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Top Gun: Maverick – Finding Inspiration

As the movie shifted to Pete Mitchell, call sign Maverick, I wondered how Maverick held up. 

The new Top Gun: Maverick, had the best opening weekend of any movie to date. Audiences and critics alike are applauding. Estimates are that it may earn a billion dollars worldwide. I found the movie inspiring. The soundtrack at the beginning of the move echoed the original.  First the Top Gun Main Theme/Anthem (Bom!), then the segue into Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins. 36 years after the original, I could feel the excitement well up in me.  Memories of a great movie intermingling with memories of my youth. As the movie shifted to Pete Mitchell, call sign Maverick, I wondered how Maverick held up. In a word fantastically! Tom Cruise was 23 in the first movie and is now 59. Does he look 23? No. Does he look 59 – only in the cockpit scenes. Look at these photo comparisons for Tom as documented by People Magazine, and this shirtless dogfight football photo. As unlikely as it was – I was getting inspired by Tom Cruise. Motivated to once again try to tackle my lifelong fight to be fit.

Why inspired? C’mon he’s a Hollywood pretty boy. He can pay trainers; he can get the best equipment. It’s impossible for everyday people to be fit like him. That’s what I thought as I admired that toned body, shapely biceps and triceps as he worked on the plane’s engine early in the movie. I apologize to anyone who feels I’m objectifying him.  It’s not all he is, but it’s okay to admire what he’s worked so hard to create and maintain? Right? He has worked hard. The one thing everyone — fans, fellow actors and critics always say about him: Tom Cruise works hard. Working hard is his brand. It applies to his movies and his fitness regime. Check out his fitness routine

Maybe because I was connecting with my younger self, these thoughts were followed by my favorite Wayne Gretsky quote: “You Miss 100% of the Shots You Don’t Take.” That thought rumbled around in my brain for days as I questioned my negative beliefs around fitness and age. I also thought about the “shots” I haven’t been taking to get physically healthier.

Quoting the great Wayne Gretzky

First let’s look at the myths by age group as addressed by various health writers.  Each age groups lessons can apply to all of us.

1.      Getting Fit in Your Thirties

Check out this link to a great blog post. https://www.hbf.com.au/blog/how-to-get-fit-in-your-30s

For many of us the biggest myth in our thirties is that it’s too late to get in great shape.  NOT TRUE. Ask the 40 and 50 year old’s!  This article has some great tips to get started. The highlights for me:

  • The best exercise is the one you enjoy doing
  • Start small
  • Find a fitness buddy
  • Create a schedule that will be easy to follow
  • Make it fun!!!

2.      The Myths about get fit in our 40’s.

Here is a great article from Well Balanced Woman. https://wellbalancedwomen.com/5-fitness-myths-women-over-40/ The excerpts I enjoyed the most are below. I encourage you to read the entire article.

  • Myth: To get fit over 40 I have to spend an hour at the gym, or it doesn’t count.
    • This fitness myth holds you back in two significant ways. First, workouts less than an hour can be extremely effective. Even if you don’t have a big block of time in your day to exercise, you can take a few minutes at different times.  Minutes add up – small steps count.
  • Myth: I can’t fight Mother Nature (AKA I’m too old! It’s impossible to get fit over 40!)
    • If you educate yourself about how to exercise for your 40-something (or older) body, and commit to doing what is right for you, you’ll love the results! Healthy ageing is about keeping your body, mind, and spirit well. The goal isn’t to be a fit 22-year-old, it’s to be a fit and happy 40 something.

3.      Let’s look at Tom Cruise’s age group, 50 somethings – even the almost 60!

Another great article: Myth busters for those in their 50s. https://www.thehealthy.com/exercise/myths-shouldnt-believe-fitness-after-50/

Two items from this article that spoke to me and my desire for lifelong independence are quotes from Chad McCann, Doctor of Physical Therapy, and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.

  • Myth: You can’t fix poor balance
    • “Balance is just like all other forms of fitness—the more you work on it, the better it gets,” says McCann. More to the point, being steady on your feet will help you avoid falls and stay healthy: “It’s another solid predictor of lifelong independence and shouldn’t be ignored in any fitness regimen.”
  • Myth: Lifting weights is bad for my joints
    • You don’t need to stick to two-pound weights just because you’re 50, 60, or even 70. It’s all about knowing your body and proper form. “Weight-lifting can be a very daunting form of exercise—some people are concerned that it will actually produce more harm than good. However, lifting with good form and appropriate weights has been proven to be safe and effective for strength development for all ages,” says McCann. “In addition, weight-lifting is critical for long-term bone health and general strength can be a good indicator of long-term independence. There is little evidence that weight-lifting leads to arthritis or other joint issues.”

4.      Now that we know that it is possible, looking our own individual roadblocks is important. Inspiration is a great starting point, but changing behavior needs more than inspiration.

Truth is I am doing a little bit. Enough to keep the level of fitness I have, moderately active. Not enough to lose weight, gain muscle and improve my cardiovascular fitness. What myths are stopping me?

Work in progress sign
  • Not enough time
  • I’ve been there done that, unable to keep it up in the past
  • Not a big priority to me
  • I don’t want to fail again
  • I’m TOO OLD to really change my health and my looks – I’ve always been overweight
  • The older I get the less interested I am in what other people think. I want to be comfortable and content. It takes too much work to be physically fit.

Your myths may be different. Knowing what they are and getting to the truth will help you to believe again, that you can do it!

Summary: If inspiration starts the process, motivation, the why’s, will also help us to achieve what we want.

As silly as it seems, Tom Cruise opened the opportunity for me to start to believe I can do it. Once again, my own healthy ego spoke up. I may not have access to a trainer 24 hours a day, or the best moisturizers, chefs, makeup artists and massage therapists, but If Tom Cruise at 59 can do it. I can do it. Be sure to read my follow up article on getting into the right mindset and my attempts to define fitness and the benefits of getting fit.

…maybe because I was connecting with my younger self, these thoughts were followed by my favorite Wayne Gretsky quote: “You Miss 100% of the Shots You Don’t Take.”

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