Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day 236 Moving out of denial about the end of the free ride

In Younger Next Year, an idea caught me. That up to about age 40, most of us get a free ride where our bodies are concerned. We just don't have to think about them very much. They move freely, they heal quickly, we can eat pretty much whatever we want and not gain too much weight, we can punish them with grueling days at work and bounce back, we can drink and drug and have only fleeting consequences, we can drive all night or fly all night or party all night and still go to work and be effective the next day. (Of course, this isn't true for everybody; some people are born with physical disabilities or develop chronic illnesses early or are involved in accidents.)

Then, if we live into middle age and beyond, the free ride is over. The body begins to lose its abilities and requires maintenance. It needs better fuel, it needs heart-pounding exercise, it needs weight-bearing exercise, it needs stretching and conscious relaxing. But most of us don't move into that maintenance. Instead we keep thinking that the difficulties are temporary, that the free ride will return.

The longer we wait to attend to our bodies, the harder it becomes to get moving. As I've noted before, I believe that inertia has its own momentum. And if we've been inert a long time, that momentum can seem overwhelming. My goal for exercise over the last 33 years has not been superlative fitness but to keep moving so that I can keep moving as long as I'm alive. I'm upping my movement now so I can up my movement later. I'm ready to accept that the free ride was over for me quite some time ago and I need to make an effort so I can do what I want.

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