“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” -Socrates
The start of 2018 has a different feel. It’s not because we’re embarking on our third year as South Carolinians. It’s not the fact that we’ve had the “coldest” winter in 100 years in South Carolina either (a laughable fact, yes!). No, no….it’s because it’s my last year as a 30-something! By bike racing standards, I actually am 40 already. Your “racing age” is the age that you will become in the current calendar year. So even though I don’t turn 40 until the end of December, I am considered “racing age 40” even now and can sign up for 40+ or 40-49 age group racing categories, should I choose. This has given me the chance to “try on” being 40. Frankly, it fits just fine so far.
To many co-workers and friends who are my senior, turning 40 may be a laughable fact too (“Oh, so young still!”). I feel so fortunate to work with and know people who are in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s who are still going after it. They’re still racing (and medalling!), they’re trail running, cycling, swimming, playing softball and basketball, throwing discus, shooting arrows, traveling, hiking, paddling, hunting, working, playing music, writing poetry, making art, actively grandmothering and grandfathering (and some even mothering and fathering!), and the list goes on. (I hope you think, “hey, she might be talking about me,” cuz if you are in these age groups and do these things, then yes, you have been an inspiration and motivation for me to keep going after it too.)
So, how am I thinking of my journey towards 40? In a nutshell: discipline, movement, and acceptance.
I read something recently about winter training. Someone asked “hey, how do you stay motivated through the winter?” The athlete responded something like, “it’s not about being motivated, it’s about staying disciplined.” So I am trying to approach my health and fitness with discipline. I keep a training log, where I pencil in workouts, working backwards from key races. This way, I can still have purposeful workouts even if I just have one available hour, or I can have a guilt-free rest day, if that’s the intent of the day.
For the first time ever, I’m also keeping track of my calorie and nutrient intake. This has been the most difficult to stay disciplined around, as you all know how much I love to cook and eat! This has been a fascinating journey itself. Subject for another blog entry.
With the guidance of a cycling coach a couple of years back, I started to do mobility and activation exercises. I’m doing this with more frequency and discipline now. This includes yoga, but also branches out to include other body weight movements to increase body awareness and control. For the first time, I’ve started to do some strength training too- lunges, squats, and beginner plyometrics stuff. This is SO HUMBLING. Sometimes I get so sore from this that the next day, my walk becomes an awkward shuffle (glad for ADA rails in the bathroom!).
Rarely does a day go by anymore that I don’t do a little bit of something. Even “active recovery,” like restorative/gentle yoga has helped me feel better mentally and also recover faster physically.
So with all this discipline and movement, I must be invincible, right? Nope. I’m still human. That’s where the acceptance part comes in. My hair is graying (I’m trying to no longer dye it. We’ll see if I can accept that.) I haven’t lost a pound despite all my discipline around my 30 day calorie tracking. The irony in getting compliments on my smile, not knowing my underlying gum health issues. Despite how well intentioned I try to be, I still struggle at work. I wonder as much as the next person if I’ve made the right choices in life.
But I strive to accept all this. To accept aging, flaws, idiosyncrasies, shortcomings. Because with acceptance I find contentment.
“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzu