How are you? That’s what people always ask, isn’t it! These days, for many baby boomers, the answer has changed. Lorie Eber of Irvine, California, a Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach, Personal Trainer, and Certified Nutritionist, and also the author of “How to Stay Healthy in a World Designed to Make Us Fat and Lazy,” says her aging body “gives me my comeuppance.”
I live and breathe healthy lifestyle. I eat the nutritious Mediterranean Diet, work out daily, and have the visceral fat level of a Kenyan marathoner. Sounds like I’m the picture of health, right? I thought so too, but, as it turns out, not so much.
At the ripe old age of 62, I blithely assumed that I was still walking around in a 20-year-old’s body. In an effort to take primo care of my health, I’ve religiously worked out my entire adult life, even while putting in 12-hour work days as a corporate litigator. I’ve changed workouts over the years to accommodate my aging body and now confine my heavy breathing to the health club.
My body and I were getting along just fine until a few months ago when it decided it was done with my relentless routines and gave me my comeuppance. The kicker was when I made the foolhardy decision that I should “man up” and lift heavier in a vain attempt to pump up my seemingly diminished muscles.
In retrospect, I’ll admit that I’d chosen to ignore some back discomfort triggered by the squat bar exercises. Until one day when, without warning, my body declared, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” I was about to pay big time for my pig-headed age-denying decision.
A minor low back pain progressed to an excruciating sciatica-type screaming nerve pain in my quad. Six weeks later, I’m still in the throes of agony. The insistent pain has forced me to the floor in the grocery store and caused me to panic in checkout lines, fearing that I won’t be able to remain upright long enough to pay.
My general approach to aging’s insults is to struggle through them on my own, but not this time. I’ve lashed out in all directions for help and even turned into a gym-faker, a derisive term I use to describe the slackers who show up and only work their jaw muscle or thumbs.
Rather than continuing to wallow in my self-generated misery, I’m trying to make the best of it by sharing some insights about the aging body and living on planet pain.
- A young body is a forgiving vessel. An older body needs TLC.
- Your body will tolerate repetitive motion without obvious injury for a long time, but then it will rebel without warning.
- Chronic pain causes any otherwise sane person to lash out in all directions for pain relief solutions, including the full range of traditional and wacko alternative treatments. Even opioids (within strict limits) and surgery start to sound worthy of consideration.
- It’s not enough to “listen to your body.” You have to proactively anticipate its breaking point and change your ways.
- Habit is good. But, a good habit taken to the extreme is bad.
- Chronic pain is debilitating, depressing, exhausting, prevents rational thinking, and affects all body systems.
- “Fake it til you make it” is best way to get through social interactions. When asked how you are, answer, “I’m fine. How are you?” Save your crying for your husband who agreed to put up with you come hell or high water.
- Appreciate the “little things in life,” like being able to stand up and walk.
As routine-oriented and stubborn as I am, I finally got the message that I need to change my ways as I will do anything to avoid a return trip to planet pain. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?