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July 23, 2013

What’s My Age Again?

What’s My Age Again?

CandlesMy friends say I should act my age

What’s my age again?

What’s my age again?

~ Blink 182

I turned 44 not long ago. Quietly and without fanfare. It was not that I was trying to avoid it, but maybe just trying to let is sneak by unnoticed…

Earlier this year, my friend Larry and I had a conversation about age. It went a lot like this:

Me: I’m still young, lots of time!

Him: What’s your definition of young?

Me: A state of mind, heart and body?

Him: So that means a bright active 85 year old runner is young even though he doesn’t have plenty of time…

Me: Ok, so at what age is someone no longer young regardless of attitude or health? Who is young? Are you young?

Him: No – I am not. Is a 30 yr old young? A 20 yr old? Who is young? And middle age means just that, I won’t live to be over a 100 so I am not middle age I am older then that.

Food for thought right? We live in a youth-oriented culture. Young is a commodity, and aging is a thing we hide at the cost of hair dye, Botox, and perhaps even self-deception. Think about this carefully now: are you young? Really?

Regardless of how we see ourselves, our age is our age. It’s a real number. Just like others that we try to avoid.

I could tell you that one motivation for me to keep up with a pretty aggressive exercise regimen is to stave off time – and there is truth to that. Physical aging happens more quickly in those who don’t actively exercise. And being frankly sedentary will – as many studies now tell us – kill you sooner than otherwise expected.

I rarely feel old, and I am used to being told that I look younger than my years…enough so that sometimes I can fool myself. But if you exercise enough – long enough, hard enough – your age will become more clear.

The first day I walked into a CrossFit class it was intimidating. There was a lot of gear I had never seen and finishing up was a class of exhausted, sweating looking people doing things that I was pretty sure my body was not designed to do. But this is me…I’ll try anything once.

Twice even.

I know a lot of people fear failure or embarrassment in a new activity, but that’s not really me. I do, however, have some fear of pain. Pain is a funny thing. It’s partly a protective mechanism – the signal in your body is if it hurts, don’t do it, stop it, protect it…pain is our natural stop sign. But hard exercise will almost always bring some pain and some pain, if it’s associated with appropriately stressing your body is not bad. Which does not mean that it doesn’t hurt.

It’s not that pain is different per se based on your age – but recovery is. I look at my kids sometimes – my 11 year old will come home from a 2 hour water polo practice aching and sore and then bounce out of bed to go surfing at 6 am. Kids heal in a blink. The 20 somethings in my CrossFit class aren’t much different. They can stagger out of a grueling workout on Friday, drink on Friday night and do an even more grueling workout at 9am on Saturday with seemingly little consequence…when I can’t lift my arms over my head for 2 days.

I am not complaining. It’s just a simple observation that one place that aging sneaks in when we aren’t looking is in our ability to heal and repair. It is an advantage of youth that we only really know how to replace at this point in time with drugs that can have nasty consequences (ie- steroids) if done on a regular basis. But frankly, when you think about it, it starts to become obvious why older athletes take the risk of doping…I often speculate that in many cases it’s more about recovery than overall performance.

So us “older folks” – we have to eat better, sleep more, and generally invest more in self-care if we desire to keep the pace. That, and maybe keep a small supply of Vicodin on hand.

So here’s to being middle aged and pushing the limits. Tonight with pull-ups, back squats, cleans and sprints.

What are you doing today?

Jacqueline

PS Larry – you are younger than you think. At least in my book.

 

 

 

 

6 Comments

Leave a comment
  1. Larry
    July 23, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    I know i need more sleep and recovery time, but I also know I am smarter in what i do and dont do to my body… (most of the time)

    well written and well said…

    to those that dont think they are as “old” as there are ask someone 10 or 20 or 30 years younger then you are if you are old? or look at someone 20 or 30 years older then you are and ask yourself if you are old? its all perspective.

    • Jacqueline Jacques
      July 23, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

      And thank you for the inspiration to think about this. I’m trying to wear middle age with pride 🙂
      Jacqueline

  2. Dawn
    July 24, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    Jacqueline, you really made me think (always a dangerous thing!HA)
    ….when I was in my late teens I remember working out how old I would be in the year 2000 and thinking that at 32 I would be getting on a bit, I look back at my younger self now and laugh. I turned 45 this year, and yes, my body is middle aged (aggghh, when did THAT happen!!) but my mind is still ‘young’ … and I hope to stay that way. 🙂 And I am certainly physically fitter now than I was in my 20s and 30s. Today I ran 7 miles on my t/m, there was a time I struggled to run even a quarter of a mile, always thinking I was NOT a runner…. little did I know. 🙂

    • Jacqueline Jacques
      August 12, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

      Dawn – one of these days you and I are going to go for a run and then have a drink and a lot of fun!
      Always love having your comments here.
      J

  3. CATHERINE WATSON
    July 27, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    Hi Dr. J…

    This is a fun and ‘real’ blog… My 40’s were terrible times due to health challenges…but, YEAH! Turning 60 in a month…(looks better spelled out: sixty-giggles) and feel fantastic.. Busy yes, but healthy too. I got to get those running shoes back on but honestly, I love running in the soft sand along the beach, but my running shoes are calling my name…

    My joke, I am just now coming into Middle age at Sixty…you got a ways to go.

    Catherine

    • Jacqueline Jacques
      August 12, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

      Catherine – I am all about getting older and getting better!
      Keep it going!
      Best,
      Dr J