How to be healthy according to Craig Cooper, the man who believes life can get better at 40

"You don’t want to be that guy who weighs his food and carries around perfectly calorie-calculated meals in Tupperware containers. That guy is no fun."

Aged 52, Craig Cooper is dynamic. A marathon runner, businessman and author who seems to glow with good health, he leads a life that could make the most confident person feel inadequate. 

But Cooper isn’t interested in shaming others into adopting a healthier lifestyle by painting over his own insecurities. He’s happy to admit that he feels stress, and encourages people to live their lives to the fullest, no matter their age.

His long career has seen him work as a chef, lawyer, developer, businessman, and most recently the author of the book Your New Prime: 30 Days to Better Sex, Eternal Strength, and a Kick-Ass Life After 40.

He spends his time surfing and fitness training, meditating, and maintaining a healthy diet - but swears by coffee and doesn’t deprive himself.

“Life is short and many of us enjoy a drink now and then,” he told The Times recently.

As many of us take stock of our lives around new year, here are his top tips for changing your lifestyle for the better. 

Tackle your stress

"Like everyone, I struggle with stress every day. The important thing is how you react to stress. Daily stress is a constant and a natural part of a modern life. What becomes a problem is “chronic stress” – constant stress over a long period of time due to emotional or other pressures – and a feeling that you have no control.

"The best way I manage stress is through breath, meditation, and exercise. That doesn’t mean I get in a lotus pose every time I feel under pressure. I just focus on my breathing with deep inhales to a count of seven and long exhales for the same count.

"And there’s no better stress-reliever than going for a hard run on the beach or some intense boxing training."

Change your perception of life after 40 

"I’m not saying my life started at 40. What I am saying is that your '40s and beyond are an opportunity to thrive forward in life, and not a time to slip into complacency.

"Rather than a period of traditional “crisis”, I want to re-frame “mid-life” as a period of opportunity and renewed passion."

Focus on what makes you truly happy

"Routine is a part of it but it’s not the complete picture. No matter who you are it’s part of modern culture to just want “more”. More money, more sex, more holidays, more respect, more of everything! And social media drives a lot of this pressure.

"We’re losing control of what matters most and focusing too much on other people’s lives, rather than what really drives true happiness – which is most often the simple things in life."

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"What really drives true happiness is the simple things in life"

Improving your health isn't complicated - and just moving more is the first step

"The most important thing is to take control of your own health - and be proactive in your own wellness plan - as there is so much confusing information out there. 

"I grew up in New Zealand and Australia. We walked to school across country paddocks. We rode our push-bikes all weekend. We surfed, skateboarded, went skiing, and played rugby. I don’t remember ever not being active.

"I now live in Los Angeles where people drive their cars to go visit their neighbors. It’s crazy! We don’t move enough! We sit all day and wonder why we have back pain and degenerative diseases. We need to stand more, sit less – and move as much as possible.

"You don’t have to do much to get the benefits of exercise. In fact, studies have shown that in those countries with the highest levels of centenarians just small amounts of constant daily movement are all that is required to get the health benefits.

"And don’t think that you have to start running marathons or doing triathlons to be healthy. You just need to move more. Walk to the shops rather than driving. Take the stairs rather than the escalator. Small daily movement patterns all add up."

Don’t be obsessed – just make mainly healthy choices

"I’m not obsessive. I’m just committed to a better life. I have "cheat days", and I love chocolate and ice cream. I’m not going to deny myself pleasures. Life is too short.

"But 80 per cent of the time I live in a state of health consciousness – where all my thoughts, food, movements, and emotions are driven by whether they are fueling a state of better health or not.

"You don’t want to be that guy who weighs his food and carries around perfectly calorie-calculated meals in Tupperware containers. That guy is no fun."

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"Life is too short to become obsessed"

Don’t be scared of ageing, be scared of becoming "old" 

Age doesn’t scare me but "growing old" does. My objective is to be the healthiest and most active I can possibly be for my age – whatever that might be.

"The worst thing is ­­to be that guy that dyes his hair and gets testosterone therapy in an effort to reclaim their youth. Accept your age but don’t grow old!"

Work with your partner to maintain your sex life

There are both physical and psychological elements to sex, and maintaining your sex life as you age is intricately related to your overall health - specifically your cardiovascular health.

"You also need to ensure that you and your partner’s emotional and psychological connections are aligned. And first and foremost you need to have the physical “ability” to have sex  – which can be affected by many things such as stress, medications, weight, the types of food you eat." 

Your New Prime by Craig Cooper, published by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins, is available now priced £18.99.

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