Life Lift

Do you feel like you need a life-lift?  Do you think that if a few things in your life would change you’d face each day with more hope and joy?  

Try one of these 7 small steps to move towards a happier, healthier life.

It does seem that, after 60, some changes happen fast (like aches and sagging skin and the development of cataracts) and others are excruciatingly slow (like weight loss and improved muscle tone and remembering new information).  The negative changes that occur naturally can seem to be overwhelming.

It is possible, though to keep improving as we age…or at least to slow down the inevitable slowing down.  We just have to have reasonable expectations and develop some intentional ways to be pro-active.

It is discouraging to try to change a lot at once, so choosing one area of your life to make better and choosing one small step to take is a good start.  Life change is easier with one small step at a time.

See if one of these life-lifting small steps is something you might try to make your life better.

Move More

Once those creaky bones get to aching, it is tempting to move less. But moving will, most likely, be the best thing for you.  A walk around the block after dinner can be an easy step to take.

Our Medicare supplemental carrier offers Silver Sneakers as a perk. We now have free memberships at gyms in town where we can walk, push weights, or use cardio machines any time of day.   There are group classes as well, yoga, chair aerobics, and even a “Silver Sneaker class”. A little bit of moving can bring a lot of progress.

Control your weight

Want to lose 10lbs?  Don’t focus on 10lbs, focus on eating less.  Maybe skip the second helping. Choose baked instead of fried. Don’t have chips as an 8:00 p.m. snack.  Keep sugary soda out of your home. As metabolism slows down and activity decreases, we need fewer calories.

Want to not gain 10lbs? The same suggestions will most likely work.  Just one small decision daily can make a difference.

Contribute to others

Staying at home, inside, and alone can become a dark and lonely place.  Doing something to help someone else can have huge improvement in your outlook and attitude.  

Monthly food pantry, daily soup kitchen, weekly reading help, occasional baby rocking, park clean up, sewing heart shaped pillows for the hospital….doing something for someone else regularly can perk you up as you contribute to others.  Maybe simply picking of the phone to call someone is a big pick-up for them.

This doesn’t have to be daily….but an initial decision to find a place to reach out to others is a small step to take forward today.

Define what you want

I will  lead a vision board workshop for women in their 50’s to help them plan their ThirdThird (ages 60-90).  At this stage in life people are beginning to fret about what it means to go from careers to ….whatever comes next. I help lead them through a day of deciding for themselves.

Drifting usually gets us somewhere…but maybe not where we necessarily would have chosen to be. Pulling out the oars and propelling the boat is a more rewarding approach

Define how you want to feel, what you want to do, where you want to go.  It will give you focus and direction so that you can know that you are satisfied with your life.

Fill your cup up

Whether you are wired to see the glass as half-empty or half-full, it needs more in it if it is to be full.  What will fill your glass, your life? Quiet time in the morning with a cup of coffee of tea to start your day? A good book to read before retiring at night?  A garden to tend? Weekly face time with distant grandkids? Think about what will fill you up.

Choosing to find good is a huge life-lift.  Being grateful fills your glass and costs nothing.  I find that making a list of things I am grateful for helps…because there are days, moments when I’m tempted to forget how blessed my life is.  

A small step of choosing to find something to be grateful for can be a life-lift.

Drink more water

And eat more fiber.

Sorry to be really basic, but water and fiber can make us feel better by keeping everything moving as it should.  Feeling sludgy makes it hard to be positive, to be active, to want to contribute to others. Maybe some good probiotics will help, too.   Daily attention to water and fiber can have positive outcomes.

Be realistic

Don’t expect yourself to feel or function like you did when you were 20 or 30 or 40 or even, 50, if you are over 60.  Adjust to your new reality and enjoy the journey that you are on by having realistic expectations of yourself. Take stock and be conscious of adjustments you need to make in mind and body.

Part of being realistic is not expecting others to read your mind.  If you need a visit from someone, ask them to stop by. If you know you should not drive after dark but want to attend an event, ask for a ride or learn to use Uber.  If you want a family dinner but are not able to host, ask someone else to. You can show up with energy and attitude to help with smiles and stories.

Make every day better by choosing one small step in the direction you want to take.  Then, celebrate small victories and enjoy a more positive outlook.

What is one way that you give yourself a life-lift? What is the one step you might take?  What helps you to be positive yet realistic about growing past 60?

Assuming or Understanding

Assuming is one of the biggest mistakes we all make in relationships.

We often assume that the person we are around is the same as we are. We assume we know what they are thinking. We assume they will enjoy the same things we enjoy… will appreciate the same gifts, the same food, the same approach.

Assuming is rarely helpful. Unless it is assuming the BEST, until proven otherwise.

In contrast to assuming, understanding is key to any relationship. And DiSC is one of the best tools for understanding that I have ever come across.

A concern some people have about taking the DiSC assessment is that they don’t want to be labeled. There can be temptation to “label” some obvious people-traits. However, the reason to learn about your pre-wired behavioral preferences is to understand yourself and others and that should trump the fear of a few people misusing information. And, it can help you avoid making assumptions.

I write about DiSC and behavior preferences so we can all grow in understanding… we can all getting along… we can all succeed.

» Understanding that a “D” will come up with quick solutions helps you to be ready to tap into that potential problem solver.

» Understanding that an “I” will process information verbally helps with patience in hearing them out.

» Understanding that an “S” fears conflict and will usually look for the compromise helps make use of their strengths.

» Understanding that a “C” is thinking while others are talking helps as a reminder to access that brain trust by opening the door to hear their ideas.

As a manager, as an employee, as a leader, as a team member, as a coach, as a friend….in any relationship, awareness and understanding from DiSC can give you an edge. It is much more effective than making assumptions.

Grow in your understanding by discovering your unique wiring.

 

 

Have you been wanting to try yoga?

In my long-time  pursuit of fitness, I have done a lot of different activities.  I loved sports when I was younger and that was enough, along with being active with my 5 kids, for a long time. But when I was recovering from a neuro-muscular disease and needed to rehab shrunken muscle fibers, I found that I really loved weight lifting.  I liked the evident progress that came from increased strength.  I loved it so much that I would make myself do some cardio before allowing myself weight time!

A few years ago, I discovered classes that I enjoyed.  “Women and Weights” was at one gym.  BodyPump with 800 reps in an hour was at another.  There came a time, though that my more strenuous weight lifting and bouncy cardio was giving me some new aches and pains. My lower back was often achy. I found myself limping some when my right hip complained. It was time for something with less impact.

So… I tried a yoga/tai-chi/pilates class. Two things happened:

  1. My aching back and sore hip got back into behaving as they should.
  2. I was sore!  I thought that I was in great shape and that yoga would set me back, but not so! I was using muscles in new, and evidently, better ways for my over-60 body.

Now, I am a regular yoga practicer (practitioner?).  Sometimes in a class, sometimes at home with a video. I recently tried a “power yoga” class that stretched me (pun slightly intended) and went to a new level.  I love the instructor who gently corrected some of my poses and encouraged me with my progress.

If you have been wanting to try yoga but don’t know where or how to start, here is an idea.

I am a featured writer for sixtyandme.com, a huge on-line community of women over 60. I am happy to pass along this information about the gentle yoga video series they offer.  This is definitely beginning yoga, so have no fear of being sore or needing to be super limber or strong to begin.

Check it out at HERE.

This might just get you moving more with fewer aches and pains!

*****Of course, if you are a beginner and under 60, you might like them, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: Raimond Klavins | Artmif.lv Yoga Intensiv 2017 Turkey Yantra.lv via photopin (license)

Strategy

Strategy

One of my Mantras is, “Be Intentional”.

Do what you say you will do… but think about it first.

Hmmm.   I can’t remember the moment I decided to live with intention, but most people who know me would probably use the word to describe me.  It might have come from watching people not be intentional.  It might have come from the hard lessons of the frustration that comes from letting others direct my efforts or decide my focus.  Whatever the source, “be intentional” has become an almost daily mantra for me.

I can’t just tell myself to be intentional, I have to have a strategy or a plan to guide my behaviors, thoughts, and actions so that I actually become intentional.

strat·e·gy

[a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.]
 
Here is my intentional strategy: 

Be Intentional-

  • Know what I believe.  I don’t have to tell everyone every thought and/or opinion I have, but I should know what I believe and why if I want to be sure I am doing or not doing what is important to me.
  • Decide for myself how I spend my time.  There are television shows that I might enjoy or benefit from.  There are books and magazines worth reading.  There are people who will add to my life if I spend time with them.  If I choose for myself, I will be less likely to succumb to advertising and marketing ploys for things I really do not want to steal my time away.
  • Don’t say “yes” or “no” too quickly.  Take time to consider how I commit my time and energy.  There will be consequences to any decision and I am wise to be as much in control of my decisions and actions as possible.
  • Don’t blame others for my own choices and results.  Own my own efforts and decisions.  Apologize when necessary.  Reimburse when appropriate.  Accept credit and praise graciously.  Say thank you and “I am sorry.”
  • Live without regrets.  If I consciously, intentionally decide what to say, how to spend time, who to be with, what to do, then the chances of having regrets is slim.

We can’t become intentional on accident. What is your strategy?

 

Aging is Real

aging

I referred to myself as “old” at a physical therapy session recently and the PT (who is about 35, I’m guessing) chided me.  I was using the term a bit tongue-in-cheek, because I don’t really feel old.  In my head. Aging is real.

In my referral to this PT, I saw that my doctor referred to me as a “trim, pleasant, 64 year old woman” and it unnerved me a bit. Really?  Me? A “64 year old woman?”  That non-personal way of describing me caught me off guard. (At least she called me pleasant!)

In my head, I know I am 64, but I am still as energetic
and quick and robust, physically, as I have ever been.

 

Reality, though is that I am beginning to feel as if I’m “getting there” in terms of feeling old-er.

Who knew that our bodies start to poop out after 30? (Professional athletes know, I suppose.)

If I had thought of it, it makes logical sense that:

  • Hips that have kept me moving for 64+ years might start to show some wear and tear.
  • Birthing 5 babies (only one of five being under 8 lbs), might show up later…much later…in ways other than the joy of having grandkids.

At 64, I might not have hearing that is as acute or eyesight as keen or energy as abounding as 30 years ago.

And who knew that melatonin and its sleep benefits starts to poop out as well!? I read recently in a blog about all sorts of people “of an age” who wake at 2:00 a.m. Dare I say, “Me, too?”

Truth is, I do feel like I’m aging every day if I focus on what isn’t working as well as I want it to.

Longslowjoy.comThis week, I have decided that I am NOT a runner.  I can walk distances at a hearty clip for a while, but running just isn’t working for me. After trying for more than a year to get my lungs and legs to the point they might keep going for more than a mile, I admit that I just don’t have a runner’s body (the physical therapist convinced me). That source of frustration and inner conflict is gone….runner, no more.

While my husband is in Colorado, acclimating to the high elevation of Steamboat Springs for a 50-mile ultra-marathon, I have decided I am not a runner.  He sees running as what he was created to do. He is most alive running. He has studied and planned and prepared for this run…and there will be others.

www.longslowjoy.com

Dave’s great love of running is why I tried to love it….and why I am able to lay it aside. It’s not for me.

 

I’m not giving up my goal of staying fit and active into my 80’s…no way!  But, I will be more realistic about what that will look like.  And I will do what I enjoy, not what frustrates.

As with most things, this is a mind-set problem.
I can think of myself as “old” or “pre-elderly” or “aging.”
OR I can focus on keeping myself active and engaged, planning to be fit and active into my 80’s and beyond….with just a little bit of tweaking as I go along.

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: Hands with story via photopin (license)

Change Is Good

Doing my best third third in Mexico City.

Mexico City…the great central plaza.

Change is good.

I’ve been thinking lately about how different I am from who I was.

Who I was….a third ago, two thirds ago, ten years ago, six years ago.

I go back to my journals to see that I have changed. Really changed. Inside and out.

A long-lost, recently-reconnected friend observed that I am “still in Illinois.”  True…but oh, so incomplete in my reality. Still in Illinois, 36 years later, but with 7 different addresses, several businesses started/grown/sold/let die. Kids birthed and educated and grown. Untold relationships. Uncountable miles traveled.

And here I am …. still in Illinois.  Happier than I thought I would be. Happier than I thought I could be. Better than I was.

How has this happened? 

The most basic explanation is that I was willing to change.  I was willing to risk becoming unrecognizably different to be better.

How have I changed?

 

  1. I’ve made new friends.

At one point, I realized I wanted to be better.  I read from Jim Rohn that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.  So… I sought out new friends who were more like who I wanted to be.

  1. I’ve moved to new places.change is good

A few times, they were my idea. A few times (including the hardest one) were my husband’s idea. But I knew that to stay where I was would mean staying the way I was. Moving from a small house to a larger one with remodeling needs gave needed space. Moving from city to acreage gave much opportunity for development and growth. Moving back to town saved much commuting time and opened up new possibilities. Moving to another state was a whole new culture adventure.  Each move (there are others, not listed) meant that I had to adapt and learn and change.

  1. I’ve traveled to developing countries.

My first trip was on a mission trip with our daughter to Honduras. That developed into an oft repeated experience that took me back to Honduras, to El Salvador, to Armenia and eastern European and central Asian countries, eventually with Habitat for Humanity as a volunteer leader.  For a number of years, I trekked several times a year to developing countries to sweat and serve. It changed me and many others who traveled along with me. And, hopefully, we helped change the lives of the people we served.

  1. I’ve been up for adventures.

Backpacking? Yes. Whitewater rafting? Yes. Horse trips? Yes. Camping in the snow? Yes. Working at a ski resort? Yes. Learning to love Chicago and the Cubs? Yes. Heading to the Jersey shore with Joel when we didn’t really know what we’d find? Yes. Attending a brutal speaking workshop? Yes. Driving cross country to deliver a car to a son? Yes.  Learning a new profession and industry after age 50? Yes. Often, I was a bit scared and unsure, but go, I did. And I’m glad.

  1. I’ve learned not to panic.

Bad news is going to come, no matter where we are and who we are.   Hard times will happen to us.  What we hope happens will not always come. “This too shall pass” is a true and useful statement.  Dealing with the current reality and knowing/trusting that I have survived and grown from other disappointments and difficulties keeps me pushing ahead, changing, and smiling at the future.

change good

Years ago, I found myself in a difficult change situation, where I was called upon to be the “change agent” in an environment that really wanted to maintain status quo.  One friend who recognized my challenge and my efforts, gave me a bookmark that said, “Change is good.  YOU go first!”  I loved it!  That is when I embraced myself as a change agent, seeing possibilities and desiring to go forward in new and better ways.  Mostly, along the way, I’ve been changing myself into someone better and happier.

So yes, I’m still in Illinois, but I’m not the same person.

 

 

 

 

 

Fit and Healthy

fit and healthy

Staying fit and healthy in my ThirdThird is an everyday choice.

Get out and move daily.
Consider my diet.
Drink lots of water.
AND, it is not really so hard once it became a habit.

Long ago, I decided that I would not add weight as I age, forming one of my life mantras, It’s easier to keep it off than take it off.  I saw others around me adding a pound or two or five every year, and realized it would sneak up on me if I didn’t consciously take control.

So, I determined to keep it off.

With clear motivation (keep it off), it’s simple. Really. Even though, the older I get the more intentional I must be.

When my kids were all at home, there were things we simply did not have in our home.  Soda. Chips. Store-bought cookies or cakes. Partly, it was an economic decision.  Feeding a family of 7 required some thriftiness and those extras can be expensive.

Partly, it was a life lesson that things you don’t have all the time are more special.  Pop or soda was more fun if it was an occasional treat.  Having store-bought cake at a friend’s birthday party added to the fun.

Partly, it was a lesson in nutrition.  One of the big ideas in Younger Next Year is “Don’t eat crap.”  Garbage in, garbage out…. except for the extra weight and fat that stays.

Staying fit and healthy is a choice.

I was brought up in a fairly typical middle class family in the 50’s and 60’s surviving on Betty Crocker and Post Toasties and Hostess.  So, it was a conscious decision to become a scratch-baker and to learn about nutrition and the role diet plays in our overall health.  It made sense to me, even in the 70’s, that less sugar was better and that enjoying pure foods in moderation was better than eating chemicals and saturated fats by the forkful.

Now, my kids are out of the house and I could have those things around if I wanted to with fewer mouths to feed and no one I am consciously setting an example for.  Truth is, I don’t want them. They aren’t even tempting.  I don’t like the way they make me feel.

In Thinner This Year, by Chris Crowley and Jen Sacheck, they point out that in the  US, for most people, 35% of the total calorie intake comes from added sugars and solid fat.

I’m pretty sure that is shocking to most of us.

You can train your brain to only want food that is good for you.  Choose to cut out one bad-habit food that you know you should not be eating… in fact, that you feel a little guilty about eating. Stop eating it for 3 days and see how you feel.

I would wager that you will find that you don’t want it after a few days.  And, if you are guilt free, the benefits will be more than avoiding a few empty calories.  Emotionally, you’ll be pleased with yourself and that just might result in more energy and the inspiration to be better in other ways.

 

 
photo credit: Bathroom Scale-001 via photopin (license)

Energy

Understanding your sources of energy is basic if you want more of it. In the same way, understanding what drains your energy is just as important.

Do more of what gives you energy + Do less of what drains you

Plan for re-energizing after necessary times of draining activity.

Based on the DiSC model, people are usually either energized or sapped of energy by people contact. For some, being around others is key to their joy and sense of worth, while others are drained from a day of constant contact with other people.  My husband used to come home from a long day of interacting with people and just want to sit quietly. I, however, had spent a day with our kids, longing for adult conversation. I wanted to sit and talk. Energy drains at work!

A task can have the same type of effect….either energizing or sapping.  Give one person a difficult task to accomplish and you charge them up.  Another person, faced with the same “opportunity” may want to run and hide. Those are some basic hints to your energy.

There are little energy drains all around, not as easily defined, that can nag without being identified, if unnamed.

energy

I took an assessment once that came from the idea that there are habits we have or don’t have that drain or give us energy.  If we can identify them and change them, one by one, we will have more natural energy and be more productive.  From the assessment, I found a few habits that I realized really were annoying me….and robbing me of energy.

A silly thing, to some, but as I checked “no” on the statement that “my car is in excellent condition”, I realized that it irritated me every time I got into my car and noticed it needs to be vacuumed.  For years, I had kids at home that I could pay to clean my car.  However, that was no longer an option. They were all grown up and vacuuming (or not vacuuming) their own cars.  My car, was un-vacuumed.  And it took a bit of energy from me every time I got in my car.

As small as it may seem, keeping my car vacuumed and washed, turned out to be a step forward in reducing negative energy for me. I made a small, but energy producing change that made a fairly significant difference.

After getting into the habit of keeping my car a bit more tidy, I tackled filing papers and receipts, updating my will, and consistently contributing to savings—and “no” as answers on my assessment.  Each of those turned out to be positive step to boost my energy on going forward instead of avoiding being annoyed by things I hadn’t done.

Deeply rooted, good character comes from good habits.  An occasional habit-inventory is a good way to keep focused on purposefully living YourBestThirdThird.  Any energy we still have at this stage is important to be positive.

 

 

“Your character is the sum total of your habits.”Rick Warren

 

photo credit: At the pub – Dublin, Ireland – Black and white street photography via photopin (license)

Sticking with It in Your ThirdThird

stick with it

I read the book “Younger Next Year for Women” last year and it made sense to me. Their prescription of eating wisely and having good relationships are not much of a change for me. But, exercising an hour a day for the rest of my life, if I want to stay fit and active into my 80’s, is more of a challenge.

I have always been athletic and I enjoy fitness classes and can make myself spend time on an elliptical machine if I have a good book to distract me. That is not really enough if I want to really be fit. And I do want to be really fit, not just sort of fit.fit and active

Running, I decided, at age 63-and-a-half, is what I will do.

And, so, I do. Run. Regularly (not daily). (And not all that fast.)

I throw in some mixed yoga/pilates/taichi classes in and have discovered cycling
classes on bad weather or very cold days, but, running is what I am trying to learn to like to do. It’s cheap (good shoes are not expensive compared to buying gear for some others exercise options), it fits in our environment (no mountains or lakes nearby), and there is no real reason that I shouldn’t or can’t run.

All I had to do is to change my thinking from “I hate running” to “I am thankful I can run and it will help me stay fit and active into my 80’s if I do it regularly” and I was on my way.

It is a challenge, though. I have to constantly remind myself that I want to run. Progress is slow. I keep track of my runs so I know that my progress is slow. It can be boring, since I think I should not have earphones on.

But, I am sticking with it.

Here are 5 things that I am learning about sticking with running as an “older” runner:

1. Competition should not be your primary motivation.
I do think that if I keep running, there will be a time that I will be able to earn a medal in some race somewhere (as in, if I keep running long enough, there will be no one else in my age group), but at this point, my speed and endurance are not impressive…especially compared to others who have been running longer.I have to focus on my reason for running…to stay fit and active into my 80’s (and beyond)and forget competing.

2. Don’t listen to 20- or 30-somethings who give you advice about running.
When I was first starting, I tried to find sympathy about the challenges of being a novice runner. “Just add a quarter mile every week and you’ll be fine.” “Run sprints once a week.” “You’ll see progress fast if you stick with it.” I soon realized these young whipper snappers, though well-meaning, have no idea what I am facing (and is before them).

3. Find a route that is at least somewhat pleasant that gives you options.
I have a route in my neighborhood that I can make 1.8 miles, 2.3 miles, or 3 miles. There are some days that the long route feels good and I am willing to make time for it. There are other days that I know I have to get out of the house and a shorter one is the one that I will do. It makes it easier to get out and do something if I know where/what I am going to do. Going to the track and running laps is not very pleasant, I think.

4. Invest in a pair of good running shoes, bought from a running store.
Purchasing running shoes on your own when you are starting to run is crazy (in my opinion), especially when you are older. There are so many versions, it is extremely helpful to go to a place where they can analyze your gait, measure you correctly, and find the best features for your feet. They often will have “last year’s model” in the back for a discounted price, so ask. They also might be able to order in a different color if you object to the one they have available in your size (I didn’t realize I am picky about color of running shoes, but…)

5. Find a good massage therapist.
I used to think that getting a massage was a luxury. It is now a legitimate, occasional need. I have found a woman who really knows her stuff. Her massages are not what I would call relaxing, but they put me back together and make some hip and back discomfort disappear. She also has helped me understand that always running on the same side of the road that is sloped is probably going to result in some need to see her.

 

I am sure that as I go on, I will continue to learn. The other day, I used my running time to compose a keynote address in my head and I took 3 minutes off my 3-mile run! My runner-husband has been telling me that “it is all in my head” and that I can do more. I see what he means, now. When I wasn’t thinking about how much I am not enjoying running or how tired my legs feel, I ran further and faster, with no ill effects.

I am not ready to enter any races. I am concerned that if I perform poorly (according to my standards), I will be discouraged. I am wired to be competitive and right now, I am simply competing against my own natural aging process.

Medals and ribbons are not the goal.
Being fit and active into my 80’s (and beyond) is the goal.

 

What do you want in your thirdthird?

Cover photo credit: runners via photopin (license)