Remember the last time you sprung out of bed, skipped down the stairs, put on the coffee, and muscled-opened the tightly closed jam jar for your toast? Yeah, me neither. (And that has nothing to do with jam being a poor choice for breakfast.)
Here’s the crazy part: The random aches, pains, and stiffness began creeping in in my early 40s. In all fairness, I spent that decade training in martial arts. I don’t think it’s possible to kick and punch people without getting kicked and punched back. The very nature of the game leads to bruises, broken bones, and concussions. I don’t do that anymore.
Between 52 and 54, I hit what I now call the “WTF Happened?” years. After a lifetime of physical activity — bodybuilding, jump roping, running, swimming, powerlifting, etc. — my body began exhibiting severe aches and pains. My arthritis became unbearable. Forget curling a 20-pound dumbbell, I could not pass a one-pound plate of food across the dinner table.
Normal Aging Process?
“trying to convince myself that my new normal was acceptable”
After my initial reaction of anger and frustration, I temporarily slipped into a “Well, you can’t stop this, it’s part of the normal aging process” funk. I began to nudge and smudge the “what’s acceptable to me” line.
“Well, maybe it’s ok that I can’t lift heavy weights any longer. Many people manage to get through an entire lifetime without it.”
“OK, maybe it’s alright that I weigh 20 extra pounds. As long as it doesn’t go any higher than that, of course.”
Slowly, I kept re-writing my narrative. Desperately trying to convince myself that my new normal was acceptable. All the while extrapolating how much more I would need to accept as the years roll by.
Not All Changes Are Absolute:
I am here to say we don’t need to accept all of the changes as absolutes. Yes, changes are unavoidable. Wear and tear, whether it be from over- or under-utilization, is a fact that comes with age. Nothing lasts forever. But, one can mitigate and, yes, even reverse some of the nuisances.
There are many variables that can cause joint pain. Which, at least for me, seems to be my nemesis. As I already stated, overuse or underuse can be a culprit. But so can injuries or weak muscles. And, let’s not forget our diet. What used to go unnoticed by our body machine now wreaks havoc with our gut, sleep, weight-management….. You name it.
The crux of the matter, at least for me, is that my body at 52 no longer was running smoothly under the existing protocols. My lifestyle, which up until then had been working well, no longer suited me. In hindsight, I wish I had known more about menopause and the intricate changes involved with losing my fertility.
I am sure I have renovated my lifestyle at previous junctures in my life. Puberty, pregnancy, and post-natal me all required an overhaul of my day-to-day choices. Why did I not see that coming with menopause? How did I not anticipate that my body would no longer behave in the same way?
First of all, I had no idea that our primary female hormone, estrogen, reduces inflammation and shields our joints. It stands to reason that once menopause sends estrogen running out of the room like it’s on fire, that inflammation blazes in to loot, pillage and run roughshod through one’s joints.
Inflammation Is Evil:
“I spent almost two years re-writing my lifestyle script”
The hard, cold reality is that inflammation increases the risk of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. This, in turn, results in painful joints. Actually, I don’t want to undersell the evil that is Inflammation. In fact, some researchers believe that most, if not all, diseases, stem from chronic levels of inflammation. It’s a worthwhile opponent to conquer. Or, at least, slow down.
I spent almost two years re-writing my lifestyle script. The current script includes bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, intermittent fasting, juicing, and supplements never before ingested. For now, at least, I have found my new normal. That being said, I still don’t “spring” out of bed. But if I’m honest, I never did. That’s not my style. I do, however, run, walk, plank, throw around heavy weights, burpee, and get down and up from the floor, regularly. My new normal comes with body creaks, moans, and mild aches — all reminding me that I am very much alive.