Getting back in shape @ 57

One thing about getting older, it gets harder and harder to have any kind of motivation to stay in shape…especially after an injury.  After breaking my ribs twice surfing, then my back stuff, I was content just to walk without a cane.  For the past few years walking and swimming has been my only source of exercise.

Then what is it I’m trying to get in shape for?  I used to play beach volleyball, I had to be in shape or the sand was like quick sand.  My routine as a kid was to roller-skate to the beach, play v-ball, body surf, then skate back home.  That’s a full day of exercise I never even thought about.  When I worked at a swimwear store in Santa Monica Canyon the guys hauled me out into the water on a surfboard.  To everyone’s surprise, I hopped right up.  That’s because I’d spent a lifetime in the ocean, but didn’t have a whole lot of surfing success because the waves in Manhattan Beach are too quick.  That Santa Monica, State Beach wave was a slower, rolling wave.

I stopped surfing altogether when I moved to NorCal almost 30 years ago.  Now that I’m older, I’m all things water again.  Sailing is a natural thing for me, it kills me I can’t sail by myself in case my back goes out.  I’ve snuck out a few times, set the sails then had lunch on the boat…there is no better feeling!  If it’s high winds, which in SF Bay it’s always high winds, I can’t pull the sails in without feeling it.  That little tinge that says, “I’m here, you’re old, stop it!”

I’m booked to go to Mexico to surf again and I’m miserably out of shape.  That trip to Hawaii got me back to wave motion, it was just too scary to hop up with the shallow reefs a few feet down.  After an hour of envisioning my head cracked open if my leash caught on one of those reefs, the final “get out of the water” moment was a easy turtle roll that scraped my arm on the reef.  My fears weren’t unjustified.

The other thing about feeling is you always feel old, then you look back at pictures and video clips to see that you really weren’t that old or out of shape.  Who was I comparing myself too?  That would be my pro-volleyball/surfer friends who were on the cover of magazines all through the 80’s.  It never occurred to me there were normal people out there who just have fun?

After 50 I’ve put on 10 pounds I’ve never been able to get off.  Besides the pizza last night, in general I eat very healthy food.  Then I looked at a surfing clip of me almost 10 years ago, when I thought I could lose a few, and I looked fine.  That was a few pounds ago too, I keep creeping up the scale and it never budges the other direction no matter what I do.

The motivation now is just to be able to do things without injury, if a few pounds come off too…yay!  The Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition goal has passed me by.  There’s a new wave of over 50 models in stores I’ve noticed like Target and some other stores.  The long gray hair, they look very graceful.  That’s not what I’m going for either, I’m not ready to go all grey.  When I first started seeing grey hairs I’d pluck them.  Then I had these short grey hairs growing back until I envisioned myself all grey with a buzz cut after pulling the long strands out, so out came the hair dye.

My goal is just to stay in shape for possible grandkids, I’m also very much an outdoors person.  There’s some benefits to being a half-ass athlete my whole life too, the big injuries.  Almost all of my pro-athlete friends have had some kind of major surgery.  There’s something to be said for staying in shape without major injuries even if you’ve never won a trophy.

People never think they’ll get older, it’s all an endurance game.  Keeping your brain & body going in case you’re here for the long haul.  Many of my friends are gone already, another curse of growing up in paradise – right next to the Chevron refinery and Hyperion water treatment plant.  There’s an unusual amount of childhood friends who have died already, that started in my mid-40’s.

For myself, I’ll probably be around for awhile.  I tell my kids I want them to do well so that they’re OK when we’re gone.  I certainly don’t want them to ever have to take care of me!  With boys I don’t think that’ll happen anyway.  My parents are still alive, genetically I’ll probably be around for awhile.  My mom & dad are like the “Ant & the Grasshopper” story.  My mom would be the ant, always hard working to prepare for everything.  My dad? Not so much.  Long divorced, I’ve kept him safe.  So that’s my genetics, I could go either way.



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