Marc Middleton is the founder and CEO of Bolder Broadcasting and Growing Bolder. He’s a TV journalist, filmmaker, speaker, activist, and author. In all of this, his focus is on changing the culture of aging. He’s won several Emmys. He hosts Growing Bolder Radio and is the editor of the Growing Bolder Magazine and on top of all that, he is an incredible athlete in his own right, holding as many as 7 Masters swimming world records. And on top of all that he is our guest on the Active Life podcast. This is a great one. Check it out at the Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life podcast.

 

Kyle Case:
Hello and welcome to the Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life. My name is Kyle Case, and I'll be your host on this amazing journey as we attempt to help you get the most out of your life. Joining me in the studio today is my copilot, Jeff Harding. Jeff, how are you doing today?

Jeff Harding:
I am dandy.

Kyle Case:
Dandy.

Jeff Harding:
And how are you, Kyle?

Kyle Case:
I'm doing good. I'm doing good.

Jeff Harding:
You're not dandy.

Kyle Case:
Well...

Jeff Harding:
You look dandy.

Kyle Case:
Okay, well then that's good. I'm not sure how dandy feels.

Jeff Harding:
Well, dandy feels dandy of course. That's obvious, Kyle.

Kyle Case:
I'm doing great and maybe I'm doing dandy. I just wasn't aware of it.

Jeff Harding:
My dad... That's an expression I picked up from my dad. He used to call somebody a dandy if they were dressed to the nines and-

Kyle Case:
Oh, okay. That makes sense.

Jeff Harding:
Yeah.

Kyle Case:
And so you feel that way right now?

Jeff Harding:
Well, I'm not dressed to the nines, but I feel like I am. Yeah.

Kyle Case:
Well I'm glad to know that you're doing well. I'm also doing well, feeling good, and just, you know, we're getting close to the Huntsman World Senior Games.

Jeff Harding:
We are. Getting really close.

Kyle Case:
We're getting ready for that and we're excited about it.

Jeff Harding:
We are. We're losing sleep but we're getting excited.

Kyle Case:
So it's that time of year for sure. There's no question about it. So Jeff, usually to kick off the show, we like to talk about a health and wellness issue. We try to tackle some of the relevant things that are going on-

Jeff Harding:
Yes, we do.

Kyle Case:
... In health and wellness, especially in active aging. We've always been interested in a wide variety of different topics and try to cover things from diet to exercise and health care.

Jeff Harding:
Don't mention stretching though.

Kyle Case:
No stretching. But sleep a lot of things that are important to our overall health and wellness. Today, Jeff, I want to forego that intro and jump right into our guest because I'm very excited to visit with him.

Jeff Harding:
So am I.

Kyle Case:
Marc Middleton is the founder and CEO of the Bolder Broadcasting and Growing Bolder. He's a TV journalist, filmmaker, speaker, activist, and author, and in all of this, his focus has always been changing the culture of aging. He's won several Emmys, Jeff.

Jeff Harding:
Wow.

Kyle Case:
He's also the host for Growing Bolder radio and is the editor of the Growing Bolder magazine, and on top of all that, Marc is also an incredible athlete in his own right and has held as many as seven Master swimming world records.

Jeff Harding:
Wow. That's impressive.

Kyle Case:
So this guy knows how to move down the pool.

Jeff Harding:
Yes, he does.

Kyle Case:
And we're very excited, Marc, to have you joining us today. How's everything going?

Marc Middleton :
I'm just feeling dandy, Kyle.

Jeff Harding:
See, he knows what it means. He knows what it means. I'm not the only one.

Marc Middleton :
I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you and Jeff. Thanks so much for having me.

Kyle Case:
Well we're excited. You know, you're involved in so many things, Marc, and I just want to jump right into it. Let's just tackle the big one, the elephant in the room, ageism. What's your experience with ageism? And maybe more importantly, how can we change that concept?

Marc Middleton :
Well, ageism is very much a real thing and I think that's the frightening thing. I mean, I honestly believe that we are all the victims of a very subtle form of mass cultural hypnosis. They did a study once, Kyle, in the '60s and '70s of all of the books, it was 11 different studies of about 780 books that were in children's literature. The first reader books and also the books that were read to us when we were young, and in those books older people either didn't exist at all or if they did exist, they were there just for levity or had no function whatsoever. You know, maybe the old guy in the back mowing his lawn, but they provided no value, they were not relevant to the plot of the story, and there have been multiple studies that have shown that by the time we are three, we all have a very negative image and impression about growing older and it continues to get worse and worse as we age.

Marc Middleton :
Now we live in this world, this mass media world, where there are literally thousands of companies spending billions of dollars every year to promote an anti-aging agenda. They raise their profits by lowering our self-esteem and it's all very subtle and covert but it is incessant and it's constant, and we've been led to believe that age is a disease and we have it, and it's a diagnosis that is self confirmed every time we get a gray hair or a wrinkle or an ache or a pain, many of the natural things of aging, but we immediately, because we live in this agist culture, assume the worst because we're made to feel that way.

Kyle Case:
Right.

Marc Middleton :
There have been multiple studies about leads to active longevity and genetics accounts for 25% of it and our lifestyle accounts for 75% of it, and the most important determination, the most important lifestyle determination, of how we age is neither diet nor exercise, it's our belief system about aging.

Marc Middleton :
So you know, most of it-

Kyle Case:
Who would have thought?

Marc Middleton :
... Anticipate the negative benchmarks of aging so completely that we just guarantee they're going to come to pass. So you asked me about ageism, it is really one of the biggest problems that we face as we age, if not the biggest.

Kyle Case:
Well, it's so interesting, Marc. You mentioned several studies and you know, just anecdotally we see that. You just sit down and watch television or you watch a movie and you look at the way, as you said, older people are depicted, either they're non-existent, they're not there, or there's generally a negative concept to it. And man, I'll tell you what, it feels like the bar just keeps getting lower and lower. I saw a story the other day about a musical artist. It wasn't an artist that I was familiar with, I didn't listen to her music, but she was talking about how her record producers said that she was too old to portray herself in such a way, and she was 29.

Jeff Harding:
Wow.

Marc Middleton :
Wow.

Kyle Case:
So, yeah, there's definitely something out there, and as you said, it starts so young in the way that we view the world, in the way that we picture the world, in the way that we're entertained that it's no wonder that we all have kind of these hangups about aging and getting older, and certainly... Certainly, Marc, there are challenges that come with the act of aging and there's no question about that, but there are so many benefits that come as well, and I love the approach that you have taken specifically in this concept of changing that culture of aging and your catchphrase that you use throughout all of your social media and your media, and even the name of your book is Growing Bolder, and I love that as a concept. Talk a little bit about how you came up with that and what it means to you to grow bolder.

Marc Middleton :
Well, you know, it is funny that as we age it is important for us, more important for us to take risks as we age than when we're younger and that kind of surprises a lot of people, and I'm not talking about the kind of risks that jeopardize our health or our wellbeing or our safety, but as we get older, again, because of the society and the culture we live in, we're conditioned to withdraw. No becomes the default answer to just about everything as we get older. No, I'm not going to start swimming or running. No, I'm not going to travel to Utah to compete in the Huntsman Games. No, I'm not going to take up a new class.

Marc Middleton :
We become afraid to fail, we become unwilling to risk embarrassment, and so growing bolder is just realizing that we need to take chances. We need to put ourselves out there and we need to engage in life.

Marc Middleton :
You guys know this better than anybody because your event reflects this, the one thing every healthcare organization in the world is talking about now is the importance of socialization. As we age, low socialization is more harmful to our health than smoking, alcoholism, or obesity, which is just stunning. You know, loneliness is killing people and most people just withdraw. The socialization aspect of life is so critical as we get older, so growing bolder is pretty much putting yourself out there, taking chances. I say often that the key to successful aging is to not mourn what's lost but to celebrate what remains. It's just a flip of how you view things.

Marc Middleton :
We've interviewed probably more active centenarians than any media group in the world and they are very diverse, they're as different as anyone could be, which is great news for all of us because they're black, they're white, they're all religions, they're poor, they're wealthy, they're urban, they are rural, but the one common thing they all have is loss. If you live long enough, you are going to experience one loss after another. You know, things like keys, the ability to drive, your spouse, your friends, on and on and on, and those who age successfully are able to adapt and accommodate. They mourn and move on. You know, some people just get devastated by things. So growing bolder is not ignoring the reality of our mortality, it's not pretending that we all aren't going to face some setbacks as we age as you've indicated, but it's looking at the opportunity of age and I just can't see why anybody would want to do anything other than that.

Kyle Case:
I love that. I love that approach. You're listening to the Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life, and we're talking with media mogul, activist, swimming world record holder, Marc Middleton, about aging and about growing bolder and what that concept means.

Kyle Case:
We talked at the beginning about how pervasive the concept is portrayed that growing older is a bad thing, it's a negative thing, that there's no value in it or that can be derived from those who are experiencing it and yet reality shows us otherwise. Marc, you've been involved in media, as you mentioned, you've interviewed centenarians from all walks of life, you've really dug into the aging population as a culture and as individuals and you've really discovered some pretty amazing stories that really counteract some of what the mainstream media and some of our own preconceived notions might be telling us. I'm wondering if you could share maybe one of your favorite stories that you've run into as you've really dug into this concept of growing bolder and looked for people who are living that lifestyle?

Marc Middleton :
Well, yeah. Well, thank you for that, Kyle. There is an endless number of stories and you know, the truth of the matter is people say where do you find these stories? And the answer is they are everywhere. They really are. There just aren't many of us telling those stories. We have found, and the reason we tell those stories, is that as much as I quote statistics, and I know I've quoted a bunch already in this interview, it's really not statistics and it's not the opinion of experts or the results of some academic study that motivates people to change, it's the example of someone like them. When we can see ourselves in others, that's when the magic of personal transformation occurs. So we specialize in telling the stories of ordinary people living extraordinary lives. So many of them are not all that outrageous, but it's one example after another.

Marc Middleton :
I love to tell the story of Orville Rogers and you know, he may have competed in one of your events. He's 101 or 102 now, but Orville suffered a serious stroke when he was 93 and his entire left side was paralyzed and he literally couldn't move his face, his arms, his legs, and he's 93 years old, he suffered a serious stroke and his doctors said what doctors say to someone who is 93 years old, it's been a good run, Orville, take it easy, get on the couch, you're done. His family, his friends, everybody told them he was done. This is the narrative that we hear all the time, but Orville didn't want to be done and the reason he didn't want to be done is that he loved the socialization that he got from competing in track and field.

Marc Middleton :
He competed a lot and he wanted to continue and he told his doctor give me the most intense rehabilitative program you can because I am coming back. And not only did he come back, he's now 101, he's set world records, he travels the world, he has returned to the lifestyle that he loves and it's all because, A, he refused to give up, but more importantly he was rehabilitated.

Marc Middleton :
And this is another one of my favorite topics. I think that prehabilitation is the biggest no-brainer that there is when it comes to aging. And prehabilitation is simply movement. It's exercise, it's socialization, it's all of these kinds of things. And the reason we prehabilitate is that it is a given, as you've mentioned already, that all of us will experience a series of physical setbacks as we age. It's part of the human condition. We know it's going to happen and to a large degree, the extent of our recovery afterward, the kind of interventions that are offered to us when we suffer that, are dependent upon our overall fitness at the time, not our age, but our overall fitness. So if we know this is going to happen to us and we know our ability to recover from it is going to be determined by our overall fitness, why are we not all prehabilitation? If you don't like exercise, think of it as prehabilitation.

Marc Middleton :
I love those stories and I ran into one at the National Senior Games where you guys were recently in Albuquerque. I was speaking to a caregiving conference a couple of years ago about the notion that I just mentioned when we can see ourselves in others, and a woman came up to me afterward and said, "My 92-year-old mother was the most vibrant woman I've ever seen at 92, until she fell and broke her hip. And once she did, she lost her zest for life and she died within six weeks. I said to her, mom, what happened? Why are you so depressed? And she said, honey, nobody my age ever comes back from a broken hip.".

Kyle Case:
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:14:20]

Marc Middleton :
She said if I could have shown her one example of someone who was over 90 who came back from a broken hip, I think she'd still be alive. And I said, "You know what? I'm going to find that person for you." And in Albuquerque, I ran into Dottie Gray who fell out of her bed at 93 years old and shattered her hip and her doctors told her she was done, she would never walk again, but because she was involved in masters sports and senior sports, she also rehabilitated as Orville Rogers did. She was prehabilitated like Orville Rogers was and she worked and came back and she ran in the 100-meter dash at the National Senior Games this year, little more than a year after falling and breaking her hip at 93. so those are the kinds of stories that get me excited. Just ordinary people, because they don't buy into all of the crap that we're told, are able to come back and continue to lead these kinds of lives until the very end.

Kyle Case:
That's two amazing stories there, and we know Dottie for sure. She's been one of our athletes here. In fact, we had her on the show a couple of years ago before she had fallen and broken her hip. She's got an incredible, amazing story. And you talk about prehabilitation and that concept of just getting ready for what's coming up, you know, we're all going to be facing challenges, whatever they are, whether they're mental, spiritual, emotional, physical, and to prehabilitate yourself for that is such a beautiful concept. But yes, Dottie is just one of those success stories that you just can't... You just can't say enough about.

Kyle Case:
And the great thing about Dottie that I think is so important for all of us to know and to remember is that she became this world-class athlete, but she didn't really start until she was in her 50s, and she ran the Boston Marathon in her 70s and she was just a media sensation because she was 72 and she was running the Boston marathon and everybody wanted to visit with her, and she was such a draw and a magnetic story, and it was so amazing, but that was 20-some years ago and she's still out there doing amazing things, and as you mentioned, she went to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the National Senior Games, a great organization of which we are a part of and she's there running a 100 meter dash after a broken hip at 90-some years old. It's incredible. It's incredible. And again, it comes down to that concept, Marc, that you mentioned of prehabilitation and I love it. I think it's a beautiful concept.

Marc Middleton :
The other thing that I love to talk about and sometimes I try very hard not to talk about sports and athletics because I don't want to send the message that you have to be a competitive athlete or you have to compete in anything, you know, because if there are zillions of-

Jeff Harding:
So many great things out there in addition to sports, but sports is definitely one of them.

Marc Middleton :
Yeah, it really is. And it sends a great message and the thing that I've learned from sports is what's used to be called a theory, the theory of compressed morbidity, which now is no longer a theory, it's been proven and compressed morbidity is the idea that we can shorten the period of disease, disability, and morbidity at the end of our lives, and the people who represent that better than anybody are senior athletes. I'm sure you guys know Charles Eugster who was an English guy who set a world record and essentially died a week later and Olga Kotelko, who was a Canadian woman who competed in the world championships in Europe at 93 and said goodbye to her friends and flew home and wrote a chapter of her book and went to bed one night and didn't get up the next morning.

Marc Middleton :
The examples of those are endless. Dottie Gray will probably run one day and die that night. I mean I had dozens of friends since I've been doing this that... it's always hard to see them go, but you'll say, man, sign me up for compressed morbidity. If I can continue to be active and engaged and traveling and having fun right up until the last minute and avoid these two and three decades of gradual decline that most people that are couch potatoes experience, I mean that maybe one of the greatest rewards of all for being involved in events like yours.

Kyle Case:
Absolutely. And that's the goal, that's what we're all striving for and that's what we're shooting for. That's why I love it so much when we run into people who have been waiting to turn 50 so that they can compete in the senior games. Those people get it. They understand the importance of that lifestyle and how motivating competition can be. But Marc, you nailed it as well. Sports is only one avenue of self-expression. Certainly it's a great one, it's one that we're very involved in, that we feel passionate about, but there are so many other things that can get you... keep you engaged in your life, whether it's painting or volunteering at an elementary school and reading to kids or whatever it is. There are so many ways that you really can grow bolder and apply that lifestyle throughout your entire life. It's just... there's so many inspiring things and so many inspiring stories out there.

Kyle Case:
I want to ask you to tell one more story of a young lady that you ran into out there at New Mexico at the Albuquerque games, Hurricane Hawkins. What can you tell us about Hurricane Hawkins?

Marc Middleton :
Well, you know, I love to tell that story because it's part of a series of slides that I show that begins with Ida Keeling who ran 100 meters at the Penn Relays when she was 101, like three years ago. It was televised and video of Ida Keeling went viral and it was seen by Ella Mae Colbert, who was a 101-year-old woman living in South Carolina who never thought about running 100 meters, but she saw Ida do it and thought maybe she could do it and when Ida did it, she broke the world record for women 100 to 104 by I think 17 seconds and then Ella Mae ran faster than that. It didn't count because it wasn't a sanctioned event, and then that was seen by Julia Hawkins, who was also 101 at the time in Louisiana.

Marc Middleton :
Julia was a cyclist. She competed in cycling for a while, but she quit in her late 90s or 100 and she started to run for the first time at 100 and immediately set the world record, and she was 103 when she got to Albuquerque and she became... every time she runs now she does this, but she became the oldest female ever to run in an officially sanctioned track and field event, and she did not break the world record that she set two years ago, but she came pretty darn close.

Marc Middleton :
The media from all over the world picked up video of that run and it was seen literally tens of millions of times, everybody being inspired by this woman. We interviewed her three years ago after she set the world record on our radio show, and I asked her, I said, "Julia, you're 101 years old. You're running in only your second track meet ever. You've had cardiac issues, aren't you afraid?" And she said, "Honey, I was scared to death. I was afraid I was going to have a heart attack. I was afraid I was going to have a stroke. I was afraid I was going to trip and break a hip. I was afraid I was going to embarrass my family. I was so afraid that I took care of some personal business at home before I left in case I never returned, but this is what you have to do when you get to be my age. You have to look fear in the face and you have to run." And of course she didn't mean run literally. She meant you just have to look fear in the face and you have to move forward.

Marc Middleton :
And then fast forward to a month or so ago in Albuquerque and I said, "Do you still feel like what you're doing is meaningful?" And she said, "It's why I do it. I have to do it. Sometimes I feel running like this at 103 years old is silly, but if I can inspire people to know that more is possible." Then I said, "Julia, what do you say to people who think that life at 103 can't be worth living?" And she said, "Oh honey, it is. I love every minute of my life. I don't see well, but I've got an audio book .I don't hear well but I've got hearing aids. Doctors can keep you moving these days. All you have to do is don't eat too much, don't fall down, and keep moving."

Marc Middleton :
So she's a wealth of information. And she's one of those... someone like me that inspire... And that's what I love really the most about what we do, Kyle, and I'm sure, because you guys are a media group as well. You're a marketing agency.

Kyle Case:
Sure, sure.

Marc Middleton :
You guys are sending the message out there that's well above and beyond what someone swam 100 meters in, and so the message that she is sending out there is something that resonates with young people. You know, that's really where the power is, is that someone who's 20 and 30 looks at her and thinks, "Wow, this is what's possible at 103." It totally disrupts their belief system about what's possible and changes the way they age. So that's why we love to tell those stories and show the video of people doing stuff like that.

Kyle Case:
And it is amazing. It is truly inspiring. We've only got 15 seconds, Marc. Tell us how we get ahold of this book, Growing Bolder, Defying the Insidious Cult of Youth.

Marc Middleton :
Well thank you. You can get it on Amazon. Just put Growing Bolder in there and I think you'll like it. It's a playbook for life. And you started off, Kyle, by asking the first question, what's growing bolder about? Go to Growing Bolder's Facebook page, because we just posted a video that is kind of our new brand video that pretty much summarizes the Growing Bolder ethos and what we're all about and what we're trying to spread.

Kyle Case:
Excellent. Growing Bolder. Check that out on amazon.Com, check out Facebook, do a search for Growing Bolder. I think you'll be impressed with the work that's going on there. Marc, thank you so much for joining us today.

Jeff Harding:
Thanks, Marc.

Marc Middleton :
Well, thank you, Kyle and Jeff, for what you guys do. You run an amazing event and I'm hoping to get there real soon myself.

Kyle Case:
Lots of fun, lots of fun. Speaking of which, Jeff, we're almost out of time-

Marc Middleton :
Yes, we are.

Kyle Case:
... To register for that amazing event.

Jeff Harding:
Just a few weeks.

Kyle Case:
Registration for the Huntsman World Senior Games ends on September 1st. We are on track for a participation record though, so don't miss out.

Jeff Harding:
No.

Kyle Case:
Check us out. It's easy to register, all you have to do is visit seniorgames.net, click on register and you can choose for your favorite of our 32 different sports. Once you've registered, you can be one of more than 11,000 athletes who are growing bolder, who are really pushing themselves, and the conventions that society places on them.

Kyle Case:
The dates for the 2019 Huntsman World Senior Games are October 7th through the 19th. Remember to tune in live next to and every Thursday at 5:30 PM mountain time on am 1450 or FM 93.1 for the Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life. You can also download this and other episodes right from our website. Once again, that is seniorgames.Net.

Kyle Case:
Our inspirational thought for the day is from Dara Torres, a multi-time Olympic medalist. She says, Jeff, "Never put an age limit on your dreams.".

Jeff Harding:
Boy is that the truth.

Kyle Case:
Until next Thursday, stay active. Bye, everyone.