Pushing Through Midlife Aches and Pains

Who could resist this guy?

Who could resist this guy?

My husband and I are both in our early 50s – he’s 51 and I just turned 50 in May – and we’re both amazed at the aches and pains we experience these days.

He just finished three solid days of yard work. Weeding, mowing, and spreading mulch have left him moaning and groaning in pain at every turn. I’ve been getting back into P90 and suffering the same issues. It’s actually somewhat entertaining when we get in or out of the car. “Ugh,” he’ll say. “Ouch,” I’ll add.

We’re hoping that we’ve simply been overdoing it lately and that our joints and muscles will catch up to us in the next few weeks.

I’ve also been reading more about exercise and how it can actually strengthen our telomeres, the “end caps” of our chromosomes that can cause the detrimental effects of aging as they deteriorate. So, I will continue to exercise and allow my poor body to catch up with me as I push it past its comfort level.

These days, I’m trying a combination of walking, climbing the stairs at the office and P90, which includes some yoga and weights for strength training.

I’m sticking with the P90 program for several reasons. The trainer, Tony Horton, is a bit of a goof so it’s not too serious. He encourages you to work out at your level and not to overdo it. Plus, it covers all the basics – weight, cardio, push-ups, sit-ups and yoga.

Hoping that I can keep my telomeres long and healthy!

A Change in Focus: Let’s Get Real

LJV Get RealWhen I first started this blog, I was feeling enthusiastic and frightened at the same time.  I wanted to lose 40 pounds and I figured I could do it in six months, if I made a concentrated effort. I was excited about the accountability a blog would give me and about putting my efforts out in front of the world. I was six months out from my 50th birthday and afraid of getting older. I wanted to make a major life change in a very short time. I knew I could come up with 40 bad habits I needed to give up and I figured I’d throw that in there, too. I would drop 40 bad habits and 40 pounds before I turned 50. No problem!

Not so fast.

Right after I started this effort, I injured myself doing P90. Basically, I got a major pain in the ass, literally. My piriformis muscle decided to act up and I ended up in the ER twice, on some pretty heavy pain meds and muscle relaxants for three months, and unable to exercise, or even focus my thoughts very well. I’ve since recovered to about 85%. I’m grateful that it wasn’t a permanent injury and I can now go back to working out, though I must do it slowly and carefully.

Sure, I’ve made some positive changes. I’ve changed some habits – I drink more water and cleaned off the kitchen counter that’s been covered with paper for at least a year. I’m more organized with my tasks. I have more self-love and less self-loathing. I’ve lost 3 pounds. (Nowhere near the 40 I’d hoped to lose, though I’m not giving up. I just know that it will take me longer than six weeks to do.)

I turn 50 in three days and I’m here to tell you that – in my dropping 40 effort, as I originally envisioned it – I failed. Brilliantly! So, I’m starting over.

I’m going to refocus this blog and my future efforts to be more realistic. Moving forward, I’m going to put my effort toward dropping those 40 pounds and those 40 bad habits, as I let go of my 40s. As I practice becoming comfortable with my age. As I reach for, and achieve, the goals I’ve set for myself. And I will keep failing, as needed, until I get there.

 

 

Why Does Losing My 4 Feel So HUGE? A Stream-of-Consciousness Post

the_power_of_now1In about six weeks, I will exit my forties and hit the big 5-0. While no birthday has bothered me since I turned 25, this one’s going to be tough. I can feel it.

My 25th was painful because I felt like people would expect me to act like a responsible adult from that point forward and I was SO not ready to be considered anything resembling responsible. I was  bit of a wild child and had way too much fun in college and my early 20′s.

Since then, every birthday’s been a breeze. I celebrate and enjoy the day, then move on. I don’t linger on the number and don’t fret about my grey hair or wrinkles.

Why, oh why, does this one seem so different? It has me remembering when a woman I used to work with turned 50. She was (and still is four years later) gorgeous and youthful. When we celebrated her birthday at work that day, singing “Happy Birthday” with cake and candles, I remember feeling sad for her. Her age seemed like a landmark that wasn’t necessarily a cause for celebration. In my mind, 50 was, and still is, a big step in the aging process.

A few months back, I read a quote that said, “40 is the old age of youth and 50 is the youth of old age.” Somehow, that made me feel better. I can still consider myself “young” compared to some, even though I’m “old” compared to others.

I’ve pondered this subject for the last several weeks. I’ve also been doing Deepak Chopra’s 21-day Meditation Challenge for the last three. I was gifted with a “centering thought” for one of this week’s sessions that really resonated to me: “I am ageless and timeless.” It was a much-needed reminder that all I really have is now and I’m better off accepting my pending birthday and celebrating every day that I’m given.

The meditation reminded me of a book I read several years ago, “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. It’s a fascinating book, focused on changing the reader’s focus from worries of the past and fear for the future to a laser focus on the NOW. It’s really all we have and we waste it when we keep looking in the mirror or trying to predict what’s going to happen in the future.  I think it’s time to pick up that book again.

What about you? How do you manage your feelings about aging? 

Busy is Not a Valid Excuse

protein-shakes_cThe last few weeks have gone by in a blur and I’ve been kind of ignoring my Dropping 40 blog. Busy is one of my excuses though it’s also one I’m changing. If I get distracted, I will bring my attention back, so here I am. Here’s what’s gone well since early March:

Meditation: My husband and I are doing Oprah and Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge and it’s been wonderful. It’s relaxing, focused on optimal health and has me feeling more calm and centered. If you’d like to try it, it’s free: 21-Day Meditation Challenge  Since I’ve been talking about creating a meditation practice for at least five years and not doing it, I’m ecstatic that it seems to be “sticking.”

Accountability: One of my Facebook friends posted a link to a weight loss group that recommended posting pictures of all of the food you eat every day on their wall for accountability. Whoa. That got me thinking. How am I not accountable for my food intake? What am I missing? Am I not acknowledging the unhealthy choices I make? After thinking about it for a bit, I asked a good friend if I could text her pictures of everything I ate. It’s only been a few days, though it’s been an eye opener. (Seriously? Try it. It’s crazy how it changes what you pick to nosh on.)

Exercise: I’ve not gotten completely back to P90 six days a week, though I’m doing it three to four times a week. It’s a tough program, even though I’m still doing the phase one and two videos. As I continue to heal from my nerve injury, I’ll ramp it up to six days, hopefully by April.

Protein Shakes: I’ve always loved a good smoothy and they say that protein is key to weight loss. To get things moving a bit faster, at the grocery store this weekend, I bought some protein powder and frozen fruit. I’ll be replacing meals, here and there, with protein shakes to reduce my overall calorie intake. Today’s lunch was a shake made with blueberries, Greek yogurt and milk. Yum!

What about you? What are you doing to achieve your optimal health? What’s working? What’s not?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Does It Mean to “Act My Age”?

LJV with blue hairI don’t feel 49. Or almost 50. There are days when I feel 30, 27, 40. Sometimes I feel 9. And when I’m at the office, where I manage social media as a part of the creative department of an ad agency, I feel like I’m somewhere between 27 and 40. Definitely not almost 50.

What does it mean to age gracefully? I’m not really sure, as I’ve never done it before, though I do have some great role models. What do they do? They keep doing whatever they’ve been doing, acting like they’ve always acted, plus they add in a few new things. They keep up with popular culture, keep their brains young by exploring new concepts, pick up a few new hobbies, and make exercise and nutrition a priority. In other words, they don’t “act their age” as we might expect. They don’t slow down, or sit on the couch. They know how important it is to maintain their health. They are optimistic, enthusiast and interested in life. And they definitely don’t limit themselves by “acting their age”.

My 80+ year old neighbor goes to Curves to exercise several days a week, walks for miles and studies different types of spirituality. When her son married a woman who was a Buddhist, she went to the local Buddhist temple to learn more about it. She also flies to different cities with her daughter to see spiritual leader Esther Hicks speak.

I have another friend who’s in her mid-60s and she’s a riot of crazy, positive energy. She’s so involved in life, creating new film projects and traveling the world. She’s also a Pilates devotee and a style maven with an amazing figure.

As I sit here, on the verge of leaving 40 behind, I’m really not sure how I’m supposed to act, though I certainly have some great role models. I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing – wearing my funky glasses, diving into new ventures and loving life. And if I feel like adding a few blue or green streaks to my hair, I will.

Getting my weight down to a more healthy number will be important to aging well. Every woman who serves as a stellar example makes an effort to eat well and exercise. I read a book on aging by Andrew Weil a few years back and he recommended an ongoing commitment to exercise, so that when you reach your 80s and 90s, you still have the stamina and ability to really enjoy your life in your later years.

With this effort to drop 40 pounds, I know that by the time I hit my 5th decade, I’ll be ready.

 What about you? Are you doing anything to help you “age well”?

 

Generation Fabulous