I am 45 years strong. Yes, I am getting older. We all are. But do we have to feel old? Does aging suck?
I pose the question because in the early stages of my fitness career, following an exercise demonstration, I would get comments like, “wow, I used to move like that,” and “It must be nice to be still so young” and “wait until you are my age, you won’t be able to move like that.”
Taken back by the remarks, I began to examine the validity of each statement. I wondered, was it easy because I was still relatively young and will I begin to experience a steady decline in basic human movement? Will I start to feel every ache, pain, swelling, and discomfort from change, or will I do everything in my power to embrace the change and move along with it as opposed to push and pull against it? Aging can’t be that bad, and why do you have to feel bad as you age?
I felt like suddenly my youth started to have an expiration date. Looking back, this was the catalyst for my future course of action, and I am so grateful for each of those clients who challenged me to be more; more empathic to myself, my body, and clients as they navigate their changes to their health and fitness as we all age.
In a country obsessed over youth and inundated with images and messages on maintaining one’s youth and beauty for as long as possible, it’s no wonder many devalue and often fear the aging process. Take a closer look at similar words: ancient, decrepit, old-fashioned, rusty, out of date, gray, inactive, exhausted, not young, over the hill, wasted, old fart; It’s no wonder we begin to feel anxious, sad, fearful, and sometimes insignificant.
Remove your negative attachment to aging, and instead of saying I am X years old, say I am X years better, stronger, wiser, and more joyful. And if you have a hard time believing, perhaps you are conditioned not to believe aging can be positive.
Aging better is about moving into each year, learning from the previous. We don’t want to hold onto what made us feel less than. We want to adjust and shift to live better because of how that experience molded us. Move the clouds away, see and optimize the beautiful changes and wisdom that came from that experience.
Aging doesn’t have to suck. But around moments when it does, perhaps we can take peremptory steps to make it suck less. We all have our share of challenging staircases to climb, but you have to keep on climbing.
As I enter my mid 40’s, I find myself reflecting on one idea; life is school. Thank you, Will Smith, for bringing that to my attention. Every situation, positive or negative, is an opportunity for growth and change, providing you are aware of it in the first place.
I have become excited about taking on new challenges and have learned to embrace hard times as the need to slow down and nurture myself and my relationships. There is no way to turn back the clock, and the more we wish for eternal youth, the more frustrated and stuck we will remain.
You have the power to optimize each day and be the author of your life. Reframe the negative belief about aging and begin to view it from an optimistic lens. It is time to refresh what it means to age and focus on positive aging words: experienced, seasoned, skilled, wise, venerable, timeless.
Here’re 8 sumple tips to age better:
1. Lean into Trust
During uncertain times, it is common to throw in the towel. As adults, stress can be overwhelming, responsibilities are endless, and life can feel out of control.
Take a step back, take 5-10 deep breaths, lean into the challenge without judgment, and trust in the situation’s unfolding.
2. Learn Something New
Make a list of all the activities that make you feel good, like cooking, reading, sewing, strength training, woodworking, painting, etc., then take steps to get to it.
I love cooking, so I add a new recipe to the rotation every two weeks. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many things. Pick one and follow through consistently. When you are ready, you can add more.
3. Focus on Health First, Vanity Second
I love looking strong and sexy from exercise. However, when I feel strong and sexy from consistently nourishing and moving my body, I can still see the wrinkles and marks my two gorgeous children left on my body as beautiful; anyhow I still look healthy, strong, and sexy.
If you focus on the wrong order, you will continue to grab at straws and feel miserable. Write down two things you love about feeling healthy and strong, then write one action step you will take to encourage that feeling throughout your day.
4. Move More
Movement and strength training is essential for the muscles and bones in the body. It also helps you sleep, relieves stress and anxiety, increases your focus, energy, mood, strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, mobility, and weight loss.
The movement you choose will look different at each stage of your life. And it is vital to adjust your movement and fitness routine based on your current fitness level.
Take small steps daily to increase your movement. Set the alarm on your phone to get up through your day. Take a walk around the block a few times, take the stairs instead of the elevator, do push-ups while you wait for something to cook, or stretch while you watch tv.
Meet with a qualified fitness professional to help you design a program that meets your current and future needs. The important thing is to start small until it becomes second nature, then add more. Be consistent, and the results will come.
5. Recruit Your Inner Child
Have you ever followed a child around all day? They don’t stop. What do adults do? Sit more and move less.
We must maintain the flexibility, mobility, and strength in our bodies to minimize the effects of the natural aging process. Buy a jump rope, hula hoop, play twister, or take a dance class online or in-person. Find activities that make you feel like a kid again, then take small steps to recruit that inner child.
6. Take a Step Back and Breathe
Are you familiar with the benefits of breathwork? Breathwork breaks the stress response allowing you to handle any situation with focus, clarity, and confidence.
Deep abdominal breathing improves your mood, increases creativity, relieves stress and anxiety, strengthens intuition, enhances immunity, and returns the body to its natural sleep cycle. I highly recommend practicing 5-10 deep breaths every hour.
7. Get Excited About Aging
Getting old might not be plums and roses all the time, but aging better, stronger, and fitter gives you a choice to live full out and is a privilege denied to many. It looks different for each of us, but embrace the changes with grace and love, continue to challenge your mind and body, and have fun.
8. Stay Connected With a Social Group That Encourages Mental and Physical Growth
Surround yourself with like-minded people who will continue to challenge and encourage you to live and love life.
When I go into a downward spiral of self-loathing, I pause, give myself grace and time to figure out why I am there, then ask myself if the thoughts I have are true or just stories I am making up.
Often instead of leaning into the challenge, we return to our default response. You must change your default response when you find yourself loathing over something. Treat your mind and body with the love it deserves. Phone a friend, hit the road for a walk, breathe, or practice your joyful activity.
As C.S. Lewis says,
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
Reflect on where you were and focus on your current state and where you would like to go. It won’t look entirely the same, but each age gives you an opportunity for exploration.
Explore new methods of doing things. You can learn so much from what worked and didn’t in the past. Perhaps you are relying on the same old defaults expecting different results. Change your defaults, and you change the way you view things. Begin to age better.
Featured photo credit: Milena Trifonova via unsplash.com