Self-image aging published on strong-woman.com

Keep a Positive Self-Image as You Age

Gravity’s a powerful and constant force. I’ve always thought that gravity is to blame for wrinkles, sagging skin, and sagging body parts. Scientists say that’s not true. People will age no matter what. Something about Einstein’s theory of relativity, time, and space. Whatever. All I know is that Bette Davis knew what she was talking about when she famously said, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies!”

bette-davis
Bette Davis lived to be 81.

Different ways of aging

Even though gray hair and wrinkles are obvious signs of aging, we age in different ways: chronological, mental, biological, and physical. So we may be 50 but have the mental sharpness of a 30 year old, have the internal body age of a 60 year old, and physical appearance of a 50 year old. All these things combine to create our self-image, so it’s easy to see how self-image can get thrown off.

Aging can be traumatic to self-image. The first time I saw my saggy neck skin was a shocker. I became borderline obsessed and would look at it from different angles. I found myself paying close attention to commercials for products promising  to correct the condition. Total bummer. And even though it still bugs me sometimes, I don’t obsess about it anymore. I chose to adjust my self-image. Some one else might choose to adjust the skin. Either way, a positive self-image goes a long way to help you feel comfortable in your own skin, saggy or not.

Here are 5 ways to keep a positive self-image as you age:

Take care of yourself.

Never underestimate the power of a healthy lifestyle. Eating nutritious food, exercising, getting enough sleep, drinking alcohol in moderation, and minimizing stress will all help to keep you feeling well and strong.  You don’t have to change everything all at once. Small changes add up over time. When you think about getting older, don’t just think about how long you’ll live, think about how well you’ll live and do what you can now to improve your quality of life in the future. Read Take Care of Your Body for specific tips about living a healthy lifestyle. 

Find a role model.

Have you seen some one older than you and thought, “Wow! I want to be like that when I’m their age!” They’re your role model. My mom is a few months away from her 80th birthday and remains active, connected, and vibrant. She takes bus trips, stays involved with her church community, plays bunco with a group she’s been with for 50 years, and loves attending all kinds of events. She’s got a great attitude, a great laugh, speaks her mind, doesn’t hold a grudge, gives back by volunteering, stays connected to family and community, line dances twice a week, learns new things, reads regularly, goes to the movies, and doesn’t wait around for any one to entertain her. I’m blessed to be able to see her embracing life. I want to be like that when I’m 80.

Self-image aging published on strong-woman.com
Mom at a ranch in North Texas while on a recent bus trip.
Be kind to yourself.

Sometimes we’re not so nice to ourselves and we forget that words are powerful. You are what you say you are. The body achieves what the mind believes, so never beat yourself up. Practice building yourself up instead.

Have an attitude of gratitude.

Be grateful for every moment and face each day with a mindset of opportunity to learn something new and do something good for some one. Make the most of the present and don’t regret the time. 

Run your own race.

Stop comparing yourself to others, or even to your younger self. If you’re thinking and remembering, longing for your body and what you could do 10 or 20 years ago, stop it. There’s no point. Instead, reflect on all the experience, life, and love you’ve had since then. Think about how you might feel about your body in 10 or 20 years and more than likely you won’t be as quick to find fault with it now.

Self-image run your own race published on strong-woman.com
Run your own race.

 

You choose

Whether you choose to accept the aging process as it comes or to take all medical and technological means available to fight aging every step of the way is up to you. Maybe you fall somewhere in between. Whatever you choose to do, nurture your self-image every day to help you stay healthy and strong in body, mind, and spirit.

Zombies picture downloaded from Pixabay and published on strong-woman.com

Violence in a Zombie World

The season premiere of “Walking Dead” aired last night and I hadn’t planned on watching, but when show time rolled around, I thought I’d check it out. Mark and I used to watch the show regularly, but hadn’t been into it much last season and I was curious about whether I would be able to pick up the plot.

Zombies picture downloaded from Pixabay and published on strong-woman.com
Zombies

When you watch a show about the zombie apocalypse you have to expect some graphic violence – flesh eating un-dead creatures hunting their next meal of human flesh. Zombie violence. But that’s not what I saw. What I saw disturbed me so much I was unsettled and anxious all night.

There were no zombies in the scene that caused me to stop watching. It was a scene with graphic, unnecessary, inhumane violence carried out by a male character.

Thankfully, I’m able to turn off the television or switch the channel. Unfortunately, I couldn’t un-see the scene. And it got to me.

Here’s a list of what bothered me about the scene:

  • Masochistic nature of the violence
  • Graphic, excessive detail of a violent death
  • Inhumanity of the character
  • Other people in the scene standing around watching

I know it’s fiction, but I had a lot of trouble going to sleep. I felt anxious and unsettled. Maybe it’s because I’m older that I have no stomach for that type of graphic violence. Maybe I just don’t want to see it.

Whatever it is, I’ve resolved to do a better job filtering the messages to my brain, not because I think violent messages will make me more violent.

It’s because once I see it, I can’t un-see it and I don’t want that view of the world to settle in my brain – zombie apocalypse or not.

New Parenting Challenge

My husband and I are empty nesters, our kids grown and out of the house. For now. No children at home, but we have dogs and our dogs are like kids in a lot of ways.

I’ve heard that a mature dog has the mentally of a 3-year old child so they stay kid-like. Yesterday, I was outside with my dogs and I wanted them to roll around in the grass or sit in the sun while I checked my email on my phone. Dori, the older and bigger of my 2 dogs, wouldn’t go away. She nudged the phone, positioned herself to be scratched, and stayed right next to me. She wanted attention and she seemed to fully understand that my phone prevented me from paying attention to her.

When my kids were young, I struggled with being in the moment, really focusing on them 100% because it seemed like there was always so much for me to take care of. When my son shaved his eyebrows without me noticing, for example.

I think I’d probably have a serious problem giving my full attention to my kids because I’d be so distracted by the urge to be constantly connected. Personal devices require attention when we use them. Our attention is best when it’s on one thing at a time.

Because Dori wouldn’t leave me alone, I put my phone down and chased her around the yard. Good for her, good for me.

Being in the moment, giving those you love your full attention requires a conscious choice. That undivided attention will go a long way in showing some one they are loved.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com

How to Make Roasted Vegetables

You may have heard the weight loss advice: Eat right and exercise. It sounds so simple, but what does that mean?

For starters, one of the most straightforward things you can do when you want to “eat right” is to eat more vegetables. And if you’re going to be able to make more vegetables part of a lifestyle, they have to taste good.

Try roasting them. I love roasting. Roasting’s my favorite!

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Stay on track by eating more veggies.

I’ve had roasted cauliflower, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, garlic, and recently tried roasted butternut squash – Yum!

Photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Cut vegetables into bite sized pieces.

Roasting is super simple and you can get a ton of variety. I’ve tried it a couple of different ways and this is what works best for me.

How to roast vegetables

Roast for at least 20 minutes at 500 Degrees in a pre-heated oven. If you like vegetables caramelized, a little longer.

Cut in bite size pieces and use whatever variety of vegetable you like – onions, tomatoes, eggplant, broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, squash, etc. I like to use a variety of textures and colors.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Try different vegetable combinations of roasted vegetables.

You can add bite-size pieces of chicken or beef and make it a 1 pan meal.

In a large bowl, toss vegetables in a mixture of about a tablespoon of olive oil and a little salt so they’re lightly coated.

For variety, you can change it up by adding a little of one of the following: lemon or lime juice, italian dressing, or herbs to the mixture. 

Place vegetables on a pan in a single layer. If you’re making a lot, you may have to use 2 pans.

Some vegetables release more moisture and may need additional cooking time so check progress and remove when done to your preference.

Serving suggestions

You can mix the finished product with prepared quinoa, a salad, or enjoy as a side with your meal.

Super easy and super delicious!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month published on strong-woman.com

A Healthy Lifestyle and Breast Cancer Risk

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink ribbons, special “pink” events, and all levels of athletic teams – little league to professional – wear pink to promote breast cancer awareness every October.

Breast Cancer Ribbon - Breast Cancer Awareness Symbol
Breast Cancer Ribbon – Symbol of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Hopefully, the pink reminders start conversation about symptoms, signs, facts, risks, and nature of the disease. Knowledge is key, and knowledge + action is power.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month “Go Pink” activities have helped raise lots of money for breast cancer research and there are still many questions to be answered. However, research has linked certain lifestyle choices to breast cancer risk and that’s what I’m going to focus on here. I used the American Cancer Society website (cancer.org) as the primary source, but found similar information on other sites such as komen.org, cancer.gov,  and cdc.gov.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month Promotions Abound

Lifestyle choices shown to lower risk:

  • Choose good food  – What’s does that mean? Generally speaking, good food is as close to its natural form as possible. Choose more vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and lean protein. And remember, just because a product is marketed as “Healthy”, doesn’t mean it is. I know. It can be complicated. Read food labels and if you need help making sense of it all, here are some tips to get started.
  • Exercise – Get on your feet and move. Walk, run, swim, skip, march in place, dance, clean a closet (that’s a workout at my house!), garden, bowl, etc. Exercise is great for your body and for your mind. Here are some ideas about how to get moving and how to stay consistent. You can do it! There are a ton of gadgets that can help. Most smart phones have a built in step tracker so you may already have one. Wearables are fitness trackers that track your activity and can even remind you to get up and move. General recommendations suggest getting 10,000 steps a day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – Without attempting to get into the medical terms, it’s got something to do with fat cells putting hormone levels out of whack. Hormone levels impact cancer risk, especially for post-menopausal women. Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight is not about looking cute, being skinny, media influence on what is sexy, or any of those other things. It’s about you, your health, and giving your amazing body a fighting chance.
  • Limit alcohol – Did you know that a serving of wine is only 4 – 5 ounces? That’s about half a cup. I know; it’s not much. Research shows that women who drink more than 1 serving of alcohol a day (men – 2 servings a day) have an increased risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer.

No guarantees

Of course, there are no guarantees that living a healthy lifestyle will prevent diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, but a healthy lifestyle may reduce your risk and increase your long-term quality of life.

Early detection of breast cancer improves survival rates. Talk to your doctor about screening guidelines, current research, genetic and family history risks, and the like. He or she will be the best resource to give you information based on your age, health, lifestyle factors, and family history.

A healthy lifestyle of eating nutritious food and exercising helps keep you strong in body, mind, and spirit. Take baby steps if you have to. Do what you can. Think about what you will gain instead of what you’re giving up. You’re worth it.

Do it for you and for the ones you love.

Picture of corpse pose published on strong-woman.com

Creativity and Living in the Moment

A Lululemon shopping bag quote inspired today’s blogpost: “Creativity is maximized when you are living in the moment.”

Lululemon shopping bag published on strong-woman.com
“Creativity is maximized when you are living in the moment.”

What does “living in the moment” mean?

I had to think about it: What does it mean to live in the moment?  How will living in the moment help me be more creative?

To me, living in the moment means I’m focused on what’s happening now so I’m more aware of the people around me and my environment – the sounds, smells –  all of which makes me better able to hear.

Living in the moment allows me to quiet my brain and focus on the task, person, or idea before me. But even now as I write, my mind wanders to something I have to do later.

Focus

Yoga (The quote on the shopping bag makes sense now: Lululemon sells yoga clothes. Duh!) encourages mindfulness and living in the moment to promote balance and focus. Lots of people struggle with that type of mindfulness.

Recently, I was talking to a young mom about a yoga class she had tried and she said, “I think I’m doing it wrong. It feels like nothing is happening. I’m thinking about what I’m going to make for dinner and whether I have to go to the grocery store and what I’m going to do with my kids today. I don’t get it. What am I supposed to be focusing on?”

“Well, you’re supposed to be focusing on your breath and whatever pose you’re practicing at the time. And really, that’s all,” I said.

Picture of corpse pose published on strong-woman.com
Yoga encourages living in the moment.

Distractions

Living in the moment can seem impossible with so much going on all the time, never ending to-do lists, schedules, and commitments. And technology makes it so convenient to stay connected every minute of the day.

With the World Wide Web at your fingertips and everything you ever wanted to know about anything accessible in a matter of seconds, focusing on the person sitting right in front of you can be a challenge. Or when you’re so wrapped up in busy-ness that you don’t even look at the person who is most important to you in the world. I hate that, but it happens to me way more often than it should.

When my kids were younger, I would often be so frazzled trying to keep up with work, school, and crazy schedules, that I didn’t notice things about them. This became glaringly obvious to me one day when my son was about 9 years old. We went to a family gathering and my brother asked me what had happened to my son. I didn’t know what he was talking about.

“His eyebrows. Did he shave them?” my brother asked.

I ran to look at my son and saw that he had shaved his eyebrows right at the natural cowlick that crested each brow and, in fact, the spot that he had shaved was lighter than the rest of his bronzed skin. Very noticeable, but I hadn’t even noticed.

I decided right then that I needed to look at my kids every day, really look at them. I struggled with it, but it’s good advice because moments add up to years so quickly and they change from day to day and then, Poof! They’re grown.

Live in the moment. Published on strong-woman.com
My son around the age of the eyebrow incident and more recently.

How does living in the moment maximize creativity?

Living in the moment:

  • quiets the mind and a quiet mind is more open to solutions, ideas, answers
  • promotes focus on the task at hand
  • means you’re fully attentive, aware, and listening
Here are 4 suggestions to help you Live in the Moment:
  1. Focus on one task at a time. That means no multi-tasking. Think you’re good at multi-tasking? Research shows no one is. If you want to do something better, give it your complete attention.
  2. Give your full attention to whoever you’re with at the moment. That means look at them and focus on them. If you’re talking with them on the phone, listen. Don’t surf the web, think about what you’re going to say or what else you need to do today. Listen.
  3. Take some quiet time. Practice taking at least a few minutes a day to quiet your brain and your body. Focus on your breath.
  4. Unplug. Put your phone, tablet, and computer away. Shut them down. Give them a break. Turn off the television. Turn off the radio. Do something that doesn’t require electronics like go for a walk, read a book (print), journal, workout, write a letter, etc.

“Creativity is maximized when you are living in the moment,” says the Lululemon bag. Is it right? Let’s find out.

Let’s give it a try.

I’d love to hear from you. What do you do to live in the moment?

Pic of strength training published on strong-woman.com

Take Care of Your Body

If you’re over 50 or approaching 50, you may have noticed that you can’t do some things like you used to, that your body reacts differently and unexpectedly, to things you’ve been doing forever. While the changes may seem sudden, they could be just normal effects of aging and/or a result of years of lifestyle choices.

Body care - Studying menu published on strong-woman.com
Take care of your body by choosing carefully.

Especially as you get older, it becomes critical to take responsibility for your health and make exercise and good nutrition part of your lifestyle.

Jim Rohn once said, “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

Here are some simple strategies for taking care of your body.

  1. Eat well. Start by picking one action item from the following list, master that action and then add another.
    Body care - Choose a variety of vegetables and flavors picture published on strong-woman.com
    Take care of your body with a variety of vegetables and flavors.
    • Eat more vegetables. Eat 1 more serving a day than you do now. Vegetables are generally low in calories and rich in nutrients and fiber.
    • Eat mindfully. You give your brain and stomach a chance to communicate when you chew more slowly, put your fork down between bites, and eliminate distractions when you eat which means you’re better able to stop when you’ve had enough rather than eating until you’re over-full.
    • Cook at home, with minimally processed food. Generally speaking, that means using food from the perimeter of the grocery store, like produce, meat, bread, dairy, etc. Prep ahead when you can. Over time, this can make a big difference in weight loss/maintenance.
    • Limit portions. When eating out, split your meal with your dinner companion or ask for a to-go container with your order and take half home. When eating at home, serve 1 portion and resist the urge to go back for seconds.
    • Keep a Food Journal. There are many apps, such as My Fitness Pal and Lose It, that simplify the process. Keeping a food journal is a way great way to create personal accountability for yourself.
  2. Make exercise a priority. Do something that you enjoy: walk, dance, cycle, garden, bowl, swim, run, group exercise, yoga, skate…whatever you like! Exercise helps your physical, mental, and emotional health. If you already exercise regularly, vary your workouts with interval training and/or strength resistance training to help slow down loss of muscle mass. See tips to help you commit to a a lifestyle here. 

    Body Care - Pic of strength training published on strong-woman.com
    Strength training helps reduce loss of muscle.
  3. Drink well. 
    • Stick with water. It’s usually the best choice to keep you hydrated and it’s calorie-free.
    • Avoid sugary drinks, like fruit juice, sports drinks and soda. They are calorie-dense and often have low nutritional value. Even though fruit juice has vitamins and nutrients, it’s quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and is high in sugar.
    • Diet drinks – Some research suggests that diet drinks hinder long term weight loss/maintenance and more research is needed. Artificial sweeteners have no nutritional benefit and some research says they can be harmful, so avoid them if you can.

      Body care - Drink choices are as important as food choices published on strong-woman.com
      Drink choices are as important as food choices.
    • Adult beverages – Alcohol has little, if any, nutritional value and is difficult for the body to metabolize so make alcohol an occasional indulgence, if possible.
      • A good choice is a serving (4 – 5 ounces) of red wine.
      • Blended frozen drinks are usually loaded with sugar, but if you still want one, make it a small.
      • Some restaurants offer a “Skinny” alternative, which may be a good option also.
      • Beer – Lots of choices, including many low-calorie and low-carb options.

Taking care of yourself – body, mind, spirit – is not always easy. Women, especially, tend to put every other commitment ahead of their own health. May I remind you: people love you, care about you, and need you. Do it for them as much as you do it for yourself – make your self-care a priority and do what you can to make sure you stay feeling healthy and strong so you’re better able to care for those you love.

What’s works for you? Share your strategies for taking care of your health in the comments below.