The time has come for some to open the door and walk through. Youth isn’t exactly ancient history, but it and the dust around it have settled in the past. Nod and toss a mock salute. What youth didn’t do for you, you must do now’pick up the pieces and put them together. That’s why today you stand beyond the door and on the gym floor. Say good-bye to the child, but be sure to take the kid with you.
The men or women who, over the years and whether by accident or design, built a foundation of muscle, fed themselves decently and treated their bodies fairly are rare and far ahead of their neighbors. They can step into a training program and proceed without the turmoil of emotions and toil of mind necessary to center themselves and aspire.
Those sterling characters who started their robust fitness venture years ago and have persevered are aware of the precarious twists in the road ahead. They won’t be thrown off course.
The few who gather in a tight circle around the piles of iron and steel, belt and wraps dangling from their strong grips, access the hairpin curve edging the heights of the mountain they’ve climbed for so long; they lead where no one has led before. Tilted heads studying, narrowed eyes focusing and knitted brows concentrating, the hardcore expertly decide the next uncertain move. Knowing grins crowd their faces.
There’s a smart way to go for each of us, depending on our fitness level, experience, constitution, health, means and available time. Here are some nontechnical generalizations about aging based on my limited observations:
‘Needless to say, the timeless teens and the twentysomethings fly high, far and fast. They’re not, however, invincible; they strain and break, overtrain and complain. Age’it begins.
‘The terrific thirtysomethings grow, muscularize, further perfect shape and tone and gather and apply wisdom. Injuries and plateaus are responsible for the latter. Risk taking, heavy weights and mean persistence do their job yet take their toll on the hardcore. Growing up and growing older’it continues.
‘Fortysomethings, frivolous and frantic, still have a stretch of positive growth’at least the ones who didn’t ignore their responsibility to fitness for a regrettable length of time (the longer out of the loop, the bigger the penalty). The slightly abused or negligent pick up where they left off after dutifully and painfully reestablishing their parameters. Given time’and time moves on’tough, perceptive and determined can achieve strength, muscle size and definition.
‘The overused over-40 can do wonders to restore their health and well-being, control bodyweight, improve energy, strengthen the back and flatten the stomach. Self-esteem is added to the bargain. There’s no time or effort to waste…ever again.
‘The early 50s rock on as you suspiciously glance over your shoulder. A ding here (tendonitis) and a ding there (stiffness) may become more frequent and last a little longer and cause more concern. Human nature, I guess. To push or not to push, that is the question. We hesitate briefly, yet we don’t stall or fall apart. Caution is coolish, fear foolish. We’re hanging in there, ladies and gentlemen, as we head for 60. Very becoming. The 60s are where I draw a temporary line’it’s as far as I’ve gotten, and I’m all eyes and ears. It seems the curiosity and care I integrated and the wisdom I collected during the downside of the 50s have given me a head start on the big six-O. I’m on an ascent that I hope and trust isn’t a rare and isolated phase or a fluke. I’m stronger, healthier and fitter than I was three years ago.
At any age under any circumstances exercise and eating right will support the body, mind and spirit of every participant. The younger you start, the better your foundation. The longer you continue, the more durable your structure. The later you start, the more dramatic the life-sustaining renovations you experience. Never to have exercised with at least moderate passion is to have somehow withheld opportunity and dimension from your life. It’s never too late to start or restart. ALL Okay, already. What do we do?
The largest group’the least fortunate’includes the once-in-shape, now out-of-shape, over-40-yet-not-90, back-in-the-gym and wondering-what-to-do bunch. What they must do is…well, start; get the immovable object in motion and keep it in motion despite all imaginary and real obstacles. That demands desire, commitment and guts. Otherwise it’s back to the TV or job or refrigerator with expanding britches and narrowing arteries and diminishing muscles and failing self-image. Face the facts, consider the consequences, and hop in the pool; the water is fine. Exercise, eat right, and be happy.
Wow. Aren’t you glad you’re past that stage? To those who are not I usually say some thing like this: What must be done? Exercise vigorously three days a week with the weights, and throw in some aerobics between workouts. It’s wonderful, exhilarating and joyful. It’s a challenge that restores the body, revives the soul and regulates the emotions. What have you got against challenge? Too hard, too much trouble, no time, no interest, no courage, no confidence’exactly what is it?
As for eating right, let’s put some order in the menu, increase the meal frequency and decrease the portion size, up the protein and lower the sugars. Dump the junk, and add living food packed with goodness. Apply discipline, and satisfy your body’s needs, not your cravings. It takes time to rethink exercise and diet and embrace them for the rewards and benefits they offer, as well as the downright fun and fulfillment that accompany action and control.
Don’t wander far from the basics and don’t expect miracles beyond the one you’re experiencing. Enjoy yourself and continue to be hopeful and positive’the perfect environment for muscle building, health and long life. IM