Body changes

posted by Jeff | Sunday, September 16, 2012, 12:28 AM | comments: 0

It's amusing to some extent to think about the ways our bodies change as we age. When you're a kid, they're all pretty exciting, as you keep getting taller and stronger. At some point you start growing hair in places you didn't, and then you start wanting to hump anyone that will let you.

Somewhere around 21, things start to slowly go the other way. I once saw it described as the point at which you stop growing and begin to die. That's a little morbid, but I suppose it's not far from the truth. You keep growing hair in places you didn't have it before, but unfortunately you also start to lose it where you'd prefer to retain it.

The thing that I noticed when I turned 21 was that I could no longer get away with eating like whatever I felt like eating. Granted, I didn't act on this information probably until I was 32, and I didn't really believe it as a required change in lifestyle until the last year or two. I haven't really gone all-in on this, and I don't know if I will, but it's nice to at least see that every few weeks the scale clicks down a notch. It's even more strange to admit that almost every meal at a restaurant involves too much food. It's actually a good thing when over-eating starts to make you sick.

But it's the other things that I'm just starting to notice now, as I approach that magical age of 40. Sometimes, shit just hurts for no particular reason. It could also be due to the inconsistent nature of my physical activity, but I think it's partly age. Given the arthritis that my mom has, I fear for my joint future, especially when I wake up after a day of walking to find my ankles temporarily hurt. I similarly worry about my wrists, given my trade, though it has been a dozen years since that really troubled me.

This is the age where you start to wonder what your genetic cards are, but that lottery isn't always a great indicator of anything. I mean, my dad is pretty much legally blind without glasses, and my mom has needed them since she was a teenager. While I haven't had it tested in awhile (if you don't count the BMV this year), everything is just as sharp today as it was when I was a kid. Still, my family has some amount of heart disease on one side, cancer on the other. Not much you can do about those beyond being proactive.

The harsh reality is that I need to establish a basic fitness routine if I don't want to be a mess when I get older. The basic screening implies that I'm predisposed to being highly functional, with a fantastic resting heart rate and spot-on blood pressure. I'm on the high side of normal for cholesterol even, and that's without the basic routine. Still, if I'm carrying this excess 20 pounds, it's not going to be good for long-term cardiac health, or the joints that have to carry those pounds around. And you know, 20 pounds is nothing compared to people faced with 50 or even 100.

I'm actually considering looking for a personal trainer. I need someone who can teach me how to take care of myself as part of routine maintenance. I've learned how to eat to the extent that I can watch calorie intake without explicit counting, but I need help understanding the calorie burning side of the equation, and how best to spread that across the parts of my body that need the most attention. I definitely need to pay attention to joint health so as not to be destructive when I think I'm helping. I've seen way too many injuries that end up being extraordinarily harmful. My step-dad's knees have been toast for years, and that lack of mobility has not been good for his quality of life. (Side note: That's why I think this group-think and cult-like fitness gym thing is potentially harmful, because these aren't doctors and people with degrees in sports medicine telling you what to do.)

The biggest challenge is not the physical process itself. I don't think it ever is. It's the psychological barriers that prevent you from committing to doing it. Since I don't see a chance to play volleyball for two hours five days a week, I obviously need to take a different path.


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