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Growing Old Disgracefully

Growing Old Disgracefully

Growing Old Disgracefully

    Sixty Eight Going on Thirty Three

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    seniors

      For those of you who have read my book Fattitude, you have already ‘met’ one of my favourite people; Jan Frazer. Jan is one of my personal trainers, has worked along side me at Harper’s Personal Training for about fifteen years and is sixty eight years young. She’s a great trainer, gifted teacher, charismatic communicator, completely lovable chick and funny as hell. And no, she’s not great for a sixty eight year-old; she’s just great. Full stop. Her age is irrelevant. As it should be for all of us. She’s fit, strong, intelligent, driven, compassionate and has amazing people skills. She’s an inspired leader, role model and motivator who consistently produces great results with her clients. I’ve always been fascinated with Jan because she simply doesn’t worry about what someone her age is ‘meant to be doing’ (I hate that term) and she’s always doing things which would leave most thirty year-olds exhausted or intimidated. And no, this is not some feel-good, exaggerated, love-fest to make for an interesting article, it is a completely honest and accurate account of a woman nearing seventy who has a biological age of thirty three (yep, thirty three) and consistently produces incredible results in her world.

      Mrs. Hard Work

      Sometimes when I’m mentoring someone who is hard work, I feel like walking them across the gym floor to meet Jan and saying something like, “Mrs. Hard Work, I’d like you to meet Jan; she’s twice your age, fitter, leaner, stronger, never complains, is tough as nails and has an infinitely better attitude that you’ve ever had… so suck it up, Princess!!”

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      Too nasty? Perhaps I should do it anyway.

      The Rules

      Jan is completely unaffected by the rules. You know the rules; the ‘what is and isn’t appropriate for someone of your age’ rules. I hate those rules. Always have. And don’t think that just because the rules aren’t written anywhere (formally), that they don’t exist; they absolutely do. In fact, they pervade every area of our existence; our culture, our language, our corporations and our collective mindset. I find many of these rules to be destructive, disempowering and completely unwarranted. I could give you countless examples of how we disadvantage our more ‘experienced’ citizens with our stupid thinking, rules, expectations and standards but I don’t want this to turn into an epic that you won’t read. If we were to believe some experts, we might be forgiven for thinking that anyone over fifty should have one of those disabled stickers on their car and be wrapped in cotton wool. Personally, I intend to head back to college when I’m in my sixties to do my Masters and possibly a PhD. Not wishful thinking, a plan. I also hope that Jan will work with me for a least another decade or two.

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      The Psychology of Aging

      Neither is it wishful thinking when I tell you that age (as we experience it in our culture) is more about psychology than it is about physiology. It’s about much more than our body or how many years we’ve been here on the big blue ball; it’s about how we think, act, communicate, work, socialise, recreate and love. That’s why we see ‘young’ people in their seventies and ‘old’ people in their fifties or even forties – because years on the planet is only part of the age equation. Of course there is a physical consequence of time but many of us unnecessarily accelerate the aging process via our programmed ageist thinking, our poor choices, our stupid behaviours, our irresponsible diet, our sedentary lifestyle, our lack of exercise and our propensity to listen to the morons who tell us to grow old gracefully.

      F*** that. I’ll grow old disgracefully thanks.

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      Old Before Our Time

      Sadly, many of us will get old before we should. I won’t. And not because I’m genetically gifted but I choose not to get ‘old’ (in the way that many people allow themselves to age, that is). Even the term ‘Acting Your Age’ infers that we must fulfill some kind of pre-determined ‘old’ role. “How old am I? Okay, that’s how ‘old’ I should act. Hmm, exactly what is appropriate behaviour for some my age?” It’s ridiculous that we should somehow feel a need to conform to some standardised set of acceptable (and unacceptable) behaviours based on our chronological age.

      Of all the mental barriers that we humans create for ourselves, the age thing has gotta be right up there on the ‘stupid list’. The truth is that chronological age isn’t our real problem, how we (the society) think about age (and subsequently behave) is the problem. Of course the years have a physical impact on us (especially when we don’t maximise our genetics) but for the majority of us, age is more of a psychological issue than it is a physiological one.

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      Last Updated on September 20, 2018

      How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

      How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

      Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

      If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

      1. Breathe

      The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

      • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
      • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
      • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

      Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

      2. Loosen up

      After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

      Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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      3. Chew slowly

      Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

      Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

      Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

      4. Let go

      Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

      The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

      It’s not. Promise.

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      Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

      Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

      21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

      5. Enjoy the journey

      Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

      Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

      6. Look at the big picture

      The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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      Will this matter to me…

      • Next week?
      • Next month?
      • Next year?
      • In 10 years?

      Hint: No, it won’t.

      I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

      Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

      7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

      You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

      Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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      8. Practice patience every day

      Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

      • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
      • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
      • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

      Final thoughts

      Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

      Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

      Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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