Healthy Aging Series Part 3

How To Prepare For Aging | Healthy Aging Series: Part 3

Regardless of your age, begin preparing for aging right now. Honestly, it’s that simple. Do the things that you need to do to be healthy now. Here is what I say:

In order to prepare for the last 10 years of your life,

you’ve got to start preparing for the next 10 years of your life!

In his book, Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Well-Being,” Andrew Weil M.D., provides a 12-point Program for healthy aging. This program really looks like a list of things that we should all be doing now to get and stay healthy. If you want to be healthy when you’re 60, 70, or 80, then live a healthy lifestyle in your 30s, 40s, and 50s. Here is his program:

  1. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet.
  2. Use dietary supplements wisely to support the body’s defenses and natural healing power.
  3. Use preventative medicine intelligently: know your risk of age-related disease, get appropriate diagnostic and screen tests and immunizations, and treat problems (like elevated blood pressure and cholesterol in the early stages.
  4. Get regular physical activity throughout life. 
  5. Get adequate rest and sleep.
  6. Learn and practice methods of stress protection.
  7. Exercise you mind as well as your body.
  8. Maintain social and intellectual connections as you go throughout life.
  9. Be flexible in mind and body: learn to adapt to losses and let go of behaviors no longer appropriate of aging.
  10. Think about and try to discover for yourself the benefits of aging.
  11. Do not deny the reality of aging or put energy into trying to stop it. Use the experience of aging as a stimulus for spiritual awakening and growth.
  12. Keep an ongoing record of the lessons you learn, the wisdom you gain, and the values you hold. At critical points in your life read this over, add to it, revise it, and share it with people you care about.

For those familiar with twelve step programs, maybe this is the 12 Steps for Aging. Look over this list. Everyone would. Benefit from doing these things right now. Aging well means doing the things now to be healthy and happy now. 

Contrast Weil’s list with the following list:

  1. Don’t worry about what you eat. Don’t be concerned with the amount of sugar you’re eating. Don’t practice any willpower over the food you eat. 
  2. Don’t worry about supplements. You’re young, you’ll focus on micronutrients in 10 or 20 years.
  3. Put your head in the sand. Out of sight, out of mind. Forget about getting screenings and assessments.
  4. Don’t see your doctor anymore then you need to. Forget annual or semi-annual checkups. Forget blood work. Forget breast and prostate exams. Forget colonoscopies (I actually work with people that tell me that they haven’t seen a doctor in 5 years).
  5. Sleep shmeep!!! Who needs sleep!!!
  6. Drinking helps me deal with stress. 
  7. I’ll exercise someday. I need 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week? I’m busy. I’ll start exercising next year.
  8. Who has time to read and have family or friends over? I work. I come home and I’m exhausted. I need to get a break from people and thinking.
  9. I have a way of doing things and it’s worked for me these past years or decades. If it’s not broke don’t fix it. 
  10. I get tired of hearing people talk about growth and discovery. What’s wrong with me now? If people don’t like the way I am then they can…
  11. I hate getting older and looking older. I hate what I see when I look in the mirror. 
  12. I’m going to roll with the flow. I’ll worry about getting older when that happens. I’m probably not going to live to be old anyway. My parent didn’t get old, so I’m not going to get old. 

Okay, not everyone feels this way about getting older. Many of are working hard at staying healthy and worry about getting older. 

I want to help with those worries.

Weil’s list gives me a good outline. I want to fill in the blanks and share of my experience in aging.

Healthy Aging Series: Part Three How to Prepare for Aging








This is part three in the Healthy Aging Series, written by Mark Neese, LCSW, BCBA. To see more entries in this series, click here.


Mark Scaling a Mountain!

It’s Never, Never Too Late to Start Getting Healthy!! | Healthy Aging Series: Part 2

I’m 65.

I’ve been pretty serious about my health most of my adult life. This is due, in part, to the many people that have mentored me and influenced me these past decades. 

I see my doctor and dentist twice a year.

I work out almost every day.

I hike and walk every week.

I cycle (during the warmer months) every week. 

I lift weights or do body weight exercises 3-4 times a week.

I recently eliminated “added sugar” from my diet and dropped 20 lbs.

I still have lots of things to work on, but it’s never too late to get started.

I have worked on the stress in my life, and I been doing mindfulness practices to help.

I’m working at reducing the sodium in my diet with the hopes of reducing my blood pressure.

I’d like to get my percentage of body fat down to around 18%.

Like I said, it’s never too late!

In a recent New York Times article by Gretchen Reynolds (September 18, 2019) entitled, “Taking up Running After 50? It’s never too late to Shine,” she writes that, “middle age is not too late to take up intense exercise training and begin banking many of the health benefits of being an athlete.” I love this analogy of banking health benefits! She explains that older athletes have fewer long-term health conditions, take fewer medications, have fewer hospital or medical visits, and their physical function is excellent.

Again, it’s never too late!!

I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog a book that my father gave me 2 decades ago, “Dr. Bob Arnot’s Guide to Turning back the Clock.” Arnot writes, “You can set back your biological age, like rolling back the miles on a car’s odometer. How much? A sedentary forty- or fifty-year-old can realistically expect to test as a healthy twenty-five-year-old after as little as six months.” This is a book worth reading if you want to become more active and reverse aging. I have two copies in my office, and I’ll loan you one!

Bob Arnot’s advice, “It’s never too late!”

Another book that inspired me during this past decade was, “Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy -Until You’re 80 and Beyond,” by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D. This is a very hopeful book. Crowley is eight-four-years-old and continues to be active and in very good health. He writes that, “you may want to think about the fact that 70 percent of premature death is life-style related.” “Premature death,” he explains, “means before you’re deep into your eighties.”

Crowley and Lodge agree, It’s never too late to start preparing for old age!!

Here is my advice:

The sooner you become more health conscious, the better your chances of living a long and healthy life.

Let that sink in. 

This means getting more health conscious about:

  • Good nutrition
  • Being active
  • Having something to get up for every morning
  • Maintaining good relationships
  • Learning to adjust to the things that will not adjust to you

I’m sitting in a Starbucks in Colorado as I write this blog. I’m getting ready to hike The Incline. It’s a mile-long train up the side of Pike’s Peak that increases in elevation by 2000 feet. I try to do it every time I visit, to test myself. It’s usually takes an hour and fifteen minutes to make it up that mile stretch. We’ll see about this time.

Why do I do things like this?

Because I’m doing what I can now to ensure that I live a long and healthy life.

It’s never, never too late to get started!

Book Mentioned in Blog By Mark Neese









This is part two in the Healthy Aging Series, written by Mark Neese, LCSW, BCBA. To see more entries in this series, click here.

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In viewing this website (and blog), it is assumed that you understand and acknowledge that the services and information, provided by True North Counseling, LLC may involve recommendation to improve your general health, fitness and well-being, including nutrition/diet advice and suggestions for physical activity.  In accepting this information, understand that it is under your best discretion to be respectful to your body when engaging in physical activity and/or changing dietary habits. It is recommended to consult with your primary physician before starting any new/recent exercise or eating routine and to get annual check-ups to assess current health and fitness status. Do not overlook the importance of having a team-approach when health is involved. Regular visits with both your physician and registered dietitian will allow you to create the best possible, balanced approach in meeting health and performance/fitness goals.

Hiking out west

Active Aging: Lessons from My Younger Self | Healthy Aging Series: Part 1

I’m old, or at least that’s what gerontologists tell me. I turned sixty-five this past year and that means I’m in the “Young Old” category. I was actually proud of myself when I turned sixty-five. When I was in Air Force basic training, forty-seven years ago, I called home for the first time and was told my maternal grandmother had died at the age of sixty-four from colon cancer. I’ve been holding my breath for these past forty-seven years, and now I can exhale, at least a little until I’m seventy, the age that my paternal grandfather died.  I’ve been holding my breath, while at the same time, preparing for old age, if that makes sense. 

What I’ve proclaimed to people over the past decade is this: “You have to prepare for the last ten years of your life.” The average age of my parent’s deaths is eighty-five years old (Dad died at 82, mom at 87). And so, that means the last ten years of my life will be 75 to 85. How well have I done preparing? Ten years ago I began training to be a Certified Personal Trainer, and more specifically, a Senior Fitness Specialist. I read a lot about fitness and nutrition. I cannot tell you the number of books that I’ve read on these topics, seriously, hundreds. What lessons did I learn to help me as an aging man in his sixties? I’m now reading many, many books on aging, but what lessons did I learned during the past decade that I can teach my present self?

Lesson one from my past self: I’ve learned to take more days off from working out, especially after a very long hike or intense workout.

In other words, I’ve learned to let my body recover. I’ve decreased the intensity of my workouts. I’ve learned that I need to continue to do resistance training 3-4 times a week, but I keep the volume low by using lighter weights, and maybe increasing the number of sets and reps. Sometime, I take a week or maybe two off from resistance training. Live to fight another day.

Lesson two: I’ve learned that I need to cut out sweets and added sugar from my diet.

Thanks to my Fitbit, I’ve learned that sugar and alcohol affect my sleep and I’ve cut back on both. I don’t worry as much as I used to about my weight. I just want to stay strong and keep my percentage of lean muscle mass as high as I can. A little fat is a good thing as you age, but sugar affect everything, including your blood pressure, your immune system, and maybe contributes to illnesses such as cancer. I eat sugar as a luxury: small amounts and occasionally. 

Lesson three from my younger self: I’ve learned to work on my mobility and stability.

In the training world they call this functional fitness. Some call it training to be “fall proof.” I do this by incorporating instability into my workouts.. I’ve learned that the more unstable the surface, the more stable my ankles and legs. I don’t use trekking poles unless I’m doing lots of elevation, like the Incline Trail in Manitou Springs, CO where you gain 2000 ft of elevation in 1 mile. I see older adults wobble when they walk. My mother wobbled as she walked to the Hardees every morning. She fell several times that resulted in serious injuries. Not good. 

Lesson four: I’ve learned that I need to take care of my gut. 

I learned that I need probiotics and prebiotics, and that I need to consider the colony of bacteria living in my gut as a separate entity. I’m eating for two, me and my gut flora. I’ve learned that feeding my microbiota involves eating lots of fiber. It also means that I need to be mindful of the antibiotics that I take and the water I drink. I’ve begun filtering my water to eliminate the effects  of chlorine and other chemicals on my gut bacteria. I haven’t done as well as I’ve wanted by increasing the variety of bacteria strains in my gut, but I keep working on it, because these little creatures affect every aspect of my wellbeing. 

Lesson five: I’ve learned that I need to take care of my brain. 

This is a big one. The two things that promote a healthy brain are: a good night’s sleep, and keeping your brain actively learning new things. I’ve recently asked my doctor to order a sleep study for me. I wake up in the middle of the night and sometimes I have a problem getting back to sleep. Sometimes, I do not get good restorative sleep, which is due to eating sugar or drinking even one drink during the day. I’ve learned that various kinds of mushrooms can promote neurogenesis. So, I drink a mushroom/cacao mixture every morning. And I read and study a lot! I’m in the middle of preparing to write 50 or so blogs on healthy aging by reading as many books as I can on the subject. It all promotes a healthy brain.

Ask yourself, “What have I learned from my younger self?”

What worked for you? What didn’t worked for you? The answers to those questions can serve as a road map for your healthy aging! 

This is part one in the Healthy Aging Series, written by Mark Neese, LCSW, BCBA. To see more entries in this series, click here.


Healthy Aging Series: Introduction

“Everything in the Universe ages.” Leonard Hayflick

So, why should we be any different? 

The real question isn’t, are we aging, but how are we aging? We have one body. There are no second chances or replacements. The way that you take care of your body now will most likely determine if you have a long and healthy life

Here is what I tell my clients: “The sooner you become more health conscious, the more likely you’ll live a long and healthy life.”

I want to help in this process. I’ll be providing blogs over the next 12 months to inform you and challenge you to become more health conscious now. After all, the sooner the better, right?

Here are the topics that I will cover:

  • The Healthy Aging Brain
  • Healthy Aging and Sleep
  • Recovery and Resiliency
  • Stability and Mobility
  • What is Senior fitness?
  • Stress
  • Aging and Depression
  • Complex Grief
  • Good Genes vs. Bad Habits?
  • Aging Gracefully
  • Aging and Muscle Mass
  • Things you can do: Annual Checkups
  • Healthy Aging and Your Teeth
  • Your Colon
  • Healthy Gut
  • Fasting for Healthy Aging
  • Exercise for Healthy Aging
  • Sugar
  • Healthy Aging and Paleo Lifestyle
  • Lose the Extra Pounds
  • Body Composition: You need a little extra body fat.
  • Blue Zones
  • Retirement
  • Divesting Yourself
  • The End is Part of the Journey
  • Hiking for Healthy Aging
  • Silverstrong @True North
  • Healthy Aging and Mental Health
  • Healthy Aging and Goal Setting

Here are some of the books I’m going to review:

📚   Lifespan: Why we Age –And Why We Don’t Have To, by David Sinclair

📚  Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Well-Being, by Andrew Weil

📚  Enlightened Aging: Building Resilience for a Long, Active Life, by Eric Larson, M.D.

📚  Borrowed Time: The Science of How and Why We Age, by Sue Armstrong

📚  Fitness over Fifty, by the National Institute on Aging

📚  Successful Aging, by John Wallis

📚  The Healthy Aging Brain, by Louis Cozolino

…Lots and lots more!

And I’m going to introduce you to some fantastic podcasts:

🎙️  “Live Long and Master Aging,” by Peter Bowes

🎙️  “Anti-Aging Hacks,” by Faraz Khan

So, fasten your seatbelts. I can’t wait to share some life-changing blogs!!!!

Mark Neese, Therapist at True North CounselingMark Neese, LCSW, BCBA is the co-founder and co-owner of True North Counseling. Mark has been in the health profession for over 40 years. For the past decade, he has developed tools to work with Senior Adults and started SilverStrong as a program of True North Counseling to address their needs.  Mark is a Certified Personal Trainer with The American Council on Exercise (ACE), a Senior Fitness and Functional Aging Specialist with ACE, he has a specialty in Weight Management from ACE, and has a certification in Holistic Nutrition from the American Fitness Professionals Association. 

Click here to contact Mark or see more entries in the ongoing Healthy Aging Series here