Or how to draw the stares of lunching women…
Laird Hamilton is an impenetrable mystery, wouldn’t you say? A well-proportioned fifty-four-year-old who draws the stares of lunching women and who, if inclined, would be capable of wolfing down a fifty-pound salmon in a few breathless mouthfuls.
The sort of man who changes the channels on a television impatiently and very fast.
Laird Hamilton is a man incandescent with passion and emotion and addiction to dangerous exhilaration. He is also a man who demonstrably knows how to delay the onset of ageing.
Recently, he revealed his ten secrets to Roy Wallack, from the Guardian and which I’ve thoughtfully cut and pasted below.
1 Forget age. Just keep driving the car I take better care of myself today not as an accommodation to age but to maintain continual high levels of performance and just to feel good. I have a friend, Don Wildman (above), who’s 83 – an absolute stud who works out with weights, mountain bikes, paddles and surfs every day. Don’s a living example of what it’s like when you keep driving the car. What happens is we decide we’re old and we just stop, and everything stops working. There’s so much stigma and weirdness around being older. Don and I were watching a tennis match and the announcer was saying, “He’s 34 years old!” Get over it – and keep moving. Don’t wait until you have a health scare or collapse. Get off your butt and feel better now.
2 Take care of everyday priorities The stuff you do every day – your sheets and towels, the food you put in your body – these are your priorities. Not a fancy car or fancy clothes. For instance, I used to drink red wine every day – nothing like a good Bordeaux – but haven’t had a sip of wine or beer in nine years. Sugar is not good for your body and alcohol is one of the biggest culprits. Alcohol doesn’t taste good anyway. The reason people drink it is to have some sort of sensation, right? So if you’re not into that sensation, it’s a waste of time. It’s a discipline thing, too. As proof to myself that I had the willpower, I don’t do it. Bottom line: if you want your rocket to fly, put rocket fuel in it. I want to be able to do certain things at a certain level.
3 Be a fat-burning monster I don’t eat energy bars when I’m out on the water all day. In fact, I don’t need to eat anything. My body runs off its body fat. That’s because I’m paleo. I consume hardly any refined sugar, a few raw dairy products and almost no wheat or grains. I eat plants and animals. I grew up that way in Hawaii. Paleo researcher-kineseologist Paul Chek taught me that your body has enough fat on it to run for days… and that sugar fouls up your machinery. So after I cut alcohol, I began eliminating sugar and sugary fruit. I refined it over the past two years listening to primal lifestyle guru Mark Sisson and other paleo people. A triathlete can go for hours on a little almond butter and their own body fat. But if you eat refined carbs, your blood sugar spikes up and down. I love espresso. You could give me five shots of espresso, a quarter stick of butter, a quarter stick of coconut oil and other fat, and I’ll drink that. I could go for five or six hours and not be hungry, because I’m burning fat.
4 But don’t be a zealot I have a saying: “Every-thing in moderation, including moderation.” I make it achievable, not stressful for me and people around me. I’ll use a little coconut sugar. I’ve got friends who have to stick to a diet at all times, and the stress of that almost overrides the quality of the way you eat. My eating is not such a hassle that I can’t go anywhere.
5 Golf-ball your bare feet I grew up barefoot in Hawaii and didn’t give a thought to walking on gravel, but people who’d been in shoes their whole life couldn’t even cross the driveway. The feet are loaded with nerve endings and are the key to balance – and I’m in the balance business. In fact, we all are. I also believe the earth is charged with an electrical frequency that matches your nervous system and immune system. Bare feet allow us to absorb that energy. To restore dexterity and balance after I’ve been in shoes too long, I warm up by standing with one foot on a golf ball. I roll it around, poke it, put weight into tender spots. It’s amazing how your system will be stimulated through working your feet.
6 Watch your back I’ve had back issues and injuries over the years. When your back goes out, you’re out of commission. Give it relief with stretching and inversion, and strengthen it with core work. Someone once said, “If you did 20 minutes of headstands a day, you probably wouldn’t age.” Gravity is always pulling us down, and inversion fights it. I do it on a teeter board or an upside-down hammock. I do planks and rotational exercises with medicine balls and kettle bells on a Swiss ball. Any natural pick-lift-twist-drop movement pattern, like picking something off the ground and putting it on a shelf, builds core stability. Best one of all? Stand-up paddleboarding.
7 Do the water workout from hell To me, swimming laps in a pool is like punishment – being in a cage. Out of my disdain for lap swimming, I’ve developed what in my opinion is the greatest exercise routine you can do: a no-impact, high-intensity strength and cardio workout that is a cross between swimming and weightlifting. Holding small waterproof dumbbells, jump into a fairly deep pool and sink to the bottom. Then jump up as hard as you can to pierce the surface and gulp some air. As the weights pull you back, blow it out. Exhale as you fall, inhale after you shoot up. The exercise blasts your legs, which consume five times the oxygen as your arms. It’ll make you a stronger swimmer without having to swim laps.
8 Get role models It’s monkey see, monkey do. It’s hard to be the monkey that doesn’t see. We all need an example, a road map, to tell us what’s possible – a Jack LaLanne [the US fitness surperhero]. Am I going to fret that I’m old and washed-up when I’m mountain biking and paddling alongside Wildman, who’s 83? He lives, wears and eats a youthful lifestyle. And, by the way, who does Wildman use as his role model, since all his friends are dead? Me! So get younger buddies, too. When your friends get older and say: “I want to go play some bridge,” you tell them, “I don’t think so – I want to go jump off the bridge.’”
9 Be innovative in all aspects of your life Coming up with new ideas keeps me young and excited. [Hamilton and Wildman invented the GolfBoard, a kind of skateboard for golfers that won the PGA’s New Product of the Year award in 2014.] I think travelling to unique places gives you an opportunity to be active.
10 Make it fun Having as much fun as humanly possible is one of the keys to staying young, so find activities you love. I forget about time when I’m out there on a stand-up paddleboard. Activities are better than the gym because you’re not looking at the clock. You’ll do more reps in nature than you’ll ever do in the gym. You’ll go for hours and hours. And you’ll be thinking healthy thoughts – not about how old you are. As told to Roy Wallace.