Fifty is the new Twenty


Meet Chaundo Tan, the 55 years old Singaporean actor and photographer who challenges what we think a man of that age should look like.


A couple of years ago the internet collectively lost its mind when Chaundo posted his age and his Insta account shot to a million in record time.


After going viral numerous journalists have attempted to unlock his anti-ageing secrets only to be met with disappointment. Turns out there's no special supplements, esoteric diet or surgical procedure that Chaundo Tan employs. Rather, he lives the epitome of a health and fitness lifestyle; eats clean, trains hards, does his cardio, sleeps well and lives with purpose.


What might shock you is that his regime is nothing extreme. He consumes a whole food diet of moderate to high protein diet with lots of veggies and balanced amounts of fats and carbs. Worth mentioning is that he practices a form of time restricted feeding, not eating anything within 5-6 hours of sleep. He trains with a combination weights and cardio 3-5 times per week and that's about it. Chaundo drinks plenty of water and refrains from alcohol and caffeine. The only secret is he's done all of these things with religious consistency for decades and you can too.


Personally I don't find Chaundo Tan's condition surprising, it's just what happens when you consistently live this kind of lifestyle. That said, I get that many readers will like to argue he's a genetic anomaly and that they could never achieve what he has. My response is two-fold; first, why would argue for your own limitations? Second - and more importantly - why isn't this the standard of ageing? Why isn't this just what a normal 50-odd year old guy looks like?


The second part of my response is actually the point of this post. I'd argue - and I'm convinced that I'm correct - is that what we assume to be the middle age status quo is in fact abnormal. Regardless of chronological age, your physical body is a product of what you repeatedly do, it's form will follow its function. It drives me nuts when I hear someone who has spent the last decade scoffing pizza, slumped over a computer screen and self-medicating with alcohol then lamenting "they're just getting old." This is blatantly untrue, it's just the manifest result of repeated behaviour. There are other options and they are available to everyone.


We are now at a point when we are seeing more and more examples of 50 plus individuals who for all intents and purposes look like they are in the prime of their youth. Much like the four minute mile, once the barrier is broken it becomes more commonly achievable. Those options are available but you just can't do what everyone else is doing and expect those results. More to the point, you need to get past the idea that health and fitness is just the occasional 12 week block of your life, you're either in it for the long haul or you're not.


The general principles for staying in peak physical shape regardless of age are pretty clear, you just have to commit to them as a lifestyle.


1. Eat real food - there's countless dietary models and macronutrient configurations you may find useful but unless your nutrition is predominately composed of real food most of that stuff is a distraction. You'll find an abundance of examples of people having success with such seemingly diverse approaches as raw food, keto, paleo and intermittent fasting. If you understand that they all rest on prioritising high quality food you realise there's more commonalities than differences.


To clarify, real food means single ingredients in as close to their natural state as possible. Eat organic and . seasonally as much as possible from a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Importantly, animal protein needs to come from animals that eat their natural diet. FYI cows thrive on grass, they fatten and get sick on grains. By the same token, stop look for plant-based hot dogs and eat some actual food for goodness sake. By all means tailor your nutrition to your needs and preferences but real food first!


2. Train holistically - both for anti-ageing and aesthetic awesomeness you need to train holistically. No single training modality will be the answer to all your needs; strength training, cardio and mobility all need to be addressed. You make progress the fastest by prioritising the things you suck at most not by looking for short cuts. If you can squat a house but can't walk up a flight of stairs without gasping for breath, you need more cardio in your life. Conversely, if you can bend yourself in knots but have the muscle tone of Mr Burns' frailer brother, you need to get some heavy weight on your back.


To be blunt, training holistically means you're actually getting better at things that matter on a consistent basis. Destroying yourself in a Rocky montage is not building performance it's most likely interfering with your ability to recover. At the same time, if your workout is indistinguishable from your warm up or you're just the wobbliest person in a Zumba class you need to harden up. If you don't know where to start, you're better off hiring a decent coach to at least help you find your feet.


Obviously you should tailor your training to your personal goals and ideals. If you prefer to be more heavily muscled, progressive strength training is going to be your jam, if you love to run, by all means have at it. That said, for optimal results consider establishing a decent baseline you can maintain in each area before prioritising.


3. Sleep - Shocking as it may seem, sleep more than nutrition or training is actually the main pillar of optimal health and youthfulness. Good quality sleep furnishes the body with the majority of anabolic and regenerative hormones along with lowering your risk of almost all chronic diseases. There's a reason they call it "beauty sleep."


By now I'm sure you've heard all the obvious advice - limit caffeine intake, avoid blue light before bed, get electronics out of the bedroom etc - all great but there's one thing that makes the biggest difference. Getting exposure to natural light as soon as you wake up is what sets your circadian clock, allowing for better sleep. Try and get a minimum of 20 minutes sun exposure first thing in the day (even if it's cloudy) and you'll notice a huge difference.


Unless you haven't picked up on my emphasis, the secret to getting results outside of the norm is focussing in on those basic behaviours that shift the needle the most and doing them well for long periods of time. This is true of most human pursuits but especially so when it comes to the functioning of your body.


Need help reaching after your potential and don't know where to start? Shoot my an email: john@bodyalchemfitness.com and let's have a chat.