"Oh, no. No no no," she said. "Once you're over 40, there's no reason, under any circumstance, to lift anything heavy up over your head. Especially for women. If you have full range of motion, you're doing just fine. As long as you can put a can in the cupboard, or reach the back of your head to curl your hair, why on earth would you ever lift something heavy straight up? It's not a natural motion you need to use."
Gulp. First of all, she has pinpointed me as close to, or over 40. Ouch. (She's not far off, but one never likes having that confirmed). And she's telling me I should not do the exact thing I want to do, the exact thing I have as a short-term goal.
She proceeded to explain how the rotator cuff muscle works, how the shoulder is built, and what common problems are. In particular, people with terrible posture (ie: me) whose shoulders pull forward because of hunching over computers, and tight tense muscles in the neck and back and chest, take a body part with poor circulation and make it worse. When you're not aligned properly, it's pretty easy to create ideal conditions for tendonitis, inflammation, and resulting pain. In other words, if I do what I want to do, I'll just tear the fibres again, and have the same problem. Again. Because I'm old and the back muscles are weaker than the front of my shoulders.
Basically, she told me I'm way off balance.
It all made perfect sense. What I didn't like hearing was the part about "no need to lift things overhead after 40. It's not a functional movement. Think about it. How often do you use that motion? Why would you ever lift anything over your head like that?"
Good point. Except, the answer I kept coming back to was: "Because I can."
Exercising for function is smart. Exercising to strengthen your body so that you can live your life the best way possible, so that you can get through your day and do all the things you want and need to do, makes sense. But, is that the only function? Is pride not a function? Is feeling powerful also not a worthwhile function?
There's no need to do an Olympic lift. I'm not entering any competitions. It's just something to try, something that feels ... badass. Warrior-like. Young.
With her proclamation, I got a taste of getting older. And with it came regret. Truly, it's never too late to try and get fit. I wish I had figured it out sooner, but I didn't. I can't go back and change that. It's just starting to sink in that although I feel younger than I ever have, certainly younger and stronger and healthier than I actually WAS in my teens and early adult years, my body is still middle-aged. Skin that might have bounced back had I lost weight in my 20's no longer has the same elasticity. Wrinkles and white hair are aggressively making themselves at home. And that's just what's visible. Bone density, muscle, hormones - these are all things that are working against me as I try to lift heavier things, lose belly fat, increase speed, and get more bendy and flexible.
Health gets harder to hold on to as you get older.
I don't like it. I didn't like hearing it. Without a Tardis or DeLorean to take me back in time, there's not much I can do about it. I waited too long. Now, getting healthy is that much more of a fight. There are more hurdles in my way. Now, I can only work on getting into the best shape of my life ... "for someone my age" ... and try to make fitness as functional as possible.
That doesn't mean I'll stop lifting.
Pride, after all, is a function.
But it does mean that I'll tell anyone who will listen to start early. Start now. Keep active. Get your kids active. Your future self will thank you.
Because I don't know anyone who has a time machine.