aging · fitness · motivation · training

Are you a nine-ender? If so…

Image description: Tracy on the right Sam on the left, both smiling, wearing caps and sunglasses, medals around neck, people, trees, and sky in the background, after the Kincardine Women's Triathlon in 2013, when they weren't quite yet 49.
Image description: Tracy on the right Sam on the left, both smiling, wearing caps and sunglasses, medals around neck, people, trees, and sky in the background, after the Kincardine Women’s Triathlon in 2013, when they weren’t quite yet 49.

If you’re a nine-ender in age–that year before a decade birthday–you are more likely than members of any other age “demographic” to want to make big changes. This is especially true if you’re in a middle age nine-ender year, before 40 or 50 or even 60. And even more so if you’re a man, according to this news report in the National Post.

What are the most popular sorts of changes? No longer is it motorcycles, fast cars, and reverse highlights. No. The most popular changes are cutting back on or cutting out alcohol, going vegan, and engaging in extreme sports like Tough Mudders. Men often wait until their 40s and 50s. Women sometimes kick into gear on health changes at 30. Regardless, a looming new decade can be a great motivator.

When Sam and I started our “Fittest by 50 Challenge,” which was the instigator of this very blog, we were 48. Fifty seemed clearly in sight already by then for some reason, and we decided to take a two-year run up to it instead of a one-year run up to it. I am really grateful we did. Not because 50 is some magical age by which we absolutely needed to be our fittest, but because fitness is a process. If I’d coasted along the same way as I had been for one more year, I wouldn’t have attained my Olympic distance triathlon goal by my 50th birthday.

It took me close to a year to decided on triathlon as my goal and then another year to train for the Olympic distance that challenged me to train harder and without regard to anything other than performance goals. It also completely took my mind off of the upcoming birthday. And by the time I got there, it changed my view of what it meant to age.

I couldn’t have predicted at 48 just how transformative the challenge would turn out to be by the time I hit 50. On my 50th birthday, I posted about what it felt like to be fit, feminist, and 50. When I re-read that post it fills me with joy. And gratitude because mostly these days I have that sense of general contentment. Not that everything always feels fantastic, but overall, life is just so wonderfully good. I think the challenge had a lot to do with it.

So if you’re at a nine-ender year, or even if you’re not, and you have decided to set some new health and fitness goals for yourself, and you go at them in a consistent and sustainable way, maybe you too will experience that sense of transformation that I did. I’ve done lots of cool things to date, but I think the fittest by 50 challenge and all that has flowed from it is definitely among the most significant.

To all the nine-enders considering a big change, go for it. Choose something that excites you and chip away at it. It’s much more satisfying than a motorcycle (I know this  because I did the motorcycle thing too, in my early forties, and it didn’t do nearly as much for me as the fitness challenge did!).

If you’re in or have recently gone through a nine-ender year, did it prompt any changes? Tell us about it in the comments. We’re all ears!

One thought on “Are you a nine-ender? If so…

  1. I started five years go, lost more than 100lbs and took up running. My ultimate goal was a marathon in my nine-ender year (love that term!). The nine-ender year is here, the marathon is two weeks away. There were plenty of people when I started running who replied “well, we’ll see” to my marathon goal. I’m fortunate to have a partner whose response is “Sure! What do we need to do?” Right now it’s “Yeah, I know it’s scary and training didn’t go as well as you’d like, but it’s still possible. You can do it.” I’m not so sure, but it sure beats five years ago. I have an even bigger goal for the next decade.

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