07.27.12 Truth & Wisdom
The 30 and Up Club: Welcome to the Jungle
BY Cija Jefferson
I sweat profusely. There, I’ve said it! I sweat so much now that the slightest bit of exertion activates my sweat glands and causes a veritable Niagara Falls-like mist to spread across my body like a fast-moving virus. For some this may be par for the course, but for me, this sweating thing and a whole physical realignment only presented itself in my 30s. Remember that MTV diary show, where the opening line is, ‘You think you know but you have no idea’? Well, that line symbolizes exactly how I felt somewhere in my 30s when I realized I should have heeded all of the miscellaneous unsolicited tidbits shared with me over the course of my life by women older than me about how their bodies just changed on them: they couldn’t achieve the same exercise results as before, couldn’t recover as well from a night of debauchery and couldn’t necessarily leap right out of bed in the morning.
Let me tell you, the ignorance of youth is bliss; I was so blithely unaware of what physical changes awaited me shortly after crossing into my 30s. In my late teens and early 20s, my energy reserves were amazing: In high school I could stay up until 5am partying with my friends, sleep for an hour, get to my job at McDonald’s by 6am, be productive, go home take a nap and repeat the cycle; in college, I could hop out of bed at 7am after being up until at least 2am, go to the gym, work the Stairmaster for 45 minutes, go outside have a cigarette and still remain energized, alert and ready to begin my day.
Let’s flash-forward circa now: I’m 36 on the cusp of 37 in a mere four months, and this is how the above scenarios would play out today: I’m not even working at a physically active job like McDonald’s; I’m in an office whose culture is an amalgam of academia and corporate and is reminiscent of the movie Office Space (a must-see for anyone who has worked in a business park or cubicle-land). I go to sleep by midnight at the latest, and when the alarm goes off at 6am, I hit snooze until 7am, sometimes later. Once I vow to get up, I laboriously drag my ass to the edge of the bed and sit there a moment, sip on some water to knock the sawdust out of my throat and wearily stand to the symphony of the Rice Krispies like sound my joints make as I straighten. I then take my shower to fully wake up and finally feel human when I cross the doors of my office building, rinse and repeat.
So scenario two, that whole leaping out of bed to work out in the morning and then follow that up with a cigarette is a joke. I don’t leap out of bed, as evidenced by aforementioned scenario; rather, it’s me waking up with just enough time to take a shower, get dressed and speed my short commute to work to get there on time. The gym and exercise only recently gained readmission into my life in the form of a ‘corporate fitness challenge’ at the jobbie and has been a Godsend, but please know 45 minutes on any one machine is no longer an option. I won’t say it can’t become an option after I repair the damage I have done to my ‘temple’ – I feel I can hardly call it that since I’ve allowed my ‘temple’ to turn into Grey Gardens – but it’s still a work in progress.
Also, a post-workout cigarette is totally out of the question. Smoking is still one of my personal struggles and I have downshifted quite a bit from when I was younger – a pack now lasts me a week rather than a day – but even with these changes, I definitely feel the physical impact of smoking way more now than ever. I keep promising myself I will quit and always thought I’d quit when I have a baby. But the reality is, based off my current relationship (he has children and wants no more), my desire to be married before having a child and my self-professed timeline for giving birth (35 preferred, 40 bottom line), it looks like I’m going to be the ‘cool auntie’, so I’ll have to come up with a new non-smoking strategy so I can continue the self-improvement work I’ve started over the past several months.
Thus far I’ve shared my lovely new-found slowness and fatigue that I like to blame on age, but if I’m honest have to combine with inactivity and age. There’s also that pesky sweat I mentioned before; the sweat that prior to my 30s was in check and only revealed itself during rigorous physical activity or a scorching day. Now this sweat, unprovoked by anything at all beyond my slight movement, gathers along my hairline, dripping back toward my earlobe and running down my neck. There’s sweat that miraculously pops up on the end of my nose, hanging by a drop if I even remotely over-exert myself; there’s the ever-so-sexy sweat that rings my underarms and create quite the unflattering silhouette or half moon (sometimes full moon) on my shirts. There’s the Mountain Dew (as my paternal grandmother called it) – or breast sweat – trickling between each breast and settling underneath… a good trick for avoiding unpleasantness in this area is some powder whether it be straight talcum or cornstarch or even a beautifully perfumed powder of your choice.
Due to my newfound post-30 sweat epidemic, I started collecting hand fans. No, not the battery operated mini electric fans, but good old-fashioned hand fans which go with me everywhere as I experience my own personal heat wave daily. I also have taken up another seemingly arcane collection: handkerchiefs. There is always one in my purse, ready to wipe sweat from my brow. My friends and family find my fans and handkerchiefs entertaining and enjoy making fun of my implied pretentiousness but let me tell you, none of that gets to me because these are tools I need for my everyday survival especially during these hot summer months. Fatigue, joint crackles, slower recovery from partying, slow metabolism and excessive sweat have all been the new and ‘fun’ aspects of joining the 30 and up club, but can I please get some insight into 40? I promise I’ll listen…which is more than I can say for my 20-something year old self.
Featured image by Jezaira Knight Photography