Turning Back the Clock

by: Josh Bryant 

Odd Haugen dominating MAS wrestling

Imagine a pleasant evening in Waikiki, three sake bombs deep, the Don Ho cover band sounds celestial, then boom! All of sudden, the Big Kahuna and wrecking crew come in and want to do the toe-to-toe mambo.

Who would you want by your side?

Odd Haugen is somebody that immediately comes to mind.  

Odd was my training partner in 2004 and 2005. At that time, he was 56 years old and dominated high-level professional strongman contests weighing a svelte 280, matched to competitors half his age routinely weighing over 400.

Odd continued to dominate professional strongman contests into his 60s.  You know how often I heard Odd mention his age and its potential handicap to performance? 

Not once.

Odd trained smart and played the risk-to-benefit equation like a synchronized symphony. He used common sense but clearly understood the power of self-talk. 

Another person I trained with that dominated the powerlifting scene into his 50s was Art LaBare. The first time I met Art, he was 46 years old, built like a brick outhouse and benched 530 pounds raw at the initial meeting, then threw on a shirt and went over 700.

Not once did Art mention his age.

Contrast that to another guy that attended the gym where I worked. 

This chap was a proud, supposed drug-free lifter but at 34 years old “needed” testosterone replacement therapy. All he talked about, when he would corner me at the front desk, was getting old, aches, pains, and how I wouldn’t understand; he is damn straight, I trained with Art LaBare!

Maybe playing poker with old men and lawn bowling were the issue, those were literally his hobbies. What kind of environment is that? Does anyone under 90 lawn bowl? No wonder he acted like he had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.

What does science say?

Back in 1981, eight men in their 70s and 80s went on a retreat and pretended to be 22 years younger than their chronological age.

Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer, Ph.D., and a team of researchers organized this event.   Interestingly, they took along a second group of eight elderly men to the same location the succeeding week. The difference was the men in group 2, the control group, were requested to actively reminisce about being 22 years younger, however they did not pretend they were 22 years younger.

Group 1 found themselves encircled by a superfluity of environmental cues to assist in  re-creating an earlier age. These elderly men watched movies and TV shows from 1959, listened to recordings of 1959 radio,  read the  Saturday Evening Post and life magazine all from 1959.

To really make the experience more real, they discussed events of the day from 1959 such as Fidel Castro’s rise to power in Cuba and  Mickey Mantle’s baseball prowess. These variables were brilliantly designed to aid the men in imagining they were back in 1959.

The results prove psychology trumps physiology!

Post both five-day retreats, the team of researchers took several measurements and compared them to the ones that were taken initially before the study began. 

Both groups were structurally as well as physiologically younger.

The first study group improvements were much more profound than the second group, who’d only reminisced. The first groups posture improved and they became physically taller!

And the results just kept getting better as their joints gained flexibility and their fingers lengthened as their arthritis diminished. They could see and hear better.  These same men scored better on tests of mental cognition and their memory improved. Biologically, these men in five days had become five years younger!

“At the end of the study, I was playing football—touch, but still football—with these men, some of whom gave up their canes.” 

This happened  because the men turned on the circuits in their brains,  reminding them of who they were 22 years earlier, and then their body chemistry responded.  These men did not just feel younger they really were younger!

Final Thoughts

To call these results  the  ‘the placebo effect’ is  just  a giving a name to something people don’t fully understand. Results are the objective and any ethical method that produces transformational change, I am on board with.

Proverbs, chapter 23, verse 7: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”

Psychology is physiology.

Develop the successful mindset HERE.