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 my 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: 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.
(Update: Robert recently turned 105. He’s still going strong!)
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.
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. I’m not sure what I’m more envious of—her flexibility or how she’s rockin’ that red dress. (Update: Tao recently turned 98 and has just published her autobiography.)
Need more inspiration? On to:
- Three More Ageless Athletes Who Kick Keister
- Did you miss the first post in this series? A Dozen Ageless Athletes to Get You Going