Joe Schmit: My journey toward becoming Harder to Kill

How men over 50 are working to become Harder to Kill

How men over 50 are working to become Harder to Kill

I was a yo-yo champion. I led the league in seeing my weight go up and down. I pretty much tried every diet or program ever invented. I would occasionally have some success, but once I got sick of the diet, I would eventually gain the weight back with usually a few bonus pounds.

Scott Jagodzinski is a business acquaintance and we follow each other on LinkedIn. I started reading his articles about his new passion: trying to make men over 50 “Harder to Kill.” If you carry too much weight, you are much more likely to die of the top 10 diseases that kill men, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and every nasty affliction there is.

I decided to call him and found out more about Argent Alpha, the company he started to help men like me. Everything he said made sense, so I made the commitment. I was not going to half-ass it; I was going to try to lose half my ass.

The first change I had to make was my mindset. This was early in December 2022. I was just coming off ankle surgery and was still in a boot. The “Old Joe” would have said, “I am going to wait until the first of the year,” but this time I needed to do things differently. I figured that if I lost 5 pounds before Jan. 1, it would be a 10-pound swing because I probably would have gained 5 pounds over the holidays if I had delayed starting the program.

I signed up for 100 days. I was going to do everything differently. For one, I told friends and family what I was doing. The “Old Joe” would not have told anyone in case I failed. I did not want to look foolish. That was a major mindset change.

Secondly, I learned as much as I could about the program and started seeing the Argent Alpha trainer Brock Harling once a week for an hour. I was shocked when I started: For about half of every workout, all we did was stretch. In order to build muscle, you need to be able to move and be flexible. 

I also started logging my food, counting macros and proteins to make sure I was getting muscle-building food into my body. I also decided to quit drinking for the first 100 days. Another mindset shift. I like to have a couple of beers or a good glass of wine with dinner, but I decided that this was part of my commitment. I found substitutes and made it through the holiday season without a drink. I actually went 115 days until I had a cocktail.

I followed the 5 pillars:

  • Hydration: I drink at least 100 ounces of water a day. I drink a lot early in the day so I am not living in the bathroom.
  • Sleep: I am still working on sleep and trying new techniques to get better rest. I bought an Oura ring that measures your sleep along with many other health factors. I used to take Advil PM every night.  I gave that up and now take magnesium glycinate to help me sleep.  
  • Mindset: The most important factor of all. Be fearless and change what doesn’t work. We journal our wins every day. We call it our “victory lap.”
  • Nutrition: Hit your ideal weight in grams of protein daily but still have a calorie deficit. I start most days with high-protein Greek yogurt with blueberries and add a scoop of protein powder. I have a salad with a protein for dinner many nights. I stay away from sugars and added sugars as much as I can. I also take an amino acid protein supplement to help me hit my protein goal.
  • Fitness: Lifting weights. Cardio is fine, but you lose muscle once you turn 50 unless you bend some steel. Make sure you are lifting correctly. I was doing stuff I did in the 1980s until Brock updated and varied my routine.

In the Argent Alpha group, you get one point a day for each of the standards that you meet. We then report our score weekly to the group. The accountability factor is one of the secrets of this group.

The Harder to Kill men help each other, we push each other and we learn from each other. My wife calls the group a cult, and in some ways it is. But it’s a cult of like-minded men on the back nine of life who want to show up and live with vigor.

Here are a few of my favorite takeaways:

  • You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.
  • Put points on the board every day, even if it’s five pushups.
  • Whatever you put in your body in private, you wear in public.
  • Ask yourself: Is this something a healthy person would do?
  • Don’t worry about the scale; worry about adding muscle.
  • Get rid of the weekend mentality. Don’t start on Monday; start now.
  • You can’t lose if you don’t quit.
  • If it were easy, it would be average.

My pant size is down 4 inches. I weigh what I did 40 years ago and I have a ton of energy. I am not perfect and never will be, but I want to be as active for as long as I possibly can. I still have fun. I still eat a good meal and have a few beers with the boys, but I get right back on the program the next day.

One more note: We do body composition testing monthly. It tells you in great detail how much fat and muscle you’re carrying. My body fat percentage was just over 30% when I started. It’s now in the 17s on my way to a goal of 15%. I lost a lot of fat but also gained over 5 pounds of muscle. A lot of people use body mass index, which is fine, but if you want to really find out where you are at, find a spot where you can get the more detailed test.

You do not need a personal trainer or need to join this group to have success, but if you commit and live by the five pillars, you will get healthier. Find your “why” and use it as motivation to change your mindset, change your life and make you Harder to Kill.

You can learn more by visiting Argent Alpha’s website or subscribing to Jagodzinksi’s Harder to Kill newsletter.