Growing Old Gracefully (or not)!

The alternative to aging is death, so obviously I’ll take aging any day over being 6 feet under but hello why must the process be so damn hard. A show of hands, please, from those who wake up every day to some kind of mysterious body ache or pain. Oh, not you! It might be only me, then. Well, I am not ashamed to say that within the past few years I feel like my body has been slowly breaking down. From no longer being able to just run up a flight of stairs, to holding onto the arm of the chair when I get up from a seated position, to that mysterious ache that has somehow, over the years, moved from my left knee to my right knee back to my left knee again and even more recently back spasms; I am here to say that aging sucks!

It took me years, (clears throat) who am I kidding? It took me decades to finally fall in love with my body. I’m sure, like me, you grew up bombarded with images of what the perfect body should look like from the perpetually ‘high school skinny’ female models to the muscular, rock-hard bodies of their male counterparts plastered all over bestselling magazines, it took me a while to accept my thick thighs, my not so buxom bosom, my huge behind, my very wide, child-bearing hips and of course my belly. However, as soon as I started accepting my body, all of it, even the cellulite; as I settled into being comfortable with my imperfect weight to height ratio; here it is that my body has slowly started to let me know in no uncertain terms that I am not young anymore.

Active Lifestyle

I’ll be 45 on my next birthday, which happens to be next month, and I have always lived a pretty active lifestyle. Do I run marathons? No, I don’t. I’m the girl who can’t run a full mile without becoming out of breath, but I can walk 10 miles without stopping at a fairly fast pace. Am I CrossFit / Insanity type fitness enthusiast? Nope, not at all. All that jumping coupled with the incredulous amount of burpees aren’t for me; but I can keep pace with the best of them in any regular aerobics, step, spin or boot camp class. I actually like to exercise and have been doing so consistently since I was in high school. Plus I have had always had a gym membership since I started College so, I can’t for the life of me, understand why my body has started to feel like someone who has never enjoyed the benefits of exercise. Isn’t it supposed to be that the more active you are the younger and fitter you will feel despite your true age? I was under the misguided impression that was how it worked. Thankfully, I look younger than my age but I’m certainly starting to feel every bit of the 44 years that I have been around.

Aches and Pains

It began with the left knee, a few years ago, that suddenly started hurting out of the blue. I went to see a doctor, had an MRI done and I was told that I had a torn cartilage. Alright, fine, that happens to the best of us. I followed the doctor’s orders and consistently did all the exercises required to strengthen the muscles around the knee in order to prevent joint instability and further damage. I can’t remember how long it took but soon I wasn’t feeling any pain, not even a minor ache; than a couple of years later the same pain came back again but this time the pain had mysteriously moved over to the right knee. Like, WTH?! I went through the entire process again with the doctors and the MRIs but this time I was told that the MRI didn’t show anything wrong. Really? Well, why does my right knee hurt then? “Age, perhaps!” was the response from the doctor. Wait! What?!

Over the years the pain in both my left knee and my right knee kind of just comes and goes. I will go months and not feel any pain in either of them and then out of nowhere one will start hurting for a couple of days, then the pain will switch to the other knee or just magically disappear. It’s the weirdest thing, but I suppose that as long as both knees don’t hurt at the same time I think I can live with it.

The Metabolism

It’s a known fact that the older you get the more your metabolism slows down. Well, my metabolism has not only slowed down but it has freaking stopped! It’s like I cannot lose that extra 10 pounds no matter what I do or how hard I try.

When I was younger, all I had to do was think of losing weight and the pounds would just miraculously melt away. Once, when I was in College, I purchased a dress 2 sizes smaller than my regular size (the store didn’t have my size and I just had to have that particul dress) to wear out the following weekend. I was confident that I could drop enough weight in seven days to fit into that gorgeous red dress, and guess what? I did! I went on what was called the Cabbage Soup Diet for a week and lost even more weight than I had anticipated. It was just that easy! Yes, it took tonnes of discipline to only eat/drink that horrid cabbage soup for an entire week but I hung the dress on the door to my dorm, where I could see it daily, as a way of motivating me and I did it. I was able to slide into that little red number on the very following Saturday night, despite it being 2 sizes smaller, just a week before, when it was purchased.

Now, I’ll exercise the same discipline I had back then by spending even more time, weeks on end, eating fruits, and vegetables, and drinking green smoothies; I’ll even amp up my workout at the gym and I still won’t lose a pound, not a single pound. If I’m not careful, I might even gain a pound or two, even on a strict regiment. Why? You guessed it; because of aging.

Doctors

For years, as an adult, I only had one doctor, and that doctor was my gynecologist. At the time, I only needed one doctor to maintain my health and vitality, just one. However, as I have gotten older my list of doctors has grown significantly and I now need a team of doctors to help me stay healthy and to assist in the fight against the aging process. It is truly a phenomenon that I have gone from only having one doctor that I would see annually to now having 5 doctors – an orthopedic doctor, a chiropractor, an internist, a radiologist and most recently a dermatologist – that I see on a regular basis; and I am a reasonably healthy woman. A team of doctors is now needed because I just happen to be getting older. I mean, who would have thought that having not visited a dermatologist in my entire 44 years on this planet that in recent months I would have had to go to the dermatologist, not once but 4 times. Apparently, there is something called adult acne.

The truth is I am healthy, and I am very lucky that whatever little bit of aches and pains that I may feel is minor; but I can’t help but think back to only a decade ago to the things my body could do effortlessly and painlessly without much thought. These days I won’t do certain exercise moves without first thinking about whether or not I might inadvertently pull something and, or, wake up with that brutal after workout pain that causes me to walk and flinch for the next 24 to 36 hours.

Having birthdays and aging is indeed a privilege but growing old gracefully, well, that is a matter of choice. What will you choose? As for me, I choose to fight the aging process. I will continue to cover my greys with Clairol Nice N’ Easy hair color, I will still wear my high heels, who knows, I may even go dancing in them too; and when I take my selfies, I’ll make sure to use a selfie stick and hold it as far away as possible, so that my laugh lines won’t show in the picture.