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Habits Over Fads: Embracing Long-Term Health and Fitness With David Stewart

This week, we discuss the importance of setting realistic and sustainable goals. If we can form positive, long-term habits rather than resorting to extreme, short-term “resolutions,” we can get more healthy every day. Reflecting on previous goals, David shares personal anecdotes and lessons learned. Why not take a gradual approach to fitness and nutrition that aligns with one’s lifestyle and capabilities? This episode is a blend of practical advice and motivational insights aimed at fostering a healthier, more self-aware approach to personal growth and wellbeing.

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Key Moments

When people think about goals for the new year, they often initially think about things like diets and exercise, fitness, these sort of things. What I have seen, I’ve seen this multiple times, I have engaged in this myself and I can tell you it does not work.”

“We’re looking to establish habits; habits that we can keep for a long period of time. Extreme diets are not a habit. They’re sort of a short-term occasion, and just a recipe for failure. We want to slightly modify what we’re doing so that we can achieve it, so we can pat ourselves on the back and say, ‘Great job, reevaluate in three months.’ ”

“So this is an achievable target and it’s measurable, which is really key about this.”


00;04;04;20 – 00;04;38;07


When people think about goals for the new year, they often initially think about things like diets and exercise, fitness, these sort of things. What I have seen, I’ve seen this multiple times. I have engaged in this myself and I can tell you it does not work. So fail. Number one, extreme diets. That may mean you just read something about the ketogenic diet and you’re going to eat, you know, only bacon or something for the next however many weeks.

00;04;38;09 – 00;05;12;05


This is not a good idea. What we want to do here is especially with what are we eating, our nutrition, our fitness. We’re looking to establish habits, habits that we can keep for a long period of time. Extreme diets are not a habit. They’re sort of a short term occasion, and just a recipe for a fail we want to do is slightly modify what we’re doing so that we can achieve it, so we can pat ourselves on the back and say, Great job, reevaluate in three months.

00;05;12;05 – 00;05;30;19


That’s 90 days. And when you’re thinking about a diet, it can be something as easy as I want to drink 100 ounces of water a day. Now, this is something that I have trouble with, and I think most people have trouble remembering to drink enough water. Seems like a fairly achievable thing. You don’t have to eliminate anything from your diet.

00;05;30;21 – 00;05;52;04


And if you can do this for 90 days, what you’ve done is you’ve established a habit where you’re paying attention to what you’re putting into your body. It’s just water, but it’s easily, easily achievable. And that’s what we want to do here. Again, habit. The second thing that I see that’s a huge fail is these generalized exercise plan.

00;05;52;10 – 00;06;11;14


What I mean by that is I’ll say to myself, well, it’s the new year, I want to get fit or a little more targeted. I want to lose weight, either one of those. What does that actually mean? I want to get fit. I have no idea what what is how do you go about that? How do you achieve that?

00;06;11;14 – 00;06;37;00


A better goal if you’re new to fitness would be I am going to go to the gym X days a week at whatever time. So I’m going to say I’m going to go Monday, Wednesday, Friday to the gym every day at 730 in the morning, you just go to the gym because again, what we’re doing here is were establishing a habit you can add on to and keep for the rest of your lives.

00;06;37;02 – 00;06;56;22


Because this whole health span longevity thing, this is not about the next week, two weeks, month, this is the rest of your life. So we want to think about what are the habits that we can actually keep to. If you’re somebody who sort of new to exercise and movement, you want to just do something that locks in the habit of doing something.

00;06;56;22 – 00;07;14;24


And that could be say to yourself every night after dinner, I’m going to wait a half hour and then I’m going to go out and I’m going to go for 45 minute walk, boom, That’s a habit that you can achieve. That’s, you know, it’s something that we can do in their numbers. We can put up on the board and say, all right, the last 90 days I did this.

00;07;14;26 – 00;07;46;27


And then you can add on to that because now you’ve established a habit, a fitness. If you’re someone who’s I mean, for myself, I’ve been exercising more or less regularly. I was about 50. I’m 65 now. So for someone who’s more used to an AM, more active lifestyle, you can put in some kind of a metric like, I want to be able to do five dead hang, pull ups within whatever the time period is.

00;07;46;27 – 00;08;06;01


I think three months is a really great time period, 90 days. You can make a real impact on your body in that amount of time. So you say to yourself, I want to do five dead hang pull ups in 90 days. What do I need to do to do that? So this is an achievable target and it’s measurable, which is really key about this.

00;08;06;04 – 00;08;33;05


It’s something that we can measure. All right. So those are the two sort of big areas where I see people doing things and I have done myself. Oh, my God, I can’t tell you all the sort of like extreme fails I’ve had in this area. But now what I’ve learned is it’s small little bit things that I can do every day and I establish a habit that I can keep with me for a long period of time.

00;08;33;05 – 00;08;57;17


That’s ultimately the goal here. One of the things that I think is really important when thinking about fitness, nutrition, these kind of things, you want to include the thought that this is self-compassion, fitness is self-compassion, it’s taking care of yourself. We’ve had a number of people on this podcast who’ve said essentially the same thing, and people are going to have some argument with this because I’ve had some blowback on this.

00;08;57;25 – 00;09;25;04


Basically, you get to pick your heart and carving out time to do these things is hard. You have to commit, you know, resources. Your time is a valuable resource. You have to carve that out. But I can tell you from experience, I don’t know how many of you know this. When I was about I think it was 49, I had a very successful career as a photographer.

00;09;25;04 – 00;09;59;16


I was traveling between New York and Europe and Los Angeles and Tokyo. I was doing this fairly often. And what happened was I, you know, perhaps attributed to that lifestyle, I ended up in the hospital for a year and I had some wacko autoimmune disease called ITP. Idiopathic thrombus generally is something associated with children or women just after childbirth, not so much with a 59 year old male, but there I was.

00;09;59;19 – 00;10;39;19


Since then and I had I was subject to a lot of medical experimentation at my own choosing, which ended up with my spleen being removed and organ removal. Voluntary organ removal is not something one takes lightly, but since then I’ve been asymptomatic. I have also gradually and I and I want to emphasize this gradually added to my understanding of what nutrition works for me, what fitness works for me, and gradually implemented these things into my life over the last maybe 15 years.

00;10;39;22 – 00;11;06;29


But what I have learned is that this idea of self-compassion is is really key to all this. I want to be good to myself and for me, being good to myself means exercising regularly and vigorously and learning new and challenging physical things that I can do with my body. It also means really understanding what kind of nutrition works for me.

00;11;06;29 – 00;11;37;06


It may not work for anyone else, but at the moment it’s my understanding what’s working well for me. These are forms of self-compassion, and as we’re thinking about these habits, this is not about some kind of self-flagellation. Hair shirt, that sort of thing. This is about us being good to ourselves and as I think towards other goals and there’s certain goals that I’ve established for a just that I some of these goals I didn’t meet last year.

00;11;37;06 – 00;12;01;18


I’m reestablishing those goals for this year and reevaluating what worked, what didn’t work, and some new things that we want to move into This Last year we launched the Super Age quiz. So, you know, what kind of super age are you? That’s been really impactful. We just launched our own sort of Ages presents program, I guess, on YouTube called Since You Asked.

00;12;01;18 – 00;12;30;19


And that’s a lot of fun. And we’re going to be doing more interesting things. On a personal level, I’d like to add in something fairly hard, like once a year, something that’s not that easy for me to achieve, and I’m still sort of thinking about what that could be. About 18 months ago, I had this idea that I was going to become a master’s ski racer.

00;12;30;22 – 00;12;50;11


I think I was 64 when I started thinking about that now, 60, 63 actually. And this year I’m actually, you know, I’m going to be competing. My first race is in a couple of weeks. I’m very excited about that. I’m going to be doing that throughout the season and we’ll see where that goes, like how this actually works out.

00;12;50;13 – 00;13;13;03


I’ve been training with other people in my program. We’ve been running dates and timing and stuff, but that’s a quite a different thing than actually competing out there with other people from the rest of the world. But for this next new year, I may add to that goal, but I may pick something entirely different and I’m sort of pondering that at the moment what what that would be.

00;13;13;06 – 00;13;38;02


I also like to pack in, you know, every two or three months, something that I think is is somewhat difficult to create those memories. What’s the idea behind doing these things that are like, you know, hard and, you know, my hards often go around something physical, but it doesn’t have to be that. It can be something like it’s very hard for me to establish a relationship.

00;13;38;02 – 00;13;56;06


My in-laws, something like that, you know, that could be your goal for the year, something that’s really hard and difficult for you, and it’s helpful if it creates some kind of a memory. And that’s one of the things I like about these things. But as the years go on and on, it’s nice to remember back to last year, Oh jeez, I did that thing.

00;13;56;10 – 00;14;17;22


Wasn’t that amazing? I did that. I wonder what other kind of like, you know, interesting, difficult thing I can do. It makes a memory and also reminds me that whatever age I’m at, I can do something new. I can learn something new. You know, I could learn a foreign language. I’m thinking about going to Japan later in the fall.

00;14;17;24 – 00;14;41;03


And maybe part of that is I want to be able to say maybe half a dozen sentences in Japanese. I want to be able to read certain Japanese characters. I know zero background in Japanese. So that will actually be kind of difficult. I’m thinking about going to Copenhagen in June and I would like to explore the whole sauna cold plunge culture there.

00;14;41;09 – 00;15;11;11


It’s a thing and people there, they swim in the harbor in Copenhagen, year round. I would like to do that. I think that could be, you know, really interesting and difficult. I would also like to sometime this winter there’s various parks around. Where are places in Park City that are dark sky parks and park there, spend the night during the winter in my sleeping bag, in a dark sky area because the winter, the sky is just unbelievable and be able to see that.

00;15;11;11 – 00;15;29;13


But that involves, you know, a certain amount of uncomfortability, you know, being outside in a sleeping bag and it’s going to be cold. Okay. But I want to I want to see if I can do that. That’s sort of how I look at these things. What are things that might be a little outside of my comfort zone but are achievable?

00;15;29;15 – 00;15;59;21


Notice I don’t put on my list go to the moon or some something that’s unachievable. I try to pick things that are outside my normal comfort zone, outside of my normal day to day, but that I can still do now foundational to making these goals or things that we want to achieve out there in the world is the sense of who we are and I think that this is really important.

00;15;59;23 – 00;16;23;28


We need to think about what is the language that we’re using for ourselves. We talk about ourselves. I often hear people around me really frustrates me when they say, Well, you know, at my age I can or can’t do whatever or, you know, if you were, that’s just the way I am. That’s my favorite one. Oh, that’s just the way I am.

00;16;24;04 – 00;16;53;24


Well, says who? I mean, that’s just the way you’ve chosen to be. It’s a label that we often put on ourselves and one of the things that I heard years ago that I often reflect upon was from a mental health professional and this mental health professional, she was quite well known and she said, Well, you know, David, all human beings have three fundamental core delusions about themselves.

00;16;53;24 – 00;17;19;27


What does that mean? That means they’re their core and they’re they’re they’re a part of our identity, but they a delusion. I’ll give you an example of this back. I mean, maybe ten or 15 years ago, my wife started telling me, you would be great as a storyteller. You’d be great at interviewing people, you’d be great, you know, helping other people understand things because you are really good at explaining.

00;17;20;00 – 00;17;40;29


And I thought, What are you talking about? I can’t do that. Like, I was a photographer. Photographers don’t really talk. We just we’re in the background. And what happened was, over the course of time here at age eight, I found myself by necessity, having to talk in front of people. I gave a TED talk up there with, you know, rock climbing, huge things.

00;17;40;29 – 00;18;12;18


It was terrifying to me. And I did it. And I lived. I survived. And I realized, oh, I can do that. It opened this door for me about maybe I’m not the person that I thought I was. And this is what I mean by a fundamental core delusion about ourselves. And one of the ways that I found that I can identify one of these things and it’s rather uncomfortable.

00;18;12;21 – 00;18;40;14


It’s when somebody says to me, Oh, you could do whatever. And I immediately react with a No, never I could. This is just impossible for me. It’s actually probably the thing that I could do and that I probably should do or I should explore doing for myself. That process was years and years and years. I’m just a slow learner, What can I say?

00;18;40;17 – 00;19;07;25


But if you feel that sensation, if somebody says to you, you be great helping kids or you be great on the stage, I think you’re probably a really good athlete and you say, No, no, no, no, I could never do that. Pay attention to that. That’s a signal, because these things are delusions. It’s really hard for us. One of the things the other tricks that I was told once was imagine the opposite of what we assume to be true.

00;19;07;28 – 00;19;34;13


So imagine this thing that people are telling you. You know, maybe someone’s mentioned to you that you think would just be impossible for you or is just antithetical to your core identity this this way that you think about yourself. Imagine if the opposite was true. Like, imagine if going on stage and in my circumstance, going on stage for me now is it’s just really fun.

00;19;34;13 – 00;20;01;20


It’s really enjoyable. It’s easy. It’s no big deal. For me, this is completely the opposite of what I thought this would be. And so now I try and this is really hard to imagine the opposite of what my assumption would be. Perhaps this thing is achievable. Perhaps it’s easy. Perhaps, maybe. I think like I can never learn languages, maybe I can never speak Mandarin.

00;20;01;24 – 00;20;46;07


Well, imagine if you could. Well, what would that look like? Who would that person be? I think we want to question these things, this idea of identity and the labels that we give ourselves and the labels other people give us, they’re super limiting. And I think especially as we get older, we want to question these limitations and the limitations that we feel we have for ourselves and sort of the the conventional wisdom around whoever we are or whatever our circumstances are, we’re going to be aware of this conventional wisdom if we want to be aware of these norms of restraint that are out there.

00;20;46;10 – 00;21;14;11


I started ages specif likely because of this, because I saw out there there were these certain conventional wisdom, the certain way that people our age were being portrayed and being told, Oh, you can’t do this, you should be very scared of whatever we understand. You know, you’re not thinking so well anymore and you’re just maybe crazy. That’s why we establish age is to expand people’s imagination of what is possible.

00;21;14;13 – 00;21;36;11


I think each one of us, myself included, every day we feel these limitations that other people put upon us or that we put upon ourselves. And to be aware of that is we’re setting these goals out there for the next year. Think about that a little bit. Think about maybe this stuff that you believe about yourself, maybe not.

00;21;36;11 – 00;22;03;00


All of it’s true. Maybe what you’re picking up from the media, from stuff that you see out there, maybe that’s not true. Maybe we are capable of much more than we think we are. And again, I want to emphasize here, this is not just about physical stuff, although I think that’s a big part of it. I think that physically we are capable of much, much more than we’re let on.

00;22;03;00 – 00;22;21;10


I mean, I had a doctor once who we had a physical a few years ago, and I told him what I do and he looks at me, he’s like, Oh, so you’re active. And I just wanted a slug. I’m like, What do you mean, active? I yeah, like I train like an athlete. Yeah, I’m active. I’m not out there mall walking.

00;22;21;12 – 00;22;37;12


And he was like, you know, good for you. You can do this thing. But it’s not just that. It’s how can we use our brains? The things that we can learn, We learn in a different way than we did when we were like 15 or 20 or 25. But it doesn’t mean we’re incapable of learning. That’s nonsense. Of course we can learn.

00;22;37;15 – 00;23;02;04


It also means emotionally, we can expand, we can do more. We’re not as vulnerable as maybe we think we are. We don’t have to be those tough guys. We can, you know, say like, Hey, I’m a little scared or I’m a little bit sad. Maybe I can help you out. Think about that. Remember that one of the biggest crises we have out in the world today and one of the huge challenges for people our age is loneliness.

00;23;02;07 – 00;23;21;28


How do we personally deal with that? Well, you deal with that by making new friends, by expanding your circle of what you’re willing to do. Somebody asks you to go bowling. You just say yes. Somebody asks you to do whatever you say. Yes, you’re not that busy. I got a good friend. I invite him places and he’s like, Oh, you know, I’m really busy.

00;23;21;28 – 00;23;52;12


You know, my dance card’s full. Like with what? Help me to understand that. But his choice. So keep in mind these things as we’re thinking about this next year, 2024, think about all of these things we talked about initially fitness, nutrition, all this stuff is self-compassion. All of this is self-compassion. It’s us taking care of ourselves, helping us to be the best version that we can be of ourselves.

00;23;52;14 – 00;24;13;10


And these new goals, it may be you’ve always wanted a garden and hadn’t really known how to do that. You have the time or the energy and maybe you just really wanted to grow your own tomatoes. Okay, awesome. But that requires a commitment. Like that requires a plan. You need to learn how to do that. You’re going to have to probably talk to other people about how to do that.

00;24;13;10 – 00;24;27;28


You’re going to have to either dig some dirt, you know, you got to do some stuff. If you want to manifest those tomatoes, that could be your goal. And that’s a perfectly fine goal. I want to touch a little bit on my experience from the last year of some of the things that worked for me and some of the things it didn’t.

00;24;27;28 – 00;24;53;04


And I’m going to go back to 2022 in the fall of 2022, my wife and I, we were living in Park City and we both agreed that we can’t stay here. We have to go somewhere else for at least part of the year because it’s really beautiful here. We have some good friends here, but both of our careers and for our, you know, essentially our mental health, we needed more, but it would be world like, what do we do?

00;24;53;04 – 00;25;14;26


And so we set a target for six months forward to revisit the conversation in the spring of 2023 and have some sort of an idea of where we would go if we weren’t in Park City. We’re very lucky. We have a lot of options about where we can go. Her work allows that and so does mine. We sort of went back and forth like, Well, should it be London?

00;25;14;26 – 00;25;29;15


Should it be New York? Should it be Los Angeles? Should it be it? Maybe a smaller town somewhere should be Florida. And we thought about these things and we ended up with we wanted to go back to New York. We’ve both lived in New York for a long time. I’ve lived in other big cities most of my life.

00;25;29;22 – 00;25;47;20


And we decided in New York, okay, great. I mean, New York is a big place. There’s a lot of different ways you can live here, a lot of different places. And so then we said, okay, let’s give it another three months and we’ll look at a bunch of different options for that and then we can make a plan from there.

00;25;47;20 – 00;26;12;07


And we did. And we narrowed it down to one building. The building we’re in now, it’s a big building or like it’s 80 storeys or 850 units. And we spent like this person, my wife spent the next couple of months narrowing it down to what which units. And then we identified a unit. We were going to move here in September of 2023, but I had to have surgery on my knees.

00;26;12;08 – 00;26;36;01


I got delayed and we moved here, I think was about three weeks ago. But that required that that was a series of goals and sort of a series of planning exercises to make this happen. It wasn’t something we could just jump right into and it was fairly hard thing. And there’s some like financial arrangements that had to be made to allow this to happen, but that worked out really well.

00;26;36;03 – 00;26;58;02


One of the things that did not work out too well for me was I really wanted to get up earlier in the day to get to the gym earlier in the morning. And I thought to myself, okay, if I get up at 530, I can eat a little bit, I can meditate, I can be at the gym, you know, 630 or seven or so and exercise till eight.

00;26;58;02 – 00;27;22;15


And then I’ve got the rest of the day. I tried that. That didn’t work for me. Getting up at 530 in the morning. I’m not that person. Like my ideal time to wake up at this point in my life is around seven every day. So I just sort of harmonized my workout schedule and my day around that, that that’s just the time that I get up and I go bed pretty much the same time every night.

00;27;22;17 – 00;27;39;10


And that worked out for me. So I tried this goal. I tried to be one of those people that get up in the dark and do all this stuff and out the door. I can only do it for like maybe a, I don’t know, two weeks and it just didn’t work out. That wasn’t something that harmonized with the way I am.

00;27;39;12 – 00;28;01;09


I also tried tracking my time, so there are various apps out there and their various sort of productivity folks out there that are like, okay, are you going to track your time? And you do it in like ten minute or 20 minute or whatever hour long segments and there are programs. So I tried that. What I did was I said, okay, these are the five things I want to accomplish today, and these are the blocks of time.

00;28;01;14 – 00;28;18;27


And it made me bananas just like sort of out of my mind’s eye. Oh, my God. I’m like a like a 45 minute block here. And I got like 3 minutes left and I think, oh, my God, I got to do this thing. I just was like a squirrel on a treadmill. So that didn’t work for me. That was a failed goal that I think that works for other people.

00;28;19;04 – 00;28;38;02


Great. Didn’t work that well for me. I tend to like things a little more flexible, a little more fluid, and just do like one thing that I want to accomplish that day. On top of the emails and the slack and the phone calls and all that, I try and get this other one thing done and that seems to work out well for me.

00;28;38;04 – 00;29;11;04


This show is also brought to you by Inside Tracker, the dashboard to your inner health. I’ve been using Inside Tracker for over three years now. I’ve been able to reduce my inner age from my chronological age of 65 to an inner age now of 56. I did this gradually over time following their recommendations because not only with Inside Tracker do I have a dashboard to my inner health knowing what’s going on inside me, I also have a roadmap on how to improve that their food first supplements.

00;29;11;04 – 00;29;33;21


Second recommendations have helped me tremendously. I recommend everyone get a dashboard to their inner health, go to inside tracker dot com slash, just save 20% on all their products. With all you guys out there, we’re a village now. There’s a considerable amount of people that are listening to this podcast and are part of the ages and the super age community.

00;29;33;24 – 00;29;55;20


I would love to hear from you. We’ve been putting quotes in the newsletter every week of things that people send in to us. We’ve been putting things out on our Instagram channel with issues that you guys have or comments that you have. I think this idea of goals and labels and limitations and how we feel about ourselves, it’s a big deal.

00;29;55;21 – 00;30;27;08


And I would love to hear from you. What we’ve been hearing is like my experience. I would love to hear what your experience are and then we can share that out there with the rest of the village and hear back from them and get a conversation going. I really want to do much more of that this year. I feel that you guys are tremendous resource for each other and one of those delusions that some of us may have is that we’re invisible or there are opinions don’t count or any of that.

00;30;27;10 – 00;30;51;22


I’m here to tell you that is a core delusion. It is not true. Your thoughts and opinions do count your struggles count, your challenges count. And I really want to hear from you guys so that we can put it out there for everyone else to learn from you. So there are various different ways you can do that. You can shoot me an email, David at Super Edgecomb you can reply to the newsletter, which I get all of that too.

00;30;51;24 – 00;31;10;01


You can hit us up on any of the social channels. Maybe that’s your jam and let us know what are your challenges? What are the labels that you’re pushing back against and what are the goals that that’s leading you to in 2024? I would love to hear from you. Next week we’re going to be back on our regular schedule.

00;31;10;01 – 00;31;31;12


I will be back in Park City, Utah. Really excited about that and get some amazing guests lined up for 2024. It has been such a privilege wrapping up 2023 with all of you. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for sharing this with others. And if you feel like it, hey, leave us a review.

00;31;31;15 – 00;31;46;27


We’d love that and leave us a rating that helps us too, until next year. Well, you’re going to be hearing this in 2024. I’m recording this in 2023. Until then, everybody have a wonderful week. And I hope everybody had a wonderful New Year. Take care Now.

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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.



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