October 4, 2014
Making Peace With An Aging Body
Watching (and feeling) my body age is not much fun. Bags, sags, and wrinkles are what I see. A loss of muscle mass means the rear end seems to have left town, the area under the biceps wobbles more than is proper, and lawn work is more a chore than a joy.
Even though I go to a gym at least three days a week for cardio and weight bearing exercises, there is no halting the cosmic joke of decay that is my future. Certainly, the time spent in physical activity means that inevitable slippage is occurring more slowly than in someone whose only exercise is using a TV remote. And, for folks with serious medical issues my complaints seem petty.
But, my point is simple: I must make peace with what is happening. Obsessing about my aging body and erosion of capabilities only leads to frustration or, even worse, resignation. Even if I spent several hours a day on my physical conditioning I may slow the ticking clock a bit, but I am not going to stop it.
A couple we know are several years younger than Betty and me. They think nothing of biking a dozen miles before breakfast, running up and down the side of a mountain, or hiking for longer distances than I like to drive. Heavens, I get tired just hearing about their exploits. Really, I enjoy hearing about what they do but I won't try to replicate all of it. Our energy levels and physical conditioning are different. What I also will not do is just give in to my body's slippage.
So, how do I make peace with an aging body? In a word: acceptance. The amount of money Americans spend on trying to look young and deny reality is staggering. In 2015 Boomers are expected to spend over $100 billion dollars on anti-aging products and procedures.
We have all seen the older man with a comb over that starts just above one ear, or the woman with so much plastic surgery her face is tight enough to bounce a quarter. We probably all spend some money on vitamins and supplements that most studies show are unnecessary if we have a decent diet and exercise regime. We join a gym, go for a few months, and then stop for a whole variety of excuses.
My hair is thinning and there is some serious scalp showing on the crown of my head. In fact, my eyebrows and ears show more aggressive hair growth than my head. Rogaine for me to fill in the gaps? No. This is what my head is programmed to look like at this stage of my life, thinning hair and all.
Can I bench press my weight? No. I am lucky to bench press my gym bag.
Can I run a marathon? No. Do I want to run a marathon? No.
Is my pulse, heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood work and lung capacity all good? Yes.
Do I intend to continue to go to the gym for thrice weekly workouts and then a session in the steam room? Yes.
I accept the reality of the limitations that an aging body imposes on me today. Hopefully, I will be smart enough to do the same as the calendar marches on and I can avoid this fellow's fate for as long as possible.