Food & Fitness After 50: Meet the Self-Proclaimed Bionic Old Guy

A blog showed up in my email written by “Bionic Old Guy.” That peaked my curiosity, so I reached out to the author. Turns out that “Bionic Old Guy” is really Dr. Bionic Old Guy, a 66-year old mechanical engineer with a doctorate from Stanford University. His blog tag line is “Aging Gracefully by Staying Active,” and that is a one of the pillars of Food & Fitness After 50 ,so I had to talk to him.

Bionic guy in slingWhen I asked him how he became the “bionic old guy” he laughed and said, “it was forced upon me by nature!” In 2012 he had both hips replaced with artificial joints and in 2017, a congenital heart problem resulted in a new heart valve. When I spoke with him he was recovering from a broken collarbone from a bike accident.

Old, But Still Moving

Not only did any of those setbacks stop him from being active, but they awakened a thirst to learn more about physiology, biomechanics, and how activity and nutrition support healthy aging. He wrote a book, Old But Still Moving, to help share what he has learned and he started a blog to continue to help others sort through all of the research on various topics on optimal aging.Bionic guy book cover

Rich (his real name!) has always been active, describing his various activities as his “hobby.” Biking, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and other aerobic exercises are “fun.” “I never had to make myself be active when it came to endurance exercise; I always found those activities to be fun and not a chore.” But, he admitted he can’t say the same thing about strength training. “I know how important it is to maintain muscle mass as I age, so I do some upper body strength training two or three times a week in my garage gym.” He motivates himself to strength training by realizing that upper body strength helps him paddle his kayak and canoe, the activities he really loves!

Lileth yogaHe also cobbled together his own yoga program after watching “Lilas, Yoga and You,” a PBS program that ran from 1972-1992. “Balance and coordination help me hiking and biking, so working on that as I age is one of my key pillars for successful aging.”

An Inspiring Mentor

Bionic guy bikingRich is inspired by Clarence Bass and we enjoyed talking about the motivation that 82-year-old Mr. Bass inspires in both of us. After we talked, I shared my interview with Mr. Bass found here. From reading Mr. Bass’s advice, Rich has changed his exercise strategy from intense, competitive exercise, like a century bike ride (100 miles) to long, enjoyable hikes with family and friends that make the hike more social than competitive. “I still challenge myself, but my challenges are more likely to be short challenges, like how fast can I walk up the big hill in my neighborhood. If I walked it in over 4 minutes, I challenge myself do it in 4 minutes or less.” That helps him from overtraining and the injuries that it can bring.

The Food Part of Fitness

He finds the biggest challenge to his fitness routine is the food part. “It is hard to navigate through all of the media headlines and hype on the “best” diet or weight loss strategy or superfoods.” He eats lots of fruits and vegetables and living in northern California makes for an abundance of healthy produce all year long. But, he admits to having cravings and trigger foods and the best strategy is to keep those foods out of the house. “My wife can be satisfied with a 100-calorie pack of snacks, but I’m likely to eat 3 or 4 of those 100-calorie snacks, which obviously defeats the purpose.” But, he doesn’t deny himself any of his favorite foods, but considers them treats that can be managed.

Advice for Eating Well, Moving Well, and Being Well

Bionic guy at coyote open space

Rich likes the tag line for Food & Fitness After 50 of eating well, moving well, and being well. His words of wisdom play right into those tenets of healthy aging.

  • Be mindful. “I don’t listen to music when I hike or bike, so I can be in the moment and enjoy everything around me.” He also practices meditation for about 20 minutes each day.
  • Attitude is everything. “I see too many people who reach 65 and give up. They think they deserve to sit back and be inactive and overeat. But, never give up. You don’t have to run a marathon but just move more and eat a bit healthier at each meal.”
  • Don’t sit so much. “When I get involved in a new project, I really get into it and could sit for hours in front of my computer researching my latest interest.” Rich sets a pop-up timer to remind him to get up and take those activity breaks.
  • Live each day and stay in the moment. “The point isn’t to add years to your life, but add life to your years.”

Copyright © 2019 [Christine Rosenbloom]. All Rights Reserved.