Only You Should Define You; The Aging Youthful Dude’s View

It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog, and I thought I would share my thoughts on how I let others define me for too long. What do I mean by this? Don’t let what others think, say or do determine what YOU do, or who you are!! Be strong, and do what you want. Set your sights on your vision, and don’t let others sway you. Let me share a little about my growing up.

What got me thinking along these lines is a while back, I made contact with a girl on Facebook who was an older sister to a friend of mine in school. She was a year older, and let me just say she was HOT??? She was one of the best looking girls in the school. Great looking, popular, lots of friends!!! I remember one time at my friend’s house, and as we walked in the backyard, there she was, laying out in the sun, in a bikini that was pretty dang small and didn’t hide much!! That vision stayed with me for a very long time. So, back to present, and she and I were messaging back and forth, she says that I was her dream date back in high school. Well, back in high school I didn’t feel I was much to look at, was not all that as you would say, not the best athlete, although I tried hard. I wasn’t popular and I wasn’t in any one clique. I was kind of a mix of jock, burnout and nerd. Anyway, to have one of the hottest girls in my school say that was pretty eye opening. I let people put me down a lot back then, was bullied pretty bad physically for a time, and just never seemed to fit in. I didn’t think much of myself because I listened and believed what others said or acted to me.

Boxing was my answer to being bullied when I was younger, to get my frustration out in a controlled way.
My answer to being bullied when I was younger. Boxing, to get out the frustration in a controlled, healthy way.

On top of that, sports, which I loved, were never performed good enough. I always got “you should have done this”, or you “should have done it that way”.  NEVER did I hear “good game” or  “way to go”. Whatever I did I was told it was just never good enough.

Another oldie but goodie...circa 1980?

Because I let others define who I was, I never was the person I could have been. Jump ahead 25 years: I raced sled dogs for 35 years, and set as one of my goals to win the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. I ran my first BG Marathon in 1985, not really knowing what the heck I was doing. After that, due to some changes in my life, I was out of the sport until 1990, when I ran the 6 dog Beargrease and a couple other smaller races. After that, I started racing the Marathon again in 1992, and ran it every year until 2010, except for 2002, when I was up in Alaska at the Iditarod, 2004, when Mary ran the Marathon, and 2009, when Mary and Michelle Ethun ran our dogs in the BG mid distance race.

I ran the marathon 16 times, never finishing out of the top ten, but having to scratch a few times. Mary ran in 2004 and the following year, I took back the reins and drove the team to victory!! I finally won the race I tried and dreamed of winning for so many years. MY joy and happiness was to be short lived. I listened to one musher, (sorry, but kind of an asshole) tell others “Big deal, he won the race, who was in it anyway”. Then, a couple days after the race, I get a letter from a family member pretty much taking what was left  of my joy and wind out of my sails!  I let these two people take away one of the biggest moments of my life.

Mark Black: Who Says a big guy can't win the Beargrease Marathon
My icy smile after winning the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in 2005. It was short-lived because I let the words of others affect me.

Since then, I still have a hard time not listening to the naysayer, but I’m working on not letting it affect me. It’s hard to do sometimes, but we just have to let them say and do what they want and try not to let it affect us. WE are not their problem. THEY are their problem. It is pretty easy to look back and see so many times I let others define me, or change the outcome of something happening in my life. It still happens today, doing the Strongman competitions and all the heavy lifting. There are those who say I’m too old, or don’t have the right build, or “I just don’t like you lifting all that heavy stuff”. What I’m learning to do is say to myself “Sorry, but it ain’t your decision, and it ain’t your life”. I ain’t gonna let what others think and sway me from what I want to do anymore. When people say things against what I am doing, it makes me want to do more, lift harder and heavier. I am going through a few health issues right now that are affecting my workouts, but I will not let that, or the naysayers define me. I will keep on keeping on, keep after my goals, even if I run into a road block, I will become the road crew, get it fixed and keep going.

No one else...only you should define YOU!

Oh yeah, and I’ll keep remembering that hot big sister in the bikini!

Aging Youthful’s Favorite Personal Development Books

Winter is truly here in Interior Alaska, as the photo from my post A Northern Girl’s Guide to Low Daylight Survival stated, so it’s time for me to read or re-read some of my favorite personal development books. Since becoming involved with a network marketing company in 2011, just about every book I’ve read has been something from the personal development genre. I can only think of one fiction book I’ve read! I tend to have a very short attention span, so a book has to capture and draw me in quickly or I lose interest in a hurry. Not too many years ago, I would have told you these self-help books were “woo-hooey” and a waste of time and money, but at the time I was at a pretty low place in my life and was willing to try something new IN CASE it might help me.

In all of our moves in the last five years, most of my library of personal development books moved with us. From our cabin in Minnesota to Florida to Alaska, I’ve always found room for my books. Some were in boxes, and those that didn’t fit, were stuffed into the nooks and crannies of empty spaces in the cab of our trucks. While I could download a bunch on a Kindle, iPad or my phone, I still like the hard copy and the feel of turning the pages of paper. My age may have something to do with it, but there is something about having the weight of the written word in my hand.

I Found “The Secret” In My First Personal Development Book!

One of the first books recommended to me was The Success Principals, by Jack Canfield. Being honest, I only read the first few chapters and haven’t opened it since. As I mentioned, I have pretty short attention span and the thickness of the book intimidated me. I know someday I will be ready to go back to it, so I’ve kept it around for over five years! Another of the first books I purchased was The Secret by Rhonda Byrne and (nerd alert) I was captured in the introduction! (Yes, I read the introduction of most books). I read the entire book in a day and immediately read it again over the next couple of days. To say this book changed my life, might be a little over-stating as I feel every book I read changes my life in one way or another.

The Secret: The first personal development book I read and the beginning of a major shift in my life.

More Personal Development Favorites

My personal development library has many subjects/genres: From finances/money mindset such as The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker , woo-hooey such as The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, autobiographies of successful people such as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (another one on my “Still to Read” list), network marketing/sales books such as The Go Giver and more. Below are the books that moved with us with more on my coffee and bedside tables and there are more back at our cabin in MN. I have also gifted forward books to people I believed needed the book more than me. I have also bought and sent books to people “Get Rich Lucky Bitch” I just finished reading and sent one to my friend Penny via Amazon.

This group of books has traveled over 10,000 miles with me from Minnesota, to Florida to Alaska! Where will they go next?

My Personal Development Top 10

Of the ones in my current library and I’ve read in the past, the following are ten I recommend to anyone looking for direction or wanting to up-level their life. All the books can be found on Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble Stores/website Here is the Top 10 I recommend reading, in no particular order:

  1. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (anything in her book line is recommended!).
  2. Get Rich Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas
  3. The Go Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann
  4. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
  5. The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman
  6. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by Dr. John Gray
  7. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  8. Go Pro by Eric Worre (everyone in network marketing needs to read this immediately!)
  9. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  10. The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason

The Four Agreements is a book I recommend every human being reads. It will slap you in the face and wake you up to personal responsibility.

If there is one that I recommend everyone read, it’s The Four Agreements. This book can be life-changing as its “agreements” are for everyone. I believe if more people followed these principles, there would be more peace in this world. If you feel you don’t have time to read, download audio books and listen while you are driving. It’s a great way to make the time pass and soak up a little personal development on your way to work and I find it can help wind down after a stressful day. I haven’t done as much listening lately, so I may have to download one or two!

The personal development book I'm currently reading: The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein

I just started The Universe Has Your Back so it’s not listed here as I’ve only finished the introduction (see, I told you I read the intro to every book) but I already like what I’m reading. Matter of fact, it’s time for me to get some reading done! What are some of your favorite books? I’m always on the lookout for something new.  Comment below or post on our social media pages with your favorites! If you aren’t following us already, you can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

Just Keep Punching: The Youthful Aging Mindset

What Do The Words Youthful Aging Mindset Mean To You?

Does a Youthful Aging mindset mean having the body of a 20 year old when your 50?  Does it mean being in as good of shape in your 40’s as you were in high school?  Does it mean having enough energy to keep up with your grand kids?  Or maybe it means that you can bend over and put on your shoes without getting out of breath!!! Last week Mary gave her Aging Youthful Top 5 List and this week I’ll give you my thoughts.

I guess Aging Youthful means to me to not put limitations on what you can do, or are going to do, just because of a number!!!  I have to admit, I have seen so many from my past that look like they have given up the battle.  Some of these next comments are as I see or saw it, and are in no way meant to downgrade or hurt anyone.  I am just going to be stating it as I see/saw it. I have never been one to pull any punches, and I tell it like it is.

A Couple Aging Mindset Eye Openers

A few years ago (oh shit, more than a few), Mary and I attended my 30th high school class reunion.  It was great seeing old classmates and we had a blast.  But old is the key word here.  While many looked great, some not so much.  On the way back to our hotel, I told Mary there were a few that looked like they had just graduated but some looked and acted as if they had given up the fight and I felt like I was hanging out with a bunch of fat, old men. What made the difference? I wasn’t sure, but I sure knew I didn’t want to become one!  Because of what we saw on those two nights, a few weeks later Mary and I adopted our new, healthier lifestyle. (Photo on the left was us on the way to the reunion in July of 2009. Photo on the right, this past July)


Our next eye opener was a couple of years later when we had an Isagenix booth at a health fair at a paper mill I worked at for 17 years. This was an eye opener for aging  but especially the weight gain part.  The employees who work in production work a rotating shift schedule, going back and forth from days to nights (one of the worst work schedules there is for your body) and I was amazed at how some of the people I used to work with looked!  There was a LOT of weight/fat gain, a lot of people looking a lot older than they were and a couple I didn’t recognize!  Again, many looked as if they had given up the fight.

If You Think You’re Old, You Are

And what is this fight I refer to? How about NOT giving in to the status quo and agreeing with the statement that, oh, we’re just getting older, so I’m going to put on some extra pounds?  Or, I am just so tired all the time; I don’t have the energy to workout.  Or I am just so busy; I don’t have the time to fix healthy meals, workout, etc.I have a close relative that has an aging mindset and is always saying “I can’t do this, I can’t do that because I am OLD”. Well, because she keeps telling herself that, that’s what she is. I have another relative, ten years older than me whose age doesn’t get in the way of doing whatever her heart leads her to.  Whether it’s riding a bike 50 miles, spending a weekend kayaking with friends or taking a vacation to scuba dive in the tropics, nothing holds her back! Two opposite ends of the spectrum.  And who do you think loves and lives life more? (Hint, the one in the photo below).

My Aunt Shelley: 65 and living and loving life

Don’t fall into the “I’m just too old” crap trap.  There is a lot of truth to the saying “you’re only as old as you feel”.  I do have to admit, there are mornings when it hurts to get out of bed and is usually because I sometimes kinda overdo it at the gym, right Mary? (Editor’s note, the answer is yes and any of the crossed out words in this article is my “editing”. lol). Yes, I can get carried away during my workouts and sometimes go a little too hard.  But my motto is why just go half-assed?  If I am gonna spend the time at the gym, I’m gonna give it my all.  Now I’m not saying everyone has to do what I am doing, training really hard and heavy, but I am saying everyone needs to do something to keep moving; lift weights, do some cardio, Zumba, dance, walk, hike, yoga or ???  Yoga is something I have done a few times, and I figured out, I NEED more yoga. Guys, don’t think yoga is just for the womenfolk, let me tell you, it is HARD!  I can pull a semi, lift a car, pick up a 300 pound rock, but Yoga kicks my ass!

Yoga; the workout that kicks the Aging Youthful Dudes Ass!

“Just Keep Punching” ~Luis Camacho

What is the message I am trying to get out on this post??  AGE YOUTHFULLY: Move, eat healthy, supplement right (we cannot get all the nutrients we need from our food supply anymore) and most importantly change your attitude!  Age IS just a number and if you THINK you’re old, you ARE.  Mary and I have met so many people, our age and older, who are not letting a number define who they are or what they are doing.  One of my favorite people we have met through our travels is Luis Camacho. At 79 years young, he’s still coaching boxing, holding the mitts in the ring, and has such a great outlook on life!!  I wanna be like Luis when I grow up. “Just keep punching” as Luis says and don’t give up the fight!

No Aging Mindset Here! Luis Camacho, 79 years young and still going strong!

What am I gonna do?  I am NOT going down without a fight.  I will be punching along with kicking and screaming every step of the way to keep my youthful aging mindset.  I will continue to lift heavy and probably continue to overdo it sometimes. I will start getting my butt to Yoga more.  I will continue to eat healthy MOST of the time. I am not saying I don’t eat less than good sometimes because I LOVE ice cream and chocolate and have some when I want to, just not every day and my workouts (usually) take care of the extra calories. Lastly, I will try to start doing a little cardio and I will continue to keep spreading the Aging Youthful word!

We want to hear from you! What are you going to do? Share one thing you can start today to change to a Youthful Aging Mindset by commenting below or posting on our Facebook page.

Aging Youthful Top 5 List

Just because we are “getting older” doesn’t mean we can’t be aging youthful! Not too many years ago, Mark and I were NOT the picture of health; we each smoked over a pack a day, drank too much and were eating fast, cheap and easy to make food (read, not healthy or nutritious). Our excuse? We had a front yard filled with racing sled dogs that needed to be watered, fed, trained and scooped up after and much like parents with a large family, we put their needs before ours. In 2009, Mark had his 30 year class reunion and we decided to take a good, hard look at the lifestyle we were living. The photo on the left below is us on our way to Mark’s reunion in 2009 (sorry about the poor quality). The photo on the right is us this past summer.

Looking Younger 7 Years Later Equals Aging Youthful

We Weren’t Aging Youthful

We realized if we didn’t change something SOON, we may not make it to the next one. Two weeks later we quit smoking (I haven’t had as much as a puff since), started to make smarter food choices and began working out. We also almost quit drinking except for the occasional special occasion or party. What we thought was going to be hard ended up making our life easier! We felt better, we had more energy and weren’t spending hundreds of dollars month on cigarettes and alcohol!

We also started to look and FEEL younger! When we ran into people we hadn’t seen for a couple years (or ten) they asked us what our secret was because we looked so much better than the last time we saw them. Eventually Mark and I started to notice the difference in our reflection in the mirror. Aging Youthful was born when we decided we wanted to share what we do with others to help them NOT let their age define them so they too could live a vibrant, active life. Last year we took a bit of a hiatus to regroup and reflect on the direction we wanted to take our blog. I’m excited to have Mark join me this time around! We have a goal of reaching thousands, tens of thousands, with our Aging Youthful secrets! If you are ready to be active and vibrant as you age, here is our “Top 5 List” to Living an Aging Youthful Life.

Aging Youthful Number 5: Move Your Body

It doesn’t matter how many birthday’s you’ve had, you are NEVER too old to start exercising. Do you have to pull a semi like Mark does for Strongman competitions for your exercise? NO! Just move. Like walking; walk. Like gardening; get on your hands and knees and start planting flowers and pulling weeds. Like to ride a bike? Go get yourself a new set of wheels and get out and ride! While Mark and I prefer to lift heavy stuff, you don’t have to go to extremes. Adding muscle mass through lifting weights IS a good thing becuase we lose muscle mass as we age. No worries ladies, we couldn’t grow muscle like Ah-nold when we were younger (without steroids), we certainly aren’t going to now either.


Aging Youthful Number 4: Fuel Your Body

The old adage is true; we are what we eat. If we eat crap, we are going to feel like crap. We practice the 80/20 rule at our house; eat healthy, whole, one-ingredient foods consisting of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, fruits and lots and lots of veggies 80% of the time, and treat yourself 20% of the time. Yes, you CAN have ice cream and pizza, just not every day for every meal.

Whole food produce an Aging Youthful Secret

Stay away from low-fat, no-fat, no calorie foods. You may think these are healthier options, the opposite is true. When the company took out the fat and/or calories, they added in added sugar, or worse yet, artificial sweeteners. I could go on and on, but the easiest way to figure out what is healthy is by reading labels. Even easier, if it comes in a bag or a box and has a label, save it for your treat foods.  Not sure where to started, get the Aging Youthful meal plan/guide for FREE by clicking here (a $99 value).

Aging Youthful Number 3: Supplement Smartly

Mark and I get the bulk of our nutrition from real “fork and knife” meals but when began on our journey to healthier living, we started to learn how nutritionally bankrupt our food supply is. Years and years of spraying crops with herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, etc., killed off whatever weed or bug the “cide” was targeting. Sadly it also killed off many of the nutrients in our topsoil. A 1997 UCLA study found it would take 43 bowls of spinach to have the same nutrient content from ONE bowl grown in 1953. This study was nearly 20 years ago and I shudder to think what the results would be today!

Mark and I had been eating mostly “clean” foods for a couple of years before we found Isagenix (an organic, all-natural superfoods and nutrition company). While we had been feeling pretty good after we had changed our habits, when we found these products, we were LIT UP! For the past five and a half years this has been our “secret” that we can’t keep quiet about. I won’t make this a commercial for the products, so if you want more information, send us an email at, or click or the link to the logo in the right column.

Isagenix - Our Aging Youthful secret!

Whether you decide to take a look at these products or not, supplementation today is the road to getting all the nutrients we need, especially minerals. A word of caution, don’t buy the cheapest thing on the shelf as most of them are synthetic (read chemical $hi+ storm) and you are literally flushing your money down the toilet. Your body doesn’t recognize these chemicals and it can lead to all types of problems in the future.

Aging Youthful Number 2: Remove Yourself from Toxic People/Environments

Second to supplementation, this has been one of the things that has changed how we look and feel, not to mention how we feel about ourselves! If you are in a stressful/toxic job, relationship or situation in your life, it will show in your health. Do whatever you can to remove yourself from that situation. The photos below were taken only 14 months apart. The photo on the left was the day I had braces put on in March of 2012 when I was still working as a county assessor in a small town. The photo on the right was taken in January of 2014, 16 months after I resigned as assessor. (Side note: the only cosmetic changes were my hair color and having my teeth straightened). Aging Youthful happens when you remove yourself from toxic situations

And the Number 1 Way to Live an Aging Youthful Life: Don’t Believe What Anyone Else Says About The Number of Birthdays Defining How You Have to Look, Feel or Act

THIS, our loyal readers, is THE most important tool we can give you from our Aging Youthful toolbox. While there are certain things that do happen as we gain wisdom (doesn’t that sound better than getting older?), there are many more things we can do to NOT believe that we have to BE old as we have another birthday. Go out and do something you used to do when you were a kid; run barefoot in the grass, drink from a garden hose, take your spouse on an unexpected date, trip…you name it! As the saying goes, we don’t quit playing because we get old, we get old because we quit playing! Or like us and our friends Clint and Bridgette did at a formal event…act goofy and laugh! (See photo below). If Mark let his age define him, would he have pulled a semi in his first Strongman competition at 55? If I let my age define me, would I have started teaching group fitness classes again at 50? Hell no! I know “old” people in their 30’s and “young” people in their 80’s! Watch for some of these people to be featured on the blog in the future!

Be a kid Aging Youthful secret

There you have it folks, Mark and my Top 5 List of our Aging Youthful secrets. I could go on and on and will share more in the future. In the meantime, pick one or two of the above tips and start implementing them into YOUR life. I will guarantee not only will you look younger, you will FEEL it too! If you have any Aging Youthful tips, we’d love to share them with our readers. Leave a comment below, send us an email, or send a message on our Facebook page.

Can’t: You Can’t Let It Define You

Mark Black 2005 Beargrease Champion can't

Don’t let people spoil your motivation and tell you you can’t do something.  If you want to set your sights on something then dammit, do it. I have let others spoil some of the things I have done, or wanted to do, just because I listened to their negativism!  Good example: Some of you know I raced sled dogs for many years. (more like: holy sxxt 35 years!!).  I had two major goals I wanted to accomplish during those years. One; finish the Iditarod. Two; Win the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.  Through the years, I had many tell me I would never win a sled dog race because I was too big, my dogs were too slow, I didn’t know how to train a team right, etc. etc. etc.  Well, I raced in the Beargrease 16 times, never finishing out of the top ten! In 2004 Mary decided she wanted to give the Marathon a try, and she finished an impressive 4th place. The following year, I took basically the same team at my 13th run at the race (13th time is the charm!), and finally had my victory!  It was just one of those magic carpet rides where everything was going as planned, and everything went great.  It was one of those moments where you can think back through all the hard work, and money spent, and goals achieved, and say yes, it was all worth it.

You CAN’T Let Anyone Burst Your Bubble

After crossing the finish line beaming with pride, it didn’t take long to have my sought after victory tarnished by naysayers.  I had one competitor comment “well big deal, who did you beat?”, and a couple days later, a family member sent an awful letter pretty much knocking all the wind out of my happy sails.  I let my accomplishment be tarnished by their negativism, I vowed I can’t ever let that happen again.

Mark Black: Who Says a big guy can't win the Beargrease Marathon

Moving On: More Can’ts

A couple years later we retired from racing sled dogs, a passion I had for so many years.  Six months later I found a new love for an old hobby, lifting weights, when Mary and I bought the local gym. We ran that for a couple years, but two years later decided we wanted to thaw out and moved to Florida.  While in Florida, I became interested in Strongman Competitions and started training for the different events at the gym we worked out at in Ocala.  I had planned on entering a competition down there, but at the last minute they canceled the masters division and I didn’t think I was ready for the open class. We have since moved to Alaska and have been living in Fairbanks for the last year.

Mark Black Strongman Tire Flip

Not long after moving here, I found a Strongman gym and when I tell people what I’m doing I have people say that I can’t do it becuase “you’re too old to start doing that” “you’re gonna get hurt”, “is your back ok to do that”, or as one family member said, “I just don’t like you doing that, I don’t like you weighing that much”.  Well guess what?  It’s my life, it’s my back, and I am doing just fine for 55 years young! Matter of fact, I entered my first competition in July and did pretty well! The best part was beating  ALL the competitors in the truck pull, all of which were 15-20+ years my junior.  Yep, I pulled a semi for time, and had the fastest time at 55 years young!  I will be doing more competitions in the future, and have set a goal to qualify for nationals! My next goal is to do a 400 pound bench, 500 pound squat, and 600 pound deadlift, and I’m getting pretty close.  Oh yeah, I’ve always wanted  20 inch arms too!

Turn Your Can’ts Into I CAN, I WILL and I AMs!

Set a goal, and just go for it!  Don’t let others detain you from accomplishing them and don’t let ANYONE say you can’t do something.  I am 6 foot 6 inches tall, weigh 310 pounds and have never been stronger in my life and I am loving it, except I keep growing out of my clothes!

Can't The Aging Youthful Dude says don't let it define you.

P.S. About the Iditarod goal.  I ran it in 1996 and 2002 and had a bunch of bad luck and had to scratch in both around the 900 mile mark.  I have yet to accomplish that goal, but we ARE living in mushing Mecca of Two Rivers, Alaska, with our only dog, an Aussie named Takum. But I ain’t dead yet, right Chase Tingle?