I was talking with a friend last night who said he is excited about getting into the best shape of his life. Having lost a lot of weight, put on some muscle, and increased his overall level of fitness, he is well on his way to accomplishing this. I fully believe the changes he is making are making him both happier and healthier as well.
But I found myself thinking: I’ll never again be in the shape I was in when I was younger. Let me be clear: I’m not complaining. I feel good, and in purely physical terms at least, can still pretty much do anything I want. Well, I tried a one-armed extension push-up (arm fully stretched out in front of you, so that it is actually your lower back that lifts the body) the other day and that was a disaster, so maybe not quite anything.
Which actually is kind of my point. Given the natural changes that occur in a body as it ages, I’ll never be as strong as when as I was young. That means that I will never carry the muscle I did back then as well. And without all that muscle to keep my metabolism burning, unless I want to be completely emaciated I’ll never be as lean either.
Certainly it could be, and for a lot of people it is. But it doesn’t have to be.
A wise person once told me that the secret to aging well is “replacement.” It’s being honest with one's self about one’s limits, and then replacing the things he cannot do with new things. I’ll never bench over 400 pounds again. But I can plant a garden.
I am happy for my friend, in part because I know the joy that being in the shape of your life can bring. I remember that joy, and it was good. But there are other joys to be had now, and they are good too. The Biblical book of Ecclesiastes sums it up pretty well, I think:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.