Over the Hill, in a Manner of Speaking!

Once we hit, what 40? these days, we are taught by this consumer culture that we’re all over the hill.  True?  Do you feel that?  Women rush off to Botox their faces into smooth planes as if wrinkles are the devil’s work.  Necks are despaired over and don’t let’s look at our hands!  When will the plastic surgeons sort THEM out?  In reality, it’s our self-esteem at issue.

Having returned from a gruelling walk of 850 kilometres in Spain – I walked most of the Via de la Plata Camino – I experienced first-hand just what our ageing, decrepit, fragile, over the hill bodies are capable of.  And at 56, I was one of the YOUNGER ONES there.  As I have mentioned before, there were several women in their 60s to 70s walking the same mountainous path as me, and there was an 86 year old guy doing the Camino, as well as men in all age ranges.  He was 30 years older than me.

We are not over the hill once we “start ageing”.  The fact that a newborn babe has already “started ageing” is ignored by this consumer culture.

Somehow we seem to have bought into the whole idea of ageing and fragility.  Taking care of brittle bones – but letting them get brittle in the first place.  Ageing has somehow come to mean running out of steam.  Becoming less able.  And somehow complacent about it.

We older people are confronted with youth that saturates all media.  Older folk in media are relatively invisible.

And yet – older folk populate all the camino roads that cross Spain.  Older folk are running marathons, doing Masters’ Olympics, climbing personal mountains of physical achievement.

I came away from Spain amazed at what my “old” bod had achieved and how many “older” people of both sexes there were who had done the exact same thing.  I came away amazed at how strong my body actually was – 20 kilometres a day of walking – that’s what my body can do and I’m not Wonder Woman – and at how little we actually need to eat to sustain that level of physicality.

How did we buy into this Fragility Campaign?

We aren’t “over the hill” – but rather, our bodies can get “over the hill” walking with strength and determination.  We are strong physically!  And we have life experience in our CVs.

If bones are brittle due to lack of exercise, and if you are capable of exercising, then get out of the house and show yourself how STRONG your body actually is!

Prevention is the best medicine, endorphins are the best medicine, Vitamin D is the best medicine (sunshine).

More on this later – it’s becoming a campaign for me, isn’t it?

keep walking!  (note to self also)


About Nancy Liddle

In 2014 I walked from Seville to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, some 800 ks I walked, aged 56. I learnt that no matter what age we are, our bodies are strong work-horses. Ageing doesn't have to be the nightmare that our culture feeds us. We can be strong and vital and energetic! And meditation exercises our minds. Clearly these discoveries have impacted my life deeply.

10 thoughts on “Over the Hill, in a Manner of Speaking!

  1. Hi Nancy,

    I have just turned 40 and you have amazed me at what you are doing! You rock! I had to re-read the amount of kilometres you walked…lol.

    Well done!

    • Hello Andrea – we are ALL capable of it! We just didn’t know it! I certainly didn’t and now I do! If we’re capable of exercise, we are capable of walking 20 kilometres a day (after building up to it, naturally). No more FRAGILITY as we get older! Oh, and welcome! 😀

  2. Thankfully there are a lot of baby boomers who are already redefining age. 60 is supposed to be the new 50 and so on. There are always people who are attached to appearances and more superficial – personally, I think that cosmetic surgery and botox make matters worse because it doesn’t allow the person concerned to embrace themselves.

    Congratulations to your achievement and to your commitment to keep going.

    • Thanks Ulrike – I agree that we baby boomers aren’t going gently into that good night. But you certainly wouldn’t know it from the media around us. It’s a real personal journey for rising generations to walk away from media messages about youth and ageing and exercise.
      And throughout all of this, I’m still gobsmacked from my Camino experience about what our bodies can really do! Like we only use 10% of our brain, I think we are only using a small percentage of our bodies’ capabilities.

  3. I love this! We started acrobatics classes (at 35 and 38 respectively) and we were a decade (+ more) older than everyone else. Likewise with the volcano climbs and multiday hikes in Latin America we were always the oldest there and I was the slowest! Then we joined a group with a couple that were in their 50’s or 60’s on a intense 5 day trek to the Lost City in Colombia. Suddenly I was not the slowest anymore but it made me realise that determination trumps age every time. Since then I have done some ridiculous climbs (for my fitness) and I couldn’t walk for days afterwards, but there was no thought that I couldn’t actually make it. As long as you believe you can, your body, can probably keep up!

    • You are so right, Serena. But I disagree very slightly with something you said – I think we get stronger as we get older – like old trees in the forest. I suppose the determination strengthens too – I am still gobsmacked by the fact that I was one of the youngest pilgrims on the Camino at 56! That speaks worlds about ageing and determination. Well done you both for not letting cultural/social mores interfere with your physical enjoyments of life. The more of us who just get out there, the less of us in the hospitals with the creaks and groans. 😀

  4. I love this post! The title is awesome and such an important topic in our society. I think the way society views ageing is crazy and how the media treats older women. Women definitely have a ‘use by’ date. Your right that it just matters how you feel about yourself, and how much you can block out what society tells you about age. You are obviously living life to the full! It’s amazing what you’ve accomplished.

    • Thanks so much, Christel,
      Yes – the media deems us unviewable once we hit a certain age – I know there are movie stars like Susan Sarandon and Meryl Streep out there au naturel, but for those of us lesser mortal women, our wrinkles are loathed as is our grey hair. In Europe, I think the attitude is more mature, grown up. But since we are an American colony our slavish pandering to the Cult of Youth is demeaning to ageing, alas. Thanks for all your encouraging enthusiasm. 😀

  5. great post and I think it is wonderful that you have this mindset! I ran 3 marathons – first one at age 59! Age is not the issue, it is the attitude we have towards it!

    • Thanks so much Ingrid – if age wasn’t such a goldmine for consumer products, we wouldn’t see it as a disease! Your running a marathon at 59 is wonderful – well done you! I’ve given up running after decades of shock to my joints, so walking long distance or even cycling are my preferred options. The more active we are, the better our workhorse bodies love us! 😀