Use it AND lose it!
Growing old is a pain in the butt. It’s also pain in the feet; pain in the knees; pain in the back.
Perhaps worse, though, is the pain between the ears as we contemplate how little wealth we have accumulated over a lifetime given we spent so many years imagining that fame and/or fortune would surely be ours. But we’ll stick with physical decline rather than poverty today.
Over the past few decades the phrase “use it or lose it” has reverberated across global societies as an exhortation to be active, both mentally and physically, and remain active in order to get the most out of life. And I believed it. It was an article of faith for me as it has been for untold millions of others. But I’m beginning to wonder.
I played a lot of sport as a young man but could never be described as an athlete or even a dedicated sportsperson. Participation in football and cricket were as much social exercises as they were fitness regimes.
I did change when I hit thirty, though. I got really fit and began running. It was bloody difficult at the outset and I can well understand why so many people turn away from the pain. You do have to be a bit crazy to be a fitness junkie.
I ran for twenty years, four or five mornings a week and became addicted to the endorphin rush once I cooled down. It set me up for the day and my positive attitude was liked by staff and those around me.
But as the years progressed, I began to tire of the constant twinges and reasonably frequent injuries. My process of reflection as I achieved my half-century made me abandon running for the somewhat easier challenge of cycling.
Not lycra cycling, I hasten to add. I have never ridden to a coffee shop to flaunt my sweat while normal people are simply trying to gain a mild edge sufficient to give them strength to actually make it into the office. Nah, my riding was done on an old clunker. And I had two rules: never use the gears and never lift my bum off the seat to gain easier traction.
Have to confess such determined disdain for making life easy surely came from my Catholic upbringing with its attendant relish for guilt and suffering.
And I have cycled every weekday morning (with only very rare lapses – yes, addiction comes in many forms) for the past twelve years. But now I find my body is falling apart. Each day is a veritable horror story of aches, pains and sharp twinges.
No, I am not seeking sympathy. I have made my bed and have no choice now but to lie in it (about the only place pain deserts me, though not always). My tale is more a cautionary one for others. For I see numerous friends afflicted by the same syndrome.
These are people who have earned admiring glances for their fitness and comparatively spry bodies. Yep, there have been way more people look at us as some kind of freak show and who prefer us not to exist because it only makes them feel guilty about their own sloth. But maybe they are the geniuses and we are the fools?
My feet are crippling me because every step in work shoes (even bloody orthotic types specially designed to make old farts look unfashionable) is painful. Now my knees have started to ache. And they’ve been followed by twinges in my hips. Aaaaagh!
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I really believed that I was doing the right thing but it seems I have deluded myself and that, quite probably, I have damaged my frame through “over-use”. I don’t know but if I have, then the joke’s on me.
Any couch potato reading this can have a quiet snigger at the foolishness of the fit. Next time you see a little old man hobbling along arthritically just think: there but for the idiocy of discipline, go I. Enjoy your leisure!