When I was in my 20s and 30s it seemed that all I had to do was just think about working out and my muscles would respond.
Of course, that wasn’t actually true, but those were decades in which getting fit and staying in shape were relatively easy. And I’ve always loved working out, so it was never a chore to get myself to a gym, or onto a bike, or out on a trail somewhere. I loved it!
I still do, mostly, but what’s changed now that I’m closing in on 60 is the way my body responds to training – it takes more time and more effort, but the results aren’t as obvious. And it takes a lot less time to lose the conditioning … [sigh]
I had been resistant to this for the first few years as I entered my 5th decade. In my mind, I was still the youthful athlete who could do just about anything in a gym or on a court, but the reality was my body was changing, and my resistance to those changes would only cause me frustration and a level of self-contempt I didn’t want to encourage in myself.
The first big shock to my self-image as an athlete came when I received the news that I needed a hip replacement. My hip had been bothering me for a while, but it didn’t occur to me that it was because osteoarthritis had degenerated the joint so badly I was bone-on-bone in that hip.
Isn’t hip replacement surgery for old people??
Well, no, as it turns out, it’s also surgery for some younger people who have lived active, athletic lives.
More than 3 years post-surgery, I can now do most things I used to do, just not quite so well. The surgery came at a time when my body was already going through other changes – a few more wrinkles, a loss of collagen & other menopausal shifts, and a change in how my muscles responded to resistance training.
Happily, I’ve noticed lots of other, positive changes as well. For one, I don’t worry so much about how I look.
Don’t get me wrong, looking my best is still important to me. I just don’t use the same criteria for assessing that.
For example, I’m not worried about looking younger. In my opinion, that’s an increasingly difficult goal to achieve, and anyway, I have earned the crow’s feet around my eyes and the silver threads throughout my hair!
Instead, I concentrate on looking great because I know that’s something I can achieve at any age.
And as for my athleticism… well, although that’s changing too, I have noticed that as I slow down a little, I am competing smarter and with more heart.
So, while there’s no doubt my body is changing, I don’t have to view the changes as something to lament or resist. I can view them, rather, as just the latest phase in the never-ending evolution of this physical container called my body.
I choose to see them through the lens of curiosity and joy, a lens that celebrates my physical being for all it can still do.
And that is truly magnificent!