If you’ve been following along on the blog or on Instagram you have probably heard me make reference to how I looked forward to being 40 when I was younger. To me, it sounded like a fabulous age where you’d have it all together. I realize now that this was not a popular sentiment and the older I got the more I was reminded that it was indeed not universally perceived to be as cool as I thought it was.
In my thirties, things started to really come together for me. However, the closer I got to 40 the more other women would say “Well things might be going well now but as soon as you hit 40, everything falls apart.” Now most often these women were talking about physical attributes and my joy about 40 wasn’t really linked to the physical. I realized that our bodies age. But I also understood despite the grim predictions from my friends and family members that we do have control over how we age.
So, that brings me to today’s post. The other day someone commented on my Instagram page asking how I stay in shape at my age, and I thought about doing a fitness post but honestly, I think aging well is so much more than working out. And while I am certainly not perfect, I can say that things are not falling apart. Here’s why.
I believe the art of aging gracefully starts with your mindset. I think if you think things are supposed to fall apart then they most likely will. I have been resisting the status quo on what aging looks and feels like for a few decades. It all just started with realizing it did not have to be that way.
So, after changing my mindset here is what else I also did and continue to do.
Eat lots of plants-Please hear me on this one- you CANNOT out exercise a bad diet. I am certainly not a saint, I do indulge in things that are good but not necessarily good for me. But, I try to practice something that might look like the 80/20 rule. I eat really well most of the time and that means eating real food that grows from the earth. Eat Mostly Plants!
Find a physical activity that you enjoy– it does not need to be Crossfit or any other trendy fitness program. I tend to like trying new things and welcome the latest fitness craze but you do not have to do what everyone else is doing. Whatever you do just needs to be something that you can do consistently. If you are struggling through workouts, chances are you won’t stick with them. Find something that you enjoy and please stop sleeping on walking. Walking works! It is so underrated, but if you are getting out every day and putting in extra steps you will see results and it is something you can almost always do.
I do need to add that it can’t stop with your workouts. You need to be more active all day. That means making a conscious effort not to collapse on the couch for the rest of the day after said workout. I make a habit of peeling myself off the couch when I get home, walking the dog and doing little household chores daily. I remember when my kids were little I was constantly moving and this is also where I got most of my exercise. Remember calories burned are calories burned and they don’t have to be burned in a gym. Stay active.
Sleep-I am always surprised when people present their lack of sleep as a badge of honor. It is not good for you or your gracefully aging body to function on little sleep. There are all types of studies that will tell you lack of sleep causes everything from weight gain to decrease in cognitive function. Make a conscious effort to get a good night’s sleep. I actually have an old post about this that you can read here. And, if you are are doing all the things that the “experts” suggest and you still can’t get a full night’s sleep please see your doctor. I’m a champion for sleep! I know when I don’t sleep well it shows up all over my face. Get some sleep.
And last but not least Play-if you know me you know I wouldn’t leave this one out. This might fall under mindset, but I believe in not only having a playful spirit (my spirit is so playful that last night I spent ten minutes trying to arm wrestle my husband who could bench press my body weight-obviously a fruitless effort) but also in actively engaging in playful activities.
Visit an amusement park (child-free), play a sport for fun-there are lots of adult leagues out there, but if that’s too much of a commitment gather a group of friends and just play. My brother has a couples group that play softball together a few times a year.
Take a dance class, painting class or photography course. My girlfriends and I visited a studio where we painted desktop size mermaids. We giggled like young girls as our unique mermaids took shape. Doing fun things breaks up the monotony of life. If all you have to look forward to is a 9-5 and taking care of everyone else your days may feel very long. Break it up with play.
Those are my tips to help you stay mentally and physically fit as you age. I’d love to hear your thoughts on staying fit and aging gracefully.
Until Next Post,
xo Tonya Parker