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!

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.

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?

The Worst Parts of Aging…And What You Can Do About It: The Dude’s View

So, what is this getting older all about? We keep preaching about Aging Youthful, but what is this adding of years really all about? What happens as we age?

Keeping Fit as You Age

Well, we start growing hair where we never had it before, and lose our hair where it is supposed to be. Our skin becomes thinner and less elastic so we get wrinkles. Those who spent a lot of time in the sun, or in those damn tanning beds, your skin will look much worse! Our bones and muscles become weaker and more brittle, so it becomes much easier to break a bone or pull a muscle. Our memory becomes worse! What? Why can I remember what was in a movie I saw ten years ago, but can’t remember why I went into the next room?

Our appetite decreases so it might be harder to keep weight on. Our body dehydrates more easily, so make sure you beep drinking…water! We start to lose some hearing, more than the “selective” hearing that our spouses say we have already lost. Our eye site will become worse and we might have to go back to wearing glasses.

We may become more prone to constipation and our heart rate may slow down, so a lot of things slow up. We may also lose control of our bladders, so that will speed up. Our gums may recede so our great smiles may not be quite as great, and our sexual performance may be reduced, so we may not feel the need to smile as much anyway! Wow, we all have a lot to look forward to don’t we?!?!?

Well, there are things we can do to slow or prevent much of this. My thoughts are the biggest things we can do is stay active. Move. I don’t care if you spend ten hours a day in a gym, or go for a walk at the mall, just keep active. We don’t quit moving because we get old, we get old because we quit moving! Eat healthy fresh food, organic is best. Fresh fruit and veggies, whole grains, organic meat and dairy. Get enough sleep, and make sure it is good sleep. And there are supplements out there that help greatly, just don’t fall for all the advertising traps out there. Do your research before you buy.

Well, there ya go peeps, join us in this wild ride we call Aging Youthful and keep on rocking. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Just because your number is getting higher, don’t let it define you! NEVER say I’m too old, as soon as you start saying that, you will be!!!


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