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this is what_looks like

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Saturday, May 05, 2012

We've all seen those ads, or those features in magazines, right? If it is for an advertisement, it is often for something touted as "anti-aging". Not to be difficult, but wouldn't the true defiition of "anti-aging" be DEAD? Seriously, nothing actually reverses aging and the only thing that stops it is DEATH. No, thanks. I am actually very much "pro-aging" since it gives me more years to enjoy life. Anyway, you know what I mean - some amazingly fit-looking, unlined person without a strand of gray hair, and the caption says "this is what 48 looks like" or "this is what 55 looks like". Maybe for them, maybe with their genetics, and their bone structure and body type, and their lifestyle, with some added help from a stylist and make-up artist, hairdresser, surgeon?, and basically a small army of people to make sure that they do not look in any way, shape, or form what most of us perceive that particular age would actually look like. But, what if we adapt that slogan? I am approaching 53 years old and, trust me, my idea of what a woman in her 50's looked like when I was a woman in, say, my 20's, was not a flattering list. "old, sexless, done" are a few of the harsher adjectives that come to mind when I think of what my arrogant, short-sighted attitude was when 53 was so far away I could not even imagine it becoming reality. Time brings humility, and wisdom, if we are paying attention. So, now, with 53 looming, my idea of what it looks like isn't so much to do with what it looks like in the mirror, or photographs, or to other people (especially much younger people). Now when I think about what it looks like, I am focusing more on what it looks like in heart-pumping, living, breathing reality. What does YOUR next age look like? Maybe 60 looks like being able to hike to the top of what seems like a daunting hill. Maybe 23 looks like letting go of spending time with people who don't treat you the way you deserve to be treated, teaching people you require proper respect and care. Maybe 40 looks like not thinking or talking about completing a marathon, it looks like training and committing and sweating your way through 26.2 miles and many doubts and fears. Maybe 36 looks like setting down cigarettes and taking up strength training. Maybe we start now to invest in what our 70's and 80's and beyond will look like. We do those side planks now so that broken hips are less likely. We walk daily, briskly, and with a purpose now so that we can up our chances of walking that way until the very end. Today, after doing a group strength training called "Power Hour" at the small gym that I go to, I helped put stuff away and as people were making their way to the door, I began doing my push-ups. I have renewed my goal of doing a push-up for each year of my age, on every birthday. The rule is I have to do them within two minutes, taking a few seconds to rest as needed, and I have to do them with good form, on my toes emoticon (hence, the few seconds of rest here and there). When I was in my mid forties I could not do one. Not one. Today, as I began doing the push-ups I heard someone yell my name and pretty soon, about 5 guys were cheering me on. I did 26 but then I stopped to take a few seconds because my form was getting weak. Because, even though it would have made a good story for them to have cheered me through all 53, I know what I need and I needed to stop and rest and then resume. After I was done, a few of the guys who had been cheering began doing push-ups which is not an easy feat after lifting weights for most of an hour and they lift a lot heavier than I do, believe me. I told them about my birthday project and they said they were going to adopt it, as well, including the rest periods. Anyway, my point is, I have gotten stronger as I have gotten older. I don't know what my future holds, but I hope it is a long future and that by doing certain things now, I have made a good investment in a stronger future. So, what does your age look like and what will your next birthday look like?
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    2174 days ago
  • JGRAY76
    Excellent blog and I am so amazed that you can do push ups that equal your age. I have been working on just trying to do a few and am struggling. You must have tremendous strength so good for you!!! I didn't start on my lifechanging spark journey until age 57 so I'm taking it slow but loving the results. You are very motivating. emoticon
    2174 days ago
  • JIBBIE49
    emoticon How wonderful to see your blog featured in the Spark Mail. What an honor. emoticon
    2174 days ago
    Great idea. emoticon
    2174 days ago
  • JPEARL127
    This is a wonderful goal. Since I will be starting at 65 my next birthday, I hope to use the next 6 months preparing to do the push-ups. I may not be able to do them with the proper toe-up form, but I will do them, starting with all hips-down, then all knee-up, and finally all toe-up until I am able to work my way through with them toe-up all the way. By the time I am 65 I hope to have slimmer upper arms and a healthier body image.
    2174 days ago
    Inspiring! That's what this blog is! And it really made my Sunday!
    "Time brings humility and wisdom." I loved that. I tend to call it "life wisdom" and I always look for it when I meet new people. It can be found in all ages and, as you correctly said, it can only be acquired by paying attention!
    At my 36 I look like the best shape I've ever been in my life! My next milestone is 40. All I want to look is healthy and strong. And at 53 I want to be able to do 53 push-ups like you - I can't even do 15 now but I couldn't even do one at my 25 - and above all, I wish to have lots of life wisdom like you do!
    2174 days ago
    I can say 43 looks like a return to a healthier time, but with far more white hairs, crinkles at my eyes and, the one place I think shows my age the most, less than smooth hands. I'm not sure how long it will take me to get to a point where I could do as many pushups as my age, but it certainly is a fun project to consider what it would take at 75 to do so.

    (Interestingly enough, I was talking to a woman in the gym locker-room this morning. She happened to mention she was 68. Yes, in some ways she did look her age, but she was strong and fit as well - and that's what stood out more.)
    2174 days ago
    Having started turning grey at 18, mostly grey at 24 and all grey by 30, I have grown used to it! As my Dad says, getting old is hell, but it sure beats the alternative!

    I am approaching 56 (at a high rate of speed it seems) and I wouldn't go back to my 20's for anything. Maybe I was born to be an older person, I am very comfortable in my 50's. I am in better shape than at any other time in my adult life, and a lot of my childhood. I have gone from being very underweight to being technically obese and back. I have treated my body badly, too much fat, too many cigarettes, too much booze, too much sitting on my rear. I had aches and pains in my 30's and took pills to hurt less. In the Air Force, they made me run a mile and a half, once a year to prove I was fit enough for service. The older I got, the more time I got. I always measure my run times for 1.5 miles and the 55 year old me can do it faster that the 18 year old me ever dreamed of. In fact, I could score higher in all the fitness tests now than I could then!

    Besides, 50 is the new 30! right?
    2174 days ago
  • NUMD97
    Love every word of it. Thanks, Carol. We need to stop listening to unrealistic messages from society and dare to go forth as we really are: I, too, took that chance, let my dyed hair grow back to its natural salt and pepper [still more pepper (thanks, Dad) than salt], and risked letting folks see the "real me" at interviews for a new job. Either they wanted the 20 somethings fresh out of school with little practical experience, or they wanted someone seasoned, way past 50 who had something to contribute. It was scary, without question, but I watched a former boss do the same (and she's totally grey, and also named Carol - a link perhaps?), and exceptionally tall (5'11"), and a "big" woman. I pondered a lot of that, in the time we spent working close together in a consulting job I did for her, over six-months' time. Who says you can't learn from a (then) 53-year old? I did, and watched her receive a major promotion to assistant vice president. She went that interview day with confidence, a head of grey hair, and showed them that what they "thought" they wanted was not the way to go. It took my breath away.

    And in our 60s we are still learning life lessons. Thanks, as always, for sharing yours.

    2174 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/5/2012 8:45:54 PM
    OMG, Cannie, if this isn't voted most popular blog, then I'll eat my shorts!

    I would fall into the pro-aging camp myself! I really didn't have any expectations of what I'd started having health issues. And even that didn't snap me into reality right away. The biggest "disease" I had was complacency.

    NOW . . . at 58 I am fitter, stronger, wiser, more humble, more compassionate, more self-confident than I ever was. I had collected wrinkles and gray hair (a little) along the way and I wear them proudly!

    At 58, I see my 60b as being even better. More accomplished. That is because I am working on it NOW. I'm not waiting for things to happen . . . I'm MAKING things happen.

    Great birthday ritual and I think I'm going to adopt it as well.

    You just rock!! I'm always asking myself, still, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I'm still in the process of growing up!
    2174 days ago
    As others have said, this is such a wonderful post! I am focusing much more on health and fitness than I have in a long time. It's more thought out. I can't do pushups yet, my weight and my shoulder are not ready at this point. But, I am rocking the kettlebells! emoticon I just finally got a 10lb kettlebell today and will be working out shortly with it. While the lower half of my body has been challenged with the movements, especially the squatting part of it, 5lbs just wasn't challenging me enough. I just hit 50 this year so maybe by the time I hit 51, I can be doing push ups like you!
    2175 days ago
  • OOLALA53
    Wait, 53 pushups? That sounds almost as hard as having unlined skin... but so much more under our control and our pocket books!

    Once, again, you live up to your name. Keep it real.

    I know what skin on 58-year-old thighs looks like. When scrunched a little, some of it looks rather reptile-like. It's fascinating, really. Sure, it doesn't fit the picture of smooth and elastic, but objectively speaking, it's interesting.

    Oh, this is-ness of it all. I've been listening to a lot of Byron Katie. Unorthodox and some think she's crazy. She insists on being in love with reality, and I'm finding it a wonderful message. I'm liking yours, too.

    No need to reply. emoticon
    2175 days ago
    My 60 looks like a woman who finally got the idea that God has a plan for me and I want to be able achieve that plan as a healthy, happy woman. I figured out about a year ago that he does have something in mind for me, and happy or sad, healthy or struggling to stay alive, he WILL keep me going until it is done.
    That I have found Spark and have found the joys that come with a healthy lifestyle is only so much the better. That I have found people like you and Bren and others who have worked to make me realize that I am worth the effort that I put into my future makes it even better than that!
    This is such a good subject. I have reached the age where I look in the mirror and I am upset and discouraged to see just what should be there. A 59 year old who will NEVER look like a 27 year old woman again but, in reality, she doesn't suck!
    emoticon emoticon
    2175 days ago
    Cannie, ITA with you about the "anti-aging" thing ... and about what aging looks like. I'm 65, which I think is usually considered "over the hill"; but since I've started this exercise and weight-loss thing I'm also in better shape now than I've been in years. I may not be sexy or skinny or "young" but I'm a long way from dead and, judging from my current medical status, a lot further from it than I was when I had a stroke 10 years ago! Yay for us "old" people! Whatever age we are.
    2175 days ago
  • AMYB1985
    BRAVO! What a great blog!

    My 27 looks like someone far more motivated, determined, and centered than ever I was. I'm healthier and happier than I ever have been, and I'm looking forward to 37, 47, and beyond.
    2175 days ago
    Way to say it for all us girls who are getting up there and fear what is to come. Love your project and wish I could do it, maybe someday when my shoulder fully heals, if it ever does.
    2175 days ago
    Love this blog!! I know what 61 looks like for me . . . and it's OK, really it is!! Slimmer, fitter than I was at 16 actually.
    2175 days ago
    This is great! I know that at 56, I have done some things physically this year that I have NEVER been able to do before. (Haven't tried a push up, tho...mayve you will spur me on!)
    2175 days ago
    and now, you have inspired me to do my 42 pushups - and situps - each day!!
    2175 days ago
    wonderful blog, Cannie. i don't mind being an "old lady" ... probably precisely because i started running at 59 and yoga at 60 .... and am running a half marathon in London for Oxfam as my 61st birthday present to me. I'm stronger and fitter and healthier than i have ever been ... and i only hope that i didn't leave it til too late to make a difference. i gotta say, though, 61 push ups are not something i'm looking forward to (currently at 23 inclined pushups (from the toes though) on my coffee table.
    and hoping i can get my cellist to start running with me too & that being a not very good role model from 0 to 15 years in matters of health and appearance won't hurt her.
    2175 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/5/2012 2:55:58 PM
    Love this blog. I am stronger cardio-wise than I have been for 30 years. I can walk for miles and up flights of stairs and not be winded at all. But I haven't done any strength training and I should have. I'm pretty weak--I can't open jars and heavy doors are really really heavy and hard to open. I'm 61--do you think it's to late to start the push-up project?
    2175 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/5/2012 2:44:32 PM
    2175 days ago
    My 28 looks much smaller and fitter than my 16 did. emoticon

    My 29 looks like being more fit than ever before, having a career that I can be proud of, and living life more fully than I ever have in my whole life. And oh yeah, lots of dancing!

    Great blog, Cannie! It really got me thinking about how much better my life is getting as I get older.
    2175 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/5/2012 2:35:46 PM
    Yay Cannie, go go GO! I too am stronger now than I was when younger. Didn't start getting strong at all until my 30s when I began yoga, but then there were many ups and downs with my approach to fitness (much influenced by training for singing which was my main focus). Took me a long time to realize that general fitness affected my singing big time.
    Push ups are still hard for me and I dare not make that a goal yet - but my side planks are getting easier! And since I have one hip joint at risk for osteoporosis, that is a good thing. Great blog as always.
    emoticon emoticon
    2175 days ago
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