Headlong into the golden years

by Dick Ulmer
(Sarasota, FL, USA)

Early years:

A butterball kid until I sprouted at age 9 and began competitive age-group swimming. Kept swimming through high school, went to college and down the drain physically. Pizzas, beer and cigarettes.

Quit cigs at college graduation. Got married. Got a job. At a business lake party, I water skied for 10 minutes and couldn't move the next day. I was a physical wreck at age 24 and disgusted with myself. I resolved to do something about it.

Middle years, part 1:
Started swimming in the Masters program & returned to health & strength in a year. Kept swimming in the Masters for 10 years, until chlorine sensitivity forced me stop. Started running & weightlifting. Took about 2 years for my body to adapt, but began seeing good results. Initially worked out alone, which was difficult without a team sport like swimming to keep me going.

At age 38 I got in with a group of early morning lifters. We motivated each other and I peaked in strength around age 40, benching around 240 and squatting 345. Ran about 10 miles a week. Felt and looked great, but went through a divorce the next year.

Middle years, part 2:
Remarried at age 42, 3 step-kids, new wife, new life, but kept on lifting and running. Workout buddies drifted apart, so I went back to solo sessions. By now, lifting and running were an integral part of my life, so motivation wasn't a problem. I was a middle-aged gym rat and I knew it.

Kept at it through my 40's and 50's. Competition and making gains in strength were no longer part of the game. Instead, my general health and fitness became the underlying reason. At first, it was difficult to accept the "downhill slide", so again I resolved to make the slope as flat as possible.

Golden years:
I'm now 63 years old. I workout 4 early mornings during the week and stay active on weekends. Gym days are alternating running and lifting, with lifting in different body parts each day. My body stats are 6 feet tall, 34 waist, 44 chest, 200 lbs.

Luckily, I've had no major health problems over my life. Just the expected increase in aches and pains as I age. I never took steroids, don't take testosterone now, and supplement only with a multivitamin and fish oil. My diet could be better, no doubt, but I don't overeat and make sure I include plenty of fruits & veggies. If I had to boil it down to two things I've learned over the years, they are:

1. Fitness is a way of life, not a hobby or temporary activity. It's as important as anything else in your life.

2. Don't eat unless you're hungry. Food is fuel, burn it up.

I was adopted, so I have no idea which genetic health cards I was dealt. I can only work with what I have, and try to make the voyage enjoyable.

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