Three Ageless Athletes and A Confession

by Debra Eve | @DebraEve

Three Ageless Athletes and A Confession at LaterBloomer.com, inspiration for adult late-bloomers

When I was an archaeologist, age 35, I carried a 30-lb backpack from Ireland to Wales. It contained my clothes, tent, bedroll, ground cloth, and trusty Marshalltown trowel.

Was I happy to drop it when I hit camp!

A few years later I took up martial arts. By age 42, I reached my best shape ever.

Twelve years and 25 pounds later, I’m achy and exhausted all the time. I’m pretty much carrying that backpack’s worth of weight 24/7.

I could blame my chronic pain syndrome (I detail it on my About page), but the truth is, I also eat too much. I eat like an archaeologist who traipses miles a day or a martial artist who burns 1000 calories per workout.

What makes a difference for most successful Performance-to-Lifestyle Transition athletes is that they are satisfied to de-emphasize high performance and identify with other motivators. (From 50 Athletes over 50 Teach Us to Live a Strong, Healthy Life)

Performance. Perfectionism. Impatience. All enemies of Later Blooming.

It’s time to accept where I am. It’s time to acknowledge that I can no longer run but I can walk, I no longer kick over my head but I can touch my toes, I can no longer do yoga pretzel poses but I can sit and breath.

And that’s enough.

I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired and carrying a body fat backpack around.  I’m doing something about it.

There will still be pain, but eating won’t cure it. Saying “It used to be so easy” won’t cure it. Saying “Tomorrow I’ll start running again” won’t cure it.

I find it hard to stay motivated since body has become a stranger, but then I discover amazing people like the following and I know the effort will be worth it.

Robert Marchand

Robert Marchand, age 100

Robert Marchand: A Cycling First at Age 100

Robert Marchand set the world’s first record in cycling’s over-100 category, doing 24.25 kilometers in 60 minutes.

“I could have gone faster but I didn’t want to,” Marchand said. “I’m not playing at being a champion. I just wanted to do something for my 100th birthday.”

Fifty members of Marchand’s cycling club came to cheer him on. “He’s amazing,” said 60-year-old buddy Gilbert Barailler, who hopes to match Marchand’s achievement when he is 100, “only faster.”

Marchand competed in the Bordeaux-Paris race at the age  90. He did 600 kilometres in 36 hours.

In deference to his age, he now restricts himself to riding less than 100 kilometres a day.

Bernice Bates and Tao Porchon-Lynch: Two Record-Breaking Yoga Teachers

Last December, Guinness Records recognized Bernice Bates as the world’s oldest yoga teacher at age 92.

Bernice Bates

Bernice Bates, age 92

Bernie, as her students call her, leads a weekly one-hour class at the Mainlands Retirement Community Center in Pinellas Park, Florida, where she lives. She didn’t start practicing yoga until she was 60!

“You’re not just standing on a treadmill and going, going, going and you get off and can hardly walk,” Bernie says. “Yoga itself means yoke, that’s to join. We join our mind, our body and our spirit in everything we do.

But Bernie’s reign was short-lived.

This past Mother’s Day, Tao Porchon-Lynch, a 93-year-old ballroom dancer and wine lover, took the title.

In the ’40s and ’50s, Tao acted under contract to MGM. In the  ’60s and ’70s, she wrote screenplays and made documentaries. She opened her yoga studio in 1982.

“I’m not going to give up,” she says. “I’m going to dance and do yoga for as long as I live.

Check out this gorgeous photo shoot with Tao by Robert Sturman. That’s her in the post image above. I’m not sure what I’m more envious of — her flexibility or how she’s rockin’ that red dress.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

florence fois

Debra … there is a famous line I can only paraphrase … “Would I want to join a club where I was a member?” You get the drift. My club might be similar to yours. Over the hill at 30, left behind the adage that life begins at 40 and well beyond the dreaded fifty-something to the time when women think there’s nothing left but to wait for the last nail to get hammered into their self-made coffin. Yep, been there, done way too much of that. Had a ah ha moment and decided to take a journey back into myself … wherever she was hiding … to bring her out into the sun and make the last part of this journey the best ride of all !! No need to share the exact “story” but enough to say that I have made it a goal to return to a particular bike path in Brooklyn (7.5 miles one way) and do the entire 15 miles to bring me back to where it all began.

It coincides with another goal and it dovetails in the summer of 2015. I have three years to train, to give “her” … the one who took care of us … the love she deserves.

I can do five minutes. In another life … that is … before I buried her … I biked 15-25 miles a day, starting with that 15 mile ride. I practiced and taught Yoga. I thought I had all the time in the world to find my purpose in life. Now I am in this life and that crap about hindsight is kicking me in the butt. Look forward to this series. PS I never blog about this on my site, but I’d sure love some company on this journey back to ME :)

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Daniela

Hi Florence! You’ve paraphrased Groucho Marx! The actual quote is: “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”

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Debra Eve

I’m there with you, Florence! And you should blog about it. I’ve so enjoyed your comments, especially your one on Rosie the Riveter. Seriously, have you considered writing a memoir?

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Lindsay

Been there. AM there. About 6 years ago I lost 30+ pounds and have maintained that loss. My turning point? I saw where I was going and didn’t want to go there. Yes, seek support from everyone who is willing. I wasted a lot of time pretending I could lose the weight on my own, as if the extra pounds were a secret. Willpower is overrated, by the way — it is only occasionally useful, like flooring the accelerator is sometimes useful in passing situations. Planning, accountability, and support are FAR more important. Am here cheering for you.

And what a gorgeous photo shoot! I love the joy on Tao’s face and the joy she expresses through her body.

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Debra Eve

I see where it’s going, too, Lindsay. My mother’s health problems started with her extra weight. In her 80s now, she suffers from diabetic nerve damage and congestive heart failure, among other things. She’s never moved a day in her life, however. I’m going for that public accountability factor :)

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Daniela

Kudos on your commitment Debra Eve! And thanks for the invitation that this post is. I exercise daily. And enjoy it. Usually for 45 minutes, an hour. Yet I’m a bookworm, no athlete, most of my life a reluctant exerciser. Yet fifteen years ago or so I transitioned from every-other-day-boy-is-this-a-chore to happily moving the old bod daily. What happened? First and most important, I committed to exercise as my daily spiritual practice. It doesn’t matter what I do, just that I do something. I exercise around the same time every day, and it’s the priority. I protect that time. Second, I removed the time and intensity demand. Half asleep, thinking about lunch, deeply into it, whatever, it’s all good. (As an aside, lots of post ideas come to me while exercising.) Third, I exercise because it feels good. I enjoy it. I look forward to it. I learn something new about my body and myself every session. I’ve been practicing tai chi for, oh, eighteen years now, and for the past five years, belly dancing! Woo hoo! Not bad for an old broad. It’s a serious challenge. I’m not good at it, but so what? I’m getting better. I’ve actually figured out how to move my ribcage and hips independently of each other. In time to the music!! While traveling! Occasionally, it all comes together, and I’m actually graceful. Who would have thunk it? The dancer wannabe in me is so happy! So here’s the key to the kingdom: find something you enjoy doing and can grow with, and voila! you’ll keep moving. Because it’s fun. Trust me, I’m a doctor. :-)

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Debra Eve

Daniela, you’re a genius! That whole concept of switching from performance to lifestyle athlete and finding new motivation — I honestly haven’t found mine and so keep slipping back into “I used to be able to [perform everything at such a high level].” But making it a daily spiritual practice, yes! For some reason, that reasonates with me at this point. Thank you!

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Daniela

You’re welcome! The body is a miracle. Being at ease in it, a state of grace. I spout off further about this in my current post. :-)

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Pat O'Dea Rosen

Wow, Debra! Robert, Bernice, and Tao jumpstarted this series–and gave me a needed kick in the rear. I’m looking forward to your future installments and hope you recognize the good you do with Late Bloomer.

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Debra Eve

Thanks, Pat! Appreciate your kind words so much.

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Susan

I’ve started one thing this week towards taking better care of myself. It’s that I take a walk in the morning before I have my first cup of coffee. For me, it gets me moving and afterwards I get a treat.

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Debra Eve

Great idea, Susan. It seems most folks here agree that morning is best. Working swing shift, I’m not good with mornings, but it’s time to make a change!

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K.B. Owen

Debra, I hear ya! I just turned 50, and I’m tired – a lot more than I should be. My motivation is low, too, which I think is the worst. Then you get into a vicious circle and the thought of exercise is exhausting!

I also find it boring. Except – for being outdoors. For me, there’s something about being outside that is re-energizing. Also, doing things with a friend helps, too. Every Sunday, hubby and I join another friend for a walk around Burke Lake – 4.6 miles. It takes us a little under 90 minutes to do.

I’ve also learned that, when I’m by myself, I need to walk first thing in the morning. If I wait until later, it never happens.

I’ve always heard good things about yoga, but ages ago, I tried it and got an awful teacher. Every session was painful, and made me feel like I wasn’t as good as everyone else. I haven’t tried it again since.

Good luck! Can’t wait to read about your progress!
Kathy

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Debra Eve

Thanks, Kathy. I have to be careful with yoga…certain twisting poses affect my scar tissue. But walking outdoors, yes! I used to walk in the hills near my house. I agree with you 100% about being outdoors. Am scared silly of treadmills.

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David Stevens

Age shall not weary them or us. It starts with your mind/thoughts then transfer to your body. We can all do this
be good to yourself Debra
David

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Debra Eve

Yes we can! Thanks for the encouragement, David.

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Jennette Marie Powell

I don’t know that I’ve ever been in shape – but the longest I’ve stuck with any kind of workout has been the current one, because I can do interval training on the treadmill and read while I walk! I’ve slacked lately, though. I blame too much running around and not feeling well, but the fact is, I could at least do ten minutes or so, even with a headache. Thanks for the kick in the pants, and here’s to some great workouts for all of us, even if it’s just for five minutes!

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Debra Eve

You’re welcome, Jennette. I don’t usually spout on my blog, but I figured there’s support in numbers and so many of us are in the same place. Thanks for stopping by!

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Karen McFarland

What a wonderful post Debra! And where did you find these truly amazing, inspiring people? Do they make ‘em like that anymore? :) I myself struggle for an exercise routine. I was diagnosed with CFS about 25 years ago and it can be debilitating sometimes. Just when I start to feel myself making headway, it flares up. So frustrating. Yet, I pick myself up and start all over again. I must keep moving forward even if it kills me! LOL! I can’t wait for your next post! We’re in this together, so you have my support Debra!

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Debra Eve

Karen, I’ve had CFS too, diagnosed in 1995. I don’t think it every really leaves your system. I’ve read studies recently that like endometriosis (my chronic problem) to autoimmune disfunction and CFS. I think the best we can do is keep our immune system healthy. I’m not always good about that, but I’m making it a priority now. Thanks for your encouraging words!

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Cathy | Treatment Talk

Hi Debra,

These are great stories and so inspiring. To live a long life, we all do need to stay active. I love yoga as well, but need to push myself to do a regular home practice in addition to classes. It feels so good and I know it is healthy. I do still run a few miles once or twice a week, and play doubles tennis. I enjoy all these sports, want to push myself to do a bit more, as they help me keep fit. Thanks for a great post!

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Debra Eve

Cathy, that’s phenomenal! I think you’ve got exactly the right attitude and your path has been so inspiring to me. Thanks for stopping by.

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Becky Green Aaronson

Debra,
I love this post. It’s honest and inspiring. We all struggle with motivation. I’ve been athletic all my life and have run numerous marathons and triathlons, yet I go through phases where all I want to do NOTHING (except eat chocolate–hee hee). As a matter of fact, I’m supposed to be at a swimming workout right now for an upcoming summer triathlon, but here I am sipping coffee and reading your blog instead. It’s just what I needed!

Five minutes of stretching is an excellent goal. I think I’ll join you today. Thanks for motivating me!

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Debra Eve

I think we need to listen to those natural (chocolate) rhythms, Becky :) You’ve inspired me, too, with your excellent writing. Thanks for stopping by.

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Marla Martenson

Great post. So inspiring. We read so much about how Americans are so out of shape and unhealthy. This was a nice surprise and treat. I really enjoyed reading about these remarkable people.

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Debra Eve

Thanks, Marla. I’m blown away by how many vital “old folks” are performing remarkable athletic feats and plan to keep this series going from time to time.

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Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot

This is brilliant, these people are. I’m on the same mission as you! Let me know if I can help you keep on track. It’s hard but worth it for health and free movement :)

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Debra Eve | @DebraEve

Thanks, Annabel! I’ve been so inspired by your “52 Exercises” series.

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K.B. Owen

Fab post, Debra! I’m so sorry you are struggling so much. I know you’ll continue on to fight the good fight! :D

~Kathy

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Debra Eve | @DebraEve

Thanks, Kathy. You know, every day brings something new and exciting and I feel this phase will, in fact, pass.

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Lynne Strang

I think the hardest part of an exercise program is getting started. Once you get into the habit, it feels strange NOT to exercise. The key is find something that’s both enjoyable and doable. Please keep us posted on how you’re doing!

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Debra Eve | @DebraEve

Thanks and great observation, Lynne. I’m having a hard time getting started (it is really harder once you get older), but the reward is much greater too.

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Melpub

What a wonderful website! Should you ever wish for a guest blogger, I could write about having three children (none of them In-Vitro) over the age of 41. My first was born ten days before my forty-second birthday, my second when I was 45 and my third at 47.

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Debra Eve | @DebraEve

Wow! That’s an achievement. I can’t even imagine being that busy. This blog is actually devoted to late-blooming writers and artists, but I’ll definitely mention your story on my FB page.

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