Jack's Ruminations

Getting Old: The Complainin’

Posted on: January 11, 2015

oldman-512I turn 52 next month. I’m getting old. Not just in years, but how I feel.

I said that to a friend recently, and the friend took umbrage at my claim of getting old. At 52, I’m sub 10% body fat, have tremendous physical and mental energy (for my age), no long term or short term illnesses, and few wrinkles on my face, and my blood test results are those of a much younger man. People tell me I don’t look my age.

But “old” is a relative term. When I say I’m getting old, I’m not comparing myself to the average 52 year old American male. Instead, I’m thinking about the 20-something Peter.

With that introduction out of the way, below are my complaints about getting old. The next post will address what I’m doing about these complaints. I mean, I may be a whiner, but I’m a whiner taking action.

1. Cold. In the last 5 years, I’ve noticed that I’m much colder in cool climates than I used to be. For all my post-puberty life, I was always the “warmest guy in the room”. Other people would be wearing sweaters; I would be in a t-shirt or shirtless, my body pumping out heat. Today, however, within a random group of people, I will be somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of feeling cold.

Now, I’m pretty sure this has a lot to do with the fact that I’m super skinny. 52 year olds are not supposed to be super lean like me. The personal data I’ve taken over the past five years tells me unambiguously that my body wants to be fat. Today, it is infinitely easier to put on 5 or 10 pounds than it is to lose 2. In my 20s, this dynamic was opposite.

Clever me, I’ve defeated the forces of nature conspiring to make me fat by eating a pure, well considered diet, and little of it, ergo my skinny corpus.

But now, at 52, my reward for rejecting the old man “coat of fat” is that I’m a cold old man.

2. Injury/Slow Recovery. This one has been true for 10 or more years, but it’s becoming acute now. The dynamic here is that, in my exercise — barefoot running and sprinting, wood chopping, power yoga — I am much more likely to injure myself than when I was young, and my injuries heal much more slowly now.

Example: I started doing some uphill 75m barefoot wind sprints on our property a few weeks ago. The second time I did it, I pulled something in the back of my left knee. The injury seemed to heal within a couple of weeks, but I re-injure the knee now and then whenever I “push it” on the sprints. Basically, compared to the lion I used to be, I’m now a fragile old man.

More complainin’ below the fold …

3. Muscle Wasting. This is the one that really got my attention. In the past 2-3 years, my upper body strength has fallen off of a cliff. I noticed this by trying to lift some heavy things I had lifted only 5 years before, but was unable to do so now.

Basically, it appears that my body has recently morphed into “use it or lose it” mode. For example, my legs and core muscles stayed strong post 50 — probably because I exercise them regularly.

But nothing in my life was exercising my upper body on a regular basis. Lifting heavy stuff every few months evidently no longer suffices to maintain my arm, shoulder, and chest muscles.

Use it or lose it. Better stated, use it or see it turned into fat.

4. Short Term Memory. When young, I had a prodigious short term memory. I could memorize long sequences of numbers easily. Had easy recall of my last few days. Now, my last few days are wiped from my short term memory, unless there is something in there out of the ordinary.

Example: I’ve always had a “home” for my keys and wallet. So I rarely, if ever, misplace them. But until recently, I never had a home for my water bottle. Whenever I couldn’t find it, I would just retrace my steps over the period since I had last seen it. These days, however, some of those steps are missing from my short term memory. In other words, I’m evidently living like I drive — on auto-pilot.

5. Absence of Buzzing Energy. Raising a 9 year old makes this one clear to me. When I was young, and even up through my 30s, I could be sitting down, calmly, but have this buzzing energy inside me saying: “Go run! Go play hoops! Get off your ass!”

Over the years, this voice inside of me quieted down until, by my 40s, it was dead silent. Then I was reminded of this overflowing energy during my Ogbono experiment of 2009, and more recently, during my AMPK protocol. Within 2 weeks of starting each experiment, I would experience a day with a strange, but familiar sensation. It was that old buzzing energy voice.

Of course, that feeling inside of me would last only for one day. Then I would be back to being this old man who exercises only because the exercise — weight lifting, swimming, barefoot sprinting, power yoga, mountain hiking — is on my calendar. ie. My calendar tells me to do it, so I do it, and almost always, within 5-10 minutes of starting the exercise, my energy engines are up and running and don’t want to stop.

So this complaint is a very narrow one. I mean, I exercise way more than the average 50 something. What I’m complaining about is the motivating force that is getting me my off ass to exercise. In my youth, that force was overabundant, internal energy. Today, it’s cool habit, external calendaring, and head theory. Blah.

It’s like being married not because you love each other with a burning passion, but rather because the money and the inconvenience trump the alternative. Blah.

6. Driving the Speed Limit. This one isn’t a complaint. I’m actually quite happy about this aspect of getting old. It’s about how I drive. Up until about 5 or 10 years ago, I was one of those “fastest drivers on the road”. I lacked the patience to sit in traffic, going the speed limit, sitting behind a line of cars.

So driving the way I did required extra attention both to the road, the conditions, and the police. I’m happy to say that driving this “asshole” way, over 3 decades, across 3 countries (Canada, US, and Greece), I’ve never been in an accident, and have received no more than 5 or 6 speeding tickets.

Today, however, I’m the old guy sitting comfortably in the right lane, going 63 in a 65 zone. All I’m lacking is one of those old man fedoras.

If I’m running late, I can revert back to “fast driver mode”. But there’s no emotion in it. Just function. And soon as the time pressure has passed, I slow back down to the speed of traffic, quite content.

7. Sexually, Meh. This is another one I’m not complaining about. I actually feel liberated from my gonads.

Let me start this one by saying that in my last blood test, my serum testosterone recorded high (almost 900). But that was high for someone in his 50s, not high for a younger man.

I’ll also say that, physically speaking, “my junk” still works fine, thank you very much, without the need for any pharmaceutical (e.g Viagra) or other aids.

But what I’m missing these days is the feeling of a moral imperative to productively employ my junk. Back as recently as my 30s and early 40s, there was downhill feeling inside of me, to, you know, get busy.

Today, post 50, that feeling is all but gone. I now see 20-something pretty young women, and instead of feeling attraction, what I feel is something fatherly. I mean, I notice if the girl seems to being “trying too hard to put it out there” and feel nothing but compassion.

Anyway, like driving the speed limit yet being happy about it, I must say I feel quite fulfilled in life being relieved of the “being on the hunt” state of mind.

I’m actually liking the quietude of old age.

1 Response to "Getting Old: The Complainin’"

You’re getting to be an old fart like the rest of us.

Here’s my experience:

1. Cold. Nope for me. I’m heating up thanks to menopause.

2. Injury/Slow Recovery. I hear ya bro’. Achilles tendonosis and SI joint inflammation has left me out of commission for quite awhile now. I only just returned to playing BBall again, but now shuffling down the court like a 90 year old. But hey. I’m doing it!!

3. Muscle Wasting. I hear ya again. After reading your blog, I’m going to get back to doing my BowFlex machine on the regular.

4. Short Term Memory. This was going downhill quick, like a crashing airplane because of my rapidly declining estrogen levels. But then I started meditating lots; I mean lots and lots. I’m back to my sharp self again.

5. Abscence of Buzzing Energy. I only get this with creative surges. In the past, it would come, and be quite manic energy, and then I would continue to force it. Now, I just let it come, enjoy the ride, and let it go when its done.

6. Driving the Speed Limit. Today I drive the same way I did when I got my license at 16. You’re just getting much wiser now in this area of life.

7. Sexually. I suppose it must be a gender thing. For me, the change is from immature sexual passion to mature sexual passion. But maybe because I’m a romantic at heart, I’ve always entwined sexual passion with devotion, comfort, emotional intimacy, unity and romance.

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