I believe a positive attitude and a healthy lifestyle can keep you young. Age is just a number. You just can’t let other people age you, because they will try.
Confession: I didn’t get married until my forties. I didn’t have babies until then either. You could say I’m a little late to the party. I’m an IVF mom and the proud mom of twin toddler girls. Ever since I got pregnant, the age thing comes up a lot.
When I was in the doctor’s office for regular pregnancy check-ups, they started a lot of sentences with: “Since you are of advanced maternal age …” A young nurse asked me if I’ve ever had a problem with blood pressure. I realize it’s an innocent question, but I couldn’t help but think she was asking because of my age. She’s glancing at records that say advanced maternal age and my ankles swollen from my third trimester of pregnancy. If she took a closer look, she’d see my records reflect a history of an awesome blood pressure—something I take pride in as an avid runner and exerciser! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not as sensitive about my age as I sound (really!), I’m just sensitive about people trying to age me before my time. Do you like that distinction? HA!
On a girls’ night out recently, I was hoping to start a lively happy hour discussion about 5ks and it rapidly turned into a conversation of bladders not working like they used to after pregnancy, and how it’s a challenge to run and not pee a little. Is that a common problem? Sure. But as a happy hour conversation, I found it depressing. I worry that we too easily fall into traps of aging ourselves with the topics we choose to talk about and what we tell ourselves. There’s no denying getting older, but we don’t have to jump on the bandwagon of everything is falling apart when everything isn’t. Our attitudes are shaped by what we focus on and are surrounded by, so I choose positivity. Use your positive attitude to keep you young with these tips:
Don’t talk old.
If I am lucky enough to make it to 75 or qualify for AARP magazine, I may talk about my declining energy levels or how I don’t hear as well as I used to. I may use the electric can opener more often due to weakness in my hands. (Of course, things can go wrong with our bodies at any age from overuse injuries to bad luck.) But if I am blessed to live to a ripe old age, I don’t want to start talking about what’s going wrong with my health today at age 44. That could mean 30 plus years of listening to me whine about minor health issues. Who wants to be on the receiving end of that? Plus, I think you become what you think about, and if you start down a negative path you keep going in that direction.
You become what you focus on.
If I get a head cold I don’t want to talk about it from sun up to sun down. You’d probably hear me say, “Nope, I’m not sick” as I go through a box of tissues in one hour. If I focus on the head cold, it won’t go away anytime soon. It’s one thing to share your story to swap remedies or come up with a game plan to get you back to health, but it’s another thing to live and breathe your health ailment 24/7 as if it’s a favorite topic. I believe we are highly influenced by our associations—especially those thoughts we mingle with in our heads. Here’s the flip side of focusing on the negative: I have neighbors (friends!) who are a family of triathletes. When I get whiny about not having time on a particular day to exercise, I look at them leaving their house on their bikes to train when I’m still sipping my morning coffee. It’s a kick in my pants to get moving myself. As a family, they up my game. They are positive role models. It’s the difference between talking with someone who says, “We aren’t getting any younger, are we?” or someone who says, “I just finished my best 5k time yet.” Such a difference!
Reject what people tell you.
People actually told me (while pregnant) that my body would never be the same again. Huh? Why does anyone feel compelled to share such a negative outlook on pregnancy, giving birth and my body? Reject the negativity! Everyone’s story is different. Everyone’s body is different. You don’t have to walk the plank to doom and gloom just because that’s the picture people paint for your future. Pregnancy actually inspired me to get a better body because I felt like my body was held hostage for nine months. I loved pregnancy, but pregnant with twins, I couldn’t run. So when I got my body back and I could go running again, I was super motivated to really get my body back.
Hold on to your health as long as you can.
When I am running what I think to be a good 5k time and a guy in his seventies is passing me, nothing could put a bigger smile on my face. I want to be like that guy! Or like the 91-year old marathoner who just finished her 15th race. I love people who don’t buy into the mentality that you have to stop exercising when you get older, or that everything falls apart starting at age 40.
I want to have conversations with friends who talk to me about what they are doing to preserve their health for as long as they can.
I want to talk about how amazing our bodies are and what they can do.
I want to be around people who challenge me to be even healthier or push myself a little more.
We don’t have to buy into the mentality that it’s time for the slow decline at 40. We don’t have to give it voice. Really, our best days could be ahead of us.
A guy recently came up to me as I sat with my twin girls as they shared a banana and he said, “God bless you, those girls are beautiful. Are you the grandmother?” I just smiled and said, “Nope, I’m the mom.” Don’t let anyone else make you feel older than you are!