(Above) JBS: 58 and still working out hard.
One of the great myths that have permeated the 20th and 21st century was that “old people” were somehow weak and infirm and that they need to be careful in all endeavors. And, by “old people,” they meant everyone over 50! Those of us at 40 Plus and Fit know that this is crazy talk.
As people move from their 40s to their 50s, there are physical changes. The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) states:
The human body changes as we age, of course, and often in ways that we don’t like. Even healthy, normal aging includes:
- A slower metabolism.
- Decreased muscle mass and strength.
- Increased body fat.
- Reduced bone density.
- Increased bone porosity.
- Stiffer joints.
- Slower reflexes and reaction times.
- Decreased aerobic capacity.
These are just some of the normal changes we experience with aging, but they don’t have to be extreme. One of the most important reasons to exercise at all, and specifically to include strength training, is to slow and minimize these changes. (ISSA – The Importance of Strength Training for Seniors)
However, aging does not mean that we cannot build muscle, sustain energy, and look great! Age is often a state of mind we get caught up in.
If you feel old, you become old.
The concept of “mind, body, and soul” cannot be stressed enough. Working out is – and always will be – a state of mind. What you put in your mind is what will come out in your physical well-being. If you believe you’re old, tired, weak, and ugly…. guess what? That is the way you are going to see yourself. The rest of the world could see you in another light, but you are going to feel weighed down by your own perceptions.
Most people feel a shift mentally, also, as their children get older. There seems to be more time for you as a person. Your children are more independent, now, and you no longer have to cater to their every need. Some people feel a renewed sense of freedom while others feel lost without having to play the parent role every minute of every day.
Neither answer is right or wrong. It is just a new phase of your life and it only intensifies as you begin to enter the “empty nest” stage of life. The Mayo Clinic has a great concept about this stage of life:
“In the past, research suggested that parents dealing with empty nest syndrome experienced a profound sense of loss that might make them vulnerable to depression, alcoholism, identity crisis, and marital conflicts.
Recent studies suggest that an empty nest might reduce work and family conflicts and can provide parents with many other benefits. When the last child leaves home, parents have a new opportunity to reconnect with each other, improve the quality of their marriage and rekindle interests for which they previously might not have had time.” (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/empty-nest-syndrome/art-20047165)
The last line is the “Diamond in the Rough.” Now is the time to focus on you again. Now is the time to get your diet, your mental well-being, and your physical fitness in order. Today is the day you make that decision.
It can be an uphill fight. Not everyone is going to agree with your decision to take more time to care about yourself. Not everyone will want to see you better yourself. But you cannot worry about these people. You have to worry about yourself. There is nothing wrong with self-care!
Your age is a number, but your fitness and your attitude are you. You should be looking in the mirror and asking if this is the best you can be. If your answer yes, well, welcome to the .000000000000001 percent who feel that way. For the rest of us, we know we have work to do.
My encouragement to you is that if you have not started, you need to start. If you have started, you need to get better. You owe it to yourself. Be the best you can be and yes, make yourself happy!
I am available for consultations on working out, diet plans, or planning self-care. The first consultation is free. I would love to work with you.
In the meantime, a fitness program to get you started is provided below by the fine people of ISSA (A downloadable version is available by clicking here.). This fitness plan is not just for seniors, but for everyone. Take care of yourself! It is the best decision you can make.