Getting Old and the Will to Exercise, Diabetes or Not.

A few days ago, a friend of mine who is the same age as I am, posted on Facebook how getting older is so hard, in part because she’s on Weight Watchers because she wants to lose some weight. She made the comment that eating watermelon isn’t as good as eating donuts. She also mentioned that when she was younger, doing exercise was easier because she had more energy and more desire to exercise. This got me thinking. Why do I like exercise so much more these days, now that I’m closing in on 50 years old, than when I was younger?

Building my core, helps with aging!
Building my core, helps with aging!

One of the keys is that I love how I feel in my body when I move my body. I’ve learned over the years, that my initial resistance to moving is just that, initial resistance. It’s mental resistance, not my deeper desire. Underneath the resistance is the memory that consistently I feel better, stronger, more present, when I move. I have learned to break my resistance down, one small step at a time. Often, my inner dialogue when I have resistance, is to convince myself to “just get into my exercise clothes.” So, I do that. And once I’m in my exercise clothes, it’s easy to just get out there and get the session I was thinking about doing, started. Essentially I trick myself into getting out there.

Thinking about age and resistance to exercise, made me think of the older gals I know who are endurance athletes that I admire. I reached out to one of them, Joan, to ask a few questions. Joan was 61 when she started doing triathlons. She had been a tennis player before she started doing endurance sports, but nothing like she did after she was 61. She had gotten into running when she was 39, and she found she liked longer distances, so she started doing half marathons and marathons.

Joan is 70 now and she’s done one Ironman triathlon (that’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run, that all must be done in under 17 hours!) She’s also done four Half Ironman triathlons, and many shorter distance triathlons. I’ve cycled in groups with her in the group, and Joan is FAST on her bike!!!

joan and her bike
Joan and her bike! Getting ready to go fast!

I asked her what she considered the hardest thing about doing endurance athletics, and what she does to work through the challenges. She said, “I think the biggest challenge is monitoring how my body is reacting to all the training.  I go to a sports recovery place to keep my body as healthy as possible.  I do stem, compression boots and I go to a chiropractor.  Having my friends and family support me is really important to me.”

Joan’s response made me smile!! I love how she listens to her body, even if it’s sometimes hard to hear what her body is saying to her. This gal is going to do her second Ironman in Boulder, CO on August 3, 2014. Her goal is to qualify for the Ironman in Kona, Hawaii. I think she’s going to qualify!!! Go Joan!

I also had the opportunity in one of the Olympic distance triathlons I did, to run near Sister Madonna, known as the Iron Nun. She smiled at me as she passed me, yes, she was faster than I was! Sister Madonna is almost 84 years old, and in 2012, she became the oldest woman ever to finish an Ironman triathlon!!! She started running when she was 48 and she did her first triathlon when she was 52. Since then, she’s done more than 340 triathlons, more than 45 of them Ironmans.

I love this quote from Sister Madonna, “You’re only as old as you think you are. If you don’t think age, and you just get up and do and you think you’re a teenager, well, you’ll start to act like one,” she said. “And you also find out that you never get too old to learn new tricks.”

Sister Madonna on the Run!
Sister Madonna on the Run!

So here I am, just turned 49, I’m figuring out what I want to do next for work, and I just did my longest bike ride in 6 years a few weeks ago, and I’m going to do my first triathlon in five years this coming August. According to Sister Madonna and my friend Joan, I’m just getting started!! Again!

And on that note, I see that the rain temporarily stopped pouring down, and my blood sugar is in a good place. I am going to put on my run clothes, my run shoes, and get out there for a 4 mile run!!! I hope you get moving too! You will feel good!!! Especially if you think about Sister Madonna and Joan!

And to my friend on Facebook who likes donuts better than watermelon, to you, I encourage you to play some mind tricks on yourself. Remember the triathlon we did together way back when? You liked it then, and you are working hard to lose that weight. Keeping track of what you put in your mouth is critical, and so is movement. When you’re out walking, swing your arms and make sure you have a smile on your face! All that movement can make your body sing for joy! And maybe one day again you will be out there doing a triathlon!

And everyone, please sign up to be on my mailing list! I would love to stay in touch with you!

Me out on my run! Feeling young and in my body!
Me out on my run! Feeling young and in my body!



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2 thoughts on “Getting Old and the Will to Exercise, Diabetes or Not.”

  1. When I was diagnosed with a Type 1 in 1976, no one told me to stop exercising. I had always played sports and continued to do so. I never talked about my diabetes so many a golf or tennis partner probably wondered what happened on the 17th hole or in the 3rd set when my BG secretly crashed. I truly believe that exercise is what has kept me healthy all these years. At the same time, I make choices. I have decided that hiking and golf are my thing, so I don’t play tennis or bike much or do things that might over-stress my joints so that I can’t hike or golf. Someday I’ll come cheer you on at a triathlon or 100-mile race or whatever crazy thing you decide to do. Keep moving, Mari! You’re an inspiration:-)

    • Thanks so much Laddie!!! I love it that you hike and golf! The key is to find what you love and do it!!
      The triathlon I’m doing is with Dr. Mattison and Team Endo! It’s a short Sprint distance triathlon and it’s August 17 at Lake Nokomis!! You can come cheer all of Team Endo!
      I’m glad you listen to your body Laddie! That is key.

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