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Arnold Schwarzenegger Reveals Hardest Part of Looking in the Mirror at 76

"Every day I do look in a mirror and I say, ‘Yep, you suck,'" the actor and politician said.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is getting real about aging. And as he sees it, dealing with getting older and the changes that brings is a more difficult process for him than many others, because he was "hailed for years as this supreme body." During a recent appearance on The Howard Stern Show, Schwarzenegger talked about how his body image has changed over the years and why he finds it hard not to blame himself for not looking the same as he did when he was younger. Read on to see what the star had to say about telling himself "you suck" in the mirror and to learn more about the health struggles he's dealt with.

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Schwarzenegger finds it had to accept how he looks today.

Warning: Explicit language in the video above.

Schwarzenegger started bodybuilding in his teens and went on to become the No. 1 bodybuilder in the world, winning the title of Mr. Olympia seven times. His bodybuilder appearance in many ways dictated the roles he was offered when he transitioned into an acting career, starring in movies including Conan the Barbarian and The Terminator.

Speaking to Howard Stern, Schwarzenegger explained that he doesn't like looking at his body as a 76-year-old, because it's evident to him how much it's changed.

"Every day I do look in a mirror and I say, 'Yep, you suck. Look at this body. Look at those pectoral muscles that used to be firm and perky and really powerful with a striation in there. Now they're just hanging there. I mean, what the hell is going on here?'" he explained.

The actor also reflected on aging in a May interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "My whole life I look at the mirror and see the best-built man, and all of a sudden I see a bunch of crap. It's terrible!" he said. "You get these wrinkles under your eyes. You get wrinkles under your pecs … It's not pleasurable. But you cope with it."

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He thinks he has a different experience than people who "never have been in shape."

Arnold Schwarzenegger doing a bodybuilding pose circa 1966
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Schwarzenegger shared that the attention he received for his super muscular body is what makes it so hard to accept that it will never be the same.

"When you've been hailed for years as this supreme body, and you have the definition and you see the veins coming down your abs, and you see veins on top of your chest … and then you roll the clock 50 years and now you're standing there and you don't see that anymore, so that's kind of like, wow," the FUBAR star continued. "I never, ever thought about that when I was 30 years old or 40 years old that this is going to happen … It still looks better than the majority of bodies, but, I mean, it just sucks."

He also questioned whether people who didn't pursue fitness as a career can truly relate to what he's going through.

"It's sad also because as I said to people it's one thing to see yourself get older and more and more out of shape, but most of the people never have been in shape, so what does it mean getting out of shape?" Schwarzenegger said. "They've always looked at the [expletive] body, it gets [expletive] as time goes on."

Undergoing heart surgery was a wakeup call.

Arnold Schwarzenegger at the TCL Chinese Theatre in 2022
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

In 1997, Schwarzenegger had heart surgery to replace a congenitally defective aortic valve, as reported by CNN. "Choosing to undergo open-heart surgery when I never felt sick was the hardest decision I've ever made," he said at the time. "I can now look forward to a long, healthy life with my family."

Schwarzenegger has since had two more heart surgeries. He talked in the Howard Stern interview about how the first one at age 50 made him feel like "damaged goods."

"This is the first time where I felt kind of vulnerable," Schwarzenegger said. "Where all of a sudden the doctor says, 'You shouldn't lift that heavy anymore' or just pay attention, breath when you exercise … All of a sudden there was dialogue like that. Life is not anymore the same as when I was like 30 years old, 40 years old where you could do anything and you never had to think about anything. Now all of sudden you have to start thinking about these things—to warm up for this, warm up for that."

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He still feels young on the inside, however.

Arnold Schwarzenegger at the premiere of "FUBAR" in May 2023
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Though looking in the mirror is unpleasant for Schwarzenegger today, he said that he's still taking the passing years in stride.

"But am I upset about it? No, because there's nothing that I can do about it," he said. "I just feel like as those challenges come my way I take them on, because it's the only choice we have."

He added, "The bottom line is: I'm 76 years old. I'm full of energy. I'm full of enthusiasm. I'm as enthusiastic and as excited as I was when I was 30 years old. I just always see mountains in front of me to be climbed, and so as long as I see those mountains I keep my enthusiasm and I keep my excitement and that fire in my belly to keep climbing and climbing and climbing, and that's what it's all about."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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