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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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My Life May Be Half Over But The Glass Is Half Full

Comments (37)

After reflecting over the past few weeks on Turning 45 as well as Death and Dying, I’ve reached a conclusion that I’ve said out loud several times: “My life is most likely more than half over.”  The singularity not withstanding, the chances, at least today, that I’ll live to be over 90 aren’t great.

Over the weekend, I saw two blog posts from friends – one from Joanne Wilson about her mom passing away titled Judy Solomon, Entrepreneur and one from Ken Smith (I’m actually close to Ken’s brother Keith, the CEO of BigDoor) titled A Eulogy for Elmer Smith.  Both are beautifully written – Judy was 73 and Elmer was 97.  Joanne starts off with a very insightful statement:

“Old enough to have lived a full life yet young enough to have had her life cut short.  I always thought she would live to the ripe old age of 90 something, but life doesn’t always turn out as expected. “

Several of you recommended that I read Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond.  It was one of the books I read during my week off the grid the first week of December and I enjoyed it a lot.

It had two key graphs in it.  The first is the normal “human being decay cycle.”  Basically, at the age of 45, most humans start a long, slow, gradual decay ending in death.

Normal Decay Cycle

The second is the “desired decay cycle.”  Desired Decay Cycle

The book talks about how to live your life from 45 forward so you experience the second curve.  As Amy likes to say, there are usually only a few things you need to do to accomplish physical health (e.g. if you want to lose weight, (1) eat less and (2) exercise more.)  In this case, it’s (1) don’t eat crap and (2) exercise six days a week, at least two of them with weights.

There’s a lot more in the book, including plenty of real medical, health, and physiology explanations from Dr, Harry Lodge (the co-author).  But just internalizing these graphs along with the two tips from the book have enabled me to re-commit to the six-day a week exercise approach (at least two of them with weights).

I sure do like the second graph a lot better than the first graph.

  • http://www.ronen82.com Ronen Mendezitsky

    my graph looks totally different

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      What does your graph look like?

      • http://www.ronen82.com Ronen Mendezitsky

        Well, I was a very sick kid, so my graph should go the opposite of how yours looks and I’m also an optimist, so I can assume I’ll live forever.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      What does your graph look like?

  • http://www.ronen82.com Ronen Mendezitsky

    my graph looks totally different

  • http://twitter.com/roykaller roy kaller

    If you happen to recall the 1987-1991 Yuppie angst TV show “thirtysomething”, the character Michael Steadman says after his father dies (paraphrasing), “I’ve seen the first half of my life and the second half of my father’s life.” Yikes! My dad passed away in 1987 when I was 26 and that phase was (still is) pretty galvanizing for me.

  • http://twitter.com/roykaller roy kaller

    If you happen to recall the 1987-1991 Yuppie angst TV show “thirtysomething”, the character Michael Steadman says after his father dies (paraphrasing), “I’ve seen the first half of my life and the second half of my father’s life.” Yikes! My dad passed away in 1987 when I was 26 and that phase was (still is) pretty galvanizing for me.

  • http://www.ayima.com Tony Spencer

    I was just scolded by my employees for not getting my treadmill desk fixed and now after reading this I think I need to move that task to the top of my queue for tomorrow.

  • http://www.ayima.com Tony Spencer

    I was just scolded by my employees for not getting my treadmill desk fixed and now after reading this I think I need to move that task to the top of my queue for tomorrow.

  • http://twitter.com/FounderMatchCO Tracy De Cicco

    A lot of it’s attitude, Brad, and you appear to have a great one !! :)…

    Tracy

  • http://twitter.com/FounderMatchCO Tracy De Cicco

    A lot of it’s attitude, Brad, and you appear to have a great one !! :)…

    Tracy

  • Sue Kunz

    Happy B-Day – a little late. Think quality not quantity. Enjoy deliberately!
    Sue

  • Sue Kunz

    Happy B-Day – a little late. Think quality not quantity. Enjoy deliberately!
    Sue

  • http://www.vcdeallawyer.com Chris

    I am now 41 and I keep telling my wife the same thing. She poo poo’s me, but your post above has re-invigorated me to get back into my routine. Thanks.

  • http://www.vcdeallawyer.com Chris

    I am now 41 and I keep telling my wife the same thing. She poo poo’s me, but your post above has re-invigorated me to get back into my routine. Thanks.

  • http://www.ryanborn.net ryanborn

    Might I suggest more appropo title for your post like “My Life May Be Half Over But The Glass Is Half Full.”

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Good suggestion!

  • http://www.ryanborn.net ryanborn

    Might I suggest more appropo title for your post like “My Life May Be Half Over But The Glass Is Half Full.”

  • http://www.steverubel.me Steve Rubel

    Brad, did you see this item in The Econimist this week about life after 45?
    http://www.economist.com/node/17722567?Story_ID=17722567

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Thanks for the pointer to the article – it’s a stimulating one.

  • http://www.obxerve.com JK

    Brad, thank you for this wonderful post.

    Roy, thank you for that Thirtysomething quote. I never remember much of that show (although I liked it) but this quote would be it’s legacy for me.

  • http://twitter.com/sardire Steve Ardire

    Hi Brad – good post but if you want the absolute minimum ( targeted ) desired decay cycle ( after 45 ) you should be eating right ( then less ) and exercising regularly from teen age yrs forward. I’ve never been out of shape and within 7lbs of my high school weight which was many moons ago i.e. am past 45 yrs old ;)

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Yup, but it’s too late for that so I’ve got to start somewhere.

  • Tiger_on_mountain

    Brad, don’t mope or whine. Lots of guys half your age died in Iraq, Afghanistan and other wars. Young guys in the cops and fire departments in NYC died or got terribly ill rescuing people on 9/11. We have it easy. You’re a wealthy VC living in Colorado, for goodness sake! Suck it in, man.

    PS – I am 46. I count my blessings and keep moving and fighting. My old man is 78 and still hustling hard, and he fought in a war.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I’m not moping or whining at all – just reflecting and looking forward.

  • http://www.coreedges.com Julien

    Hi Brad, I would respectfully suggest that you look at both Mark Sisson’s blog and book (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-101/) as well as Art de Vany’s approach (http://www.arthurdevany.com/). Both are very similar and encompass both diet and exercise.

    The prescriptions should be less constraining then what this book appears to advocate, and I bet you would appreciate looking like Art de Vany at 73 yo ;-)

    Might be a tough sell for a hardcore runner though, but hey, you might as well tackle this at the same time :-)

  • Derek Scruggs

    Re: exercise — one thing that’s been a great help to me is to join exercise classes such as yoga, boot camps and lately crossift. The instructor pushes me well past what I would ever do on my own and also switches it up so I don’t fall into a routine.

  • http://technbiz.blogspot.com paramendra

    Eat right, exercise. I have been doing it. :-) No beer, no soda, no coffee.

  • http://twitter.com/rosendahl rosendahl

    Read the book in May. Took it to heart in June. Lost 8 or 10 lbs, tuned eating habits, made exercise ‘part of my job’ over the summer. Easy advice, pretty easy to implement, and keeping it up. Worked for me! Downside: I’m now a personal data metrics junkie. Ack!

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      From one data junky to another, make sure you get a Fitbit!

  • Barber01

    Brad, I turned 50 this summer and added 45 minutes of weights – squats, dead lifts, bench – to my exercise regimen three days a week. I am really surprised at what an impact it has made on how I feel.

  • http://www.viget.com/about/team/bwilliams Brian Wynne Williams

    My grandfather lived the second graph. He was always in great shape even though he used to eat ice cream from the tub on the couch (but otherwise ate pretty well). I never saw him “exercise” — running, lifting, etc.

    The year before he died I asked him how he kept in shape and he simply said “you don’t see me sitting around very much, do you?” It was true — he was up early every day and fortunate to have meaningful work (and hobbies) to do his entire life that didn’t involve sitting in front of a computer all day. It’s too bad that most of us have to get exercise just for the sake of exercise, but it’s worth it!

  • KT in SV

    Brad – The Younger Next Year book also makes the point that modern medicine can keep us alive for quite a long time, but we will not be having much quality of life if we haven’t committed earlier to exercise and nutrition. So the motivation is not just dying, but avoiding living a long time in poor health.

  • DaveJ

    With respect to exercise, your challenge will be to find a way to exercise consistently without some achievement-related goal driving you. Aiming for achievement in the “second half” will inevitably lead to various minor injuries, which will prevent exercise, which will cause failure in the larger goal of consistent exercise. Your last couple of years should be good enough evidence of that.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Yup, although I’d attribute (a) weight and (b) ridiculous work travel
      to the mix. In hindsight, my back injury was probably much more
      easily solved – I mostly just fantasized about it getting better. It
      wasn’t until I started taking action that things “snapped back into
      place.”

      My biggest miss on the running front has been (a) strength and (b)
      flexibility. I know that – know I just have to take it seriously.

  • Anonymous

    Another vote for Sisson and also scaled Crossfit – it’s really not necessary (and maybe detrimental) to “workout” six days a week. I am 47 and until a few years ago was a 5 mile per day, 6 day a week runner. I had constant back and leg problems (even though I ran on dirt and changed my shoes regularly), was tired all the time and carried an extra 15-20 lbs (I am 6-2 and was about 225 then).

    I decided to “quit running” and took up crossfit, as well as eliminating all grains from my diet. We found that my son has celiac and I eliminated grains in sympathy with him. Long story short, I workout 3 days a week for 30 mins or so, do fun activities like surfing, volleyball, or 30 mins or less of running (scenic running) or walking a couple times a week and I have never felt better. I am between 195 lbs and 203 lbs depending on time of year (lighter in summer when it’s warmer!). I have probably lost 2 to 3 inches off my waist. This has all been maintained for 2 years or so.

    I am also have a much higher overall level of fitness with less work. When I started, I could do 2 pullups, now I can do 13. I could do maybe 15 dips, now I can do 25. I don’t squat heavy weights, but my squat form and flexibility are much improved. I can do a full squat with heels on the ground and butt resting on calves.

    I know this is probably a tough choice for a marathon runner, but I think you will find that over 50 crossfitter’s are having a much higher quality of life and enjoying virtually every athletic pursuit (other than running maybe) more than runners/marathoners.

    One last thought – about 90% of well-being is diet! Just try a 30 day period without grains (including flour), processed foods, sugar, etc. and you will be sold that the “sacrifices” are worth it. Soon, you won’t see it as a sacrifice!

    Oh and sorry to be a pest but how about that follow up article on the daily deal business you were planning on?

  • http://twitter.com/jonathanfields Jonathan Fields

    Brad – Same age, same exploration.

    Don’t know if you’ve read it yet, but John Ratey’s book “Spark: The New Science of Exercise and the Brain” is a fascinating look at why we not only need movement to keep our bodies from revolting as we age, but also how it affects our brains, cognitive function, moods, creativity and more. Really fascinating insights, based on what looks to be good science.

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