My birthday is just around the corner and I’m okay with being about to turn 53. Really, I am. If there is one thing this past five years of blogging has done for me, it’s made me recognize that age is just a number.
On Sunday, I’ll be just one day older than I was the day before. That makes it not much different from any other day, right?
Even though I’m fine with being about to turn 53, I am having difficulty believing I’m about to turn 53. I mean, lately I’ve been talking a lot about the blog’s beginnings, and that was 5 whole years ago when 50 seemed like a big deal (because we weren’t there yet). I think one reason I’m having trouble wrapping my head around 53 is that 50 seems like it was just the other day. But it was three whole years ago.
When we started blogging here we wanted to offer a more inclusive perspective on fitness that didn’t treat aging adults — those who, like us, were entering mid-life or beyond — like a special interest group. Activity and the pursuit of physical fitness and well-being is not simply the purview of youth.
Though our “fittest by 50” challenge was more than just a lark, I don’t think I have quite appreciated until recently what a powerful transformation it created in me. Though I was always active before that, I don’t think I had an especially high level of physical fitness. On the measures of endurance and strength, my 48 year old self couldn’t hold a candle to my 50 year old self. And while I’m not still doing triathlon so it’s difficult for me to compare my conditioning at 50 to where I am now, I feel pretty darn amazing now. I’m more energetic and I’m striking a good balance between my workouts and the rest of my life.
Truth be told, when I was training for triathlon I sometimes had more than 10 different workouts in a week. That’s a lot. I don’t aspire to that anymore. I’m feeling vibrant and energetic. Yes, I’m in a bit of a slump right now because my routine is still trying to re-establish itself. But life is good.
Birthdays usually give me occasion to stop and reflect. Last year, I was still on the fence about triathlon training. I wasn’t keen on the bike and was trying to decide whether to pursue it. This year, I’ve sold both of my fancy bikes and hit pause on the swim training too. The bikes went because I decided there was no reason to continue to torture myself with something I didn’t enjoy. And I’ve taken a hiatus from the pool because, quite frankly, I lost the motivation to get up for 6 a.m. swims.
I can see that my commitment, made in writing in my birthday blog post last September, to develop some self-compassion, has yielded fruit. I said I’d be kinder to myself. Giving up cycling and making a decision to sleep a little longer in the morning are two ways that I’m kinder to myself. Other ways include more time for friends, working with a running coach and a personal trainer, returning to hot yoga, and keeping my training manageable and realistic (an October 10K event instead of a half marathon because my travel schedule would have made training for further more stressful than fun).
The book, Fit at Mid-Life: Our Feminist Fitness Journey, is actually getting real. It’s coming out in April, published by Greystone Books in Vancouver. Sam and I are super-excited, and had a great photo shoot with Ruth Kivilahti from Ruthless Images. Here’s a sneak preview — our favourite pic from the shoot:
And though it’s turned out that I’ve had to work every birthday weekend for the past few years because it coincides each with the biggest university fair in Ontario, I’m making the most of my weekend in Toronto. On Friday I’m meeting a friend for lunch at Fresh on Spadina (I love that place!) and my nephews and sister-in-law for dinner. Saturday I’m having dinner at my new favourite fancy place, Planta.
For the upcoming year, I’m keeping it modest. My sabbatical starts in less than a year. I’ll be moving aboard the boat next July, with a brief land trip for Burning Man 2018. It will be exciting to spend a year on the water with Renald, writing and swimming (that’s how I picture it, anyway). Between now and then I plan to enjoy my friends, keep up my personal training, running, and yoga, and gear up for the launch of our book in the spring.
I’ve got some exciting travel ahead, including London, England next week, the Bahamas over Christmas, India in February, Vancouver for my step-daughter’s wedding in February, and China sometime shortly into the new year as well.
Basically, being 53 isn’t getting in the way of anything, so for that I feel a great deal of good fortune and immense gratitude.
When it’s your birthday, do you feel okay about another year rolling by?