Loaded question, huh? If we are truthful, most people would answer that question, “Yes!” but the truth is that aging is not a bad thing. At 64 there are no 20 somethings or 30 somethings that I want to emulate because it takes very little effort to look or feel good then. I really do love a challenge, the feeling that I did something well. The women that I admire are much older. I am impressed when I see women who could look like hell, and feel worse, still turning heads and being productive. It’s not the easiest thing to pull off but it is quite doable. Look no farther than Ernestine Shepherd. She holds the Guinness World Record for being the Oldest Female Bodybuilder at age 81 and she didn’t even start working out until she was 56.
Gentlemen, there are role models for you too. There’s Tsutomu Tosaka who gained attention when he won the senior category of the Japan Master’s Bodybuilding Championships at age 74. The man was amazing.
The common thread between these two is hard work and discipline. When I was about 20 years old, and out of shape, I thought that there were the fat people and the thin people. You know, the old “genetics” excuse. Guess what? I was wrong. I’ve written before about “Janice”, a beautiful, thin, healthy girl that I always assumed was just “that way” until I was at her house one day and saw her veggie tray in her fridge. When I asked her about it she said that she ate raw veggies if she got hungry between meals. Wow. I was eating barbecued potato chips and Dr.Pepper, and brownies and milk, not just between meals, but pretty much anytime. I had an epiphany. Maybe, just maybe, “they” worked at it!
While weight management isn’t the only factor in aging well, it is critical. Nothing screams “old” like a body that resembles a bag of potatoes all slumped over because it’s just too hard to carry around. This can happen at any age, but as we age, unless we are working to stay strong, we will slump and our chest will cave in and our gut will protrude. We will lose the muscle in our legs and get that tube shaped body with pipe stem legs look. Oh. My. God. David wrote an article on “Sarcopenia” called “Looking Good as We Age” . Read it. It deals with this age related malady and tells you exactly what to do about it, providing your doctor agrees.
Everyone has to find the activity that he/she can do, but for me, it’s heavy lifting. It has changed my life. I am not advocating this for you. Finding the best workout must involve your doctor. The idea is simply that without good exercise, it’s all going South.
If you want to age well, don’t eat added sugar. It leaves it’s byproducts of metabolism deposited in your skin and gives your skin a dull look. Your skin will also wrinkle easier because it’s more brittle with this stuff gunking it up. You will also likely miss out on nutrients that you need because the sugar took your appetite, and that will also degrade your skin.
Sleep at least 7 hours every night. This is always a challenge for me because I live the life of someone half my age and there are just so many hours in a day. I work a high stress, full-time job in nursing and work out like a maniac and run my household alone. I have two dogs and a special family member that needs a little extra assistance. I constantly work on priorities which is key to aging successfully. Sometimes we think that because we have arrived at a certain age then we can quit learning new tactics to age well or remain healthy. That is so wrong! As long as we live we need to continually research longevity.
I need a little extra protein to build and keep muscle. David has written extensively on this subject. Check out his article “Protein Supplements” . This helps keep our skin in good shape also because our skin is stretched over muscles, not draped over bones and fat.
One of the most important elements of aging well is to be proactive, not reactive. Some might say a Victor rather than a victim. We must decide what kind of life we want and then create it. So many people struggle along in a miserable existence that could be changed. I have had relatives who were afraid to make changes because they were worried about financial security. They got old in a miserable relationship with someone who practically hated them and then had to suffer the consequences of psychological abuse when they got dependent on that person. Life is just too short for that. They never thought about just going to work and making their own way so they compromised everything in their life to avoid it. Their end was long and drawn out suffering and animosity. I decided on a different path. Where our minds go, our bodies follow. In a miserable relationship, depression reigns. Depression causes everything from heart attacks to suicide. No thanks.
And then there’s the concept of making your world small. This is so important in stress reduction. Stress ages us fast. When we make our world small, we cut out the dead wood. You know, the “frienemies” who smile in our faces but really don’t have our best interest at heart. They are always trying to steer us in whatever direction is best for THEM. It usually involves a lot of eating and drinking. Sometimes they just want to use us, or use our resources, our time, our minds. The problem with this is simply that if we give them control over these critical elements in our lives, then there’s nothing left for us. Get these people out of your life…the sooner the better. Anyone who consistently drains you or your resources, or who has a negative effect on your health qualifies for the cut.
Above all, be willing to work HARD. Yes, aging happens. We change. All that means is that we have to put in more time and effort to remain healthy and attractive. I’ve heard people say, “Oh, no! I’m not doing that.” Okay, then don’t complain when you get up one day looking like your grandmother. So much of what we sometimes perceive as genetics or having the money to have cosmetic procedures, is actually just really hard work and dedication. I know this to be true because of the aforementioned family members. I watched some of these women while I was growing up. The ones who lived rough, eating and drinking everything in sight and exposing themselves to excessive sunlight, smoking cigarettes and refusing to quit not only looked much older than their relatives 10+ years older, they also died earlier.
Oh yeah, DON’T SMOKE. It destroys Vitamin C that builds collagen. You will have a lot more wrinkles if you smoke. It’s not worth it.
Find your passion. When you do, you will have a sparkle in your eyes and a smile on your face that fades when people quit seeking fulfillment. Don’t quit. Don’t ever give up. Fight. Push. Press. You can have a better end than your beginning.