I’m Not the Man I Used to Be

I don’t think anyone over 70 reads this blog, so to all of you out there, there’s good and bad news. The good: you aren’t 70 yet. The bad: you will be.

   Things got way more difficult physically at seven-oh. Injuries more frequently, and they take longer to heal. Hand/finger coordination more difficult. With shoulder problems I can’t do a pull up, and I used to do 10. Just general difficulty in things that used to be easy. I had real difficulty in climbing over a high cylone fence recently. I get out of a car more slowly; never used to think about it. The indignity of it all!

   Plus, I’m bored with “working out.” If ‘d go to a gym regularly, it would solve a lot of problems; I certainly know the drill. But there’s so many other things I’d rather be doing. No more training for running races/b-o-r-i-n-g. What do to do? Hiking, exploring, paddleboarding when this shoulder gets functioning. I want to get “exercise” while exploring/having fun, so I’m in a new world of activities to keep some kind of body/mind balance. Working on it.

   I’ve been pretty active all my life, and a lot of the problems are from wear and tear. There’s another approach: at my (60th) high school reunion last month, one of the guys told me he had just rented a city condo, and he could drive his car into the garage and take an elevator that opened in front of his front door. He’d given up.


About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

15 Responses to I’m Not the Man I Used to Be

  1. Stretching, range-of-motion exercises, and swimming is what kept my grandfather going, right up until age 92 when he passed on. He'd been a highway patrolman (motorcycle) from the '20s through the '40s, and his career ended in a horrific meeting with a telephone pole, breaking half the bones in his body. He said that without his exercises, he'd have been dead BEFORE 70. Just sayin'.

  2. Lloyd – you ever tried Tai Chi ? 1/2 hour a day. My uncle is in his 80's Ex SAS and still pretty fit. Out in the garden every morning in his shorts come rain or shine. Seems very gentle but is in fact a brutal marshal art.

  3. Lloyd I'm only mid 50's but it's swimming for me too…30 to 60 minutes each night after work… Keep on keepin' on what ever you decide on.


  4. Lloyd, I will hit the big 70 in five months. Being retired I get more exercise than I did when I worked for a living, but you are right it does get harder. There is no way I can do what I once did, but I can still do the things that I actually want to do. Keep at it you are an inspiration.


  5. Sheeeeit, I'm 43 and skeered. (I don't actually talk this way.) I try to run and stretch regularly, and walk and cycle for transportation. Thinking about taking up a unicycle to keep the balance up. Already doing Lumosity. Kettlebell most weekdays. Right behind you, friend.

  6. Hi Lloyd –

    Don't be too sure about the ages of your readers. I'm a regular and I'll be 76 on the 21st of next month (yeah, the day its all supposed to end – or something).

    Anyway, I'm surprised that you're surprised that things don't work quite the way they used to – started for me around the time I hit 66 or 67, but I've never been very athletic either, like you seem to be.

    The only 'advice' I can offer is to keep moving, no matter what, but slow it down a little. I walk a fair amount; three to four miles each time out about three or four times a week, and I volunteer a few days per week at a local community garden, mostly building and turning compost piles.

    One thing I've found to be a body-saver is to rest up at least two days between strenuous activities and to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Oh yeah, and a fair amount of coffee, tea, dark chocolate and red wine; beer in the summer & scotch whiskey across the winter holidays leads to a good life, methinks.

  7. lloyd,i,m doing therapy for a shoulder injury/slap/tear/impingement.had surgery in mid may 2012.i,m doing alot of stretching,alternating with stregth exercises. 4pound weights in each hand,hammer lift,4 sets of 10.it is hard work.it is all helping.recovery is slow.been using a,hard foam roller 8inch diamater(yoga) to lie on length of my spine,with arms next to body,palms facing up,sretch arms outward,and up over head. i find this to be agreat help with range of motion…LuAnne

  8. At 40, little warnings like back twinges started to hit. Exercise holds them off. At 48, more little stuff is plaguing me, especially as I'm female. Yet I can still see the difference that moderate activity, less stress, and freedom to eat decently make. I can't tell who's my age anymore. Some of them look pretty bad after a life in the office, sleeping poorly, eating sludge, and moving little. I saw you on your last book tour. If I look like you at 70+ instead of like my obese, diabetic, arthritic mother, I will not grump. I will be too busy enjoying my life.

  9. Lloyd,
    Well, I suspect you are way ahead of most…..
    Have friends who are 88 and 91. At this age, not athletic like you, but always busy/active, just the same.
    Golf/yard work/house work/house repairs/each drives still/big social life. BUSY.
    Couple of years ago “the wife” suggested he might benefit from a personal trainer/weight trainer. Ever since he
    has attended personal weight training three times a week. Doing well. Might be of interest to you.

  10. Lloyd, don't feel blue (autumnal depression ?)… you're an athletic, active and keen septuagenarian ! I agree with Sara. In our riche countries, longevity is increasing but with very unfair inequalities and many old people suffer from neurological diseases or disability (both my father and my mother, 85 years old). We belong to the first generation facing this difficult and painful situation : how can we help our very old parents. It's a terrifying vision of aging but also a lesson for life. Some of my friends are nursing auxiliaries confronting every day disability and they help me to play down. Now I do enjoy my rheumatisms and I try to exercise (hiking, swimming…) No boring practice, we need to have fun and to laugh and to taste the honey of life at every moment, I guess you're right.

  11. At any age, when our bodies don't respond as our minds suggest, it's irritating, angering, depressing…sort of like Elizabeth Kubler Ross's stages of death. Some don't expect much from their bodies, but for those who do, the slow down is a shock. Especially if it's because of exactly what we did (beside age) to get in that condition. Don't give up; have a wah wah time once in awhile and then get back walking, swimming (swimming, as others have said, is a great thing), biking about, embracing what you can do and really embracing that you still want to. Now if I can just find some kid to read that damn code at the bottom…

  12. Lloyd, those are all symptoms I was experiencing even at age 56 a few years back when I started reading your blog. I have been physically active all my life but was feeling pretty beat with arthritis and stiffness etc the last several years. Your stretching book helped me with that and recently at 58 I started eating Paleo style low carb diet and doing body weight strength exercises at home. I dropped ten pounds and put on more muscle than I have ever had in my life, in some ways I am more fit than ever before. However I still pretty much have pain all over when I wake up every day until I get up and get moving. I've found that in life you need to keep MOVING, above all else. The biggest challenge for me is the mental persistence, it's very easy to sit comfortably at home and let yourself go.

    You are the best role model for active aging I have come across and you set the bar awfully high, especially for motivation. I am amazed that you constantly get up and get on over to the Mission or Santa Cruz by early AM (from Bolinas!). That much driving has always been daunting and stressful for me and consequently I've let driving become an excuse for not doing the things I've always loved. So I am resolved to get up this year and drive to Mt Shasta and Lassen to ski much more often.

    I certainly can't offer you any advice, I'm actually looking to you for that. I know that at some point we will need to accept the fact that we just cannot continue to enjoy a robust physical life but until that time we need to adapt as best we can. The most basic exercise for me is walking my dogs daily and thankfully it's really the most rewarding one of all, if that's all I can do at some point I will be OK with that.

    The awful thing is that so many folks out here in rural and small town America are now becoming incapacitated by obesity and diabetes before they even reach middle age, it's atrocious and it's epidemic. You just don't see this kind of thing in the Bay Area, you'd be shocked. A lot of average Americans today are never going to see 70.

  13. hey llody, frist cold weather hit hard when you, let say get up there in age, you need to come on down to the desert, nice an warm. and dry for those old bone's. your fan gary

  14. Lloyd,

    I recommend Tai Chi, a shot of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar every day, few Apricot Seeds, happy thoughts, plenty of fluoride-free water and at least 8 hours of sleep every night.

    If this doesn't work, play Wagner's Tannhauser.

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