I recently had an email exchange with a client who had turned 50 years old a few months ago. She said “I want to “not” approach my fitness with ageism…by that I mean yes, recognize that I am 50 but not look at this as a limitation for the things I want to do.” I support this approach completely but there is a “but”. Sometimes we do have to adjust as we age and that is not a bad thing.
During that particular conversation I realized that I am on my way to the big 6-0. I know, it’s crazy. On reflecting on the past almost 10 years I realized I have adjusted. I used to push harder when I was in my early 50s. I would set bigger goals both professionally and physically. There is a pressure that exists in our society that really shouldn’t be there at all. It’s all about being busy. It’s become a measurement of success. I find that incredibly sad. I made that adjustment a few years ago thanks to a podcast I was listening to. The interviewer (who happened to be Oprah) asked the interviewee the greatest lesson he had learned. His answer was: there’s nothing to prove. I wrote that on a sticky note and put it on my wall just above my computer screen.
We are all aging. That is fact. How you would like to age is up to you. That is another fact. I don’t set the physical goals like I used to set. Cycling in a 100 km event doesn’t interest me anymore. I’ve adjusted to going out for leisurely rides of no more than 50 km. That has as much to do with the time investment as it does with the physical demand. It takes more time to get and stay in shape to comfortably ride the longer distance now than it did 10 year ago. So, I adjusted. That adjustment really comes with a change in attitude and that’s where the statement “I’ve got nothing to prove” was so helpful.
My dad has recently gone through an adjustment. He has been active in some way for his entire life. Cycling came into his life in his later years. When he turned 77 years old, he decided his goal would be to cycle his age on this birthday at the end of July. That became an annual goal for him. On his 80th birthday I cycled with him (he will comment that we actually cycled 82 km that day so I had better mention it before he does). I think that was the last time he did that kind of distance. It’s now a few years later and this summer he was having a harder time cycling. It was a concern to him but instead of pushing through the pain or stopping completely he adjusted by getting an e-bike. It has kept him outside and doing an activity that he loves. He pedals when he can and when he needs some assistance, he presses a button and away he goes. The funny thing is that now he will likely be waiting for me at the top of the hills.
Many years ago, I saw a fellow wearing a t-shirt that said “The older I get the better I was.” I say that to clients when they are thinking that they SHOULD be able to do something they used be able to do. It’s one of those give your head a shake and step back into reality moments. There is nothing wrong with adjusting. There is everything wrong with stopping.
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