In mere weeks I’ll be facing a new age bracket, and I’m slowly trying to ease myself into the realisation that I’m no longer going to be in my thirties. A whole new world lies before me, a world of ticking new age brackets, a heightened sense of fear when I hear my bones make their usual cracking noises, and the distant memory of my previous delightful age bracket. The comfortable, safe bracket. The bracket that was more me. Now I’m being thrust into the nether regions of the world of age brackets with only a couple more brackets to go before my impending date with the mother of all punctuation marks — the full stop.
I promised myself that I’d be fit when I crossed the threshold of 30 into 40, and in the three weeks I have until then I’ve been eating more broccoli than I ever have before and attempting to do as much exercise as I can. Part of me realises that it’s much too late to be entering the last days of my thirties as a lean, healthy individual shining with youth and vitality. The years of over-indulgence are written all over my face.
A few days ago I entered the gym for the first time in months, as part of my farcical facing-forty-as-a-fitter-me. For some reason I thought the heavier the weights the better, and while this is usually true, it probably wasn’t a good idea to go so heavy on my return after so long. There were many, many squats: I decided to play it safe with this one by putting only 15kg on each end of the bar. Then there were the leg presses, leg curls and then I went for a run. Afterwards I felt fantastic. The happy hormones were coursing through my body as I strutted out of the gym a new person. This was the real me. This is what will see me through the next few weeks of emotional turmoil, I thought, and I’ll be fit as a fiddle in no time. No one will even get a whiff of forty from me, I’ll be forever 35.
The day after
The next morning felt slightly different. For starters, I couldn’t move. The muscles in my legs felt like they were being torn apart and my whole body ached from all the pulling and pushing I had done the day before. It was a rookie mistake, I know. But the memory of the happy feeling remained and I was determined to get back and do it all over again.
As we enter September, I’m still going to the gym. I’m aiming to get some kind of exercise every day, whether it’s walking or running with the dog or getting to the gym for a good workout. I’m hoping it’ll turn into a habit; a good habit to enter my forties with. Actually, the fact that I’ve written down that I’m turning forty is a huge step for me. There was a time I wouldn’t ever have had the courage to face it as well as the fact that I’m getting older and my youth is slipping away from me like sand from a clenched fist. However, I also know how lucky I am to be having this birthday at all and that there are lots of people who didn’t make it to theirs.
My family and friends will be helping me celebrate in style at the end of the month, and I’ll be slipping into a new dress for the occasion. Chances are I’ll be slipping into it as I’m slipping into my forties — with a lot of pulling, pain, tears and tantrums, but with a bit of support and a large glass of bubbly.
Wish me luck.
— Christina Curran is a freelance journalist based in Northern Ireland.