
But do I work as hard as I did five years ago? No, I don't think anybody does, but I do cover the bases. I do push myself, but it's incremental. It's not major changes. I don't know how to do that. Can I get more lean? I could probably lose a pound or two. That's about it. Can I lift more weight? Maybe, but do I want to take the risk of hurting my shoulder? Not really. And the recovery days become much more important. So the other message take away from all that we've talked about is when you're older, you have to listen to your body, not to Jim Owen, listen to your body. And I think that's the best guide that I can give you. Listen to your body, particularly when you're older, but you've got to have goals. You've got to have a plan on how you're going to get from here to here. And if you don't just kind of, you have to cover the basis. And you do have to continually improve. And that's sort of the hard thing to understand about this. Let's take a push up, okay. If all you do is plane pushups after you can do about 25, I think you're better off progressing.
[00:56:19.510] – Jim
So I keep progressing. I do more difficult exercises than I did before. That's how I progress. So I do stuff that I probably couldn't have done five years ago, but I don't do squats with barbells on my neck and stuff like that. Or let's just take push ups, okay. A diamond push up, push ups like this. So in every exercise. This is what makes ourselves so fascinating. You think about push up as a pushup. No, it's not. You're going to put your hands like this, like this. You're working your body different ways. The core is the critical part. You've got to have a strong core to do what I do. I guarantee you that. And that's why when you say, Jim, every once in a while I'll take part in the competition with my peers. They want to hear where I live. I live in La Jolla, okay. And I won against all other people my age. Okay. And why? Well, I work out. That's why. A lot of people could do one thing, but they couldn't do the whole thing. This is a test, if you will, but it's great fun. And I want to say one more thing on this.
[00:57:44.900] – Jim
Is that the one regret I have in life? This may surprise you. I want to get your take on this than anything to have been a great athlete. Anything. My brother, who's older than me by two years, was a star athlete and scholar, baseball, basketball, football, and track. The best athlete in a pretty damn good high school. We're from Kentucky and great high school. He was number one. I never scored a touchdown. I never hit the winning home run. I'd have given anything to have been that gifted athlete, which I wasn't I had learned in football. What's interesting about this is I found my inner athlete and I have an athlete's attitude about what I do. And that's why it's fun for me. The exercise part is challenging and fun. And guess what? No surprise to you. A lot of terrific athletes in high school and College, when they get my age, they don't do anything. They got burned out. I can't tell you how many people I know who were good athletes. And so finding your inner athlete to me has made a tremendous difference in terms of confidence and attitude. And the attitude is what kind of keeps you going again to repeat it, I look forward.
[00:59:14.860] – Jim
I don't look back. So many people my age continue to talk about the past. I can't tell you I get so sick of this. Well, when I was in high school, when I was in prep school, how about looking forward? What are you doing now? What's your challenge now?
[00:59:33.470] – Allan
And that's the big thing with me. I was the athlete in high school. I was a very good athlete and then fell out of it in my 30s. But I was an excellent athlete. I was in the US imagery, military. I was super fit all the way up until my thirty's. And then I let it go. And it took me a long time to get it back. But I can tell you all the things I ever did, all the winds, all the shots, everything that I did do all of that, none of those compared to the feeling I got running across the finish line with my daughter at a tough Mudder and knowing that I could keep up with her. She didn't have to wait on me. I was as good an athlete as I'd ever been, and I was able to do that. And you talk about the looking forward. I've got another tough Mudder scheduled in three months, so I'm going to be back up in the States. I'm going to be doing another tough Mudder because I can, because I want to, and I train for it. As you said, train, not exercise.
[01:00:34.880] – Allan
I have a goal. I have a mission. I have a plan. All of those things that you brought up here
[01:00:41.630] – Jim
I'm so impressed. You have no idea. My daughter, we have two children. They're both adopted at birth. We couldn't have kids and married 52 years. Our daughter's name is Allegra, and she's 38 and she's an athlete, and that's her. And she does this tough mudder. I've never done one. She says, dad, when are you going to do a father daughter thing?
[01:01:06.830] – Allan
Yeah, do one of the smaller ones. The tough Mudders are now broken up. So the original one was like 12, 13 miles. So it's pretty tough. Now, that's what they call the 15K, which is, I guess, closer to 9.5 miles, but they have a 5K version. And so the obstacles are going to require upper body strength, grip strength, that type of thing. You're not really running a whole lot because the obstacles are probably no more than a mile away from each other anyway. So you pretty much jog to the next obstacle, and then you wait your turn to get on that obstacle. But they are a ton of fun. And based on looking at you right now, I don't see any get your wrist completely fixed, but I don't see any reason why anybody that doesn't set their mind to do something like that couldn't do it. And if there's an obstacle you can't do, there's no shame in that. You give it a shot, you do your best, and then you move on to the next obstacle. It's a lot of fun. And yes, if you're doing it with your daughter, that's going to be a special day, I promise you.
[01:02:11.320] – Jim
Well, I cannot believe this. I cannot believe this. And I have never talked about this with anyone except my wife. But when I hear your story, are you ready for this? I want to be in the senior Olympics in my age category again. So I'm not competing against somebody who's 75 it's every five years. And I would be in the 80-85.
[01:02:38.520] – Allan
Just started creating those age groups because they figured I got these people in the 80s that are now having to compete with people in the 60s that wasn't right. So they've corrected that. And because they've got Centurions doing it now, they have an over 100 category, and I have no doubt. Yeah, I have no doubt. Within ten years. They're going to have to start breaking that up because it's not fair for 115 year old to run against 100 year old. So good. Congratulations on that.
[01:03:09.850] – Jim
Well, you may not be aware of this. I live in San Diego, in La Jolla. San Diego. San Diego started this instead of in addition to track and field, they also have and now for the first time in the season, and they have an exercise thing. So I'm not going to run 100 yards because of my knees. Okay. I can't do a lot of stuff that you can do, but I have a feeling I can compete in the 80 to 85 senior Olympics in the exercise part, and I can train for that. And I've never talked about with anybody. But hearing your story, It'd be a blast to do it.
[01:03:58.470] – Allan
Let's stay in touch and talk about that.
[01:04:00.390] – Jim
It's about doing your best. I did my best. And guess what, pal? You beat me this year. Next year. That's part of the motivation stuff. Yeah, that's great.
[01:04:13.450] – Allan
So, Jim, if someone wanted to learn more about you, more about the book, Just Move. Where would you like for me to send them?
[01:04:21.630] – Jim
Well, what I would do, frankly, is go to Amazon. This book is going to cost you, I think, $15 and change. Two years of work. And this is like a cup of coffee. So it's not like Jim is getting rich off a book. I think the book is really well done, if I may say this. Okay. And it covers the gamut. And I can tell you there's nothing in this that you don't know. So the book is not really not written for you. You're an athlete, okay. It's the person who, in fact, is a couch potato. I'm not sure where to start or how to do this stuff. I believe in the basic core exercises that everybody needs to do, and you can make all this stuff complicated. And I want to leave you with this one idea. If you want to make what we talked about today complicated, be my guest. I don't think it has to be at all. It's pretty simple stuff. You got to mix it up. You got to keep progressing. You've got to do more than just walk. But you don't have to have a gym membership if you don't want to.
[01:05:40.800] – Jim
You don't have to have a personal trainer if you don't want to. Okay. But you have to move. And you say, I love to move. We have a friend in Santa Barbara who's 92 years old, who is a competitive ballroom dancer. I'm talking about competitive, like on the national stage. That's pretty damn. You can do kayaking, you can do bicycling. There's all kinds of ways to move. If you say, Jim, I'm just not the gym rant type, okay. I've told you what I do. It's worked for me. But if you want to do kayaking, bicycling, Pilates it's all good stuff as long as you are moving and not sitting. But I've built the case here that the cardio endurance is not enough. You should do the other stuff. But I'm not here to pound the table and change somebody's life unless they want to. This book was written for somebody who essentially is skeptical like this. Tell me why I need to do this. Okay. Here are the reasons, but it's not my job to try to. I'm not a personal trainer. I'm not selling protein powder. I have no wax to grind. It's not going to change my life.
[01:07:09.920] – Jim
If somebody says I'm a couch potato, I'm not going to change your call. Good luck, because I can tell you what your life is going to be like when you get my age. You're going to have aches and pains, spend half day in the damn doctor's office. If that's what you want, it's fine. Me, I'd rather not do that. So that's kind of the takeaway. But the book, I need a wonderful book for somebody who is a couch potato, who says, I don't need to know more about this. I want to know more. But I'm not a personal trainer. I'm not a life coach. No, I'm just a guy who said, here's my story. If my story can inspire somebody, then that's my legacy, and that's why I do it.
[01:07:57.380] – Allan
Thank you, Jim. And thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
[01:08:00.800] – Jim
Well, listen, I have to tell you, you inspired me, and it's not used to inspire me, but your story, you have a terrific story. You're a terrific communicator. Okay. And I think you've got a terrific life ahead of you. It's all I can say.
[01:08:21.040] – Allan
Thank you, Jim.
[01:08:29.130] – Allan
[01:08:30.460] – Rachel
Hey, Allan. That was so fun listening to a successful story like his at 85, he sounds like he's the fittest he's ever been. Oh, 82.
[01:08:39.690] – Allan
He's 82. Yeah, he's 82 now. He started his journey when he was in his 70 years, when he was turning 70, because he just had that moment. And most of us that go through some form of transformation like this, we come up to this moment and it's like, oh, I have to do something. And what he was is he just 70, and he felt old and he didn't like the energy level. He didn't like anything about it. And he determined that he was going to change that and committed to changing it. And his overall vision was that by the time he turned 80, he wanted to feel younger than he did when he was 70. And he has and he did, but he did some important things. And normally I try to drive these conversations. Jim is a Rambler. So he went on and on and on, but there's a lot of gold in there. Don't poopoo that like he did. I think it's worth our time to listen to people who've done what you want to do. Listen to people who've struggled through this and learn everything you can from them. So I was more than happy to just sort of hand the mic over to Jim and say, okay, run with it, because it's a good conversation.
[01:09:55.590] – Allan
But one of my key takeaways here is that he didn't play around with this. This wasn't that he dabbled at getting more fit, and it took him all these years. He went straight in and said, I'm hiring a trainer, and I'm going to make this change. And he got a good trainer, and a trainer made him younger, helped him exercise, get stronger, add muscle. And so now he is effectively from a biological age, probably younger than he was twelve years ago.
[01:10:28.980] – Rachel
My gosh, that's just incredible. And I love that he does all the things that we all should be doing Besides cardio. He does strength work. He does balance, which is really important. Even I need to work on that as a runner. And then he does the stretching. The other thing I need to do more of as a runner. But it's awesome that he dedicates his time to doing all of these different modalities each week.
[01:10:52.920] – Allan
Yeah. And so his schedule has him doing exercise for 1 hour, six days a week. That sounds like a lot of people say, oh, my God, I couldn't give an hour and go to the gym every day. You probably spend that much time watching Netflix in a week, 6 hours. And if you really look at it, 6 hours is a fraction of available time you have in a day. So I know we all feel like we're busy, but if you don't make this a priority, it's never going to happen. This is not something you phone in. He had to go to the gym and go through those workouts, and he's working on the other modalities and getting better there, too. And that's one of the cool things about this is when you really dedicate yourself and you put the time in, particularly at the beginning. We call it newbie gains, but you're going to see change really quickly. And that can be very motivating. But you got to start.
[01:11:55.740] – Rachel
Right. I love how he also said that he would rather spend an hour working out than an hour in the doctor's office. And I have to agree with that wholeheartedly. I would rather be exercising once a day or several times a week and just feel healthier and stronger for it. There's a lot of his lessons that I've learned at a much younger age. But again, going back to his age of 82, I'm just flabbergasted that he has put so much time and dedication into his own routine, and he's sharing it in his book. I just love to see people in this age bracket working out like he does.
[01:12:34.370] – Allan
Yeah. Now, a lot of books, when I'm talking to the author and I've read the book, it's like the same style the same thing. So I almost feel like as I've read the book I've already had a previous conversation with this individual. But I will say this Jim's book is much better organized than this podcast episode was. Jim knows his stuff and he put a lot of effort into writing the book. It's very well organized. There are workouts, there are stretches with pictures, all how to do this stuff. He does tell his story in there, which is very uplifting to know for sure. There's always a chance, but you got to get started and then it's a very well organized book for you to have a full program to get yourself started. But I'd still encourage you to look at getting a trainer and I know that's an investment the time is an investment and actually doing the work is an investment, but those investments pay off huge dividends, particularly in our current era where we need to keep our bodies as healthy, as strong as they can to just deal with everyday crap.
[01:13:43.710] – Rachel
For sure. Yes, for sure.
[01:13:47.830] – Allan
Because if you're starting from a better base, you're better off in the end. Regardless.
[01:13:54.570] – Rachel
Going back to his story, he started off with back pain and knee pain and all these things and now he doesn't feel that anymore. He's changed his lifestyle so much that he's healthier and more fit now than he was at age 70. It's just incredible.
[01:14:10.140] – Allan
Yeah, it's a good story and there's a lot of gold Nuggets in this episode. Even more in the book, so it's a good one.
[01:14:19.460] – Rachel
Yes, I love that. Great interview.
[01:14:21.580] – Allan
All right. Well, Rachel, I will talk to you next week.
[01:14:24.880] – Rachel
All right. Take care.
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