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Starting Strength in the Real World

Re-Thinking “Health”

by Daniel Oakes | December 01, 2020

masters deadlift in competition

Evolutionarily speaking, I suppose you're a successful homo sapiens if you've successfully created successful offspring (or have the luxury to choose otherwise). How much time did our ancestors require in order to accomplish such a task? Based on when I hit puberty, I'd say that it takes 20 to 25 years at a maximum – and some scientists claim that our ancestors roamed the land for roughly 25 years before something like a tooth infection killed them. Seems about right.

I'd argue, then, that a tooth infection (and any other “disease”) that occurs after age 20 is a “normal” part of age-related decline and all time lived beyond 20 should be perceived as a luxurious indulgence.

Everybody reading this article, therefore, is incredibly lucky and successful, and should stop worrying about COVID-19, red meat intake, smoking, and drinking. If the normal lifespan for a human was 8000 years, we'd all be worried silly about the “deleterious effects” of raw vegetable consumption on teeth enamel. Maybe we should all chill out and just accept that life is “harmful.”

“Bad health,” I think, should be reframed as a signifier of a life well-lived, not a life “lived badly” or befallen by “bad luck.” The harder you live, the faster you'll age (they call it “burning the candle at both ends”), so when we talk about “Living Healthy!!” what we're really talking about is choosing quantity (longevity) over quality (of living).

Rip ruminated on this stuff for a while in his “When a Lifter Gets Old” podcast and determined that living life to the maximum in his youth was worth the consequences in his later years.

I'm young, but I can understand Rip's perspective. I don't think I'll repent if I'm told that I have a week to live due to my bacon consumption. Nor will I regret eating copious amounts of lemon cake if I'm diagnosed with heart failure.

Though, every seven seconds, the wise among us spew the phrase “Everything in Moderation,” as if they're issuing a new set of stone tablets from Mount Sinai – but their boring asses don't realize how absurdly psychologically taxing it is to constantly regret enjoying life to the maximum. And I'd wager that after 112 years of consuming organic broccoli, even the wisest of killjoys will regret sacrificing their bestial will to live simply for longevity's sake.

I already know what your screeching rebuttal might be: “My longevity is directly correlated with my quality of life! I want to see my grandchildren!”

Well, good for you. In 2020 not only will you receive medical attention, but every precaution in the name of longevity will be thrust upon you so that you can see your grandchildren at a later, less risky date.

In all seriousness (because the above scenario is very serious indeed), if the stars have aligned and your quality of life is conveniently tied up with longevity, you need to do Starting Strength; and you need to do Starting Strength very quickly. The longer you remain weak, the more likely it will be that the “quality” side of the equation will go to shit and the people you originally wanted to love and support will end up loving and supporting you instead – and that's assuming you'll even be allowed to be cared for by your family in the future. There's an ever-growing army of Wuhan-inspired nurses just waiting to “Sweetie” you into a blissful stupor the very moment they notice you're not strong enough to push their gloved advances away.

So don't get weak. Get strong. And staying strong will keep you “unmanaged” right up until the very end, like that 92-year-old lady you knew who dropped dead while gardening one afternoon. Was she “diseased”? Maybe. Did she need more support? Who knows. All we know for sure is that she didn't give anyone the time to decide for her.

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