Portions excerpted from 6 Keys
We’ve all heard that old saying that nothing in life is certain but death and taxes. The taxes I can’t help you with, but did you know there is nothing in our genes that tell us to die?
That’s right—NOTHING. NADA. ZIP. ZERO.
So, the big question is: why aren’t we immortal? Why does one person barely make it to retirement age while someone else gets to blow out candles on their 98th birthday? How come some are more susceptible to certain health issues as they get older (ranging from Alzheimer’s and cancer to heart disease) while others seem immune? Why do some people look frail, gray, and shriveled as they age, while others remain vigorous, potent, and powerful into their second century of life?
If you haven’t asked these questions yet, at one point in your life—you will.
For me, that need to truly understand everything about growing older hit me on a random night out with a couple of younger friends at a fit36 studio (a real party animal, right?) Much younger in fact, since my one pal is 55 and the other 43. Admittedly, I don’t find myself in spots filled with 30 somethings often, but set this sesh up for my friend who was having trouble with her knees and wanted to try something new and exciting.
So, there I was, 63 years old, hoping not to have to be air lifted from the gym to the nearest medical center, hanging out with ready-to-kill-it 20 and 30 year olds.
And I get asked for my age – seriously…in order to set up my screen (everyone gets fitted with a heart monitor that you can watch during your workout). Boy, if they could have seen my heart rate when I was asked that question! I’m dead certain it was 420.
At first, I was like, this gal either thinks I’m some sort of secret agent checking out the studio for the competition or she feels bad for me (worried I might stroke out during the class). But no. She took my ID, glanced at it, looked back up, immediately did a double take and said: “Wow! You’ve maintained really well.”
Once our “near perfect body” instructor said “May I see some ID please” you don’t look that old….. I began to breathe again. But, I began to really look at my friends and myself and wonder about the question AND the curiosity.
Why was she so surprised?
In my mind, I looked and certainly felt my age. Meaning, I felt wiser, stronger and more capable than when I was younger, possessing a confident air that only comes with time and experience (don’t we ALWAYS hear that once we are over 40??? It’s the “time and experience” thing). So why wasn’t ‘that’ what sixty-something looked like to her?
As the session went on and I mingled amongst the group (when I could breathe that is), people continued to be surprised by my age. Again, I’m thinking they were worried that they’d not paid attention to their resuscitation class and thought I might not make it…..
“You do NOT look 63!”
“You don’t SEEM like you’re 63!” You can move and everything. Your heart rate isn’t even hitting it’s max!
At first, I was super flattered. But by the 6th person, I started to get annoyed. ‘What the hell?!’, I thought to myself, “What exactly is 63 supposed to be and look like anyway? Why does everyone else think 63 is old?” More importantly, what do ‘you’ believe 60+ (or any age higher than the big 4-0 for that matter) is supposed to look like and feel like?
Let me guess. Getting older means you’re most likely going to be:
- Tired ALWAYS
- Forgetful and out of touch
- Overweight and out of shape
- Inflexible and achy all the time
- Experiencing hair loss and gray hair (My daughters firmly told me that going “gray” is NEVER an option)
- Dealing with sagging, wrinkled skin
- Heading into pre-menopause or menopause or rot
Well, guess what? It’s none of the above.
In fact, I am the exact opposite of ‘all of the above.’ But for weeks afterward, I started paying attention to everyone around me and trying to guess people’s ages in my head. I couldn’t help but wonder how people of the same age could be so different from each other when it came to their energy level, immunity, memory, productivity, personality, and physical appearance. I couldn’t stop thinking about what the cause could be for these huge chasms and variances in how people age. My fascination with aging led to the need to discover, dissect, and decode the habits and behaviors of those that seem to effectively manipulate aging to defy time. I began to read any “aging” material I could find. One of those books is The 6 Keys by J. Micheals.
The Six Keys is the most comprehensive and effective approach to “anti-aging” on the market. And while I know that term has become a dirty word in most circles, can we just call a spade a spade? This book isn’t about being afraid to get older, it’s about aging well! It’s OUR thing, right?!
It reveals everything presently known (not just the bits and pieces) about how we age and integrates all that information into one approach that facilitates optimal expression of our genetics and full exploitation of our physiological potential. Instead, it’s literally an owner’s manual for an “experienced” body, complete with instruction. It’s science—not fiction. And while it’s true that results may vary based on your dedication, the information herein is irrefutable, and extremely potent when applied.
Now I get it. Maybe you don’t really care about all that science stuff and it seems overwhelming. And yes, even though this book is about a lot more than looks, let’s cut the crap for a second here. Maybe you just want to know how to look hot at 50, 60, and beyond—and if that’s the case, not to worry. In fact, good for you! Don’t yield to pressure from pals who think you should “sit back and rest a bit at this point in life….” I hear it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. ughhhhhh
There is nothing wrong with caring about your appearance, provided you don’t allow it to define your value. And if you’ve picked up this book because that’s what you care about, that’s perfectly ok. Because if you’re looking for a fountain of youth, this book will be as close as you can get at this point in our evolution. And after all, ‘aging gracefully’ doesn’t have to mean giving up and accepting decay. It means keeping yourself in fantastic health, inside and out, for a hell of a long time.
After all, would you want to live in a dilapidated home? Should you neglect your car until it breaks down? Would you wear stained, dirty, or wrinkled clothes (unless you’re in the privacy of your home on a Netflix binge?) Of course not. There’s a sense of pride and self-worth that comes along with caring about yourself—and for yourself. This is your body we are talking about—your one and only true home. You know, that physical shell that quite literally houses YOU for your entire life. And it’s the only one you’re ever going to get, so you should care for it and about it! How it looks. How it feels. How it performs. And most importantly, how long it lasts.
So just in case you mistakenly feel that caring about your appearance, sex life, energy, and vigor is arrogant, selfish, or shallow, this book will put that notion to bed for good. How you feel about yourself, carry yourself, present yourself, and what you are physically capable of all dramatically impact the way you relate to your environment and other people in it, and in turn, dramatically impacts your quality of life and how you age. I mean, longevity is great, but longevity without vitality, immunity and everything else I’ve mentioned—well, that’s not so great. But you can have it all. It’s work and commitment BUT, it can be done. And, you CAN feel great!
PART ONE: THE LOCK
CHAPTER ONE: UNDERSTANDING HOW WE AGE
I have a question for you: how do youwant to age?
- Do you want to live to 150—or even 200? Professor Stuart Kim of Stanford University believes the first person to do so is alive—right now! Knew it!!!!
- Would you like the ability to reprogram your body—and the bodies of your grand-children—to make it impossible for cancer to grow as you get older? Sounds impossible, but we’re a lot closer to doing that than you might think.
- Would you like to be in amazing shape—possibly the best shape of your life—at 50, 60, 70, 80, or even 90? Not possible, you say. Yuichiro Miura scaled Everest at 80, Jack Nicklaus shot a hole in one at 75, and Diana Nyad swam 110 miles from Cuba to Florida when she was 64. One of the world’s most lauded yoga instructors, Tao Porchon-Lynch, is 96. And at 54, Texas native Mark Jordan set a Guinness World Record in 2015 for the most pull-ups in a 24-hour period (4,321!)
I know what you’re thinking. I’ve picked genetic anomalies, wealthy entitleds, or life-long athletes—all outliers of epic proportion, right?
It’s NEVER too late, and the things you think impossible or out of your reach aren’t—not by a long shot. For the first time in human history, thanks to advancements in medical science, we are on the cusp of incredible revelations that will allow us to not only comprehend why and how we age—but to slow, lessen, delay, and reverse aging with the potential to avoid age-related illness completely.
Now, these accomplishments aren’t effortless. They require dedication, appreciation, and a profound love for yourself (and possibly…the scent of Bio-Freeze). They require a strong understanding of the science of aging, immunity, longevity, and vitality. They require the courage to make necessary changes emotionally and physically—at any age. And perhaps most importantly: they require an open mind, a shift in thinking, and a new perspective about aging.
That’s what The Six Keys is all about. But before we dig in, just between us, tell me: how old are you—I mean really.
Sorry, too personal of a question? OK, I get it, but the whole point here is that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. And in fact, redefining age in your mind will be a pretty critical component to how you age. So, tell me.
In truth, I don’t care at all about your age. I am actually asking to make a point. Your “age” has many different factors that you are likely not considering, and each dramatically impacts the other to cumulatively affect how you look, feel, and perform for how long.
- For starters, there’s your chronological age, which is the number dictated by your birth certificate. It’s officially how long you’ve been alive for and technically the age you can’t escape. Not to worry.
- There’s your biological(or physiological) age, which is how old your body ‘seems’, based on how well you move, look, and function. It’s an age that can vary depending on a number of factors, such as lifestyle choices, diet, genetics, stress, and bad habits for example.
- There’s your emotional age, which is how well you manage your feelings. For example, do you handle stressful situations more rationally than someone your chronological age or instead tend to act like a hot mess? Ooops….it was going so well for me prior to this point…..
- There’s your socialage, which is based on the expectations society imposes on us about when life’s major moments should occur (such as graduating from high school, starting a family, or retiring) and what is perceived to be appropriate or inappropriate behavior for someone of a certain age.
- Finally, there’s your psychological age, better known as ‘how old do you feel?’. It’s the age that’s entirely up to you because it’s honestly however you see and carry yourself. That can mean being the young at heart type or considering yourself an old soul—that sort of thing.
HOW ALL YOUR AGES ADD UP
If you’ve been trying to cheat time by focusing strictly on your biological age (through exercise, diet, supplements, creams, or whatever else you’ve been trying), I commend your efforts, but you’re going at the whole thing backwards. The first step in turning that around is understanding that ‘all’ of your ages—that includes your emotional, social, and psychological ages collectively—must be considered as a whole to make the greatest impact.
For example, you may not think that acting irrationally would age you faster—but it could. Many studies have proven that the higher your emotional intelligence is—the ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself (and others) and to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships—the more likely you are to make better decisions, manage anxiety (which has also been shown to improve memory), and be more resilient to stress, all of which can help minimize the damaging effects of certain age-altering factors.
The same respect should be paid to your social age. Society pretty much dictates exactly when we should be hitting certain milestones in our lives based on our age. In your late teens, you graduate high school and by your early 20s, you better be at the start of your career. Between your late 20s or early 30s, you settle down and start building a family. By your 40’s, if you change careers or do something profoundly stupid, no one bats an eye—you get a free pass because it’s officially a mid-life crisis. Hit your mid 60s and it’s time to retire—and that’s pretty much the social age rat race in a nutshell.
Nail these markers at the expected times and your social age is right on track. But if you dare deviate from those markers, then your social age may fall much younger or older than the norm, which could affect you in ways you might not expect. Being a teenage mom, feeling the pressure to be in a serious relationship or on a career track, going back to school in your 30’s, or not being financially able to retire are just a few deviations from the norm that could bring on what scientists call ‘social stress.’
Research has shown that social stress may actually interfere with cellular aging and DNA repair, and according to recent data, where you rank within the social hierarchy could play a major role on how vulnerable you are to chronic stress. Struggling in social settings may also put you at a greater risk for mental and physical health problems, particularly depression and anxiety—two conditions that make you more vulnerable to accelerated aging for many reasons, including lowering your testosterone and impairing white blood cells (the cells that protect your body from diseases and infections.)
Finally, there’s the often-disregarded, but equally important psychological age. A lot of how well we age is affected by how culture defines it. Many western cultures tend to view aging as putting someone out to pasture. But it shouldn’t be like this, and with plenty of other cultures—it isn’t. Instead, the “elderly” are treated with reverence and respect as a source of wisdom and information—a receptacle of accumulated mental and emotional strength—cultivated through experience and resilience that can be tapped to help move society forward and aid progress via experience and knowledge.
Age can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. What you believe affects your behavior, and how you behave then affects your reality. Once a person believes they’re frail and tired, most people stop moving their bodies in ways that help with bone density, flexibility, mobility, etc.—so they literally become frail and tired. Once they feel ineffectual or “outdated”, they stop using their mind in ways that keep it sharp. Simply put: once you accept you’re old—you become old.
Your psychological age affects your body and your mind. New research from North Carolina State University found that having a positive attitude about aging makes older adults more resilient under stress, while having a negative attitude about aging has been confirmed to affect physical and cognitive health in later years. To make matters worse, research led by the Yale School of Public Health discovered that people with negative beliefs about aging are also more likely to have brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Just ‘believing’ that getting older sucks creates stress that can cause pathological brain changes!
Why do I bring all of this up? Because what you’re about to embark upon with The Six Keys goes beyond the conventional approach typically explored in most ‘anti-aging’ programs. What you’ll be doing will go beyond improving your biological age because in order to truly change our bodies, we first need to change our minds. The way we think. The things we believe. And subsequently the way we behave. And while this might sound like a cliché, it’s actually a reality. And accepting this reality is the first step in getting it to work in your favor—especially when it comes to longevity and vitality.
It is possible to decide how you age. You can affect the expression of your genetics. You can have a long, tremendous, spectacular healthy life—but not without giving yourself over to this process. Mentally and physically. You will need faith. Faith in the science, faith in the program, but most importantly, faith in your ability to believe it and achieve it.
And I’ll tell you this much, if I can do it, you can do it. There is nothing exceptional about me. Don’t get me wrong, I feel capable and worthy of all things great that life has to offer, but I know you are too. I’m not beautiful like a supermodel, I’m not a genius, and I have zero super powers.
Now, what I do have working for me is that I had great teachers. People who taught me that I was capable and who gave me the tools and proper information so that when I took action, I got powerful results that helped reinforce my belief in the process, my abilities, and my motivation.
Yes, it is possible to look your best, feel your best, fend off disease, stay sharp, and be your most robust, fit, and flourishing self for years to come.
These changes will require effort, an open mind, and some sacrifice. Anything worth having always does. And in order to follow through on all those things, you need to have a why. I’m sure you’ve heard me toss this quote out a thousand times, and for good reason, but “if you have a why to live for… you can tolerate any how” —the ‘how’ being the work associated with achieving the goal.
So, I need you to have a hard think on why this matters to you. How will your life be positively impacted by the changes you are about to make? And I don’t mean for you to come up with sweeping generalizations like “look better” or “feel better”. I mean specifics, but most importantly, specifics that you can form an emotional attachment to.
I already know why aging badly isn’t on my agenda. Because I love being on the slopes with my Missy K, not waiting for her at the bottom of the mountain with hot chocolate. Or, jumping for hours at the trampoline spot and being the only person over 12 out there! Which, by the way, thrills Missy K…..I LOVE showing her that being a Nana doesn’t mean walking slowly and sitting on the sidelines watching the “younger” people do things!
I love being strong physically because I find it empowers me in all facets of my life and reminds me of my resilience and ability to endure, persevere, and overcome adversity.
I love feeling good about how I have “maintained” because it gives me confidence in all my interactions. It allows me the “strut” that comes with feeling feisty more often than not.
I love that at 63, I am far more fit than I was at 33—and even 23. Because it fills me with hope and positivity for what has yet to come. I CAN do this….and so can YOU.
I love that I am super comfortable in workout wear – even in a gym full of 20 somethings.
I love that I am doing everything in my power to fend off cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. And even if they do get me, I will have zero regrets that I could have avoided it.
I could go on and on and on here… So, I’ll stop, as I’m sure you get the idea.
Bottom line, I know that age doesn’t have to be a slow descent into rot. It is possible to age fully empowered with grace, beauty, wisdom, and integrity. I have—and will continue—to defy its’ preconceived notions and redefine it on my own terms—physically and psychologically.
So the real question we have here is: what about you?