Broke Back Gym
Well, I am 40 in slightly over a month. This blog, which I began almost 10 years ago chronicles all of my 30s (at least the stuff I'm prepared to share with the whole world and several people who know me in real life). Prior to that, the private diaries I kept in my teens and 20s give a much more introspective and confessional account of my life.
I don't think I look too bad for 40. I still have all my hair, and most of it is still brown, save a few grey ones. There is only one permanent line on my forehead. The dark circles under my eyes make me perpetually look tired, but I blame them on genetics. I get plenty of sleep - more than anyone else I know. At the gym last month, I had my annual "check-up" which meant I was taken into a cupboard and measured by one of the receptionists. She told me that I'd gained 5 cms around my shoulders and lost 5cm around my waist. It's true that I've gone back to 32 inch trousers, which I last wore around the age of 25. And there are funny bumpy bits in my back and shoulders that didn't used to be there. I've cut out crisps, orange juice and "healthy" smoothies from my diet, so that's probably helped.
But there's been a price to pay for getting back my mid-20s body. For a year, several times a week I went to circuit classes at my gym, organised by a man I refer to as "THe PE teacher". The classes involved lots of high intensity running, jumping, bending, stretching and lifting weights. The PE teacher shouts a lot (it's motivational), and also decides how heavy the weights should be that you lift. It gets results, but has also left me with back problems which started before Christmas and ensured that I spent most of Easter on painkillers. Worryingly, my father is 25 years ahead of me with his own bad back, and had an operation last month as he was barely able to walk at Christmas. He used to work on a farm as a teenager, and lug around 9 stone bags of concrete all day, so no wonder he's broke his back. I only have vanity to blame for my situation. And also poor work habits. Twice a week, I usually work from home. I like to boast that I don't need an "office" like some of my colleagues who claim they can't work unless they have a south-facing room over-looking a brook with no traffic noise, and lavish bookshelves etc. Having being brought up in a little council house where the tv was never turned off, I view such sentiments about people needing workspace as precious and excuses for laziness. So my "office" is my sofa, and there I can sit, for up to six hours a day, laptop on lap, only minimally moving to get a cup of tea. This set-up used to work fine, but now I've damaged myself through exercise, my body doesn't like to sit in that position any more. So I've relocated to the dining room table. Quite a few people I know have bad backs at the moment - so maybe it's the fault of laptops making us all put ourselves in slouchy postures.
My doctor gave me a pamphlet about bad backs based on the latest research. I was expecting it to contain lots of weird exercises to do and descriptions of scans you can have done on the NHS. Instead it simply said - don't take to your bed - keep moving around, do exercise, go walking. Take painkillers to manage the pain. Don't be pessimistic, expect things to get better and they probably will. So fingers crossed.
The other sign of middle/old age that I'm experiencing is weird memory issues. My fella accuses me several times a week of forgetting conversations we've had. He says my memory is ruthless in excising information it doesn't want to keep - and he's right there. But I think it's getting worse. I sent an email to a work colleague yesterday, asking her to help me with a task. But then realised I'd sent her the exact same email before Easter. But when I tried to find that first email, I couldn't find it. It never existed - I just convinced myself I'd sent it, when I hadn't. Not only am I forgetting things, but I'm inserting in new false memories of things that never happened in the first place. At least eventually, I won't even be able to remember that I've lost all my faculties... Happy 40th!