Welcome back to the Growing Tree of Life, our weekly exploration of personal growth and well-being.

Today, I have an interesting story to share, and it's one that begins with an unconventional decision:
Trees floating in the air with soil carved around the roots to spell the word GROW.

I am starting Jiu-Jitsu at 54

Issue Number: #047
Date: 07 December 2023
Reading Time: 4 minutes

You might be wondering why I embarked on this journey at my age. Well, there are a few reasons and it's a tale worth sharing.

To provide some context, I've never been a particularly sporty individual. Even in my youth, physical activities and sports didn't hold much appeal for me. While others revelled in sports and exercise, I preferred immersing myself in books, exploring imaginary worlds and participating in the journeys of the heroes described on their pages.

Throughout my school days, physical education and sports were not compelling. I had to participate but my usual place was at the end of the peloton. But strangely enough, I didn't mind the occasional teasing or ridicule from peers. I found ways to compensate for my physical limitations with my intellect and resourcefulness. With friends, we played games which required physical strength but I always compensated for it with my wit and mental agility. So I wasn't left out. I even became a member of the football team (soccer for our American friends). Granted, I was more of a fixture on the field, and I very rarely held the ball. My role was to distract the other team.
However, fate intervened in one memorable game when, quite unexpectedly, I scored the winning goal that secured our place in the league. It was a fluke, but that day, I saved the team.

I was always more intellectually and theatrically inclined, so I never truly grasped the importance of exercise. While I did enjoy riding a bike or skiing trip, physical activity wasn't a top priority in my life. The only physical exercise I never missed was going on hiking trips. But I did them to visit medieval castles on the top of mountains, not to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. That need eluded me.

That continued my whole life. It wasn't until I embarked on a personal growth journey that I realised the importance of physical exercise and even then it was always something I should do, not something I particularly enjoy. But the more I learned about the importance of muscles for longevity, flexibility, and overall health, the more I saw that I have to find some type of exercise I will stick with.

Muscles play a pivotal role in our overall well-being. As we enter our thirties and beyond, our muscles naturally begin to weaken and deteriorate. This process can impact our mobility, stability, and overall quality of life. The condition of our muscles can serve as a predictor of our future health and vitality.

The more I learned, the more I saw the importance of muscle health in my quest for a long and healthy life. I decided to explore different ways to enhance my muscle strength and overall fitness. The goal was to find something I would enjoy doing. That's why I decided to start Jiu-Jitsu. I understood that Jiu-Jitsu wouldn't just improve my physical health and build muscle; it would also enhance my capacity to move, stretch, and protect myself and others in an increasingly dangerous world.

After nearly a year of researching various options, I am finally taking the plunge. I am setting out on a journey to strengthen my survival skills, prolong my life, and invest in my overall well-being. My goals include increasing lung capacity, developing muscle strength, sustaining energy levels, and enhancing flexibility.

On Tuesday I had my first encounter with this martial art – it was during an open day, and I arrived just as a session was about to begin. There was paperwork to complete, but because I came late, the trainer had to start the session and couldn’t sit with me and explain everything. Because of that, I couldn't join in on action. But he invited me to sit there and observe others.

Initially, I was shocked by what I saw. I even contemplated leaving. Looking at what went on the mats, I wasn't sure if Jiu-Jitsu was the right fit for me. The physical demands seemed daunting, and doubts crept in. However, as I watched, a growing determination emerged. I resolved to give it a try, even if it meant enduring discomfort and exhaustion.

So, tonight marks the beginning as I attend my first real session.
Why am I sharing this story with you? A couple of reasons.

One is selfish. After sharing this with you, I can't back out of it. Now, you'll all be curious, "Did I go? How did it go?" It's a way to hold myself accountable and override any lingering doubts. It serves for me as a push to action, a way to force myself to disregard any doubts and just go for it.

The second is to show you a specific principle. Sometimes, we must nudge ourselves to try things that initially seem daunting or unappealing—especially when they are crucial for our long-term health and happiness.

You see, muscles play a significant role in our well-being and longevity. As we age, they become even more vital. Studies have shown that muscles lose 10% to 15% of their size and strength every year after age 50, particularly in those who are inactive. This loss can significantly impact our quality of life, making daily tasks challenging and potentially leading to a loss of independence and the need for long-term care. That's not the path I envision for my life. Fortunately, there are ways to reverse this trend, and for me, Jiu-Jitsu seems to be the answer.

My tip:
Don't wait as long as I did. Ensure you maintain healthy muscle mass and flexibility from a young age and continue to prioritize them in adulthood.

If you find yourself in a position similar to mine, take action now. Discover a form of physical activity that brings you joy. Don't hesitate to step outside your comfort zone, even if it means trying something unfamiliar or uncomfortable. Your long-term health and happiness may very well hinge on that decision.

That's all for today. Remember, embracing discomfort can be a pathway to long-term gain and a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Thank you for reading and see you next Thursday.


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