Phase Four (Oh)Category: General   Oct 31st 2014  10:46AM   0

I've recently switched up my workout routine to incorporate Pilates, different forms of yoga, and more varied cardio. I realized it's time for a more well-rounded approach, to let my body tell me what it needs as opposed to sticking with what's safe and familiar. 

I used to crave workouts the way most people crave pizza and beer (if most people craved pizza and beer 2-3 x's a day). I used to run eight miles before every sunrise, then lift weights in the evening. I segued to hot yoga and did 10-12 hours weekly. I was obsessive about working out from age 30-45, but lately, if I had my way, I wouldn't do more than 20-30 minutes a day.

I'm not sure why I've lost interest, but age is probably a factor. For starters, I don't have as much to prove; I've become gentler with myself lately. Also, testosterone decreases in your 40s (for women too). I hurt my back pretty badly 6 years ago and its limitations (though relatively minor, at this point) frustrate me. I can't go full blown and get the adrenaline surge I once did, that superhuman feeling of pushing my body's limits.

Going full blown put me on my back for too long (and not in the good way), but I miss the euphoria of feeling powerful and in control. I miss my runner's high. It was hard to take it down a notch at first. I didn't like the gazillion bodily adjustments Pilates requires to isolate abs or glutes from my crazy-flexible shoulders and strong-as-hell quads. I wanted to move mountains, not painstakingly landscape them.

The thing is, most mountains are fine where they are, and landscaping makes for better trails and clearings from which to view the scenery.

Most people figure out who they are in their 20s and then spend their 30s building a life (career, family, etc.) around that vision. By 29, I'd lived so hard I was lucky to be alive. I spent my 30s regaining my health and rebuilding my physique (and did a great job, by the way). I think the 40s are a time to reassess and fine tune one's energies. Life beats people up in their 30s, but 30-somethings are cocky by nature, which allows them to push through and overcome challenges. That said, not every challenge can or should be overcome.

No one in their 40s hasn't lost a few battles and (hopefully) adjusted to their limitations. Isolating the weak spots, instead of throwing one's entire weight against every resistance, isn't always fun, but at my age, it's the best way to move forward. What I've noticed about most people in their 40s, is they finally recognize their limitations, but don't fully accept them yet. Men, especially, tend to fight the inevitable longer. There's a bit of resentment about it too ... I get that. It took a year of denial before I moved on from my 7 year practice of type-A hot yoga, to a style more focused on minutiae of form.

One of the reasons I only see men over 50 is because they've usually learned to accept their limitations and enjoy life on life's terms. They don't use women and sex as a means to prove their virility like 40-somethings often do. They date and have sex for the fun of it, period.

I'm fascinated by the concept of identity and the struggle to accept life on life's terms. It bothers me a little that I still fight my limitations, but I am slowly reintegrating neglected areas for a stronger, supportive system. Releasing long-locked muscle groups too (I'm looking at you, psoas) has been painful but in a good way. Sometimes I still have the urge to fly out the door for an eight-miler before sunrise, but I'd probably turn around and walk home after 20 minutes. At 47, I have too many better things to do. 

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