It’s tough getting old

It's tough getting old. So many stresses.

It’s tough getting old. In getting older, we want to stay fit and healthy so that we can enjoy our “golden years.” In order to enjoy those years, we want to reduce stress and be happy.

All those things are really hard. We’ve spent lots of years exercising and eating right. When is it our turn to go crazy? Just lie on the couch and eat junk food.

We’ve spent lots of years working. When do we get to just do what we want?

That’s harder than ever now.

Everything costs money. And everything is more expensive than it used to be. Our incomes are not going up, so we have to be creative. And that’s exhausting.

But, things are easier when they become a habit.

So, let’s create some habits we can live with and be happy about for many, many years to come.

Eating right

Meal planning can become a habit. And it’s easier when you plan out a week’s worth of meals. Pick one day and gather your favorite recipes. Decide on 21 nutritious but delicious meals (if you don’t plan on bringing meals in – we do carryout from our favorite restaurants a couple evenings a week), make a list of items you need from the grocery store, and plan your shopping trip. And plan your snacks, too – things you look upon as treats, but are still healthy. OK – maybe a tiny bit indulgent…

Exercise

I’ve written many a blog post about the benefits of exercise as we age. Here’s one: “Why Exercise?” For now, let’s just agree that it’s necessary. Pick a program and stick with it. You don’t have to spend hours a day exercising, but it should be fairly intense – for you – 30 minutes 4 or 5 times a week. The most important thing is to be consistent in your exercise. By all means mix up the kind of exercise that you’re doing, but do it.

Get happy

Money may be tight, but that’s no reason not to do things that make you happy. Every day. Read a book. Reread a favorite. Listen to music. Go outside and breathe some fresh air.

Pandemic poundage

Eating sweets during the pandemic put on the pounds.

I recently read a report that said that the average American has gained about 8 pounds from April through June of this year. That’s way more than the average holiday weight gain. It’s time to take off the pandemic poundage.

But, it’s really not surprising. When the country first started to shut down, toward the end of March, we were all hit with confusion, stress, anger, fright – a host of emotions.

Stress eating is natural

Many people eat when they’re stressed. It’s a natural occurrence. And, we couldn’t go anywhere. School was cancelled, and people were working from home. The weather wasn’t great to start with during that period either. So we were sitting on the couch, being distressed by the news, even afraid of going to the grocery store. And eating. Not healthy eating, either. Healthy foods are not generally known for their comfort factor. Salad and other vegetables do not give us that warm and cozy feeling. We were eating junk food and foods heavy on the carbs.

As a consequence, the pounds came on without our even noticing. Because, we were sitting on the couch in sweatpants. And looking at our screens for the latest COVID updates or word from the top infectious disease experts.

So, now it’s summer. In fact, summer is almost over in terms of the meteorological calendar.

Time to move!

Time to get moving. yes, our movement is still restricted. Our dog training classes have not started up. Many schools are opening virtually. But, those extra pounds have to go. It’s time to take off the pandemic poundage.

First thing: put the screens down. The news will still be there in an hour. Not much will have changed. But you can get in a good workout or plan a week’s worth of healthy meals for you and your family.

Get up. Move. Take the dog for a walk. If you don’t have a dog, then take yourself for a walk. If you have exercise DVDs, press “play.”

You’ll feel better.

Practice your balance

Balance is key.

Your balance is not going to fix itself.

Yes, I harp on balance a lot. Because it’s necessary. Yes, it’s the summer. No, you’re not going to slip on the ice tomorrow and fall and break your hip. I know there are still months of warmer weather before the first snowflake falls.

Use those weeks wisely.

As I learned, balance is something we lose as we age unless we do something about it. My article in “Scary Symptoms” describes my introduction to this sad fact.

As we age, we lose our balance. It may not be noticeable when you go about your daily lives. But, that first patch of ice in the fall is a rude awakening.

I see so many stories in the winter of people my age, and even younger, who fall on the ice and break bones that are already brittle – another result of aging. Kathleen Cameron, a Senior Director at the National Council on Aging, told me just how big a problem falls and loss of balance is for older Americans: http://fitness-over-50.com/2017/07/prevent-falls-my-interview-with-kathleen-cameron/

Of course I’d rather age than die, but it certainly becomes almost a full-time job to counteract the effects of aging. As they say, though, “Use it or lose it!” That applies to muscles, bones, eyes, ears and balance. We exercise and eat right to maintain our muscles and bones. We try to take in the right nutrients to help our vision and hearing. And we have to practice our balance to keep from losing that too.

Practicing balance is easy. It just takes a couple of minutes a day. Go grab my “Week of Balance” download – just click the link on the right side of this page. It’s got a week’s worth of balance exercises plus a bonus or two. If you do one of these every day, your balance will improve. You won’t need to grab the counter when you try to stand on one foot. You’ll climb that step stool without even thinking about it. I’ve said it before – I multi-task and stand on one foot while I brush my teeth in the evening.

So – Read the article. Grab the download. Practice your balance. No fancy equipment needed.

Another mood-lifter

Fran, pre-haircut. I'm smiling, but feeling down.
Pre-haircut

I’ve told you many ways to lift your mood. Down in the dumps? Put some music on and get moving. Take a walk. Play with the dog. Cook one of your favorite dishes. All those are great ways to improve your mood. Another one? Get a haircut.

I’ve been growing my hair and growing out the color. But it’s been more than five months since my last haircut. My hair is out of control.

True, most of the summer it’s been up in a clip or in a ponytail to keep me cooler, but the bangs are in my eyes and the ends are in pretty bad shape.

So, I’m excited that I’m getting a cut tomorrow. I don’t know what it’ll look like when Jan is done, but it will be better. I’ve been seeing Jan for over 30 years! We’ve grown up together. I’ve seen her kids grow up, seen the joy and heartache. So it will be good to see Jan – masks and all.

Why is getting a haircut such a mood-lifter? I’ll still look pretty much the same. My appearance won’t have improved drastically. My hair will be in better shape, it’s true. But I won’t look that different.

Perhaps it’s just the act of doing something nice for myself. Sure – basic skin care, exercise and eating right are all things that we do for ourselves. But actually going somewhere and having things done for you is that extra layer of pampering.

These days, during the time of COVID-19 social distancing and mask-wearing, we all seem to be sucked into a whirlpool. We don’t know which end is up, what’s right, what’s wrong, what we should do about filling our empty shelves when there are shortages. I know many days I’m feeling lost at sea. So it’s a taste of normalcy to go out and do something that I used to do more regularly. To do something nice for myself, for a change.