It's no surprise that as we age, we lose the ability to do many things we were able to achieve in our youth. Our bodies slow down, lock up, and it becomes harder to navigate the world with the longer our lives become.
There are ways to combat this seemingly-inevitable deterioration of the self, and though it's basic advice that pops up again and again, the key really is diet and exercise. There's one man who exemplifies this perfectly, performing amazing feats at an equally amazing age.
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Keep It Moving
For those who aren't into fitness as a hobby, trying to stay active can be rather difficult. For many out there, their body's health and maintenance is a 'you don't know what you've got until it's gone' sort of element to their lives, where the detriments of not remaining healthy don't become evident until it's too late.
The best piece of advice for those wanting to begin a fitness journey but finding it overwhelming is to try a bunch of different activities, find the one you like most or the one that brings you joy, then stick with that. It may not be a full-body workout, but it's movement, and sticking with one exercise can still bring about a ton of benefits.
A Legendary Athlete
Mike Fermont knows this well, as he's somewhat of a running celebrity, holding five world records and setting a wonderful example for people around the world looking to get into running.
Why him specifically? Well, to start, he's 101 years old.
Fermont picked up running as a hobby in his late 30s after the death of his first wife left him widowed with their three children, including a 2-week-old baby.
"I was very stressed when my wife left me, and I needed to do something every day to take the stress off. So usually I'd take one of my little kids, and she would hold my little finger and we'd run," he told People.
Crisis In Health
"I enjoyed it and I thought it was good for me. It was much better than the two martinis I used to have."
Running became an integral part of his life rather quickly after that, dedicating time to running every day that he could for miles and miles. It had improved his health greatly and he couldn't have been happier to find something he loved like this.
Then, in 1992, he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Doctors told him he had only three months left to live.
Even Doctors Were Shocked
"It was a terrible, terrible thing to tell me," he said, having clearly survived that initial prognosis. Two and a half years after receiving that news, the cancerous tumor was removed, and physicians were shocked when they saw there was no spread of the disease anywhere else in his body.
"The surgeon said that he had looked for metastasis in 35 places and found none. Zero."
It was after this rather harrowing experience that Fremont decided to sign up for races, entering the world of competitive running.
Breaking World Records
"I found that I wasn't too bad at running. I didn't weigh too much, and I was small. It helped," said Fremont. "Then I began to win some races, and the pressure was on."
His current wife of 29 years, Marilyn Wall, said "that's when he started to make records for his age."
Fremont holds an incredible five records, four of them world records. He has the fastest marathon time at age 80, then again at 90, the fastest half-marathon time for ages 90 and 91, then the U.S. record for fastest mile by a 96-year-old.
"I took 53 seconds off the one-mile race record," Fremont added. "I was very pleased."
While his running journey continues as a centenarian, he's done trying to break any records or run any serious marathons. "I think I'm sensible enough not to try to run marathons at 100. Why should I have anything to prove?"
Fremont is also an avid canoer, enjoying long-distance canoeing the most. Though he's retired from competitive running, he did compete in the Canoe National Championship at age 99, making him the oldest contestant they've ever had.
Something he attributes his health and fitness success to is his vegan diet. He began eating vegan right after his cancer diagnosis.
When the tumor was initially discovered, they urged him to have surgery right then and there. In an interview with Great Vegan Athletes, he says he told the doctors no, stating he was going to go on a diet instead.
He only had the surgery some years later because the tumor began to bleed. It was then that he was operated on and they found his cancer hadn't spread even a little bit.
He Swears By It
Fremont claims this is due to the diet he adopted. "In other words, my macrobiotic diet, [which became] a vegan diet, [which became] a whole-foods plant-based diet, killed the metastases!"
When fellow plant-based athlete Rich Roll spoke to Fremont, he asked how he was able to not only run marathons, but set records in his late 80s and 90s. "What's the secret to longevity here?"
Fremont smiled and answered, "No question in my mind, absolutely, it is [my] diet that has determined my existence. My continued existence and my beautiful health."
Taking Care Of Yourself
A vegan diet has proven health benefits, with the American Health Association even saying that veganism drastically lowers heart disease risk later in life. Fremont's own success with his health can at least be partially attributed to his diet and his continuous journey in running and exercise.
But even if you're unable to accomplish all that he has, if things are stopping you from running every day or adopting a plant-based diet, as long as you're taking care of your body within your own set of circumstance, that's really all that matters.
All Fremont's story shows us is that incredible things are possible at every age, and that from grief can come a new, beautiful lease on life.