A few years ago, quite a few years ago, when I was just a young 30- something, my husband said to me: wait till you get to your 40’s, physically everything starts changing! I was like, ‘what’s the big deal?’
I reckoned he had it coming to him: I mean he’s literally been jumping, skipping and running since he could move and now his joints were giving him a bit of grief! Me, I’ve not been quite so active, so I was quite sure I’d get a bit more out of this body!
I was wrong: I hit 40 and a wee cascade of things happened and I understood what he was on about. Yep, turning 40 is fantastic, we made it this far and all in one piece, but physically things are different!
For example: hair grows in funny places and starts thinning in other spots; your back, which never hurt before now becomes a bit creaky; your knees give you a few jabs to tell you they exist and all of a sudden, you own a foam roller, a spiky ball, massage stick, Epsom salts for your bath, tiger balm and have a massage therapist, osteopath, physio and acupuncturist – all on speed dial!
It’s an adjustment and one which I’m getting used to, slowly! 40 has come and gone and I’m now 43, and one of the biggest changes was my motivation to train. Hubby, (old, wise-r, one!), used to talk about this too, how the urge to skip, jump and run starts to decline and all of a sudden your bed seems a lovely place to spend more time.
Motivation is a funny and allusive thing and very much, I believe, linked to your hormones, environment, age and threat of disease. It comes and goes in life. As kids we kind of lose our mojo around 13 to 16 and lethargy sets in, which is tough if you are a young athlete and your hormones are telling you to sleep 12 to 14 hours a day and move slowly, if at all. Having a baby or multiple babies can derail your fitness/motivation to train for several years and it affects both sleep deprived parents.
Gaining weight, holidays and getting injured all hurt us in the motivation stakes – it’s so much harder to get back on the saddle when you’ve had a break or put on the pounds. Even a group of friends who love to party, not exercise, can break your routine and motivation. A daily commute to work and sitting down for 8 hours at a desk can be the catalyst for a sedentary lifestyle where walking the stairs feels like a huge effort and so the motivation to move is gone: only the pain of a chronic disease such as Type 2 Diabetes can get you moving again…..cheerful, stuff, so far??
Losing our mojo happens and hitting 40 was one of those moments when I realised I may need to look for a new inspiration to move more. What fuelled me in my 20’s and 30’s, if I’m honest, was vanity and ego – these were at the heart of my motivation – looking good, getting bikini-ready, running faster, competing etc. Now, I can’t compete at the same level anymore, my body won’t let me and I don’t really worry about wearing a bikini because if I’m going for a swim, I’m wearing a full piece, it’s more functional!
Look, I still have pride in how I look, of course, hence I spend so much on hair dye, but where’s the motivation to move more and keep my strength up, abs tight, thighs burning, blah blah blah. I cleaned up my diet five years ago, so my weight rarely changes and my job keeps me moving: I don’t sit down all day! So where is the motivation to do a yoga class or session on my own twice a week, do hill sprints, pump out a tabata drill, when you are not training for anything specific?
My new motivation comes from a very different place: I want to be strong, stable and supple. I don’t want to lose my years of hard work, because it’s what allows me to do things with ease. We live in the top floor of a flat and it’s 45 steps to the top, nine floors up, add 10kg of weight to your climb, which is normal (that’s 5 TRX systems or yoga mats) and your heart rate is up and your legs are on fire. We have no intention of moving accomodation for a while, so I had better stay fit! Also, we look at the hills around us every day (well when you can see them, fog permitting) and we want to get up them. I mean they are literally screaming at us on a beautiful day to be climbed. To do that, off the cuff, you need some level of fitness.
I’m not interested in training for anything any-more, I’ve pushed my body to the limit in many sports and outdoor pursuits, with the aim of doing well, achieving a personal best or winning as a team. The training to compete is over, but the training to get ‘out there’ whenever the need or opportunity arises is what motivates me now.
My job involves getting up and down off the floor, kicking my legs in funny directions (aqua moves) and suspending my body and carrying heaps of gear in and out of places (heaters/yoga mats etc.). We can’t do this for another 10 years with bad posture, a sore back, aching joints and no fitness. The bottom line is we need to stay functionally fit for our jobs, our outdoor activities and our dreams – I may not want to train for an Iron man anymore but I have this intense urge to cycle the Scottish Islands and to go cross country skiing in Norway!
I still love training people and meeting people with fitness goals, or discussing fitness in general as it interests me beyond no end and I love to help anyone who wants to achieve something, in any way I can, but for now I think my goals are just staying healthy and my new motivation is to make life easier and that is what makes me work-out regularly.
It’s a bit scary how quickly you can lose your fitness, strength and suppleness at our age and I don’t imagine this will get any easier, so I’m staying in the game. You never know though, I may just do another ultra marathon or off road triathlon, but for now, I'm enjoying exploring other things and trying new things, which in the past I would have not done as I was always 'training' for something. Here's to slinking slowly towards 45!