February 8, 2014
[03:51] The Meaning of “Ageless Living”
[08:35] Mythical Age
[14:58] An Active Sex Life and Ageless Living
[20:33] What A Typical Day for Greer Looks Like
[24:19] The Supplements Greer Uses
[25:21] Looking at One's Parents
[27:49] Greer's Exercise Routine
[32:23] Why Shouldn't You Hold A Grudge
[46:27] One of Greer's Biggest Mistakes
[51:31] Mike's Biggest Tip For Doing Amazing Feats
[56:20] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, folks. It's Ben Greenfield. And the guy who's on the call with me right now is one, pardon the expression, bad-ass old dude. So his name is Mike Greer. And I first met Mike at the Become Superhuman live event. And he kind of wandered into our morning workout and pretty much proceeded to destroy a bunch of fit young guys and girls at burpees, and lunges, and pushups, and Turkish get-ups. He was decked out in Ironman gear and tanned, and I figured he was one of those kind of 57 year old triathlete workout enthusiasts. But it turned out that he's 75 years old. And as I got to know him, not only did I learn that you don't even need to call him Mike Greer, most folks just call him Greer, but the guy has done a ton of things. He's an entrepreneur who started over eight different businesses, he had a military career, he's a retired lieutenant colonel, he was a football player, he's a seven time Ironman triathlete, he's been the past president of the board of USA Triathlon, and he's the president of the board and the CEO of the Obstacle Racing Association, he's in the Texas triathlon hall of fame. The guy is a father, a grandfather, a freaking great grandfather. I mean the list goes on, and on, and on. Now he's on the call today, and we're going to be talking specifically about what Greer calls his “Eleven Points of Healthy Ageless Living”, and we're going to delve into his anti-aging tips and ageless living secrets. So Mike, or Greer, or whatever you'd like for me to call you, thanks for coming on the call.
Greer: Well, I'll tell you what. I was in such an anxiety and thinking about coming on the call with you. And tell you what, I'm extremely, I hope you've got five hours because I've got a lot to talk about.
Ben: We've got 45 minutes to squeeze your 75 years of experience in. So we'll get through as much as we can.
Greer: That's no problem. I might add that I've got the Becoming Superhuman book right beside me. It's to my right hand. I want you to know that.
Ben: I've got your book somewhere in my bookshelf. I'm looking back behind me. Just before we delve into jumping into ageless living here, I'll tell folks right now, your website is it greercoach.com. And over at the show notes for this episode at bengreenfieldfitness.com, I'll be sure to put a link to your book on the “Eleven Points of Healthy Ageless Living” for sure so folks can grab that. But let's just jump in right there, Mike. What's your definition of “ageless living”? Like what do you mean when you coined that term?
Greer: Well, I always like to preface it with “healthy ageless living” because there is a difference in a way. There's not much of a point in living to be 70, 80, 90, whatever, up to a hundred. I just read an article about a guy that is a hundred that shoots way under hundred for his golf score. So I call that healthy ageless living. So what I say about that and what I mean by that is that healthy means that you're able to do the things that you want to do everyday. And you do 'em on your own, you make your own decisions, you live however you want to live, wherever you want to live, and you stay healthy. And you start doing that when you're younger. You don't wait 'til you're 65 to decide to be healthy when you're 75. So that's what I mean by the term “healthy ageless living”.
Ben: Now when you say ageless, what are some examples? What are some of the things that you do that guys your age would say are probably not going out and doing right now?
Greer: Well, I'll give you this example. My wife and I like to two-step, like to dance. And so it's not uncommon on a weekend to, or for the weekend to be a workout. If we're not doing an event, we're not putting on an event, I don't know. Or if we're not competing. But we're not putting on an event, so we want to enjoy ourselves. So we go out, that morning, we do a workout, in the afternoon I'll do a motorcycle ride, that evening we'll go to a movie. And then later in the evening, we'll go dancing. And so I call that kind of a… anybody that I know is not doing that particular schedule. So that's one example of what I'm talking about.
Ben: So at 75 years old, you're all over the place. You're motorcycle riding, you're dancing, you're doing your morning workouts. I think that that's something right there that folks can learn right off the bat. You're not simply, I mean even as it as a triathlete, you're not just swimming, and biking, and running. You're engaging in a lot of social activity and you're kind of keeping your brain turned on, it sounds like.
Greer: Well, absolutely. And if you look at number five on the 11 points, you'll see I didn't throw that in there. But that needs to be thrown in there. ‘Cause that's a very critical part of the 11 points. And it might not be critical to some, but again, when I designed these 11 points, when I actually wrote it down on a napkin in a restaurant one day when this lady, this friend of mine in Georgia who kept pushing me for it, she kept saying, “What are your secrets? What are your secrets?” And at that time that I wrote originally, I was like 60, or 55, or something. And so I wrote it down, and when I wrote this down, I said, “These are mine. These are my points.” And what I like to do is motivate people to have their own points just by reading mine. And they may say, “Well, yeah. Mine coincide with yours. However, I would rather do this than do that.” And I said, “Okay. That's fine.” Just make it fit. That's the main thing. Make it work. Make it effective. And I have no patent on this. So however someone wants to design their own, if I were talking to you, I would obviously have a different conversation on someone. On the other hand, what I see you do is just phenomenal. And congratulations on the Spartan episode.
Ben: Thanks. I just put a bunch of photos from that over to Facebook over on the Facebook page at facebook.com/bgfitness of me doing my Rambo impersonation. “So Eleven Points of Healthy Ageless Living”. I know all of 'em are your book, but I want to jump into a few that really stood out to me today. The first point that you get into is called “mythical age”. And perhaps you've already hinted on kind of mythical age is, but how would you describe mythical age?
Greer: Again, that's something I pulled out of the sky. I'll just throw out my own definition of what I think mythical age is. I gave this presentation last Saturday in Dallas, Texas to the [0:08:51] ______ triathletes. There was about 20, 25 of them there. When I threw that mythical age out there, I could see question marks. And everybody kind of scratching their head. What does that mean? All I mean by that is, let's take an example. If you didn't know what your birthday was, you didn't know how old you were, how old would you think you are? My dad used to ask me that question all the time and he used to make that point. What I came up with on the mythical age is it's just basically that age that you probably, no matter what your age is right now, whether you're 35, 55, 75, 85, whatever, it doesn't matter. But at some time during your life, you had a time when you're probably, everything, everything went almost perfect in the life, and you felt good, you competed good if you were an athlete, you thought good if you were in academics, you wrote good if you were a writer, this type of thing. And so it's something that you can kind of go back on and just kind of refresh yourself on and kind of feel good and kind of just lean back in the old easy chair and go, “Ah, yeah. I remember that.”
Ben: Have you ever seen those scales that tell you what your metabolic age is versus your chronological age?
Greer: Yes. I have. I have seen that.
Ben: Do you use one?
Greer: I have used one. At the time I did that, I came in 25 years under, I believe.
Ben: Awesome. So chronological age, 75, and your metabolic age or your biological age would be like 50 something? That's interesting. I know those scales are primarily based on, well, they measure your metabolic rate, and your body fat, and your BMR, height and weight, and a bunch elements like that, but I love that concept of not really digging yourself into a hole. And I don't know about you, Mike, but it seems like a lot of times folks, as they get older, almost tend to define themselves and what they're capable of based off of what social expectations are of people their age. I think we could, again, return to your example of you being 75 years old, but you've got a motorcycle, and you're doing triathlons, and you're doing dance classes with your wife, and all these things that a lot of folks simply aren't doing, and I think that's really important to think about is that idea that you can defy what social expectations of what people your age should be doing.
Greer: Well, absolutely. And you're actually correct though. You hit it right on the head. The social expectations when you get to a certain age is just, it's beyond reproach of stupidity. I mean I just can't believe it. I actually went to a seminar here the other day out at Texas Tech and it had to do with, they call it healthy ageless living, but it's farther from that that I've ever seen. What they do is they talk about the different medicines that they take and they talk about the different aftereffects of them. And then they talk about where you can go to get your best walker and get a better deal on the walker, where you can go, I mean, I got up and left. It was like, “I'm in the wrong place here.” And what I really know about about seniors, I had an invitation to speak at the Covenant Health Systems here in Lubbock and when they called me up and asked me if I'd like to speak, I said, “Well, how old's your audience?” And they said, “Anywhere from 48 to 88.” And I said, “Well, I'm not too sure I have anything to say to that group.” And I said, “I love 'em to death,” but I said, “I don't really fit too well and I don't know that what I say isn't going to possibly offend some of them.” And they said, “Oh, no, no, no. We know who you are. We've been out to your triathlon and we've watched you over the years in Lubbock and we really want you to come speak.” And I said, “Okay. I'll do it.”
So you know what? I went. And what I did, and she was right. It was 48 to 88. And the 88 year old did show up. So what I encouraged them to do, I said, “I've given you a blank piece of paper. It's got the one word that describes my 11 points. And what I'd like for you to do, because of your age, and your wisdom, and so forth, I'd like for you to design your own healthy ageless living concept. And if you want to add to mine, fine. If you want to mark mine out, fine. Whatever you want to do with it. I don't care. But I also want you to give me your feedback.” And so we did that. It went on for about an hour and 50 minutes. I'm going to tell you, I walked away from there really excited because there were some seniors and there were some people that were thinking along these lines of they should have a healthy ageless living atmosphere also in their life. So that made me feel go. So I kind of backed off a little bit on my attitude about senior and so forth. And I shouldn't be prejudicial because I've been blessed, I am blessed, and I admit that. I've said that over, and over, and over again. I just said that to a small group of seniors here a few days ago. I said, “I've just been blessed.” And they said, “You sure have.” So I'm thankful for that and I don't ever, ever, ever take it for granted. Ever.
Ben: Nice. I can't help but jump right into my next question about one of your tips that caught my eye right away because you often don't think about this and healthy ageless living per se, but you bring up active sex life as being one of your components of ageless living. Tell me about that. What is an active sex life have to do with ageless living?
Greer: Well, I just think it's all part of the synergies. All these 11 points, in my opinion, blend together and work together with each other. They're like partners. And so sex itself, this is part of life. It's all part of life. You've got to look at it that way. It's just one of those little areas of life that needs to be taken care of. So I feel like, now, I'm not sitting here, talking about frequency. I'm not talking about anything like that. I'm not talking about how many times you have sex and how good the sex was. There's not any big measurement thing like that. But it's just that we were blessed, God blessed us with this ability to have sex, sexual intercourse. And it's done in two way, two or three different ways. Or purposes, I should say. One is for procreation obviously. And people say well that's the only reason, really, that we were given this thing in life. It's for procreation. I said, “Well, if that's the case. Then my question to that is why does it feel so good?” If it was just put there for procreation, which I do not believe, then it could have been a deal where you just walk up to the female and punch her in the belly button with your index finger and she becomes pregnant and haves kids. That's just not the case. It happens another way. And it's so good and it's so much…
Ben: Have you seen some of the studies on sex and in specifically what it does from a scientific standpoint as far as keeping you young?
Greer: Oh, yeah.
Ben: That's some really interesting stuff out there.
Greer: Oh, I know. I mean I try to keep as much, attuned to that type stuff as I can. And the funny part about it is everyday in my mail, like ordered herbal stuff for my prostate because in my feeling of, we're responsible for our own health, really, when you get right down to it. And I've got a family doctor, but I'm telling you what, I take responsibility. So I take herbal product. When you put yourself on one mailing list, oh my gosh. Yesterday, I guarantee you, I could increase my penis by nine inches eating these pills.
Ben: Yeah. I hear you. Some of those websites get a little iffy. They spam you once you make that initial order. Some of the things though, like I know New York Times did an article on this recently in the past few months, but when you have sex, your body produces more vitamin D. And so when you produce more vitamin D, that helps your skin look younger, you get more collagen produced. Like literally sexual intercourse increases your own natural production of collagen. And of course that helps with wrinkles, you get a growth hormone release. That's been proven. As a guy especially, you get a testosterone release. The other thing that happens that I've noticed on a couple of studies was that you literally get a release of chemical compounds in the brain similar to that brain-derived neurotropic factor that you get when you're exercising. And so you can literally get smarter, and reduce brain stress, and improve brain performance by having sex. I really like that you actually included that, and it seems like a lot of times and senior advice it kind of skirts that issue of sexual intercourse. But I love that you include that as one of your healthy ageless living tips. Do you happen to have, by the way, that quote from Napoleon Hill handy? I noticed you talked about it, when it comes to sex desire?
Greer: I've got it right here. Napoleon Hill says that “sex desire is the most powerful of human desires. This desire brings out keenness of imagination, courage, willpower, persistence, and creative ability unknown to them at other times.” I mean how powerful is that? But again, I think back, I taught the Old and New Testament for eight years. And so what I learned about the Scriptures was basically what I didn't know, which was a lot. And I just realized that the scriptures were just so filled with stuff that it's unreal. So I would find my favorite, so-called favorite books and that's what I kind of centered on. But when I think of sex, I think of Adam and Eve, and I think of what, god, what a day that was. First of all, the greatest fiber that you could imagine, you had the apple and so forth. And figs, and whatever else it had, but that had to be a great day. I mean I think about Adam all the time and I think that, “You lucky dog. That was so good.”
Ben: That very first time when he saw her. So let's talk about nutrition and physical exercise. You definitely include, of course, nutrition and physical exercise, no surprise there, as a couple of your points of healthy ageless living. But I'm curious about your personal protocol. Like you mention about doing a morning workout before you ride your motorcycle and go dancing. We haven't talked a lot about what you eat. But I'm curious, what does kind of a typical day look like for a guy who's 75 years old in kind of killing it at this stuff?
Greer: Well, first of all, the one thing I have learned about aging is that you just really don't have to eat in volume. You really don't. You shouldn't eat in volume anyway.
Ben: Do you mean that you're not able to eat as large of meals as you were able to eat when you we're younger?
Greer: No. Exactly. I actually feel like I fill up faster. So not my premise in eating has always been you eat to live, not live to eat. I've never made it a practice to eat something unless I was hungry. So basically the three meals a day thing, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are not necessarily what I live by. And never have. So I'm not going to start it now. But my what thoughts are on it and what I've always practiced is basically I was doing the 40/30/30 diet. I didn't know what it was. Didn't have a clue. I come from an era where in West Texas, chicken fried steak, fried chicken, and stuff like that was the main course all the time. And our parents, they didn't have a clue and no one else had a close, really, basically up to that point in that generation. And so we ate stuff all the time wasn't good for us. So we've learned so much since then. But my deal is I basically stay on the 40 carbs, the 30 protein, and the 30 fat. Now the one that I have a problem keeping up, especially when I'm in Ironman training, or half Ironman training is the protein. Protein just seems so dad-gum hard. I'm supposed to have 90 grams, I believe.
Ben: Yeah. In that range.
Greer: Yeah. Something like that. And boy, that's harder to do. Of course, I take a scoop in the morning in my orange juice, and I'm doing that now. I'm going to do a half Ironman on April 6. So I guess you say I'm in half Ironman, or 70.3 training now. So I just make sure that I've got that, and that's basically it. And I like fruits and vegetables. No question about it. The vegetable I do not like and the one I should be eating, like all men over 70 should be doing for their prostate, is broccoli.
Ben: Oh. I thought you were going to say tomatoes.
Greer: Oh, no. I love tomatoes. I could make a meal out of a tomato. So I love tomatoes. And they're excellent for it. Broccoli is also excellent for it. Asparagus is pretty good for it, but I have a little problem with asparagus.
Ben: Sorry to interrupt, but do you use… you talk about a little bit of difficulty digesting some larger meals as you get older, and especially meeting your protein needs. I mentioned this on the podcast before, how you tend to produce less hydrochloric acid as you get older. And so that's one of the things responsible for activating the release of pepsin, which breaks down proteins. Are you using digestive enzymes, or hydrochloric acid, or lemon juice before a meal, or any of those little strategies?
Greer: No. I don't.
Ben: Have you ever thought about, I guess what I'm curious about is, in addition to what you're describing right now, are you taking supplements, or do you use stuff like that?
Greer: Yeah. Well I take Juice Plus.
Greer: I take some fish oil. I can't remember the name of it right now. Just one of those, I kind of got the information in the mail, and I read it, and I investigated, and I liked it. So I'm doing that. This is something like exotic fish from one of the waters, one of the oceans somewhere. It looked good and it seems to work. So I do take that. Juice Plus, I take regularly. I'm really a firm believer in that particular product.
Ben: Which Juice Plus do you use? Their fruit stuff, or the greens, or…?
Greer: I do all three of them.
Ben: Okay. ‘Cause I think their garden blend, their blended vegetable juice blend actually has some enzymes in it, if I'm not mistaken. That's good stuff. Interesting. So you're following a 40/30/30 carb, protein, fat-based diet. You're doing fish oil and some juice plus. And then as far as your exercise routine, what are kind of the staples of that right now for you?
Greer: Can I add one more thing to the diet thing? The nutrition thing?
Ben: Yeah. Absolutely.
Greer: There's one thing I encourage people to do, and that's look at your parents. Look at your parents, your mother and your father. I don't care whether you're going farther back than that, but just look at your mother and your father as like you're looking in a mirror. And you look in this mirror and you see your mother and your father, in my case my father had prostate cancer, colon cancer, open heart surgery. He was never, never obese. But occasionally his weight did fluctuate back and forth. He didn't drink much alcohol at all. Didn't drink beer and so forth. But he died at the age of 79, but he had all those health issues going on. As I look at that, well, that makes me more eligible. We're all eligible for it, but it makes me more eligible for those things. Then when I look over at my mother, my mother had chronic, had terrible, terrible hypertension, high blood pressure all her life. My mother was an alcoholic, and mother died instantly of a stroke at the age of 65. So I look at those two at my DNA here, and that tells me that I should be very careful. And don't get me wrong. I didn't just sit around and say I'm motivated to exercise because of my parents. I was motivated to exercise 'cause I like it. I liked that stuff.
Ben: And I think what's interesting too is you're not one of those people who people can just say, “Oh, he's lucky, he's got the genetics.” It's not like both your parents were centenarians or something like that. You're simply looking at them and taking those lessons. That's interesting. I'll have to go, my wheels are turning thinking about my parents as you're talking and health issues that I've seen them experience. So that's really interesting. I'm not going to talk about it right now in show 'cause (a) I know my parents listen in and they probably wouldn't appreciate me sharing their health issues on the show. But I think that's really good advice. Interesting. I'll have to delve into that a little bit more. So your physical exercise routine, you were finishing up talking about what it is that you do?
Greer: Now here's the deal. When I look at mine, and this is why people say, “You're blessed. You're blessed. You're blessed.” My exercise started, I actually remember my first run. I was two years old and I was living in Pampa, Texas, the Panhandle of Texas, and I remember that. That was my first memory also. And I asked my mother before she passed away, I said, “I remember running at some point. And I remember a park. And I remember…” She said, “You were two years old, that was Pampa, Texas. And you were running. You were out actually running.” And I said, “Well, I was only two years old after all.” She actually said, “You were running away from me.” And I said, “Well, that's what all two year olds do.” So I can remember that memory. And I encourage people to do that also is to go back into your memory banks to the first time you remember something, and then put a zero at the time you were born, of course, and then put your first memory. And if you really look at it and analyze it closely, you'll find that something pretty important happens to you, it could be negative or positive, about every five to seven years. And so I encourage people to do that because then you kind of see where things came from and where they are.
Now back to your question on physical exercise. I was born to exercise. Thank the Lord. And I am so happy 'cause I love to sweat. And I love to work out and I love the feeling of it. Even when I decided to switch to triathloning and swam like rock, and swam like a rock, and I still swim like a rock. And I changed over from marathoning and so forth, and shorter races. People said, “You know, you're such a bad swimmer.” I mean people just say that to me. I mean how dare they. But they were right. And they said, “Why don't you just do duathlons?” And I said, “Well, because anybody can run, bike, run. But not anybody can swim, bike, and run.”
Ben: That's a pretty unique challenge. That's what keeps a lot of people from triathlon, actually, is the fear of swimming.
Greer: It does. And so I continue to swim. The first time, I had a pool in my backyard, and it took 161 lengths to make a mile. Obviously it was a short pool. And first time I tried it, I went 10 lengths. And within two weeks, I was at 161. So not fast, mind you, but at least I was finishing it. So my exercise is always just what I like to do is make exercise a way of life. It's a lifestyle. But I like to compete too. For example, if we got into a pingpong game right now, I'm going to get 21 before you do in a New York minute. I don't want to lose. And so I still want to compete. I've played 14 years of football and ran track about 12 years. So I like to compete. Played handball 12 years. And so my exercise and my competition, I like to have 'em both. So that helps me to exercise. And exercise is basically a way of life for me, and I'm exercising six days a week now. And some days, I mean the day that I don't exercise, I really do something like get a massage or something like that, and get a chiropractic adjustment, whatever. But I feel like I'm in daily maintenance of my body. No matter what I'm doing, I'm in daily maintenance. Right now, maintenance is my mental part. As we talk about these things, my mental part is having this exercise day.
Ben: Yeah. And it sounds like you're engaging in that quite a bit. Now I want to get into some of the stuff that flies under the radar too during the time that we have left in terms of your 11 points. You talk about preventing holding grudges. I think that was really interesting that you include that. Do have an experience with having had a grudge in the past? Are you seeing research on grudges? Why did you include that as one of your tips?
Greer: Man, I am so thankful that you ask about this because sometimes people don't quite get it. Or they wonder what does that really mean, or have I got these anxieties about a grudge. It could be a combination of all. But my father was a grudge holder, and a grudge holder is one who gets in some type of an argument or gets angry with another person and they can't resolve it, they can't resolve it, they can't resolve it. Then they just harbor on it. And my father was like that. I blame his cancer on that personally. That's just my feeling. Notwithstanding his diet. His diet did the same thing. But to get back to the grudge thing. The grudge, and I have read this. It's not like I've done extensive research on it. In my heart, and in my mind, in my common sense tells me that grudge holding is not good for your health. It's as simple as that.
Ben: Now I know that you are, your spiritual, and are you basing that off of like the section in the Bible that says don't let the sun go down on your anger. Is that part of that?
Greer: Exactly. And also in The Celestine Prophecy, that's a great deal. One of the prophecies had to do with taking over the ills and the hurts of other people and taking on their dramas and so forth. And that's part of the thing, it's just not good in my opinion. And right now, I think your question point to me might have been, I don't have it in front of me, but I think it might have been, do I hold a grudge? Do I have a tendency to hold a grudge? And the answer is, I'm human, just like anyone else. If I get mad at somebody, I generally get mad at 'em for a reason. And usually it has to do with dishonesty. If dishonesty had been used against me for some reason, form or fashion, doesn't matter what it is, that makes me angry and that makes me mad. Tell me the truth. You don't have to be dishonest with me. And so I can honestly say that in my 75 years, I've had disagreements. No question about it. I've been in too much business activities and been involved with too many people to not have some people that I disagree with or they disagree with me. There are people that don't agree with my 11 points of healthy ageless living. I've got one guy I got big argument about cardio versus weight training. And he said cardio will kill you and weight training is the only thing you should be doing. And I said, “Oh my gosh.” Now there's no grudges here. We didn't get mad at each other. We just got pretty heated about our opinions.
Ben: So what do you do? How do you get rid of a grudge? Because I've been in situations where I've had to decide whether I needed to apologize to someone to get rid of a grudge, whether I needed to talk to them. How do you get rid of a grudge? What's the number one way that you've found to just nip that stuff in the bud?
Greer: The best way to do it is just exactly like you did, is go directly to that individual and get it resolved. And I'll tell you something, this actually happened. This sounds like I'm making this up for the story, but I didn't. Two years ago, I was at the USAT Conference in Colorado Springs. And a guy that I've known for 25, maybe 28 years, so it was somewhere like that, he's a fellow race director, actually. I've never had a disagreement with the guy in my life. Ever. We weren't even in a position to have a disagreement. But he called me aside and he said, “Do you mind talking to me a minute?” And I said, “No.” And we sat down, and he said, “Greer,” he said, “I just wanted to let you know that I've had a real problem with you.” And I said, “Had?” He said, “Yeah.” And I said, “Well, that's interesting. Tell me what it is and what can we do about this.” And I said, “When was it that you had the problem?” He said, “1994.”
Greer: And I said, “1994? AD?” What in the hell, you know? And he says, “Yeah,” he said, “when you were president of the board, I didn't like some of the things that you said or did or whatever.” He couldn't tell me exactly what they were 'cause it had been too long. And I said, “Well,” I said, “you know what? You could please some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time, but you can never please all the people all the time.” And I said, “What really bothers me about this is you've waited so long to harbor this in your mind. And I had no idea.” I said, “We never had a disagreement about anything.” And so that one really threw me. So we got it all resolved, we shook hands and all that. But I do have one person right now, this is not a grudge. It's just anger. And it happens to be a family member, so that makes it even more touchy. So that one is going to be resolved at some point. But it's not really truly a grudge as much as it is just, it's just anger.
Ben: One of the things that I've found with my wife, especially, is that it's so important that before we go to bed at night that anything that might have come between us during the day is put to rest. Period. Or else I have a crappy day the next day, and sometimes just don't even wake up in the right place.
Greer: That's excellent. That's an excellent practice. I commend you.
Ben: It's just a rule. And I know she doesn't listen to the podcast, so I can say this, it's more me than her. For some reason, the way I'm wired is I simply cannot go to sleep at night if I know that someone has something against me or that something's going on, and nowhere is that more true than with my wife. So I think that's really important. And I think that, I would 100% agree with you that you should not have any grudges. And if you have them right now and you're listening, you should go and try and put out those fires 'cause you'll live longer. Seriously.
Greer: Oh, absolutely.
Ben: Now another thing you talk about is embracing adversity. And this one got me scratching my head just a little bit because I'm curious what you mean by that. Because adversity can be stressful, and stress can certainly reduce your lifespan, produce a lot of cortisol, increase your blood pressure, do all those type of things. So what do you mean when you say “embrace adversity”?
Greer: Well, first of all, I believe in healthy stress and in unhealthy stress. I really believe that there's two different types. I think a healthy stress is that stress that moves you to the next level and you still have your health. The unhealthy stress is that that destroys your movement forward and destroys your physical and even mental ability at times. So when I talk about embracing adversity, and I will use a biblical example here, I don't always do that because everybody's got different feelings about the Scriptures themselves. But in this case, I use the Book of Job. And the Book of Job is one and I can go to, I can get a different message out of it every time I read it. But he embraced adversity. And you can see the net result, positive results that came out of it from why he did it. But what I'm saying is that when adversity hits you, and I'm going to use a personal example here. There was a time when I had my Greer Industrial, which was my largest company, and that company was, I manufactured for 10 years, sold 17 cotton states and three foreign countries. I generated a little over 80 million in sales in that business. It was really, really good business. 9/11 was real hard on the cotton industry because the farm programs just stopped at 9/11. So that affected us drastically.
So I went through some really challenging times. And this particular individual that I'm talking about a while ago that made me angry, he actually lied to me and did some things that really put me in, you talk about stress, I was really under stress. You talk about adversity, I was really adverse, under extreme adversity. And so one night, I decided that I'd had it, and so I dropped down on my knees and I prayed, actually, to God, and I said, “Here's what I'd like,” I said, “you've made it really, really tough on me. But here's what I ask: would you make it tougher? I want it to be tougher because I think I can take it and I can grow from it.” And you know what happened the next day? It got tougher. It really got tougher. And it got to the point that I really didn't know whether I was going to make it mentally. And so I learned a couple of things from that. One, I went ahead and went head up against that adversity. Number two, God does answer prayers. He really does. And so I was able to come through that that way. Now that's an extreme example, and I don't encourage anybody to do that.
Ben: It reminds me almost though of this whole, when you look at exercise, which, myself as a fitness geek sometimes, things return to that lens, when you look at exercise, one of the best ways to get fitter is to kind of destroy yourself with a workout session and then recover from that session and allow your body to bounce back stronger, rather than engaging in mild to moderate exercise stressors without recovery day, after day, after day. Listening to you talk, it almost seems like it might be similar with stress we’re going through things that kind of beat you up in life every now and again, but not necessarily living every single day, like a lot of modern folks do, just consistently stressed out from 5 AM in the morning, checking e-mails 'til 8 PM in bed at night with phone calls, and e-mails, and work stress, and life stress, and WiFi router signals, and EMF, and everything else. It's like instead, having these periods of life where you go through, for example, for me having twin baby boys and going through all the sleep deprivation and management in lifestyle renavigation that came with that. But then correcting course and not being under that constant stress for the entire life, I think that, for me, I'm kind of getting that impression that stress is not bad, adversity is not bad, but it's that's constant daily grind that would be the thing that would reduce longevity.
Greer: Yeah. Well, and it's how you actually approach it too. Because you're going to have, if you're living an active life, you're just going to have all this. You're going to have it at some point. Some may have it more to one degree than another. I've watched this good friend of mine here, we're the same age, within two weeks of each other, and he has built a billion dollar business. And he's build it one dollar at a time. And I mean it's just amazing to see what he's done, building that business. And I know along the way that he had adversity, and I know along the way that he had challenges. But he met 'em, he met 'em head on and he did something about it. And of course he's a God-fearing guy, so he always gives God credit, and that's good. But I know that he's had humanly things challenging, with his health, and with some of the other aspects of the family, and so forth. But he's approached it well and embraced it and come out way, way on top. And I don't mean just money. I mean everything. I mean the whole synergism of life.
Ben: Well, speaking of stress, I want to ask you a question about mistakes because everybody makes mistakes in life, everybody learns from mistakes. And for you, having lived 75 years on planet Earth, I'm sure you've made some mistakes that we can all learn from. But if you had to say one of the biggest mistakes that you've made in life that you've learned a lesson from that you would like to share with our listeners that might be something they could avoid in their lives, do you have a situation or an example?
Greer: I would say that, and this one's going to seem trivial, but it stuck in my mind for a long time and so it must not have been trivial as I thought, but I made a mistake, in my opinion by not doing more due diligence when I picked the college that I wanted to go to and study and play football. And mainly I thought more of football than I thought of studying, to be very honest with you, at that point. And as I look back over the years, that always comes back to me for some reason. And I've always said, “I know I made a mistake in my first choice, and so if I had to do it over again,” and then recruiting and stuff, what like it is now and they didn't have the sophistication that they have now. I mean they know, they know how often you trim your toe nails and stuff. It's just something else.
And then my parents weren't involved in it. My parents were, my dad was an avid football person, but they just didn't take any interest, my colleges started approaching me when I was a junior in high school. And this particular college that I chose not to go to contacted me when I was a junior. And what I learned when I got into college football is that it's a highly political deal. It really is. And how much you get to play many times has to do with how bad they wanted you to start with. Assuming they keep the coach and all that, which there's a lot of coach rotation. But at any rate, so I always say that particular thing there, there's another one though. There's another major thing. I would've not have gotten married as young as I did.
Greer: Oh, yeah.
Ben: Why's that?
Greer: I just think that I should've, my advice to my children was don't get married 'til you're 30.
Ben: How young were you?
Ben: That's how old I was when I got married. Now why is that? Do you think you weren't able to live life as fully and that getting married kind of like tied you down?
Greer: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. On the other hand, my marriage was, my wife, she was my high school sweetheart, and she was a very good person and a very good person for me. And we were married 23 years. We produced four great kiddos and all that stuff. All grown children now, of course. I would say, again though, the things that stand out in your mind in memory that continually come back, and I don't say come back to haunt you. Don't say that. But come back to remind you, I would think, to answer your question, and then on trivial things, I probably would have sold Greer Industrial two years before I sold it. I sold it in 10 years, and that was my original goal was to build it and sell it in seven to eight years, and I sold it in 10. So I would say just stuff like that, and that aside from, those are major decisions in life. And aside from the fact of if I felt like swimming one day and I didn't, is that a bad mistake or is that a bad decision or not? Probably not.
But I always believe, I've got this theory about always having a plan B. Always have a plan B. Some people have argued with me on that. I've got a motivational speaker friend. When I say that to her, she's just, “You're the most negative person. You're so negative.” I say, “I'm not negative. I'm positive! I'm going to make plan B and a plan A.” And she says, “No, no, no, no, no! You've got to do plan A. You've got to do plan A.” And I said, “No. You start plan A. And plan A is your initial plunge.” But I said, “But if I hadn't had a plan B in my first Ironman distance race, I'm going to tell you what. Well, I wouldn't have had any other plan after that.” And then I've read the book about Bobby Knight called “The Power of Negative Thinking”. And as he says, the power of positive thinking is 30 million copies ahead of me. But he said, “I make my point.” And it's a good book to read.
Ben: Interesting. Now one other thing I want to touch on and that is your biggest tip. We have a lot of people listening in who want to achieve amazing feats of physical performance, like doing an obstacle race, or doing an Ironman, or something along those lines. What have you found to give you the biggest bang for your buck, especially as you age when it comes to being able to achieve amazing feats of physical performance without destroying your body, kind of still adhering to the healthy aspect of the healthy ageless living component?
Greer: Yeah. Well what you've got to realize, and this is the hardest thing for a hard-headed athlete, like myself who's been an athlete all my life, what you've got to realize is the transition that your body has gone through. No matter how healthy you are, no matter how few diseases you may have had, or any kind of illnesses, or whatever, but you've got to realize that where your body is at any given point and not go beyond that. It's just simple as that. And then the question is, well, how do you know that?
Ben: Yeah. That's what I was just going to ask you. Like how do you quantify?
Greer: That one is a hard one to answer, but what I know is that, I mean the one thing that I've not done in my training over the years that is now part of training, endurance training, and that's weights. That's Crossfit type training. And I've not done much weights. And right now, I do 10 pound barbells and that's about it. But what I've learned is that my strength has diminished over the years. I still have muscles and they still show, which kind of amazes me when I see it in a photo, a finish at a triathlon or something.
Ben: Yeah. Well, I'm putting a photo of you up in the show notes, by the way, over at Ben Greenfield Fitness so people can see what you look like.
Greer: Good. Thank you. I appreciate that. But those muscles just don't have the strength that they used to have. And gosh, I just remember some of those things I used to do. Like I could pick up two 90-pound bags of cement and load them up on a truck. And not only that, I could do a hundred of them. And I could do stuff like that. So what you have to do is you go through what I call the transitions of life. This is one of the transitions, is physiological. But it's also mentally. Because mentally, you just, I want to be able to pick up those two 90-pound bags of cement. I really do. But I can't. So I've got to realize that if I pick up a 20-pound bag, then I've done something. So that is my biggest advice is to just be able to transition.
And I'm not always a good example at this. I'll be very honest with you. Sometimes I think I mean, I go out and I think that I can still run a six and a half minute mile, or seven minute mile, or whatever. And my mind is just buzzing along there at six and a half minutes, and you know what? My body's going 10. Can you imagine that? But you know what, I think it's beautiful to be able to remember, to be able to remember it and keep that in there. I like to embrace that ‘cause I like to remember when I had my best times. I remember the day that I ran the hundred yard dash in 1959 in 9.7, and the world record was 9.3. Now that's quite far back in a sprint, I'll admit. But still, 9.7 is pretty fast. And that was on these old center tracks and our equipment wasn't near what it is today. But regardless, I remember that. I'll never forget that day. Ever. And so memories are just so, so important.
Ben: I think it's a good point. I think that's a good point for us to end on, even though we could talk for a really long time. What I want to do is recommend that folks go and grab your book. I'll put a link to it in the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com, where you can learn more about Greer's tips on Eleven Points of Healthy Ageless Living. There's just so much here. I mean we talked about everything from living an active sex life, to eating to live as long as possible, to avoiding grudges, to not being afraid to expose yourself to stress, and all sorts of practical tips, and Greer's got lots more. His website is greercoach.com. So you can check that out, it’s greercoach.com. And of course, we'll put links to everything we talked about in the show notes as well. So Greer, thank you so much for coming on the call today and sharing your wealth of information with us.
Greer: Well, I appreciate you inviting me. And it's been my pleasure, I can tell you that.
Ben: Alright, folks. Well, until next time, this is Ben Greenfield and Mike Greer sigining out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.
Mike Greer is one bad-ass old dude.
I first met Mike at the Become Superhuman live event. The guy wandered into our morning workout and proceeded to destroy a handful of fit young guys and girls at burpees, lunges, push-ups and Turkish get-ups. With his Ironman gear and well-tanned skin, I figured he was one of these 50-some year-old triathlete workout enthusiasts.
Then I found out he was 75.
As I got to know him, one of the first things I learned about Mike Greer is this: just call him Greer.
The guy has worn many hats over the years: entrepreneur who has started over eight businesses, a military career as a retired Lt. Colonel, a football player, a seven-time Ironman triathlete, the past president of the board of USA Triathlon, the president of the board and CEO of the Obstacle Racing Association, in the Texas Triathlon Hall of Fame, a father, grandfather, and a freaking great-grandfather…the list goes on and on and on.
Greer has what he calls “Eleven Points of Healthy Ageless Living”, and in this audio podcast episode, we delve into his anti-aging tips and ageless living secrets, including:
-What Greer means when he says “healthy, ageless living”…
-How to live an active sex life as you get older, and why you need to do it…
-Greer's tips for eating to live as long as possible…
-Greer's exercise protocol for healthy, ageless living…
-Why holding a grudge is one of the worst things you can do for your longevity…
-How stress can actually make you live longer…
-Greer's biggest mistake he's made that you can learn from…
-Greer's biggest tip for achieving amazing feats of physical performance without destroying your body…
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