Saturday, January 24, 2015

As Good As It Gets? Thoughts on Aging. And Pole Dancing.

When I was in sixth grade, I had a subscription to Seventeen magazine. The thing that has always amused me about Seventeen is that it's readership is entirely comprised of girls quite a bit younger than seventeen. In fact, once you reach the ripe old age of seventeen, you're *so* over it.

Anyway, I remember for a while they had a column about teenage girls who did amazing things! They featured a world-class cellist, an elite gymnast and a professional tennis player, among others. Apparently, this was supposed to inspire us? As in, see what girls your age are accomplishing?! And you're not! Yup. In sixth grade I pretty much just went to middle school. I played field hockey for a season, and sang in the Glee Club. That was it. It was interesting to read about those girls' lives, but it didn't inspire me. It kinda made me feel like a loser.

Fast forward thirty years and someone posted an article on Facebook about older people who do amazing things! A 63-year-old pole dancer! A 94-year-old professional dancer! WOW!
63-year-old pole dancer Greta Pontarelli

The FB poster said:

"Age is Just a Number."

Technically, this is true. The article, which you can read here, says:
"But with negative stereotypes of aging in the media, it's hard not to associate growing older with nothing but aches, pains, feebleness, and lack of freedom and mobility."

I don't know... don't we tend to associate growing older with aches and pains because, well, growing older involves some aches and pains? I mean, really?

Of course, these people featured in the article are awesome. I love that they didn't let their age get in the way of trying something new and getting really good at it. Certainly taking up pole dancing is a better way to deal with bone density issues than popping Boniva. I'm twenty years younger and I'm writing this with a hot water bottle around my neck and she's perpendicular to a pole. I admit, I'm feeling like a bit of a loser. Though I personally can't imagine stripping down to my underwear and flying around a pole, at my age or any other... but that's just because... well, I blame being from Connecticut.

Why Are You Doing This?

The reason this article got me into a little bit of a twist is because of my *bleeping* shoulder injury. I'm doing my PT and icing and heating and stretching, and well, it's really not getting better. Yet. I'm wondering how much is reasonable to expect? 100%? 80%? Or is some iteration of this discomfort the new normal??

I saw a friend a couple of weeks ago and he was asking me about the Whole30 that I started on January 1st. He looked me right in the face and said, 'why are you doing this? Why are you restricting your eating so much? I'm worried you're not enjoying the freedom you have to... well... eat normally.'

I told him, my shoulder. That's why I'm doing it.

About Inflammation

Whole30 involves eliminating foods from your diet that can trigger inflammation, among other things, for a period of thirty days. Inflammation is the body's natural response to injury. It's why your ankle swells up when you sprain it. The swelling is part of the healing process. In an acute injury, like a sprained ankle, it's a good thing.

The problem occurs when inflammation is chronic. And systemic. Certain foods promote inflammation, like those high in omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6s aren't bad, you need them, but most of us in the western world get way too much.

As I was reading up on the Whole30, I read many, many testimonials from people whose niggling tendonitis issues were dramatically improved with this, yes, quite restrictive way of eating. I suspect it might take longer than 30 days, and that's ok, I actually am not really minding eating this way, though I do plan to loosen things up on Friday when my term is officially up. Still, I would rather not eat pizza and have a happy shoulder. Truly.

But the whole thing has me thinking... what is reasonable to expect as we get older? My friend said something along the lines of, 'oh, we may have our creaky knees and aches and pains, but we can enjoy life in other ways.' He said this as he took a nice, long swig of wine.

He might be right... maybe this wonky shoulder is as good as it gets. Then I wonder... despite all my healthy living, will I be using one of those motorized scooters at the grocery store?

In that case, I might need to take up pole dancing.

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