aging · blog · fitness

The little seed that started it all…

Seeds sprouting in a pot. Unsplash.

Nine years ago, on May 23, 2012, Facebook memories tells me, I posted the following note:

“As I approach the two year countdown to 50 (I turn 48 at the end of this summer) I’d like to set an ambitious fitness goal. Roughly, I’d like to be the most fit I’ve ever been at 50. Fifty seems like a good time to peak and it’s doable given that I’m an adult onset athlete (no childhood sports trophies collecting dust in the cabinets for me!) There is a bit of a challenge given that I had a similar goal at 40 and I was 10 years younger then. But then I was starting from close to zero and my goal was to get in shape. Now I’ve got a pretty good basis on which to build. The big problem is how to measure. Not weight. That’s silly. I was my thinnest when I smoked and drank a lot of coffee and didn’t eat much actual food. Looked  great but was winded walking up stairs. Those days are gone. I’m strong, fit, robust, resilient but ‘thin’ I’ll never be.

Body composition? Not weight but per cent body fat….maybe. Hard to care about that though and not focus on numbers on a scale, even if they are different numbers.

Running? Maybe. I know my PBs for 5 and 10 km. But I’m also anxious not to invoke another stress fracture. Certainly more than 10km just isn’t doable.

Strength? I do know what I’ve been lifting through the years so maybe. Might work. I’m loving the intensity of crossfit and they are good at measuring progress….

Cycling? Hmmm. Flying laps or centuries? Time trial times are a pretty good measure of fitness.

Aikido: I could aim for a brown belt by 50 but that might be too ambitious.

Yoga: No goals there. I just like to melt and stretch in the heat.

Soccer: My only goal is to have fun….

Suggestions, fitness friends?”

After that little Facebook note, Tracy expressed her desire to join the challenge, and at her prompting we started this blog. Here’s my first post in August 2012.

We also finished the ‘fittest by fifty’ challenge and wrote a book all about it, Fit at Mid-Life: A Feminist Fitness Journey.

May be an image of text that says 'A Feminist Fitness Journey FIT AT MID-LIFE SAMANTHA BRENNAN TRACY ISAACS "A gateway to radical body confidence." LOUISE GREEN, author of Big Fit Girl'
Fit at Midlife: A Feminist Fitness Journey

Things have changed around here since then. We’ve grown into a community of bloggers, a team of more than a dozen regular contributors and more than a hundred guests. There’s a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, and we’re on Instagram too. The focus on ‘fittest by fifty’ is long over and while we’re still fitness-focused, we’re now taking part in a much broader conversation about movement, aging, feminism, justice, and the good life.

We’ve also been at it for awhile. I’ve published more than 2200 blog posts, either ones I’ve written or ones I’ve posted for guests. The blog as a whole has published 4800 posts. Maybe we need a 5000th post celebration? Definitely we’re going to have a big bang up blog party for our 10th year in August 2023.

And now Tracy and I have been wondering, what next? Not for the blog. That’s a group conversation and we’re starting that next month. I’m wondering about our next writing project. I called the note I shared to Facebook, “Fifty is for Fitness.” An earlier blog of mine–lost forever when Friendster went away–talked about “forties being for fun.” But 60? What about 60?

At the end of this summer I’m turning 57. Tracy and I have talked about another book, marking the next big decade in our lives. But we haven’t landed on what that book will be about. We’re still very much at the conversation stage. We’ve got 60 in our sights and we’re wondering. Fitness and aging themed maybe, with a broader definition of fitness?

What do you think the start of the sixties should be about? What themes resonate for you?

4 thoughts on “The little seed that started it all…

  1. I’m 61 years old, and I have to say learning to live with “new normals”, and whatever that entails, is the hardest part. I’ve had bilateral knee replacements, so I’m not supposed to do contact sports anymore. I still enjoy Krav Maga (martial arts), but now I have to learn how to fight without damaging my knees. This means no sparring. I can ski, but no moguls. I can swim without limitations. So, being over 60 means I have to decide what’s a reasonable accommodation for my physical limitations. Look at what your “new normal” is, and how you compensate for it. Just my 2-cents worth.

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    1. Excellent advice. I’m waiting for knee replacement surgery and I’m excited to hear how much you can do.

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      1. I can bike ride, but no running. The key is no jarring forces on the joint. If I want to simulate running, I can use an elliptical. Since I wasn’t a runner before the surgeries, I don’t feel as much loss as someone who self-identifies as a runner. I love to take ballet classes, even via zoom in my kitchen, but I can’t do any jumps. I can still enjoy the joy of dancing and moving my body, but I’m always conscience of protecting my knees. I try very hard to focus on what I CAN do, and not so much on what I CAN’T do. It’s hard, and there is a grief process involved. I’m having to allow myself to grieve my loss of unrestricted movement. It’s an unpleasant reminder that I’m aging, and not as “gracefully” as I had hoped at 50.

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  2. Let me begin by saying how often I see something in your blog that helps me out, or that is just fun, or reminds me how happy I am that I began a similar journey. Thank you! I ran my first mile at about age 48; got on a road bike for the first time at 51 & went on to ride it to Los Angeles from San Francisco (AIDS ride) a year later. A few years after that, rode from Seattle to Boston with my husband. If anyone had told me when I was 30, or 40? I would have laughed a bit sadly. Not me. But now I am 69, will reach 70 later in the year, and am spending much of my non-active time planning a mostly solo ride across the southern USA. If the weather is ok in Florida that day, I plan to celebrate turning 70 by riding 100 miles. If not, I’ll do it the day before or the day after.

    So bicycling is my major activity now, but I also run a little, take tap dance classes, do regular yoga, and am a bird watcher. The walks I take gawking at birds, I no longer even count as exercise – though they are often 6-10 miles & go on all day. Who’d have thought?

    Although I can see that age is slowing me a bit (if I want to run an under 30 minute 5k, it better be mostly downhill!), I do not seem to be losing endurance. Endurance seems to me to be a more important quality of life issue anyway.

    I was an active kid, but not an athlete. What finally inspired me to get in shape was a brain tumor which, amazingly, has now gone 22 years without recurrence. I have stage 4 arthritis in one knee, though for some odd reason I rarely feel it & it still allows running. I throw that history in only to say, whoever you are, go for it. It has made almost every minute of my life more satisfying, more comfortable, more fun.

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