“I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22…” ~Taylor Swift
Uh. No. I’m feeling particularly 42.
About 20 years ago things were rolling along. I didn’t have to really worry about anything I ate, my body would metabolize it pretty quickly, and being tall I had a lot of distance to spread out any… spread. So things didn’t spread. I didn’t exercise, I ate whatever I wanted, and I didn’t seem to gain weight. I had heard people tell me that things change the older you get, that your metabolism slows down and you grow out instead of up.
But I hadn’t listened to them. Why would I? When you’re young you think you have all the time in the world before you are no longer young. You think that twenty years is such a long period of time that you’ll never get there, or if you do that things will still look the same. At least I thought those things. At 22 it was easy to pretend that I could keep living the way I had been living, doing the things I had been doing, treating my body whatever way and not having it rebel on me.
Then my 30’s hit, and with it some aches and pains that I had never felt before. I picked up a workout regimen, jogging around town. I still did nothing when it came to moderating my diet, but it was enough to keep me steady with my weight. Sure, it fluctuated every now and again, but I was relatively stable. Then I stopped exercising, inexplicably. I still couldn’t tell you today what made me stop, but I blamed it then on some dogs who weren’t abiding by the village leash law.
And it became harder to pick it up again. It wasn’t that my life got that much more crowded with other things, but it got easier to just let it go, to just become a sedentary creature. My weight began to rise. I hated to see it, when I looked in the mirror in the morning. I pressed my thumb under my chin for several minutes at a time to ward off a double chin. It was crisis central. So I started walking on the treadmill and spinning at the local fitness center. These things helped, but with no real shift in my diet, they were just a stopgap.
As easy as it was to start caring about my health, it was just as easy to drop it like a hot potato. I lost my health insurance and so I had no doctor breathing down my neck about how I was “20 pounds” over my “ideal weight,” how I needed to make changes because “no one is getting any younger.” I hated those pronouncements, and in the absence of them it became very easy to just stop stepping on the scale, to pretend that I looked and felt just about the same as I did 20 years prior. All lies, and I wasn’t fooling anyone, least of all myself.
But, last year, I started seeing the chiropractor for my back and joint issues. He strongly suggested I get back into a workout routine, and I put him off for a while. It was easy to laugh it off, but then I started seeing myself honestly in the mirror again. I started seeing how badly I had fallen off from my perfectly metabolized form of my 20’s. And, yes, no one is getting any younger. So I’m back working out again. Saturday morning I was up at 7:00 trying to keep up with people who are older than me but who are more conditioned.
It was a wake-up call. I went again this morning, and though it was challenging, it wasn’t nearly as difficult and as emasculating as the Saturday session. I just need to challenge myself to continue, to keep it up, to not let it drop off like I’ve fallen victim to so many times before. I need to be healthy, and not just for me anymore. But I do need to be healthy for me.
Because 42 is a good time to start again.