Aging...gracefully?

My body keeps reminding me I'm fifty now (and I am just three months from fifty-one). I really don't like what it's saying: "You have to take better care of me! You are getting OLDER!" Some days the message is gentle and on other days, my body feels I need a more aggressive approach.

I am very thankful that I started exercising regularly at the age of thirty-one and I have never stopped. I am not the person at the gym who is pushing herself to the max and dripping in sweat. I have always exercised at a comfortable pace (walking, stair climbing, stationary cycling) at home, watching TV or reading. I could push myself harder for even better results, but my goal has simply been to get my heart rate up regularly and burn calories. I do push myself enough to break a sweat, I just don't kill myself in intensity. But I normally exercise five to six days every week. Consistency has helped me keep my weight stable. It has contributed to my health. And I believe it has kept me "younger."

However, in spite of almost twenty years of exercising, I still have high cholesterol. I inherited a susceptibility to colon problems. And the aging process will impact us all eventually. It's just a matter of when.

For a year or more, I have begun to "notice" my joints. I remember when I didn't think about them because I didn't feel them...EVER. Now I occasionally have achey knees, my hands are always stiff in the mornings and when I stand up after sitting for a while, my spine doesn't always cooperate as I attempt to straighten out!

This week my stomach has bothered me all week long. (Don't worry, I won't share the details.) I think it's partly been stress (John's last round of chemo followed by a very tough weekend), but I know it's partly a result of eating the foods I crave instead of the foods that properly nourish my body. My mom died of colon cancer at 49, and I know I can't take my colon for granted...but I have.

Yesterday morning, as I was suffering with an "irritable" colon, I vowed that I was going to change. And then I remembered it was Super Bowl Sunday. I tried to eat less of the unhealthy appetizers and more raw veggies, grapes and guacamole. But I still went to bed on food overload and woke up this morning feeling like a slug. My body is screaming at me that I need to change.

Yesterday I decided to use my stairmaster instead of the bike. Since our treadmill broke down months ago (and we haven't gotten it fixed), I have mostly cycled for my workouts because I'm trying to avoid over-using my knees. And I know that doing the same thing day in and day out is not the best way to work out. I also know that I need to be doing weight-bearing exercise. I really should be doing strength training and stretching. I have always been just naturally flexible. But yesterday I decided to stretch my hamstrings before doing the stairs and, OH WOW, the stretching that used to be just a little challenging at first was PAINFUL. It hurt so bad that I had to force myself to do it! Another reminder that at my age I cannot afford to skip it!

I'm not happy about this. But it's going to happen with or without my consent. I'm realizing that as I get older, I can't get by on just the daily cardio if I want to feel and function well. I am going to have to start paying more attention to what I put in my body.

I find myself wondering what it's going to feel like to be seventy if this is what it feels like to be fifty. I've got to make changes. And I've got to make them now. But, oh yeah, I made a lunch date for Mexican food Wednesday...

Unfortunately, it's never going to be easy.

Comments

Betty Kirschner said…
Shari,
Thought I would recommend Yoga and Pilates, I also suffer from " Irritable Bowel," and find diet and exercise to be helpful.

We all age differently,therefore we need to do all we can to remain: mentally, physically and emotionally fit.

Remember nothing worthwhile is going to be easy.
You are doing Great! Keep up the Good Work!

Love,
Betty
Shari said…
Thanks, Betty. I have never had irritable bowel. I'm hoping this was just a random occurrence. I have been thinking about getting the new Pilates workout that I saw on an infomercial. It incorporates cardio. I'll have to look it up online, since I was working out while watching it and didn't write anything down. Marisa Tomei was on it.

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