You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
~ C S Lewis
It’s such a positive message.
So often we hear the opposite:
You’re too old for that. You’re not a kid.
We can listen to people who say, “You’re too old to (fill in the blank).” We may even hear our own voice whispering similar discouragement, those messages that stem from our own fears or excuses that say, “Don’t be ridiculous. What are you thinking?”
Or we can listen to C. S. Lewis and believe that as long as we have the dream in our heart and we’re still breathing, it’s not too late. As long as we have the desire, even though it may not be easy or without obstacles, we can still take steps toward new dreams and goals.
Thinking we’re too oldis how we let ourselves off the hook.
We tend to look back with regret. We say, “If only I would’vedone (something different) 5 years ago. Or even 10 years ago, then everything would be different now.”
And the more time we spend looking back, regretting something in our past, the more time we spend not moving forward.
We convince ourselves that it’s too late instead of getting out of our own way and getting to work.
Sure, people might think we’re wasting our time. They may think it’s pointless, that we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. And we may have moments where we agree with that thinking.
We could let all that negative thinking stop us. Or we can believe what C. S. Lewis says, that we’re never too old.
While we’re able, before it really is too late, let’s dream a new dream, set a new goal.
You know that feeling when you’ve worked so hard for so long on something? It’s great to finish, to get to the end. Wonderful. Now you’ll have a chance to breathe. It’s a great feeling, but it can also be stressful.
Soon you start to wonder, “Now what?”
How will you fill your days? What will you plan for now?
Like when you’ve trained for an event (professional, athletic, personal) and you’re nervous and anxious, but then the day comes and you do it and then it’s over.
Or when you finish school or change jobs, or when your kids start growing up and you’re no longer the center of their world, or (yikes!) when they move out on their own and you have to let them go find their own way. (I know. It sounds wonderful, but when you’ve always been a mother bird, an empty nest can be a shock.)
When a chapter in your life ends, you may find yourself asking, “Now what?”. While you’re figuring out your next move, stay positive.Stay hopeful.
Here are some suggestions to help you stay hopeful, happy and positive while you figure out your next move.
Listen to music.
There’s something about listening to upbeat, happy music that connects to your brain and helps you stay positive, even hopeful. (Click here to read a study about the link between music and happiness.)
For me it’s the music’s lyrics and beat, but also the artist and my emotional reaction to both.
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. The incredibly talented Sharon Jones, who died last year of pancreatic cancer,was forty years old when she started her music career. Her story and her powerful voice remind me it’s never too late. Don’t give up.
Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” makes me want to dance. Music has the power to turn you inside out. Instead of sulking and worrying and wondering about all that’s wrong with the world it helps keep you going and know it’s going to be okay.
“Swim” by Jacks Mannequin is just encouraging. They may be talking to angst filled teenagers, but they’re also talking to me. Don’t quit. Keep going, no matter what.
Change your scenery. Something about being outdoors helps clear the mind. Is it the vitamin D, the fresh air, the change in scenery? Maybe it’s all those things. When you’re changing courses, are in between projects, or trying to figure out what’s next, take a few minutes to get outside.
The mind-body connection is real and there’s science to back it up. Exercise, even a brisk walk, gets your blood going which gets oxygen in your blood, raises endorphin (feel good hormone) levels, lowers cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and can improve your sense of well-being. Exercise is always important, but especially when you have a lot on your mind.
When you’re not sure what you want to do, which direction to take, or how you feel about the changes in your life, journaling can help you clarify confusion. The simple act of writing it all out can be cleansing. It’s kind of like a mental dump. Journaling helps you see trends in thoughts and can help clear your head which in turn clears your path. The clearer you are, the more confidently you can move forward.
Guard your mind.
It’s easy to get sucked in to the news and social media. Be selective. If you believe everything you hear, the world is a terrible place to be. It’s never been worse. That influence can make a person feel hopeless. Take a break, pull yourself away, and focus on what’s within your control (what you do) instead of what’s out of your control (everything else).
Things change. Life is a constant ebb and flow, up and down. That’s what keeps life interesting, don’t you think? I wish you more ups than downs. But when you’re stuck between things, I wish you the time and opportunity to choose thoughtfully about your next project, to have the courage to move in the direction of your dreams.
The first time I trained for a half-marathon, I thought, “Okay, this is good. I’ll be burning a ton of calories running all these miles and I’ll probably drop a few pounds. Awesome!”
And, yeah, I burned lots of calories, but I didn’t lose weight. Not at all.
The saying goes: You can’t outrun (or out-lift, out-train) a bad diet.
That means, exercise alone isn’t enough.
If you really want results, you need both: regular exercise and good nutrition.
How can it possible that even when you’re burning a lot more calories you don’t lose weight?
One possibility is a phenomenon called “The Halo Effect”
The Halo Effect
In a nutshell, it’s when you think something or some one is so good it’s hard for you to be objective.
When it comes to fitness, the halo effect is:
I work out so I can eat whatever I want.
Sure, I can have dessert and a jumbo margarita! I just ran 10 miles.
I’m running a 5k tomorrow. I can have an extra serving.
The Halo Effect results in a person losing objectivity and allowing herself more high calorie indulgences or “rewards” because she worked out.
Thus the saying: You can’t outrun, out-lift, or out-train a bad diet.
In my experience, nutrition is way more critical in losing and maintaining a healthy weight than exercise, but it’s also the more challenging component.
And, it seems that the nutrition piece becomes even more important with age. You may be thinking, “I used to be able to eat whatever I want and never gain a pound.” [I’ve never said that, personally.]
So how do you do it? What’s the easiest way to get the best results from all your hours at the gym?
Here are a few tips on how to incorporate exercise and nutrition for the best results
Simply put, eating clean means eating whole foods in their most natural form as possible. For example, if you have a choice between an apple, apple sauce, and an apple flavored, gluten-free fruit chew, the apple’s the best choice. Choose minimally processed food with no added sugar whenever possible.
Eat more vegetables
At every meal, have at least one serving of vegetables, and shoot for 2 – 3 servings each meal. Starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes don’t count.
Drink water to stay hydrated
The standard recommendation is to drink half your body weight in ounces every day and even more than that if you’ve been sweating. Adequate hydration improves all bodily functions. Not drinking enough water can cause dehydration which can result in problems such as headaches, constipation, muscle cramps, and more.
Be aware of added sugar in beverages and choose accordingly
Sports drinks, soda, fruit juice, adult beverages, and sweetened coffee drinks often have a ton of added sugar and a ton of extra calories.
Many restaurants now have calories per serving listed right on the menu and others have nutrition information on their website. It’s worth taking a look.
Read labels for ingredients and serving size
When you look for calories on the label, don’t forget to check the serving size.
Over the past few years of working out and finding what works best for me, I discovered that exercise has many benefits but losing weight isn’t one of them. Maybe that’s because of the Halo Effect. I don’t know for sure.
What I know for sure is that making good nutrition choices improves my overall feeling of health, wellness, and fitness. I make my share of bad choices and I’m not anywhere near perfect, but when I do these things most of the time:
Eat my veggies
Avoid added sugar
Pay attention to food labels
I get better results. It’s most likely, you will too.
How about you? Do you agree with the statement: “You can’t outrun a bad diet”? What works best for you?
Powerful because it tells a story about a woman who had a goal and, because she believed she could, she accomplished her goal. She realized her dream. Yay! Happy ending. But wait.
We get the beginning and the end. What’s in the middle?
The details. Those moments of doubt and fear. The setbacks, the sacrifices, the battles. The victories she faced along the way. The people who stood by her. The people who didn’t. How she’s changed and what she’s learned. Those moments when she wanted to quit, but her belief kept her moving forward.
This story is for you and me. What can we learn from this incomplete story?
She believed she could, so she did.
If she can do it, so can you. So can I.
Is it enough to know the beginning and the end? Do you need to know the middle parts? What the highs and lows will be?
The unknown can be scary. Don’t let that stop you…
let your belief be strong enough to get you started and carry you on the road to reaching your goals, realizing your dreams.
Putting myself in the “older people” category (by saying us instead of them) was a big leap for me. I don’t see myself as old, but other people do. Recently, I’ve gotten some condescending, “You don’t get it” looks. You know what I’m talking about. Those looks from people (kids) that seem to say, “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Especially when it comes to technology.
I don’t care that they think of me as old. That’s fine with me. Kind of.
And I get it. We all tend to categorize people, things, and circumstances. We like to place things and people in nice, tidy compartments in our brain. So often, it’s more complicated than that. Even though gray hair and wrinkles are obvious signs of aging, we age in different ways: chronological, mental, biological, and physical.
How do you know you’re old?
I want to be strong and healthy well into my 70’s and 80’s, so I never thought that 54 would be considered “old”.
Sure, I’m old enough to join AARP, order from the senior menu, and enjoy many senior citizen discounts.
Does that make me old? I don’t think so.
But I’ve realized that being considered old has less to do with what I think and more to do with what other people think about me.
So to an 80-year old, 54 is probably pretty young. To a millennial, 54 is probably pretty old. To a young child, 54 is ancient, a number so large they can’t even process it.
This short video from AARP demonstrates this idea.
Millennials Show Us What ‘Old’ Looks Like
That’s not to say all young people think that way, but that explains those unmistakable non-verbal messages that say, “You’re old.”
Should we 50 and 60 somethings be angry?
What can we do about it? Is there really a way to be okay this?
Yes, there is.
Just as in most things, our attitude determines our outcome. What outcome do you desire? Do you want to feel young and vibrant and better than you did 20 years ago? That’s possible. Do you want to actually be 30 again? Yeah, that can’t happen.
But there are ways to be okay anyway. Here are:
3 Things you can do to be okay with getting older/being “old”.
Recognize the perception. Even if you don’t accept the “old” label, it helps to realize that some people may have negative perceptions about you because of your age. While you can’t control what other people think, recognizing the perception can give you a better understanding of how best to manage those false perceptions.
Embrace getting older. There’s no going back, so the best you can do is to keep learning and growing. In the video, the older people surprised the younger people by showing them that “old” can still be healthy, strong, able, and smart. It takes commitment. Just like the man in the video says: When you stop learning, you start getting old. Consider each day a blessing and make the most of it.
Be hopeful about the future. In the book Life Reimagined, Barbara Bradley Hagerty examines the physical, emotional, mental, and social aspects of midlife. She found that making plans and being hopeful about the future increased feelings of happiness and well-being. Life isn’t over just because you’re getting older. Take the opportunity to do what you’ve always wanted to do. Some people call it a bucket list. Have fun with it. Stay active and engaged and expect good things to come.
Do your best to stay strong and healthy and change perceptions about being old, just like the over 50 people in the video did.
Recognizing the perception, embracing getting older, and being hopeful about the future will help you be okay with being considered old, even when you’re not really old.
And don’t worry about it. Age really is just a number.
I’d love to hear from you. What experiences have you had with people thinking you’re old? How did you handle it?
The next time you’re getting ready to work out, instead of putting on your workout clothes, grabbing your running shoes, or driving to the gym, get a functional fitness workout by doing that household project you’ve been putting off.
Functional fitness and household projects?
Some household project possibilities: repair a fence, wash windows, mop the floors, clean baseboards, dust ceiling fans, clean a closet, organize the pantry, rearrange your furniture, re-tile the floor, and many more.
Tackling these types of projects not only gives you the satisfaction of checking them off your to-do list, but it’s a great way to get your body moving, to practice one of the main benefits of full-body workouts – functional movement.
Sometimes we don’t even know what we’re getting into.
The little project that grew
Now, let me first say, I’m not big into house cleaning. I figure when I’m dead and gone, no one’s going to be talking about how clean I kept my house. Let’s just say that getting my workouts in is way higher on my priority list than deep cleaning. I strive for tidy, not spotless.
But my husband and I were hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the family and we wanted to get our house guest-ready. One of the things I really wanted to do was wash the windows, which were long overdue for a serious washing.
I knew it would be a tricky project. Some of the windows are so high they’re hard to reach even with a 20-foot ladder, so I had no intention of even attempting to do those hard to reach windows.
I decided to do one easy-to-reach window, but once we got started, the small one-window project turned into a we-might-as-well-do-them-all kind of project. Our projected 20-minute project turned into more than 2 hours of going up and down the ladder, scrubbing, stretching, and lifting. It was a full-body workout using core strength and balance.
Through my window washing experience, I experienced firsthand how functional fitness workouts offer major benefits when you need to get stuff done. DIY, of course.
What’s Functional Fitness?
When we started the window-washing project, we hadn’t planned on it taking hours. But when we saw what a difference it was making, we were determined to do as much as we could. Sure, we were tired, but our windows looked amazing. We still had lots of cooking, setting up, and prepping to do for our holiday meal and would be working for hours. Endurance training helps condition for those days when you have a long, physically demanding to-do list.
Working out regularly helps improve balance and improve functional fitness in every day movement. Especially as we age, balance becomes more critical. Older people have a higher tendency to lose balance, putting us at higher risk for injury by falling down. Working out regularly helps improve balance and is great for every day movement, like walking, and when tackling home improvement projects.
An easy way to increase core strength is to keep proper body alignment. Stand up straight, instead of hunched over, and keep shoulders up back and down. Engaging abdominals and maintaining good posture is a simple way to build core strength so that you’re better able to move well, protect your back, and improve balance.
Lifting and moving things like furniture or boxes, carrying grocery bags, carrying a child, or any number of things we do every day require strength. Strength training can mean lifting weights or using your body weight, such as doing push ups, sit up, and squats.
An often overlooked component of a workout is regular stretching. Stretching every day helps keep your muscles engaged and your joints limber. It’s an important aspect of functional movement of all kinds.
Functional fitness is exactly what it sounds like – moving your body efficiently for whatever purpose you desire, for whatever you want to do.
Take care of your body so that you’re able to continue to enjoy independence, strength, and mobility for life. And you’re better able to get stuff done!
I’d love to hear your experiences with functional fitness and household projects. Feel free to share in the comments.
I’m a year into ditching the dye and going gray – well into the stage of looking like my gray hair is intentional and not like I just haven’t made the time to get it done.
All that’s left now is to let the hair even out and continue trimming a little off every couple of months, even though I’m tempted to cut it to the color line sometimes.
If I were to do that, it would be really short and my hair’s harder to manage when it’s short. Even though I know it’ll grow, I’m not sure I have the nerve to do that.
Cutting my hair short would be such a drastic change for me, unlike going gray which is super slow. No drastic changes.
Even though my hair color is not a matter of any real significance in the world, I’ve learned a few lessons through my experience during the past year:
You can’t tell by looking at some one what they’re about.
My assumptions about people could be totally wrong. The other day, I saw a young woman with gray hair who looked to be in her late 20s or early 30s. Her hair looked beautiful and I figured it must be dyed. She looked too young to have gray hair. I’m assuming. I really don’t know. My assumption is based on my own experience and my perception. I could be totally wrong.
Everyone ages differently.
I assumed that everyone would have gray hair as they aged, but that’s not true.One of my neighbors says, “I love your hair! Mine won’t turn gray.” She’s about my age and has only a few strands of gray. Some people won’t get gray hair. Go figure.
Age really is just a number.
I’ve always wanted to be healthy and strong and now that I’m in my 50s, that’s even more important to me. Gray hair seems to broadcast that I’m an older woman so no one will question when I order off the Senior menu and in fact, will suggest it.
My goal is to age well and still be able to lift weights, run, work out, and be as active as ever even though my hair is gray. Read more at My Random Inspiration.
Sometimes when I see a picture of myself, I’m surprised . My hair is so white! I guess that’s as close to seeing my hair as other people see me.
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!”
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 upover 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.
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.
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.