I’ll let you in on a secret; when I turned 50 this summer, it felt like I had suddenly aged overnight. I could have sworn my body had not really changed (with the happy exception of pregnancy) for about 30 years. Now I was losing my estrogen, my skin tone and my eye site. I ate about the same amount as I always had, yet I started to gain weight. I was in a full blown mid-life crisis and certain realities of my life started to sink in. While I certainly took some time to wallow in this, I also started to question some of my assumptions about this aging thing. I shed some of my cherished, yet outdated identities and started to look at what was possible and even what advantages my age might bring. The good news is that this process of questioning and yes, grieving, bought about a renewed commitment to my own health and well being. The truth is that getting older is a privilege not everyone gets. Here are five things that those of us in our second half have on our side in the journey to wellness.
Never having to diet again. Ever.
I knew dieting was no longer thought of as the way to long term weight goals but I still needed to adjust my calorie intake and make sure I was getting the proper nutrition. I took a good hard look at my current diet and admitted to myself I was ingesting way to much sugar. Not just in the form of sweets, but in fancy coffees, pastas, breads, wine. I have started to find a way to eat that suits me, not based on any particular diet regime. It focuses on no processed food (if I want cake i’ll bake one myself), local produce and happy meat, and homemade probiotics* everyday.
I know what I like to do to move my body and why
When I was in my twenties and thirties I would periodically sign up for boot camp at the gym (boring and aggressive) , or I would take up running on the treadmill (until my hips or knees started to hurt). I thought good fitness had to hurt. Now I go for brisk walks or I sign up for hikes, snowshoeing or cross country ski trips on the web site ‘meetup’. I want to get my heart rate up as well as enjoy both nature and good company.
I build myself up instead of tearing myself down.
I look for more than fitness now. I also want well-being in my mental, emotional and spiritual realms. A good yoga class addresses all these things for me. Yoga relieves aches and pains, delivers stress relief, makes you walk taller, helps you sleep better. There is a teacher out there for you – ask your yoga friends for referrals. Yoga is not an extreme sport, although some try to make it so. Look for a class that lets you progress slowly.
Persistence not perfection.
I’m in it for the long haul, not just for bikini season anymore. If I can do a little exercise, its better than none at all. A ten minute video on youtube. A quick walk around the block. I want to carry myself with style and pride, not be a cover model.
It is never to late to start.
My beloved dad used to say, “If you have your health you have everything”. I know the things I hold dear now. I can be more focused on myself once the kids have left the nest. I can take time to nurture myself in a way that I could not in my younger years.
Treat your self to a weekend hike, a yoga retreat or a new blender for healthy smoothies. Living and aging are the same thing. Live well and your body will carry you through you life.
* I make my own Kefir, but kombucha and pickled veggies are good too.