No, I don’t really have a body image issue, but …

blog photo body image

…  I have succumbed to the vanity of engaging a personal trainer .  He’s great, but I must be a challenging client.  At 60 (or about 5 minutes away from it anyway), here’s how a personal training session starts:

Tony:               What would you like to focus on today?

David:             Well, I’m still having this issue with the pain in my arm when it moves in certain directions, so no push-ups, no bench press and no pec fly.

Tony:               Anything else?

David:             Yeah, you know that thing you lean over to do upside down sit-ups?  Well, I didn’t have it adjusted properly when I was using it on Saturday morning and got my kneecap stuck under the pad.  Now I can’t straighten my leg out so none of that jumping stuff.

Tony:               Okay, we’ll work around that.

Tony:               (Aside to another of his ageing clients)  That’s the trouble with this gym, there are too many old farts.

Old fart:         You’re not that young yourself.  You wait till it catches up with you too.

So the sixtified version of personal training turns out to be:

  • Train whatever parts of your body are currently functioning at better than 75%
  • Something is better than nothing
  • Love it that you can still do anything much on those infernal machines anyway
  • Don’t give up, because there are still those occasional moments of magic when you realise you’ve just done something you couldn’t do a few weeks ago.

If the state of your body gets really disheartening, a couple of inspirational examples can always help, like these.

The first one is from the SMH Fitz Files:

Don Riddington – the 68-year-old grandfather and oldest Australian to swim the English Channel.  He did it in 19 hours and 45 minutes.”  That’s a long time to doing anything physical, and there wouldn’t  have been any black line on the bottom to follow, either.

The second one popped up on Pinterest when I was getting a dose of vicarious mountain bike thrills from other people’s photos:

Robert Marchand from France, who set a world record for cycling non-stop for one hour, in the over 100 year old category at the Union Cycliste Internationale velodrome in Aigle, France February 17, 2012.  Marchand, born November 26 1911, cycled 24.251 kilometres around the 200 metre indoor track to set the record.”  He was born when?

There may thus be hope for this old body still to crank out a decent performance somewhere down the track.

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Is there a real life after 60?

My dad had a small but memorable repertoire of songs.  He would occasionally break into one that had a refrain which, as best I can remember, went something like this:

“The old grey mare she ain’t what she used to be, many long years ago …”

I was recently riding my trusty bicycle up a hill which I hadn’t tackled for years, and found myself grabbing for a gear which was a wee bit lower than I know I used the last time. Dad’s little song popped rudely into my head through the panting and gulping.  This little black duck, on the brink of turning 60, sure ain’t what he used to be.

Or as my wife pithily reminds me: “The older you get, the better you were”.

Just having a peep over the horizon, I admit there are a few upsides to 60:

  • your super pension becomes tax-free
  • you can get one of those $2.50 train tickets that can take you anywhere
  • you go up an age category in bike rides and fun-runs so you are racing 69 year olds, instead of being 59 and racing 50 year olds
  • if you have no shame, you can get a senior’s card and ask for the discount.

But none of those so far seem to be fair compensation for the downsides, like:

  • your daughter can bench-press more kilos than you can
  • your tattoo is going blurry at the edges
  • when you get your hair cut, you have to get your eyebrows clippered with the number 1 at the same time.

And those are just some of the embarrassments.

There has to be a way through this transition, via which you can maintain your dignity, stay in reasonable shape, and still have some relevance to society.

Here beginneth the first lesson.

Don’t rely on Dr Google.

Look, this bit may be a little tacky, so feel free to skip it.  I had this pinky dark tinge to my urine.  Of course I googled “blood in urine” and got a  slew of suggestions about what could be wrong with me, ranging from “it could be nothing” (which of course I wasn’t going to accept) all the way up to prostate cancer (which at almost 60 was well on the cards).

There was the usual caveat about going to see your doctor forthwith, which I did but not forthwith.  First I worried a bit more. When I finally got there, I was handed the little bottle with the yellow lid and sent to fill it.  I came back with a specimen of a gorgeous hue, pale pink like a bottle of good French rose.

The little test strip went in, and Dr Actual-not-Google gave it a total all-clear on every indicator.  She said “Have you been doing anything new lately?”

I had a glimmer of insight.  “Well, we’ve got a new juicer and I’ve been doing beetroot juice.” Turns out there is a recognised condition of “beetroot-urea”, and this time I didn’t have prostate cancer at all.

No doubt there will be plenty of little niggles in this coming decade.  Not starting out by catastrophising them will be a really good first reaction, and not consulting Dr Google is no doubt the best way to do that.

If that story didn’t put you off, you can follow the bumpy ride through the tipping point right here at being60.com.