What can we do to enjoy this stage of life more? Instead of giving up all hope and shrugging and saying “that’s just the way it is”, we need to take charge of our health and habits. Never before in our lives have our bad habits mattered as much as they do now. One way to dig yourself out of poor eating habits and lack of exercise is to slowly incorporate healthy steps. The more you add healthy things to your life the more you will crave them. I am not a nutritionist but I do know from reading as much as I can on healthy nutrition that Omega 6s, or avocados, fish, fish oil and walnuts are really good brain food. Why wouldn’t we want to do all that we can to slow down the deterioration of our brains? Sleep is important and setting up a bedtime and wake up that is consistent at least 5 days/ week.
As long as we compare ourselves today to our younger selves or to those younger than us, we will feel defeated. It really doesn’t matter what we used to do or what we used to be. It helps to get a baseline on yourself today. Be honest. That is always a good first step. Are you on lots of medications? What is your weight and how far above a normal BMI is it? Yes, maybe you used to be very active and you exercised all the time but what is your activity level right now. Then take just tiny steps toward improving that. If you go full throttle into a new healthy regime, it will be very hard to maintain that unless you are a super type A personality.
In my work I have counseled people with type 2 diabetes and post cardiac events from a behavioral perspective in healthy lifestyle programs. Often I found that many of the cardiac clients were actually thin and fit and after they were hospitalized they returned to work as fast as they could for fear that they would lose their momentum, but that was exactly the issue that landed them in the hospital in the first place. They were often healthy eaters and avid exercisers but they way in which they lived their lives was way out of balance.
What can you do today that would be reasonable to take your life in a different direction and to change the trajectory of your future? There are many things we don’t have control over but it’s important to take control where we can. You don’t need a lesson in what’s bad for you and what’s good for you. Most people already know the answers to that. The question is why would you continue to participate in destructive behaviors when you can always choose the opposite?
Health becomes the #1 concern at this stage of life because it’s now that we can set up a better future and plan for an active final stage. There can be much sadness at this time. We lose our parents, our children may have issues that we didn’t anticipate. We face financial problems that we didn’t expect. These years for many are not at all as we had pictured or the way our parents lived them. If it isn’t at the forefront of your thoughts, perhaps it should be.