Jacques Houot is 83-years-old. But the Frenchman refuses to let anything stop him. Not mountains. Not back pain. Not a heart attack. Not fear. Not age.
Especially not age.
An active (emphasis on the word ‘active’) skier and cyclist living in Carbondale, Colo., Houot is called the “Frenchy.” He loves cooking, affection (let’s be specific: kissing people on the cheek) and laughing as often as he can.
Is this sounding like a dating profile? Whoops. We digress.
Frenchy tries things that others half his age are too intimidated to try. He drops nuggets of wisdom as casually and often as most people drop pennies. He wakes up every day with a zest for life that is rare and refreshing in today’s world.
We have to say it one more time…we’ll say it louder for the people in the back: Frenchy is 83-YEARS-OLD. And he’s STILL skiing and cycling. Every damn day.
We’d say the man deserves a medal, but who are we kidding? He already has a wall of them.
Read on to hear more about Frenchy’s beliefs about life, youth, and the power of positivity.
Who or what inspires you the most?
Every bicycle racer or ski racer inspires me. They train so hard. You have to train hard to do what you do. It’s not automatic. What inspires me is the mountain. When you stop and you look at the top, you know it’s going to be fast. When I look, I say, “No problem.”
You have to take your time. Just start and finish. Everything you start, you need to finish. If you quit once, you keep quitting. if I didn’t quit smoking, I couldn’t do the things I’ve done. You have to be stubborn. You have to say “No. No more.” After my heart attack, I visit people. People were dying. I said, ‘Why are you dying? Move! Get up!” They say it’s too late. But why? I smoke all my life. But when you see that, that made me quit smoking.
It’s up to you. It’s up to people to stay young or not. Those people that feel old are grumpy. They aren’t joking. They are stupid. You have to joke. You have to laugh. That makes you young.”
I keep my positive attitude. I always say, “No problem.” Only solution. There’s no problem…there’s only solutions. What makes me think no problem? I used to have a lot of pain. Everything I was doing, I was with pain; I had back damage. I was always complaining. I was negative. But when I went skiing, everyone was smiling, happy. Nobody complained except me Those people…that made me think no problem.
What tips do you have for people who want to be in as great a shape as you at 83-years-old?
Keep moving. Eat healthly. Be positive. I try to make people laugh all the time. I told them, ‘Each time you laugh, you increase your life by one hour and one day.’ Laughing is the best medicine. People are too serious. It’s stress that will kill you.
How are you feeling these days?
Not too bad. But when you get old, you lose muscle, no matter what. When you lose muscle, you’re not so powerful. But the main thing is to handle the pain. You have to always be thinking; you have to always pace yourself. You can’t push yourself to the maximum all the time. You must pace yourself.
What is one thing you still want to do in your life?
I’ve done most everything I want. Maybe parachute jumping. But maybe I’d be chicken (laughs).
What scares you?
Hm (long pause). To be sick and ready to die. To lose your health. That’d be scary. But everybody, we don’t get out on life. Nobody gets out of life alive.
I keep my positive attitude. I always say, “No problem.”
What is a lesson that Mother Nature has taught you?
To be in control. The snow, the mountain…they’ve taught me that you have to be sure when you do some skiing in the back country, that the snow is not going to kill you. The weather can control the avalanche. One time, I was with three young guys who say, ‘Hey Jacque, let’s go ski.’ Before I would go with them, I check the snow with my ski pole and I say to the guy, ‘No, that’s not stable. I can feel it, I know.’ So we had to fight for 10 minutes to say we don’t go. One guy, one hour later, told me he was an ex-ski patrol person, and he never came back. He got caught in the avalanche. If the snow is melting, it’s going to be very, very bad hill. You have to be there at the right time. Many people die. If I want to keep doing what I love to do, I learn to rely on the mountain.