A gym friend once told me he’d been depressed since his 60th birthday because, “That’s the age when you’re officially old.”
Thanks for that, I thought to myself as I was also rounding the same corner within the year.
Then last week it happened. I turned 60.
Sixty! When did this happen??
Turns out: no, no and nope.
That was many moons ago, turns out. It only feels like yesterday.
That’s what happens as time goes by. Time doesn’t only feel as if it goes by faster as we age, but science even proves it, according to several articles on the topic like this one.
Several things happen to make time seem to pass more quickly, but one major issue is that we measure time by memorable events.
Graduation, prom, first car, first time the neighbors called the police on your house party, etc., create “speed bumps” that slow down our time perception when we’re younger.
As we age, we pay less attention to time increments as we did when we were in school and doing memorable things.
And when we do become aware of it (“What? Wasn’t Christmas just a month ago???”), it feels like we lost a lot of time.
So apparently time doesn’t fly when we’re having fun, it slows the heck down and speeds up like an illegal street race later in life.
If you don’t start taking care of yourself until you’re older, each year will get harder.
Trust me on that.
I receive emails every week with questions such as, “I’m 60/70/80 — is that too old to start working out?”
Never. If you can fog a mirror you can make improvements in your fitness and, subsequently, your health.
Many people view exercising as a luxury, something you do when everything else is done.
You work out when you “have time.” Or only when it’s a blood red moon. Or when you’re done taking care of everyone else.
Then what happens? You get hurt and can’t take care of everyone else.
That’s when the importance of being strong, fit and flexible comes up and smacks you in the head.
“Why didn’t I take better care of myself?” you lament, promising yourself to start exercising as soon as the cast comes off.
Because here’s the thing.
After 50+ it’s not about having six-pack abs, lifting more than some gym bully, or even running faster than the guy on the treadmill next to you who doesn’t know you’re racing him.
It’s about taking care of your body so you can get through life more easily.
These are the strength moves that keep you from becoming “officially old.”
Getting started can be tough. I get it. But you must get going TODAY, not next New Year’s when you’ve wasted another 365 days.
So here are my top best, easy peasy tips to start exercising regardless of your current fitness level…
1.Chunk it down
Avoid looking too far ahead or you’ll become overwhelmed and quit. Commit to make one change this week. One. Good examples include:
– Walk 10 minutes this week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday
–Next week add 5 minutes to each walk — or add another small change, such as drinking one more glass of water a week
2. Make a commitment
It’s a matter of mindset. Do NOT say to yourself, “I’ll try this and see if it works.” Giving yourself a way out means you’re not really ready to make a change. Keep it small, as I said in #1, and incorporate these other following steps.
3. Set actionable goals
Set goals that you can control, such as walking X minutes a day versus “losing X pounds,” which can vary depending on many factors.
Give yourself a gold star or other little sticker on a calendar set aside for exactly this purpose. It sounds childish, but you’ll be surprised at how seeing a row of gold stars motivates you to keep up the good work.
4. Set up your environment for success
Place reminders around your house and in your environment to keep your head in the game. Sticky notes on your mirror with motivational sayings, or reminders to bring your walking shoes to work, etc., create an environment that keeps your goals top of mind.
5. Do a pantry raid
It you participated in last week’s B.L.A.S.T. OFF challenge this one’s familiar. Get your diet in order. Most of any weight loss you experience will be due to cutting calories, if you’re striving to manage your weight. Exercise ensures you keep the muscle and lose the fat, but it’s far easier to cut out a donut than it is to walk for two hours to burn it all off.
Add dietary changes to your daily mini change list. In addition to drinking more water, make goals such as “only tea after x o’clock,” an hour or two before bedtime; add a salad to every dinner meal, etc.
6. Connect your new activity to something you do every day
The quickest way to add a new habit to your lifestyle is to link it to something you do currently so you connect the two. For example, I put out my workout clothes the night before and put them in my bathroom. So in the morning when I brush my teeth they’re sitting right there. I avoid any decision making first thing in the morning.
You can also put your walking shoes next to the door, for example, or keep a couple of resistance tubing bands next to the couch so you get in a few biceps curls while watching TV.
7. Get a good support ‘bro’
Surround yourself with supportive people and turn a deaf ear to the naysayers. When you make a decision to get fitter, it brings out the guilty conscience in others who know they should follow suit. Ignore them or they’ll pull you down with them.
Which of these tips will YOU try this week? Let me know in the comments section below… I’d love to hear from you!
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Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.