Hah! You thought we were going to Margaritaville, didn’t you? Where Jimmy Buffet famously wasted away with the aid of a bottle of rum and a ruined flip-flop and a suspicious tattoo? This is not that kind of wasting. It’s worse. (Okay. … not worse than a suspicious tattoo. That’s the absolute pinnacle or perhaps I should say nadir of bad wasting.)
Because my road bike and I spend a great deal of time together I am always looking for ways to improve my skills. One thing I do is ride with a bunch of 40-year-old men and women who routinely leave me in their dust. This is good for both my humility and for incentivizing me to improve. I used to be able to keep up with them. The key phrase in that sentence is “used to.” Three years ago I was right in the heart of the pack. No more. Lost ability came home to roost twice this morning. First thing, I got my weekly edition of the Road Bike Rider Newsletter. Yes, that is a real thing. It’s full of good tips on training and equipment and what level of SPF lip balm I should be using. A featured article in this issue was “How Cyclists Can Stave Off Sarcopenia.” Yes, that’s a real thing, too. The subtitle is “Sarcopenia Sucks” and I couldn’t put it better myself. Sarcopenia, for those of you not burdened with a medical degree, is the inevitable loss of muscle mass, strength, and function that comes with aging. According to the RBR, it begins as early as the fourth decade and accelerates “rapidly” (oh, the humanity) by the middle of the eighth decade. So no matter how sacredly you treat your body, the temple, it is going to betray you. The only questions are how soon and how much. I’ll try not to depress you any further but apparently your best bet is to eat a lot of protein and cut out the junk food and lift weights, the very definition of the Trifecta of No Fun.
The second low blow came at, of all places, yoga class. Let me begin by saying yoga class is wonderful. We have two teachers who are young and beautiful, which seems to be the criteria for yoga teachers. They is also kind and encouraging and nonjudgmental, which is the best kind of trifecta. It is a thoroughly enjoyable class and it does us all a lot of good. By “us all” I mean the ten or so people who take the class. Just like the teachers, we seem to fit a given demographic as well. We are all, and I don’t mean this in a degrading way at all, past our primes. Aren’t you glad I chose to soften that bludgeoning? Past our primes? All but one of us is old enough to be the teacher’s parent at the very least, if not grandparent.
My only previous experience with yoga was an event touted as “Aerobic Yoga.” It was non-stop, strenuous gyrations and every person in the room was panting and drenched in sweat. The current yoga class is not like that at all. All the stretching and deep breathing and balancing is so relaxing. Here is an illustration: about 20 minutes into the first session, focusing on body awareness, it became apparent to me that I had had my jaw clenched for about a year and a half.
What all this has to do with wasting away was the realization I am not yet exactly one with the Zen universe. Before class began I was doing some warm-up stretches, trying not to grunt too loudly with the effort. The room filled with other practitioners. The room also filled with the muted moans and sighs the group as we tried to coax unwilling bodies to willingly bend. The guy on the next mat was also standing up, stretching. The instructor came in, greeted us, and sat down on her mat. We waited. Sometimes we begin sitting and sometimes standing. Since no one else was willing to make a fool of themselves, I asked the obvious, pressing question…were we going to begin sitting down because “I don’t want to go through the travail of sitting down and then having to defeat gravity by getting back up.” Every single person in the room nodded, knowing exactly what I meant. I would hate to sit down, only to be told we were starting out in a standing position. That would mean we’d have to struggle back to our feet again. As the man next to me explained, “I feel like I have only so many ‘get-ups’ left. I’d hate to waste one getting up after an unnecessary sit-down.”
To all the sarcopenia-prone, here is some advice. Stay limber, wear out — don’t rust out, don’t ever waste a get-up, and keep that rum handy.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today.