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I am a 49er

I am a 49er

Posted 10 February 2021

I turned 49 at the end of December. I am ok with that. I’m still in my 40’s, I’m younger than my husband (which is awesome and will always be the case, obviously), and I am now younger than my dog (not so awesome, although he is in better shape than I am!) But this is my last year of that and half a century is looming like a freight train and I won’t be able to get off the tracks.

I have felt my age for a few years now. Two years ago, I began to wear glasses to read and now I can’t read a thing without them. For the longest time I could read with a little trombone action in bright light. My kids would come up and thrust their phones up close to my face to show me something and laugh as I shoved their arms away about four feet while squinting at the screen. Now they just don’t even try. If Mom can’t find her glasses, Mom can’t see the phone or anything else as it happens.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there. The crow’s feet, frown lines and glabellar lines that I have had for some time are now paired with a faint tissue paper effect, especially when I don’t moisturize, which is often since I can’t be bothered to put on makeup unless I am going on a date. Even then I am unskilled, and my eyeshadow is always uneven or smeared. (But I can show you how to load a backpack.)

It’s not just my face though. I mean, all the toning and firming that happens over the previous summer just walks off without me. It seems to happen overnight. It’s horrifying and I feel ashamed and sick about it.

Sometimes I wonder and almost hope that I am suffering from a mild case of body dysmorphia disorder, but I don’t think so. Unfortunately, I think what I see in the mirror is true. It takes longer and longer every year to approach the level of firmness that I long for and I don’t think I ever even got there last year. I find myself lowering my standards because I have to.

We hike through October and then we take a break as Kirk is insanely busy at the post office and the weather makes outdoor activities less appealing. I do Christmas which involves a lot of sitting around, making cards, wrapping gifts, and eating all that yummy, toxic holiday stuff. I am not fat, but I have fat that squishes out the top of my jeans and makes me feel uncomfortably bloated when I am sitting at my desk at work. (I mostly work from home in comfy pajama bottoms these days.) I am starting to accumulate some back fat too.  As I age, the fat that I do have is more and more difficult to get rid of it.

(BTW, my daughter took a number of pictures and this one looks pretty good. Especially compared with reality. I'm trying to be honest...Baby steps!)

But the worst part is how much harder it is to do physical things. In 2019, we hiked the 455 miles of the PCT. Last year, we climbed all 12,280 feet of Mt. Adams. This year, we have a huge laundry list of adventures lined up.

Now when I swing out of bed, it freakin’ hurts to stand up; it feels like I have climbed Mt Adams every morning. What the heck?

So, this is me just a couple years ago. I'm a little dusty, but I am FIT. Okay, so this was mid Oregon PCT and we had hiked just over 300 miles in 20 days. In this picture, I am reuniting with Misha at Big Lake so that he could finish the hike with us.

​Of course, the absolute best fitness regimen is a long-distance hike. If only I could do one of every six months.

Well, with all that complaining aside, what am I going to do about it?

Last year, I tried fitness videos. I admit that I didn’t spend a lot of time researching the right one for me, but I found a couple I thought I could live with. After a few days trying to keep up with the tiny, firm, blonde 20-year-old twigs on them, I realized my moves looked more like the infomercial for Flippity-Fish than anything they were doing. Any Zen feelings evaporated or turned into loathing, for myself and for her when it hurt in a “you-are-straining-something-and- you-better-stop-before-you-end-up-in-the-hospital kind of way, rather than a sore muscle I-feel-good-about-the-progress-I-am-making way that we all love.

One quick note…we did the PCT in 2019. I broke my foot on the third to last day, so when I got home, I couldn’t take walks. I had to sit around on my butt feeling it expand under me as each idle moment crept on. The pandemic hit in early 2020 which put a damper on our hiking plans, but we were still able to do some cool stuff. I got in shape and then the fires broke out and I couldn’t walk in the smoke. I got revved up last month to start a regimen, so proud to get out there again. The ice storm put a cold damper on that. Now the streets and the parks near my house are clogged with downed branches and trees.

Despite all of this I am going to setting some reasonable goals and will share them so that you can help keep me honest.

I welcome any feedback or stories about your journey. If you want to share with the class, click here!

Happy Workout for Happy Hiking

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.     

Confucius

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All photos by Kirk and Marea Bartram unless otherwise stated.