I sometimes wonder why I am so motivated to do what I do, that is not only to take care of my aging body, but to write about it. Some thoughts on why.
Dear Saga Reader, this piece includes two lengthy and important comments from the peanut galley (fellow supporters) which were far too important to leave in the comments section. Worth the whole read to see what they wrote)
First, this just effing pissed me off.
Yesterday I read this awful piece of Medium offal and it made me want to vomit:
I penned multiple responses and had to can each one. I was just livid, and you can see why. I would heartily invite any of you still on Medium (here's looking at you, Nurit) to rip this idiot a new one.
It isn't just that she is young and opining about something she knows shite about. Being able to say that you knew a few eighty-year-olds who weren't very healthy makes her an expert on aging?
(Author takes deep breath, controls self, but barely)
Hey, I thought I saw a Mongolian person once. I guess that makes me an expert on all things Mongolian.
Far be it for me to actually GO there (Okay, Okay, I spent a month there. But I still don't know anything).
I finally just responded to a few of her commenters and deleted my vile bile. However each time I peek at this sewage my blood boils and you can see why.
This author refers to herself (and here is hubris for you) as a "brave writer." Here's a self-description off her Medium profile:
A brave writer — Writing to heal, encourage conscious change, and make sense of life.
She maligns her sister, maligns aging, and fails to do ANY research whatsoever. NONE. There is nothing brave about this, nor is there any making sense of life from someone without the sense god gave a goose about how to write and research an article. What part of this ageist junk is healing?
(Author controls gag reflex again)
However, she did inspire this one, as did Saga supporter NancyL, whose comment I have included in full, below. She was commenting on the piece I just did about being out in life on the Oregon shore, hiking with a fractured foot, maneuvering rocks while injured AND helping women my age who have abdicated responsibility for their bodies to anyone willing to play savior.
So much of this is exactly why I'm here (and btw I canceled my paid Medium subscription finally, because what was coming into my feed was largely drivel apart from the few writers I have found and followed externally). For me, and right now for you it seems, it's about FUNCTIONAL FITNESS. I don't care how much weight someone can hoick overhead on a bar.
I care about whether he/she can walk in the wide world, or run, or swim out to that island over there, or carry bookcases to the car when clearing out a space. (yeah, that can be problematic, but that informs the carrier about being more careful next time. Been there, rehabbed that.)
It's about a beautiful Sunday getting back on a bike after 6 years, then having a swim because someone invited you to their pool, and this after an hour of dancing in the morning because you didn't know either of those things was coming - and not being cripplingly sore 2 days later, just a bit stiff from using muscles in ways they have not moved for a while.
Scrambling up rocks from a beach is a perfect example of why we need our feet (knees, hips, spines) to work well, supported by sturdy muscles. I'm all for scrambling for as many more decades as I am breathing. Right now, SITTING causes me far more trouble than anything that happens on my feet, and I hope to keep it that way. (though the time in the theater watching Top Gun was worth the subsequent stiffness.)
Best wishes with the upcoming hand surgery, and powerful wishes on the wind to your surgeon to have HIS best day ever at work that day. (author bolded, and ps thx for kind good wishes)
Here's the piece. Idiocy like the Medium woman's ridiculous and unsubstantiated pap (as in her implication that we all end up in nursing homes, when research shows that only some 4.5% of us over 65 are there) and implying that PRIMARILY the old get cancer, diabetes, etc., well.
Come on, man. Do the research and stop insulting Dear Reader's intelligence. A basic Google search, which this decrepit, aged, riddled old biddy can do perfectly well, would have devastated her points. That's perhaps her reason for avoiding doing the work. Hard to be wrong, ain't it, kiddo?
It is, however, grown up work to do the work to identify where you and I ARE wrong.
Anyone doing any kind of research in this space, which I do, knows that all the lifestyle illnesses she wishes to lay mostly at the feet of the aged are now infecting, and limiting and killing off pre-adolescents to teens to twenty somethings with appalling speed. The fact that she selectively avoids looking at the research indicates that the only thing she cares about is making her opinion look like fact.
THIS IS WHY I DISLIKE SO MANY MEDIUM WRITERS.
No credentials other than poorly-informed opinions.
And to that, Nancy's point about how to live, a counterpoint to my current full-on push to get all my stuff into my garage for a massive, MASSIVE pickup of all the heavies on Sunday, speak to what is possible. Not just possible, but likely. Which Nurit and Penny and all the rest of you can speak to, because it takes work.
While yeah I write about my stuff a lot, if you share with me I share with everyone, because this is about all of us giving lie to the utter and complete bullshit of ain't aging awful.
No. It isn't. Some parts are hilarious. Some parts are sad. Some parts are damned challenging. But we can, and do, regularly bypass and surpass and utterly and completely obliterate the stupid low-bar expectations of those of us past sixty.
Why? Here's the latest from Jim Stutsman, who absolutely nails it again in response to my Hump Day article that NancyL had also responded to:
So I followed the link and read the article, and I agree that it's wrong, on two levels. First the author fails to acknowledge or mention two key facts:
1) Anyone over the age of 50 who has eaten the Standard American Diet (SAD) for their entire life is likely to have health consequences such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and more.
2) As we get older, we need more protein in our diet to sustain muscle, let alone build it. I could maybe forgive these omissions, but the author is the Associate Director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. As a stereotypical nerd in high school, I detested gym class and pretty much all sports.
In my 40s I did take up running with the family dogs, but that ended with the dogs crossing the fabled rainbow bridge, and the stress and strain of my wife and I running her business. In retirement our medical plan offered a free gym membership, but I adopted Groucho Marx's position of never belonging to any organization that would have me as a member. We did start walking, and have been doing so for more than a decade.
Every day starts with a 5k walk, which takes just under an hour, until the combined heat and humidity of Texas summer pushes it over by 2 or 3 minutes. That was really enough for me, but after following the exploits of our beloved writer, who is more than 4 years younger than me, I was moved to try doing push-ups. This is an activity I had not attempted since my ROTC training with the US Army in college.
My old drill instructor would have destroyed me for my pathetic attempt, but I decided to just get to 10 proper push-ups. That was a few months ago. I've been adding more repetitions daily, and this morning I managed 70. This is not much of an achievement, but something remarkable has happened. I do my set immediately after getting up each morning, typically in just 2-3 minutes.
That's it, no more. But suddenly my size L T-shirt sleeves are getting a little snug. The old XL shirts from my fat(er) days fit better across the shoulders than they used to. My persistent "love handles" are shrinking a bit. Getting here was absurdly easy, but I firmly believe the preparation started in the kitchen.
We follow a semi-strict regimen of ancestral eating, and I tend to lean into the protein a bit more, which I'm sure helps to put on muscle. I plan to continue my morning ritual until I get to 100, something I could never have done after my 6 weeks of Basic Training.
And people wonder why I do this. I get so much good news in my comments section that this is what I use to swat away the crap that the headlines toss at me. We are invincible in this way, that we arm ourselves with people doing good things for themselves and invigorating each other with this kind of story.
If I may, the other day Jim left me in stitches with this absolutely superb line:
My designer collection is an assortment of jeans in sizes from skinny to circus tent. I’ve also got a nice selection of T-shirts in varying sizes. If clothes make the man, I’m like an unmade bed.
That is priceless.
These comments, this insight, this willingness to do new things and try pushing ourselves and watch the results, THESE are why I do this.
All of this is sacred work.
And claiming at what, forty-ish?, that you're going to cop out at 75 just because is anything but brave. It's craven crap, and I am calling it out. If Jim can punch out seventy pushups after a few weeks' worth of effort as he is on the doorstep of 75, I call utter and total CRAP on said Medium Tedium writer.
If those of you who have started workout programs late in life have been watching your bodies transform (I see you Penny), then I call CRAP on this writer.
Saga supporter Nurit Amichai can point to countless folks she's worked with over the years, whose self image was transformed with dedication and support, to say nothing of her own story.
I do what I do because I chase what's possible. Those are just a few of the horizons I hunt. Because where you and I push back against such blatant ageism, we teach courage. Shame on that shit. Let's all do better.
Now, just to keep things fun, I will end on a high note. I love to share good news. Saga Supporter Randy Roig, who earlier on shared his training routines for hiking the Dolomites, and thank god he wasn't in the unlucky group that just got glaciered (I made that up) away, sent me a gift and I am going to share it.
I am hardly the only adventurer here, and I am beyond delighted to share with you his collection of photos. With his permission, please enjoy:
I am giving you the whole thing because like me, Randy likes to fill his life with wild life, and wild adventures. He just asked me to talk to my buddy Prem Khatry in Nepal about Bhutan. MY kind of folks.
YOU are my kind of folks.
You and I need to know that there are PLENTY of us out there doing amazing things, taking chances, getting it done.
Now I gotta corral the animals downstairs for pickup on Sunday. Think I'm kidding?
Let's get out and get this done already. We have no time to lose to keep on living life at its highest level.
Let's get 'er did.
Dear Walkabout Saga Reader:
If my work appeals to you, may I kindly invite you to consider joining those Patreon supporters whose generosity keeps the gas in my tank as it were. There are many more of you reading, which I appreciate very much. However as with National Public Radio, many more read without supporting, and I am asking you to consider offering the cost of a coffee to help me do more than just keep the lights on. That said, if you find value in my writing, and are so inclined, I'd be grateful for what support you can give. If you know others who could benefit from what I produce here, please let them know.
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However you decide to partake of my writing, again, thank you.