‘I’m 44 and I've never been more uncomfortable in my body. Here’s why.’

As someone who frequently makes jokes about being 'old' to my kids, I hadn't really felt old until late last year when my body began to let me down.

Until the ripe old age of 43, I had been lucky to have my health. That's not to say I have had a perfect run, but I was comfortable and happy to age in a body that I felt looked okay and still did what I asked it to.

I was not much of a sporty kid and so when I finished university after three years of having the best time and a lot of beer, I decided it was time to get fit.

In 2001 after graduation, I moved from the UK to Australia and the other young people I met seemed puzzled that I didn't have 'a hobby' not involving food or friends.

Watch: Ask Mia - Perimenopause. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

I turned to running, well jogging, and found that while I wasn't particularly good or fast, I loved it. 

Running was something I could do anywhere, anytime, and it became my default excuse when someone tried to recruit me to a netball or soccer team. Thanks, but no thanks!

After a few years I didn't just jog; I became a jogger. It was my hobby. The thing that I did after work or on the weekend. And that's how it went for twenty years. 


I took part in many Parkruns, 10kms races, half marathons and fun runs. 

I ran alone, with my husband, with friends and eventually even my eldest son. I ran on holidays and in hotel gyms, on treadmills on footpaths and in the bush. It always felt hard, but as any jogger knows; that feeling when you finish a run all sweaty and breathless is glorious.

After the births of both my boys in 2010 and 2017, I couldn't wait for the endorphins of that 'first run'. 

Around eight weeks postpartum I would put my joggers on, pop in the headphones and savour the first taste of freedom. Of remembering what my body could do. Step by step, week by week, I would slowly jog back to myself again.

And then in the middle of 2022, I began to experience pain in my left hip. At first, it was just a niggle, like so many other pains, strains and muscle aches I have had as a lifelong jogger. 

From a niggle, it developed into a much more aggressive pain deep in my groin that caused me to limp. I sought the help of a physiotherapist who gave me exercises to try. Weeks and then months passed, and not much changed but the pain came and went in waves. One day, frustrated by my inactivity and weight gain I broke down in tears to my husband.

The chronic, irritating pain was stopping me from doing things I enjoyed and I noticed my moods were getting worse. After X-rays, an MRI and a consultation with an orthopaedic doctor, I was told it was osteoarthritis.


The diagnosis shocked me at first; surely this is a condition for the elderly? 

I was relatively fit and young and not ready to spend the rest of my days doing chair yoga.

According to recent data from The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, arthritis affects people of all ages, with its prevalence increasing sharply from the age of 45 years. I am one of approximately 2.2 million Aussies with the condition.

Women are almost twice as likely to have osteoarthritis than men, and while I am not overweight (the most common risk factor for developing osteoarthritis) I do have a family history: My dad has had hip and knee issues for many years.


After the initial shock, I tried to remain positive. The GP who read the results to me told me I would need to chat to the surgeon and after waiting a few weeks, holding out hope that the MRI was wrong, he confirmed that jogging was no longer in my future.

He also said (fairly flippantly) that I should probably just 'buy a bike' or go swimming. 

Neither of these activities are a natural fit for me. I learnt to swim as an adult and am a very nervous bike rider. Cycling and swimming require equipment and planning and are dependent on the weather. 

They are great, healthy alternatives that I sometimes enjoy doing with friends, but they weren't running. 

Listen to Mamamia's podcast for women over 40, The 456 Club. Post continues below. 

My whole identity changed overnight and jogging, the thing I had used to manage stress, anxiety and just being a busy mum was no longer available to me. The pain kept coming and going and it has since found a home in my other hip and my right hand. 

There is no cure, only management, and according to my doctor and Arthritis NSW, the best management is to stay healthy, and active and not put on too much weight (as it puts pressure on the joints). I can use pain relief and walking aids (hopefully not for some time) and joint replacement surgeries are possible down the track.


Until last year, I hadn't truly felt old. And now? Ageing hit me hard. And not for the reasons people so often imagine.

While my 43rd birthday last year was all about dealing with wrinkles and worrying about how my face and neck look, this year, as I approached 44 I was reassessing what my body can and can’t do. 

I still care about my changing appearance, I am human after all, but what I wouldn't give to worry ONLY about all that. 

As time passes, I am moving towards acceptance. Just because I can no longer jog like I used to I am proud I did it for so long. I also realise how precious my body is and how I need to look after it as it carries me through to the end of my life. 

I am lucky. Many people live and have lived with chronic pain and debilitating illnesses that are invisible and difficult to manage.

This might be my first but it won't be my last 'hurdle' in life and I now feel grateful my pain is manageable enough so that I can still enjoy many activities in the fresh air. 

And who knows, maybe there is time for me to become 'a cyclist' instead?

Laura Jackel is Mamamia's Family Writer. For links to her articles and to see photos of her outfits and kids, follow her on Instagram and TikTok.

Feature Image: Rebecca Essery Photography.

 Are you someone who values beauty, health, and self-care? Take our short survey to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!