Embracing a New Age

By , SparkPeople Blogger
If you would have asked me 10 years ago what I thought I would be doing when I turned 50, in all fairness I probably would have never even guessed that I would spending that day running on a dirt path, climbing over obstacles, wading through water, climbing up muddy embankments all in the name of fun in the 2011 DFW Jailbreak Run.

I have never been one to hide my age or shun a birthday. In fact I considered each birthday as a blessing, especially since my birthday shares one of the darkest days in American history—September 11th. I, like many of you, can remember almost every detail of that eventful day. I know exactly where I was, what I was doing and the paralyzing fear of the unknown. There was no celebration, in fact there were more tears than laughs, but that doesn't mean my biological clocked stopped ticking. That year I celebrated my 40th birthday and for the next three years I struggled to find my way to reclaim not only my health, but my life. Something that I had been struggling to do for many, many years.

I spent most of my 30's and early 40's suffering from everything from migraines to acid reflex to the general aches and pains in my feet, knees and hips. Being 80 pounds heavier than I am today, I grew to accept these ailments as a part of my daily living. That is what happens when one grows older.

It wasn't until my doctor looked me square in the eyes in January 2005 and told me that in my current state of health I was well on the path to developing heart disease and diabetes. Even hearing these harsh but truthful words it still took me several weeks to decide on a plan to live the best life I could. But one thing was for certain, I was not going on yet another diet. I was done with dieting! I was going to change my way of living. That day was February 9, 2005--a day I consider as my anniversary to embracing living, not just merely surviving.

It took me a good year to lose enough weight and gain enough fitness to move from walking to running. In March 2006 I started running and let me tell you, my life has never been the same. Five and a half years later I have run in over 100 races ranging in distance from 1 mile to a marathon. I have run with other SparkPeople members in races from New Orleans to Seattle, to San Diego to Pittsburgh. I was also honored to run not once, but twice in one of the most prestigious of all relays, The Hood to Coast Relay —a 200 mile relay from Mt. Hood to Seaside, Oregon. Therefore I had to do something memorable for my 50th birthday. What better way then to don a prisoner costume and run 3 miles with my dear friends as we maneuvered over obstacles, including cars, cargo nets, wood walls, creeks and more mud than anyone could imagine.

That day I experienced life as it is meant to be lived. It wasn't about a size on the tag or a number on the scale. The day was filled with joy and laughter. It was about enjoying time with good friends and celebrating another year of living. And while I may still have to take a daily pill for my high blood pressure, I have never felt better. I feel so much younger at 50 than I ever did at 40. I no longer obsess with the size I wear or the small little flaws that seemed so huge just a few short years earlier. I have learned to embrace me as I am today, after all we only get one shot at this journey so why focus on the negatives.

So here's to the next 100 races and 50 years that lay ahead. May we all learn to embrace our new age and the notion that living is so much more eventful than just merely surviving. And as Chris Downie so frequently reminds us all, 'we are to live life as an adventure.'

Have you found yourself doing things you never dared to think you would be doing before you started your journey? Do you find yourself more confident the healthier you become? Do you find yourself 'living life as an adventure' more and more every day?

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Someone recently asked me how I was feeling and I said "At 52, the best that I've ever felt in my life." Thanks SP!! Report
To answer your question - you bet - the day I first met you was the beginning of me getting out, doing more and living life! I agree, life is so much better after 50 than before. I am now in my Love Bug year! I turned 53 (the number on Herbie the Love bug) on Monday - and am living my life! Woo Hoo! Report
Congrats Nancy and happy birthday. I need to lose around 60-70 lbs to be at a healthy weight for my body type. I've lost almost 20 of the so far. I can't say right now that I can aspire to running again...terrible plantar fascitis. Maybe once I lose a lot more weight and find a way to cure the PF i can try again. But right now, I can still walk and walk and walk, at a fairly brisk pace despite the pain, I can swim tons of laps, and I can feel the difference in my cardiovascular fitness. That is a great feeling at age 54. It feels good not to give up on myself despite gaining weight over and over again. Report
I'm turning 46 in two months and I feel much better now than I have in years. The path I was on I don't know that I would have wanted to live to old age. Now I'm hiking up to 6.5 hours and 2700' elevation! Report
Thank you for sharing your journey with us, what a truly motivating journey you have had! Report
Great motivation! Thanks for sharing. Happy Be-lated Birthday! Report
Wow, what a great story! You are an inspiration! Keep up the good work, you have made a lifestyle change and it's sure to stick with your attitude! Report
You are an inspiration! I am 57 and just signed up to run my first 5K! I have been training with the Spark Plan for the Trick or Treat Trot! Keep going!!! Report
Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing. Report
So so inspiring. Your journey is one that shows anyone that is determined to live a healthier happier life need just take the first step. Sometimes the 29 pounds I have left to lose feels like it may as well be 290 but reading this reignites my "spark" that it is only a small hurdle in the big picture of health. Thank you and great job! Report
Am almost 34 and just discovered how loosing weight and a more routine fitness lifestyle would ensure a healthy living even in old age. You motivated me and i intend to keep this lifestyle for life. Thanks Nancy and stay blessed. Report
Your story is compelling. I couldn't agree more. I will be 60 next year, and at 50 I finally began my recovery from a lifetime of alcoholism. I began my new journey towards a healthy mind, body, and spirit. In 2003, with one year of sobriety, I found myself 60 lbs heavier, and still extremely unhealthy. It has been a long, but rewarding path to my current health. This summer I discovered Sparkpeople. With the support of this wonderful site, I have continued to grow healthier than I have ever been. I am a respected mother and role model for my three grown boys. I am a proud grandmother. I will celebrate 40 years of marriage in January. I have more good friends than a woman with my background should be allowed. I am a respected teacher of 35 years. All these things could have died with me when I was 50. I am a blessed woman.
Thank you, Nancy, for your inspiration and dedication to helping all of us continue to survive and THRIVE.
Yes I was over 200 pounds when I started. 2011 goal was to run a 5K after I turned 55 in March. I did and pretty good at 34.30. I also started to bowl regularly again and today join a new league. I hike and kayak on a regular basis too. When I was sick in bed for over a year I never thought I would be this active again. Report
Yahoo to you all! I'm 44 and just earned my red belt in Tae Kwon Do :) Report
Yes! I find myself doing so many different things and I am living more adventourously. I am more healthy and confient and I'm living my Dream Board/Vision Collage. My most recent adventure/vision/dream, was to climb up Chimney Rock. I acutally climbed a mountain. I am so amazed and my goal was to the Chimney. I thought the Chimney was the highest point, but Exclamation Point and Devils Head were. I made it up there too. We used to sit at the bottom, have luch and look up at it. Never did I think I could climb it.

Soon I'll need a new Dream Board/Vision Collage. I'm ticking them off quickly. I can't wait to see what's in store for us. Another change is that I look for Adventure on our vacations, not just relaxation, a mix of both. That's huge for us former couch potatoes! Report
This spring, for the first time ever, i got in a canoe with my Girl Scouts and paddled around a lake.!!! I was always afraid i was too fat and would sink the boat. I also find myself more outgoing and friendly - more willing to tackle the unknown - I even registerd for a 5K (walk). I have never done that before either. Report

I Will Always Get to My Destination

There is a reverence,
there is a Joy,
Trees with a white blanket of snow,
bring the beauty and courage of
the Beautiful Warrior to the surface.

Trying new things -

It is yet another way to be so close to nature.
To be alive, to know with complete certainty
I will always be OK.
The weathering of every snow storm,
showed my imperishable courage.

Like a frozen pond,
that no matter what might come along,
reflects joy, peace and my heart filled with compassion
to do what I can to make a
change for a better world.

A knowing that life
even with its twists and turns
like my snowshoes,
I will always get to my destination.
Called who I am
and called home.

The believing of a future
that can only be like
the ice on the trees,
glittering and bright.

© Dolores M. Miller 03/2008

this poem says it all! www.beautifulwarrior.com Report
I'm only 27, so I can't quite talk about being healthy in middle age, but I CAN say that since losing weight and building a strong fitness routine, I am much more adventurous and ready to face challenges than I was five and ten years ago. I'm psyched about getting older -- it's SO much better than the alternative! Report
Way to go! We are getting better each year. Report
Hey Birthday buddy, thanks for the great inspiration. I hope to be running dirt paths by the time I'm 50. I'm 4 years behind you. Keep running, hope to be out there with you somewhere. Report
Oh yes! I started my journey at age 50 and learned to snow ski - winter is not my favorite season and I'm not into sports at all. So that was a BIGGIE! lol The healthier I am, the more confident I am also. I love to be fit and healthy and I try to help others feel the same :) Report
Congrats... Keep up the Great Work!!! Report
Wishing you a happy belated birthday. Thank-you for sharing your words of wisdom & encouragement. Congratulations on your accomplishments made & those yet to come. Stay well! Report
What a great reminder you gave us about what life is really all about. Because when we get to the end of it all and look back, our life experiences, chances we took, people we love, those are the things that we will remember. Thank you for your wonderful blog and for the reminder to LIVE! Report
Congrats! Thanks for sharing! Report
You are an inspiration !!!! Report
Happy belated birthday!!! I too just turned 50 this past year and joined Spark just after turning 49....hoping to be able to be a little smaller and healthier before I hit the BIG Five-O. Well, thanks to Spark and YOU and so many others, I am 50 now, and 50 pounds lighter, and doing things that I never imagined that I could do....running, 5K's, 10K's and in just a couple of weeks, my second half-marathon. Thanks for being such a great example and inspiration to myself and many, many others! Report
I'm turning 62 and I plan to live everyday at its best, since this is the only life I'll ever live. I tell my children that I wish someone had told me how fast life would fly by. I tell them to take care of their bodies so their 62 yo selves will be fit and healthy. The saying "Youth is wasted on the young" is so true. Report
1st tri - warrior dash - ran Mt Washington - 1st 1/2.......my bucket list keeps getting checks and I keep adding things on! Report
=)) Great blog! Thanks for sharing! Report

A belated Happy Birthday! I would never guess that you were in your 50's! You look amazing! And you have an amazing story. I thought you were always fit and thin! I didn't know you were one of us!

Answering your questions --
-- Have you found yourself doing things you never dared to think you would be doing before you started your journey?
Oh, yeah! I'm running my first 5K on 10/22. I told myself for years that I wasn't a runner due to bad knees (2 knee surgeries). Turns out, I am a runner! Just a slower runner than I'd like to be. I've also tried rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing, orienteering (now called geo-caching), zip lining, weight training, swimming, biking, yoga, Pilates, zumba and various other forms of aerobic dance! Who knew exercise could be so fun! I wish I'd done it all my life now!

--Do you find yourself more confident the healthier you become?
Yep! I didn't wear a bathing suit for about 20 years. And when I did, it was a one-piece suit. Now I wear a bikini - at age 58!

--Do you find yourself 'living life as an adventure' more and more every day?
Yes! I'm thinking about training for a triathlon now! And a 10K. And... And... And.. I'll try anything now! Except skydiving. I gotta draw the line somewhere. Para-sailing, maybe. Skydiving, not so much. Report
what a wonderful blog. congrats on all of your success!

i never thought i would belong to a gym. now, i go at least 5X a week, and meet with a personal trainer. i also thought i'd never track down my food. i used to think it was a waste of time. now, i have old notebooks, and feel lost when i don't track my foot. last weekend i accidentally left my 'food diary' at work, and i felt incomplete all weekend. when i got to work on Monday, i re-wrote all of my notes. Report
what a wonderful blog. congrats on all of your success!

i never thought i would belong to a gym. now, i go at least 5X a week, and meet with a personal trainer. i also thought i'd never track down my food. i used to think it was a waste of time. now, i have old notebooks, and feel lost when i don't track my foot. last weekend i accidentally left my 'food diary' at work, and i felt incomplete all weekend. when i got to work on Monday, i re-wrote all of my notes. Report
I love this blog! You are awesome! Report
Nancy-proud to have met you on SP.You are so right-I turn 50 on Nov 27th this year and I feel life is tooo short to mess around and be blue.Lets live the leife we are meant to lead!. Report
I did not realize until today how similar your story is to mine. You have really inspired me today. I ask myself all the time how long I will be able to maintain this level of activity. Now I know that it can be for as long as I want too! Thanks for the guidance. Report
Congratulations and happy bday. Report
You are truly an inspiration! Happy Birthday. Report
Great blog! Such an inspiration. Report
happy birthday to you and thanks for sharing your story - it is very inspirational!! Report
Great blog Nancy! Report
Happy Birthday to you Nancy. It is an honor to know you via SP and I love the fact that you always give great advice to us that need it. Keep motivating and you look fabulous!

Lianne Report
Happy Birthday! One blessing of aging is being able to look back and see how many steps you have taken to bring yourself so far. And there is always the hope of where your next steps might take you. :) Report
Happy 50! I like having thou a little ahead of the way on my journey! I figure eventually we will cross paths at some race. Maybe when you start doing triathlons! ;) Report
I was near 61 when I started this process, in fact, I just celebrated my 5th 'anniversary.' I defied the 'experts' and did it with no support system and I am still a work in progress, but at 65 I am the healthiest and fittest I have ever been, even with the arthritic knees and COPD. I have also done things I never thought possible, including 2 half marathons. I proudly proclaim that I am 65 'and a half.'
Many of our generation are not the same age as our parents were at this age. Here's to those of us who are not content to sit around and watch life happen to others, but instead are out there living it.

SENIORS ROCK!!!!!!!!!!! Report
40 are the new 29! not 30 but 29! Report
Thanks so much for sharing. you're an inspiration. Report
Wishing you a belated Happy Birthday! Thank you for sharing your story. I hit 62 last summer and recently walked 11 miles round trip to a neighboring town from our country home. :) Report
Well, my 5o th is next week. I am in good shape I'm not dread it either, its just another birthday. Report
Thanks so much for saying this in this way. You reminded me of something I need to recapture in my own life - a pride about getting to this age. Many more happy birthdays! Report