Growing Older Well

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about aging. We live in a youth-obsessed culture, but unlike those young ones, I have a rich well of experience to draw upon, and I know myself better. There’s great value in that.

I turn 50 next year, and I consider it a great milestone. It’s a wonderful blessing to reach another birthday. While I don’t bemoan getting older, I do “feel” my body more than I used to. It aches a bit more, and I can’t push through things as I once did. Quite frankly, I don’t want to. There’s a perk of getting older, being smart enough to know when to push and when to stop and take a nap!

On the other side of 35, I began to notice my body talking to me. “Nope, you can’t do that anymore.” We are able to get away with a myriad of sins in our 20s and early 30s. But our “bad” choices begin to catch up with us as we approach 40, and they almost stop you dead in your tracks over 40!

I’ve made several lifestyle changes the last 2-1/2 years, starting with cutting way back on drinking as I shared in a post here. Then, I started exercising and doing yoga regularly as I shared here. During the pandemic, I did more yoga, took many walks and hikes and I incorporated breathing, stretching, warm baths and aromatherapy. I even did an Ayurvedic cleanse in March, which I shared on my podcast here.

I have no idea what 49 is supposed to feel like but incorporating a healthier lifestyle has left me feeling energetic and peaceful. Couple that with a wealth of life experience, and I feel confident, which evaded me in my youth. Energetic, peaceful and confident is a good place to be.

With that, here are my top tips for growing older well. Don’t be afraid of it. It’s nice here!

  • Keep Moving – What you do now for exercise might not be the workouts of your youth, and that’s okay. What I’ve discovered in my later 40s is I don’t have to do the hard workouts I did in my 20s and 30s to get the same results. My body type accepts less strenuous exercise, but I know not everyone’s body is the same. Find what works for you, but go easy on yourself, too. Find a doable routine that leaves you feeling energized and happy, not dead tired. Whether it is walking, yoga, HIIT, biking, swimming, etc., your choice is perfect. Studies show any activity is better than none. If you only have 10-15 minutes, do it. You’ll feel immensely better in the long run.
  • Eat and Drink What You Want 20% of the Time – I have no science to back this up, but I don’t do well with extremes. When I put “never” in front of something, it makes me want it more. I’d rather give myself the option to have “bad” things, and then I don’t crave it so hard. What I am finding with my allowance to eat/drink “bad” things is I don’t crave them as much (except for dark chocolate). Over time, what I enjoy most has changed to healthier options. I honestly prefer the taste of roasted chicken over fried. I love a salad with grilled protein. I’m good with water over wine (most days). I draw the line at pizza, however. I love pizza and I eat it, period! Do vegetarian toppings count as a healthy change?
  • Spend time with good friends – As we age, we realize the value of understanding, supportive friends. Most of us just need a few faithful pals to count on. They keep us in a healthy state of balance. If you’ve lost touch with some of your favorite friends, reach out. If they are a true friend, it will be as though you spoke last week with no judgments of how long it’s been. 
  • Listen to your body – On a recent episode of the podcast Everything is Fine, co-host Jennifer Romolini said, “I’m happier accepting what my body wants from me than I was fighting it.” As I alluded to above, I can’t “party” like I used to. I’ve made my peace with it. Pay attention to your limit. It is likely much less than it once was. When I go over my limit, I’m slower, less motivated and tired the next day. Not worth it. I’m also learning which foods my body prefers and trying to incorporate more of those with tons less process foods. My body is responding in kind. 
  • Let go of the outcome. A friend and I were chatting a while back about life, and she said, “I’m letting go of the outcome.” I love that. There’s great peace in it. Do what you love, use your gifts and see what happens. Goals are great, but at this age I know life throws a lot of curve balls. Letting go of the outcome allows me to be more fluid and to remain calm.

In a nutshell, getting older isn’t easy, but it’s a ton easier when you take care of yourself. When you treat yourself with loving care, you are able to put kindness into the world and into your loved ones. Wishing you a healthy, happy Memorial Day Weekend!

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