On May 14, 2017, I celebrated completing my 79th year and beginning my BIG 80. And wonder of wonders, like fine wine, I am just getting better with each passing year. To celebrate starting my 80th year, I decided to commit to walking/hiking a minimum of 80 miles or more every month until my 80th birthday AND to start this blog – a real technology s-t-r-e-t-c-h for me (and my tech genius husband, Willis, age 81).
My 70s were AWESOME! For oh so many reasons not the least of which was the publication and worldwide positive response to our new book written by biomechanist Katy Bowman and my three then 70-something co-authors. The book is available on Katy’s website www.nutritiousmovement.com and at www.amazon.com
What a thrill! Published at 78! WOW!!! I feel a little like Grandma Moses who began her life as a serious painter at 78. The book is about MOVEMENT as Katy explains and teaches it, and each of our personal individual experiences of the difference it has made in how we are able to live our lives.
For example, when I first met Katy at age 71, I was experiencing chronic back pain, constipation since I was a kid, foot issues (had been wearing orthotics for the past 20 years), neck issues (3 cervical vertebra have fused naturally) resulting in limited range of motion and discomfort, pelvic prolapse (was scheduled for reconstructive surgery at age 69), knee problems when hiking and balance issues (falling on occasion).
This silhouette of me (below left) at that time shows feet pointing outward, knees bent, butt tucked, pelvic center of mass forward, chin sticking out in front of my body, and hyperkyphosis (the rounding of my upper back) – all symptoms of misalignment of my body due to two things: not knowing any better and a sedentary life style. It was not due to aging. How do I know it wasn’t aging? Because as I have done Katy’s work over the past eight years (see photo right below taken today), I have been able to change these symptoms and align my body better which allows me to move better (read: use my body in a way that minimizes damage to joints/muscles/ligaments while getting stronger.) Here is the link that will take you directly to one of Katy’s blogs that explains what is happening here so you can do it, too: https://nutritiousmovement.com/mind-your-pelvis/.
The future wasn’t looking too great because I am by nature a very physically active person. My husband, Willis, and I were already well into our journey to hike all 58 U.S. National Parks. We were Olympic-style racewalkers and had done two half marathons racewalking. My first was at age 69 and the second at 70 in which I bettered my time! I lifted weights daily having put a gym in our home and I became certified to teach weight lifting to older adults to maintain and build stronger bones. I thought I was doing everything right and yet, my bone density showed osteopenia starting plus all the other issues I mentioned. Wasn’t looking good.
At 71, while visiting my local chiropractor I mentioned my concern about these issues and she referred me to Katy for an evaluation. As they say, the rest is history.
No, everything has not reversed – last bone density showed I still have osteopenia – not osteoporosis! I rarely experience back pain and when I do, I now know what to do about it. My constipation totally disappeared after about three years of Restorative Exercise and alignment. I was able to give up my orthotics the first year into my practice and I recently walked five miles barefoot on a Maui beach. I can hike in five-finger barefoot shoes for several miles. Despite my fused cervical (neck) vertebra, I have no neck discomfort and my range of motion has significantly improved. I still have pelvic prolapse; however, surgery has not been necessary and I am able to strengthen the muscles in the pelvic floor by learning and practicing how to walk/align/move optimally. My knees no longer bother me when hiking. And my balance is amazing! The best thing about all of this is I AM EIGHT YEARS OLDER and yet I AM GETTING BETTER. Each of us has experienced this phenomenon as you will learn in future blogs by Joyce, Shelah and Lora. This was the motivation for our book. We now call ourselves the Dynamic 4!
And it is the motivation for this blog. What does the future hold as I go into my 80s? What is possible? How will I prepare for new adventures? And can I do “it” – whatever “it” is that I want to do? I never thought I could climb up and hang from a tree “at my age.” In fact the thought had never crossed my mind after maybe age 15. Katy started teaching us how to hang for more upper body strength. So, after a lot of practice hanging with my feet on the ground, one day while hiking I saw this tree. And there I am at 78 climbing up and hanging from it. And, I continue to climb and hang from that tree several times a week as part of hiking the system of trails my husband, Willis, and I have created in the coastal oak and black walnut forest on our ranch on a mountain in southern California. Who knew?!? What’s next?