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Pushing 80 and Loving My Body

By Sheila Grinell September 11, 2022 Mindset

Up until age 75, I felt 18 years old at the core. The girl I used to be still lived inside me and dictated my approach to life. That girl had always hungered to learn new things. She enjoyed traveling independently, taking a chance on whatever food and lodging she might find; she liked to dance and ski and ride her bike and do yoga.

To be sure, as the years passed and I continued to do those things, I had to make accommodations for lesser physical strength and greater vulnerability. But my inner 18-year-old was nonetheless still happily in charge.

In the Blink of an Eye

I was far from blind to the fact of aging. At age 60, out of curiosity, I decided to start keeping track of the bodily changes to come. I labeled a page in the back of a notebook “Things Falling Apart Post 60” and added items as I noticed them.

The entries were little things like small, red moles appearing on trunk; base of right thumb occasionally aches; and so on. Time passed, and then I labeled another page “Entropy After 65” and continued listing incremental changes. (When the irises of your eyes turn gray around the edges, it’s called arcus senilis. What an unkind name!)

Tipping Point

I continued the chronicle of curiosities – that’s what my 18-year-old psyche called them – and labeled the next page “Patching It together Post 70.” The principal entry was a list of foods I now found harder to digest (including red wine but not white, thank goodness).

When I hit 75, I labeled the new page “75 – Now I’m Old” tongue-in-cheek. But right away, my entries turned into paragraphs rather than one-liners because the issues had become more complex. Consider rising blood pressure: was it due to aging, or to genetics, or to the stress of the pandemic? I went back to the label and added the words “no more fooling around” in lower case.

At long last, that 18-year-old living inside me lost her primacy. I no longer had confidence that my body would respond to the fun stressors, like playing with kids or jumping over puddles, with appropriate resilience. It wasn’t a question of practice; deep down, I knew that I would not be able to recoup my former elasticity no matter how I tried.

What Now?

At the start of the pandemic, a friend had said, “Don’t worry, it won’t kill you.” I wondered how she could be so sure. Lack of resilience affects one’s response to all kinds of stressors, infectious as well as metabolic.

I’d enjoyed exercising and eating organic food for decades, and I was in really good shape. But a careful lifestyle doesn’t make up for the natural effects of aging. Every time a DNA molecule replicates, it can lose a little something. Those losses accumulate and cannot be reversed.

The New Regime

When my mother was my age, she sprinkled lemon juice on her French fries instead of salt. At the time I thought it yukky, but she ate them with gusto. (She hadn’t told me her doctor had demanded she change her diet.) I recently tried squeezing lemon on my fries; they tasted like tangy potato rather than salt. Different, not bad. I finally understood what my mother had been up to.

My attitude toward my body has changed from cataloging limitations to celebrating gifts. I’m not “settling” for life in a reduced state; I love what my 70-something body can do, with the support of 21st century medicine when required. It’s a privilege to grow older in relative health and comfort in these challenging times.

So, pushing 80, I had a talk with my 18-year-old psyche, telling her to move over because grandmother had come to town and would be sleeping in her bed!  

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you have concerns about how your body is aging? What changes are you noticing in this new decade? Are they for the better or worse? What can you do to keep your body as strong as possible for longer?

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Kathleen M. Rehl

Thanks for writing this article! I’m in my 76th year now and can resonate with several of your comments. I consider myself “reFired,” rather than simply retired. So, I concentrate on family, fun, focused-purpose, friends, and fitness. Writing is a special part of my purposeful living. You obviously love to write, also.


Great article! I notice changes as related to my grandchildren. When I had my first grandchild at 61, I could play with her on the floor and carry her up the winding 2nd floor for her naps. My 5th grandchild was born recently and now I am 75. I can no longer get on the floor with her and I won’t take a chance on taking her up and down the stairs for naps because I now need to hold on to the banister. Fortunately, I can still play games with all of them and enjoy the “movies” they make and enjoy watching them play on their sports teams and playing their video games. Things change but life with grandchildren is still a joy!


Thanks for your thoughts, Sheila! I like the way you express staying in the present, acceptance, and focusing forward!

Rosamund Sheppard

I’m 73 a vegan and so far perfectly healthy. I take no tablets for any condition yet. I hope that when my health starts to fail in any way I can always remain as positive as this poster. A great article.


Very interesting, to hear which changes occur regardless of your very healthy lifestyle. At age 65, I notice that a lot of my ski friends my age seem to be falling apart, and I tend to think it is related to the unhealthyness of processed food, and restaurant food with seed oils. So your article is more relatable to me because of the way you take care of yourself and have scientifically documented the aging process. Thank you!
Lauren, founder of Twifties, the Fun People over 50. Centering over birth year 1956.

The Author

Toward the end of her 40-year career as a creator of science museums, Sheila Grinell began a “second act” as a novelist. Her debut, Appetite, appeared in 2016, and her second novel, The Contract, in 2019. She writes a monthly newsletter and engages with readers on social media.

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