Just read one of those lists that’s practically cobbled together for Facebook. You know the type: “10 things baby boomers wish millennials knew about back pain”, etc.
Here’s a little experiment:
1. Read this list.
2. Read what’s below the list.
3. Read the list again.
24 SURPRISING WAYS TO INJURE YOURSELF WHEN YOU’RE OVER 50
LIZ ALTERMAN (McSweeneys)
1. Taking off your half-zip sweater.
2. Nodding vigorously as your teen explains cryptocurrency.
3. Reaching through a car window to retrieve your card from an ATM.
5. Spending a day in non-elastic waist pants.
6. Bagging your groceries — especially when you’re purchasing the Benefiber 190-serving 2-pack.
7. Searching under furniture for your phone charger.
9. Hauling the recycling to the curb when it’s filled with all the AARP literature you’re not ready to read.
10. Opening a jar.
11. Moving that jar back and forth as you squint to decipher its expiration date.
12. Thinking about your upcoming colonoscopy.
13. Passing a full gravy boat to your brother-in-law at Thanksgiving.
14. Tightening your carpal tunnel braces.
15. Reaching into the backseat of your car for an umbrella.
16. Pulling up your compression socks.
17. Tripping over the pet you call by your child’s name.
18. Tripping over shoes that belong to your child, whom you call by your pet’s name.
19. Looking for an app on your phone after adding or deleting one.
20. Rubbing your forehead, trying to remember why you entered a room.
21. Fastening the straps on your plantar fasciitis night splint.
22. Rushing to write down the name of a supplement an infomercial promised would make you feel 16 again (but may also destroy your kidneys, vision, and 92% of your relationships).
23. Wrestling your robot vacuum away from the fringes of your area rug.
24. Hearing yourself say things like, “It’s always worse in the morning.”
Frankly, this kind of lighthearted humor sets me off. There’s a message in there normalizing all this crap, when it’s not normal. It’s ageist and it’s defeating. Humor is how we can deal with the inevitable in life, but it also teaches us NOT to question these things, but to accept them as we chuckle (gently, so as to not pop a hernia. Sheesh.) I can recall seeing/hearing jokes about aging everywhere, and now that I’m over 50, I’m astounded that anyone could be so easily convinced to hop into a rocking chair and give up hope of feeling better, just because the culture tells you you should. That same culture told us as women that we would be undesirable, masculine, ugly, etc., if we played sports and had muscles – sooooo glad THAT sentiment has basically gone the way of the Model-T car, but the damage was done, and women in their 50s and up are the ones paying for being obedient.
In a younger person, we’d call being in this kind of physical and cognitive shape ‘deconditioned’. But as soon as you hit your 50s, it gets accepted as just…aging. It becomes more and more normal to think stiffness, aches, pains, mental fog is your life now, and it’s NOT. Frankly, in a lot of ways I was in the kind of shape that we think of as “middle-aged” when I was about 27, after a few big runs of chronic illness. Like Steve Buscemi’s character in the film Ghost World, I threw my back out blowing out a birthday candle. I’m 52 now, and capable of far more than I ever hoped I would be in my 20s, 30s, and 40s. Yes, you lose a small percentage of your body’s muscle mass every decade – but that’s IF YOU DON’T USE IT. So? Use it. That goes for your brain, too!
You know what’s tough about being 52 today, in my life? My 20-pound kettlebell isn’t heavy enough and now I have to go see if I can find a heavier one somewhere. And before long, I’ll need an even heavier one. My skinny 27-year old self couldn’t even have lifted my 20-pounder with one hand.
Take that, ageist crap!
If you’re fed up like me, if you want to see what you can do instead of being told what you can’t, give me a call, email me, text me, send me a Facebook message – frankly, if you want this to NOT be your story, let’s change it. Today.