Getting Old

It seems like I have always exercised and eaten well. I started in my twenties and continued to this day, but it's different now. In the past, I felt that the state of my conditioning was totally under my control, based only on what I ate and how much I exercised. Furthermore, I felt that if I maintained my healthy habits, I could stay in good shape forever.

One day I was talking about that delusion while at work. I was going on about what I would be like when I got old, saying I would continue to exercise and eat right, and therefore, would have gray hair and wrinkles, but otherwise be pretty much the same.

I made those statements to people my age, but also in the presence of an older woman. She was one of the assemblers, probably in her sixties, who listened with a bemused expression, but held her tongue until I said the thing about the wrinkles and gray hair. That's when she broke in... "if you think the only difference between old age and the way you are now is a few wrinkles, then you have absolutely no idea what old age is." Everyone burst out laughing assuming she was right, and I didn't argue. Although I wasn't convinced, I was rattled, and never forgot her words.

Now, close to thirty years later, I totally agree.

Here's how it works.

Bad Workouts - Even in my twenties, I had the occasional bad workout when I felt sluggish and didn't accomplish as much as usual. As I aged, the frequency of those sub-par workouts increased to the point where they became the rule instead of the exception.

Pain - In my twenties, thirties, and forties pain always had an obvious cause. If my shoulder hurt, for example, I could trace the pain back to something like falling while skiing. However, in my fifties, any muscle, bone, or tendon could hurt for no discernable reason. Furthermore, I can't ignore pain as I could in the past. When something hurts, I need to suspend my workouts until the pain is TOTALLY gone. If I return early, the pain always gets worse and I have to start the healing process all over again.

These days, exercise isn't always a good thing. Sometimes it's worse than sitting at home doing nothing. For example, the day after riding my bike, my knees might hurt anytime I walk up a flight of stairs.

The days of trying for a new personal best are long gone. I settle for maintainence now, attempting to slow my demise. I'm careful when I workout, hold back, and never push myself beyond that level of activity that builds me up. Exceeding that level always pulls me down.

Although I can't workout as much as I could in the past, I guess I'm doing all right. I've avoided nasty surprises like diabetes, cancer, and heart attacks. Also, I'm not overweight, but I know I'm in a slow, downward spirial. I can see it all so clearly. Someday, I will no longer be able to lift weights, I'll have to limit myself to light calisthenics. A few years later, I'll stop the calisthenics and consider a walk around the block to be a good workout. I'll even stop doing that as more time elapses. Then finally, one day, I'll be gone. - COB

There will be a new post every... Oh I don't know. Let's say every two weeks.