Buying a house, selling a house, packing, moving, unpacking, tying up loose ends before retiring, all while a worldwide pandemic was raging was tough.
When I retired, the first few months were spent clearing what I call “the backlog of backlogs”, tending to appointments and in-person shopping that I could not complete during the pandemic restrictions.
It was only after rejigging my retirement routine a few dozen times that I finally found time to catch my breath. That was when clarity started setting in.
I started noticing the finer details of the flora and fauna around our rural property. I found that my ability to remember names, dates and details was improving. Ideas for my writing would actually stick around for a while and not go “poof” if I didn’t write them down immediately.
But one day, after my morning shower, as I was applying my anti-perspirant, my new-found clarity turned to horror when I noticed the tissue in the triceps area flopping around. When did that happen?
Interestingly enough, I didn’t notice any issues when attempting to open pickle jars or jelly jars. It sometimes took a grunt or two, and occasionally, an elastic band to get a better grip, but I can’t say I had observed signs of upper arm weakness.
I don’t know why I developed a sudden concern for my skin elasticity, but apparently I did.
Maybe my concern originates from those times when I place my glasses on top of my head and the nose pads leave little indents in my scalp that seem to take far too long to bounce back. If exercising and more conscientious hydration will improve elasticity overall, then sign me up.
But one red flag that I needed to step up my arm routine was the feeling that my arms were getting tired when trying to hold up a 500 page hard cover book in bed. I know, “first world problems”, but for an avid reader this was a difficult admission.
Have I been so busy that I failed to notice that the muscle tone in my arms had deteriorated that much?
I realized that this was probably not something that happened overnight. It was likely a work-in-progress over several years.
In the years when I was running regularly, I admit that my workout routine was a little lopsided. My exercise routine was primarily focused on improvements in flexibility, mobility and muscle strength that directly yielded improvements in my personal best running times. It was great for the legs but maybe not so much for the arms.
A few years later, when I put my racing goals on the shelf and ran just for the fun of it, I could have modified my workout routine to give the upper body some attention. However, it was around that time that the pace at work was picking up, leaving very little energy in the tank.
I realize the irony of the situation, as sticking with an exercise program would have likely contributed to better resilience and better energy to face the uphill battle of constantly doing more with less. Unfortunately, the “austerity” years in our work environment left me pretty depleted.
A couple of years later, a change in work assignments, back to the team that was always the best fit for my skill set, was the breath of fresh air I needed to get back in the driver’s seat. Who says you can’t go home again?
In my down time, I felt renewed energy in getting my overall fitness back on track. To a certain extent, I did. But other factors started to work against me.
Day-to-day commuting was exhausting. Activities involving crowds quickly tapped my energy reserves. Spending my time off on home maintenance projects rather than actually resting was eroding what little get-up-and-go I had left.
Despite my best intentions, finding the energy to exercise was a struggle. But it wasn’t always that way.
Back to my 20s and 30s, working out was a priority for which I had energy, commitment and dedication. I was that guy who kept kegs of protein powder at home and at work, often found sipping protein shakes, forever picking up health and fitness magazines at the grocery store and at the health food store.
What happened to all those good habits? Is it possible to recapture them in my 50s? Will the muscle tone in my arms ever return?
I knew deep down that the way I approached fitness in my 20s, 30s (and even 40s) needed an update. I needed a fitness program that reflected the fact that I was starting over, and that respected the unique needs of a body over 50 (… and if I have to be honest, approaching 60.)
In search for fresh information, I started scavenging for the magazine aisles… but where did the magazine aisles go? Even at our biggest book stores, the magazines aisles are fewer in number, and the magazines themselves seem to be down to a select few titles. I was also saddened to see how many newsstands had closed during the pandemic.
To my great delight, I found a men’s fitness magazine focusing on muscles over 40. As I read the magazine cover to cover, I was overjoyed at the tips and hints offered by experts to help me renew my commitment and to define a new action plan.
The magazine also brought back fond memories of my 20s and 30s when I was devouring health and fitness magazines as fast as my protein shakes. I remembered how much fun it was to stay in touch with the latest in health and fitness research, which kept me motivated and on a regular exercise routine.
However, current information for fitness over 50 is not that easy to find. Even a scan through the Internet reveals a limited number of resources (with the medical or scientific credentials to back their claims) offering advice for maintaining fitness levels for my age group, a time when arthritis and joint health need to be taken into consideration.
Fortunately, the “Classical Stretch” series has been the right program at the right time for me. I feel that it has helped me to gently restore some of the ground I lost over the years. Just the same, I enjoy mixing things up and prefer to not put all of my eggs in one fitness basket.
But with so little information elsewhere to go on, it just strengthens my resolve (at least something is getting stronger in the process) to continue fine-tuning the good habits and to keep digging for information to address the horror of my flabby arms.
Note: Before undertaking any new exercise program, please consult your doctor.
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