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Psychological Benefits of Fitness After Fifty

As we reach our ‘next fifty’, physical activity and exercise become more and more vital for our health, length, and quality of life. Consistent exercise and a healthy diet do more than just strengthen muscles and improve our ability to be physically active, however – there are lots of mental and psychological benefits of fitness after fifty…

Exercising helps to trigger endorphins, which help you to manage your anxiety and stress levels and overall, improves your mood. Regular physical activity can also lessen feelings and symptom of depression. According to a study done in the state of Michigan, “Physical activity has consistently been shown to have positive effects on various measures of mental health. Most well-documented are the effects of aerobic exercise in improving depression, reducing anxiety and improving mood.”

old man exercising

Photo from here, labeled for reuse.

In addition to the more short term benefits of fitness after fifty, for your emotional health and happiness, your long-term mental health is aided through consistent exercise. Your ability to multi-task, plan, problem-solve and master other forms of cognitive function (including memory) can be stimulated and enhanced by consistent exercise.

“There’s a lot you can do to prevent cognitive decline, or slow it down, or recover memory function that you might feel you have lost,” according to Dr. John Ratey, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. The areas of your brain that are related to memory function are stimulated through exercise, creating a chemical (brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF) that re-wires your memory pathways to make them function more efficiently.

In his book Brain Rules, John Medina notes that aerobic exercise just twice a week halves your risk of general dementia. It cuts your risk of Alzheimer’s by 60 percent. He concludes that to improve our thinking skills at ant age we need to move… a lot.

According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, many recent studies have proven that most of the things that we do to maintain our physical health also benefit our mental health. Exercise helps our memory and mental ability, prevents dementia, improves our mood and energy levels – all by decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol, improving heart health and mobility, and more.

In what ways have you found exercise and fitness to benefit your mental and emotional health? Please share your experience with the Fit After Fifty Facebook community!

Family Fitness Ideas for National Physical Fitness & Sports Month

Have you heard? May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month! Across the nation, sports and fitness organizations are raising awareness about the benefits of fitness. Fit After Fifty promotes physical activity year-round – albeit for a 50-plus audience – so why not join in on the fun?

Let’s take the fitness after fifty concept to the whole family, with some family fitness ideas and activities to try this month…

PLAY TOGETHER

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons.

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons.

Time and time again in my book, Fit After Fifty, people said that fun had to be part of fitness. Otherwise, it’s nearly impossible to make it a part of your routine and you will not end up exercising. So, for National Physical Fitness and Sports month, get your children and grandkids together for a pickup game of softball in the park, kickball in the backyard, flag football at a local school, or even a Family Olympics event! Childhood games like tag can be a lot of fun, too. You’ll enjoy spending time with your loved ones, and you all will benefit from the physical activity and exercise. (Click here for some specific ideas for exercising as a family).

PLAN TOGETHER

Coordinate with your family members to challenge each other to get fit and be active. This is one way for your family to participate in National Physical Fitness & Sports Month – particularly if they are spread out across the country. Put together family health goals that you all plan to work toward together or individually, share healthy recipes (so you can eat the same thing even if you can’t sit at the same table), and communicate regularly to keep the fun going. Have each family member select a sport or exercise that they love, and as a family, do each person’s favorite activity at least once throughout the month.

CHALLENGE EACH OTHER

Hiking challenges – such as mounting a certain peak or reaching a certain distance – cycling races, run/walk race events, and other more organized fitness challenges can be a lot of fun to do as a family group. And, if you train together along the way to prepare for the big event, you have a much better chance of accomplishing or surpassing your goals! Even if you aren’t participating as a family in an organized fitness event, you can still encourage and challenge each other to reach personal goals in fitness and health. Support from loved ones is incredibly motivational.

Remember to keep each other safe and practice appropriate stretching and drink plenty of water as you get fit as a family for National Physical Fitness and Sports month!

In what ways do you like to get active and exercise with your family members? Share your family fitness tips and ideas on our Facebook page, or contact us to share your family’s fitness story.

Don’t Forget Your Diet – Ways to Utilize Paleo Principles

by Laura Tobias, MS, RD, CD & CrossFit Level 1 Trainer

Proper nutrition is an indispensable part of living a vibrant, healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, one of the most common pitfalls people make is that they put so much time and effort into working out and exercising that they slow – or even backtrack – their progress by not putting as much time and effort into their nutrition. No matter how many kale smoothies you consume, you cannot out train a bad diet.

While there are many theories and opinions out there as to what constitutes the “best” diet, the Paleo diet is one of the most popular diets on the market today. The Paleo diet is based off the diet of our ancient ancestors; it is a diet that is based around foods that were around before the advent of modern agriculture. In a nutshell (pun intended!), followers of the Paleo diet consume meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats, while eliminating grains, added sugars, dairy, legumes, alcohol, industrial seed oils (i.e., canola, soybean, sunflower, safflower, corn, cottonseed, and peanut oils), and processed foods. Sound a little extreme? Curious, but not ready to make the jump into a full-blown Paleo diet? You can still reap some of the wonderful benefits of a Paleo template by adopting some of the following core principles of the diet and lifestyle into your daily routine.

Photo from Pixabay.

Photo from Pixabay.

Make half of your plate non-starchy vegetables

One of the biggest misconceptions about the Paleo diet is that it is a meat-focused diet. Sadly, the Paleo diet does not consist of having a plate of bacon at every meal. While meat does play a significant role in the Paleo diet, it is by no means the star of the show. Non-starchy vegetables (i.e., leafy greens, zucchini, peppers, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.) contain a ton of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants and have been shown to protect against heart disease and certain types of cancer. At every meal, focus on making at least half of your plate non-starchy vegetables. Bonus points if you can fit in three different colored veggies!

Photo from here.

Photo from here.

Eliminate processed, refined foods, artificial sweeteners, and added sugars

Processed foods are often nutrient-poor and can contain trans-fats, which have been linked to cardiovascular disease. We should consume natural, whole foods that support our bodies’ natural biological and physiological processes, rather than foods that have been mechanically altered in a factory. If your grandmother or great-grandmother would not recognize a certain food or ingredient, it’s probably no good! When grocery shopping, keep to the perimeter of the store; fruits, vegetables, meat, and seafood can be found in this area. The only foods to avoid in the perimeter of the store are those pesky bakery items, which always seem to be coming out of the oven as soon as I enter the store!

Photo from here.

Photo from here.

Focus on quality, sustainably raised meats and seafood

The chicken at your local grocery store has little in common, nutritionally, with the chicken our ancient ancestors were eating. Unfortunately, the majority of meat found in the supermarket has been raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (“CAFOs”). In order to cheaply and quickly produce meat, CAFOs raise and feed animals in environments that vastly differ from the animals’ natural habitats. Instead of grazing on grass, cows are now fed corn, grains, and antibiotics in an attempt to quickly fatten them for slaughter. As a result, the nutrient profile of CAFO meat differs from the nutrient profile of properly raised, pastured animals. For example, grass-fed beef has a more favorable ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids compared to CAFO beef. When possible, choose local, pasture raised meats and wild caught seafood for their superior nutrient profile. 

Photo from here.

Photo from here.

Fat is your friend!

Arguably one of the greatest nutritional mistakes of the past century was the recommendation of a “low-fat, fat-free” diet approach. When we remove naturally occurring fats in foods, we have to replace them with something else. More times than naught, fat is replaced with sugar, artificial sweeteners, or hydrogenated oils, none of which will help you achieve optimal health. Healthy fats – such as those found in coconut, avocado, well-raised meats, eggs, fish, nuts, and seeds – are satiating and nourishing! Furthermore, healthy fats are needed to support brain health, skin health, and cognitive function. A 2010 meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that there is no significant evidence that intake of saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. It’s time we reclaim our health by embracing – rather than fearing – the healthy, natural fats found in foods such as eggs, nuts, avocados, coconut, meats, and fish! 

Photo from eHow.

Photo from eHow.

Exercise – get out and move daily!

Exercise can help relieve stress, improve cardiovascular health, manage your weight, improve body composition, and improve your mood. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily. And don’t forget about the weights! Strength training can help build lean muscle, rev up your metabolism, and support healthy bones. 

Manage and reduce stress

Photo from here.

Photo from here.

In this day and age, stress is pretty much an inevitable part of life. Stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, are released during stressful situations; they are the hormones responsible for the “fight or flight” response that our ancestors experienced when they were being chased by wild animals. However, in today’s stress-filled society, these stress hormones are constantly being released in our bodies. Chronically high levels of cortisol and adrenaline can lead to anxiety, fatigue, weight gain (especially in the mid-section), decreased libido, and difficulty sleeping. Reducing stress by even a small amount can have a positive impact on your health and lifestyle. Take 20-30 minutes out of your day and spend it on an activity you enjoy, whether it be curling up with a good book, taking an Epsom salt bath, going for a walk, completing a crossword, meditating, doing yoga, or whatever makes you truly happy. 

Photo from here.

Photo from here.

Sleep, glorious sleep!

Sleep is a time for our bodies to rebuild, repair, and detoxify all of our cells, tissues, and muscles. Sleep deprivation has been linked to alterations in hormones that are associated with regulating our appetite (ex. leptin, insulin, and ghrelin). As a result, we are not only hungrier throughout the day, but we can also experience cravings for sugary, carbohydrate-rich foods in an attempt to quickly boost our energy levels. Aim to get around 8 hours of quality sleep per night!

Even if you are not ready to adopt a full-blown Paleo diet and lifestyle, try incorporating one of these habits into your lifestyle. Hope these tips are helpful in your journey to optimal health!

Eco-Friendly Exercise for Earth Day

Earth Day is here. People across the world are getting out in their gardens, volunteering in their communities, and working to make our planet a better place. We suggest you take your fitness regimen outside for Earth Day, and enjoy the beautiful place in which you live.

“We’re spoiled here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Though we have quite the amount of grey-ish days and drizzle, when the sun graces us with its presence, it’s pretty hard to beat. Today, I’m planning to get outside to hit some golf balls. Yes, there’s a 70% chance of rain, but I don’t think I’ll melt. What are your plans for Earth Day?” – Tony

Here are some fun exercises and ideas for Earth Day:

  1. Go Hiking. Gather some friends or family, trail mix, sturdy shoes and plenty of water, and go to your local trailhead for some hiking. As you go, you can enjoy beautiful natural scenery, breathe the fresh, clean air, and appreciate the rustic environment. If you live in an area without hills or mountains for hiking, go on a nature power-walk instead.

    Photo credit: Flickr user glaciernps

    Photo credit: Flickr user glaciernps

  2. Go Eco-Running. For Earth Day, ditch the treadmill and head outside for a run or walk around your neighborhood or town. Make it an eco-run or walk by bringing a garbage bag along to pick up trash along the way – get your friends and neighbors involved to make it a health- and eco-conscious community event.

    Photo credit: ecologyrunner.com

    Photo credit: ecologyrunner.com

  3. Go Swimming. If the weather is warm enough where you live, head to a nearby lake, coastal beach, or outdoor pool for some swimming. Or, try your hand at paddleboarding for a fun upper-body workout.

    Photo credit: Flickr user Mary Fairchild

    Photo credit: Flickr user Mary Fairchild

  4. Go on Wheels. Dust off your bicycle or pull out your rollerblades (in-line skates) for an energetic ride. Both activities engage a lot of muscles and exercise your cardiovascular system for a healthy, outdoor workout. Be sure to wear a helmet and other protective gear.

    Photo credit: Think Stock

    Photo credit: Think Stock

  5. Go Volunteer. Many communities and neighborhoods across the U.S. have scheduled Earth Day activities and volunteer opportunities. Go join in, but insert fitness focus: If you are planting trees, do lunges as you carry the trees. If you’re helping to clean up trash, speed walk from place to place.

Whatever your exercise routine today consists of, do it outside! Head to a local park with your yoga mat to do your yoga or pilates for the day, and use park benches for your calisthenics (sit-ups, lunges, etc.).

How are you celebrating Earth Day and personal health? Share it with us!

Life-Long Learning #1: Age Is Just a Number

By Lynn Turcotte-Schuh

 At 35 years of age, I know I am a young contributor for a group called Fit After Fifty – but I hope I can inspire you with my perspective. “Life-Long Learning” is a collection of thoughts I have been filing away while watching the generation before me. One of the most important things I have learned about growing older is that…

#1: Age really is just a number – an old adage but very true.

As a child of divorced parents, I grew up around many types of people and relationships. Some were healthy and others were not. Even among my friends there was a myriad of family situations. As I became an adult, I drew from those childhood experiences to help me realize my own path. The most influential person in this area of my life is my Dad.

My Dad and my daughter.

My Dad and my daughter.

My father is in construction; a very fit man at the age of 58 he still works a full-time construction job. Growing up, my Dad always made time and found the energy to play with us. He was the Dad that was behind us on the monkey bars cheering us on. He was the Dad that showed us all how to properly dive off the high board. He was the only Dad I can remember that could hang from the door jam with just his fingertips; and he did that last week just before he went to a rock climbing gym with my very fit 24-year-old brother and beat him up the wall. At 58, my Dad is just warming up to do all of this and more with his first grandchild.

In contrast, I distinctly remember my best friend’s father pulling into the driveway just as dinner was being served. He would sit down at the table – still in his suit – eat his dinner and then go into the living room and watch the news on television while the rest of the family went outside to play. I saw such a difference in his relationship with his children, even at such a young age. As I interact with my four-month old daughter I remember this dichotomy of parenting and am pulled quite forcefully to my Dad’s way. I strive to be just like him…even though he was a 23-year-old father, and is now a 58-year-old grandfather, my Dad has always kept a child-like joy in his life proving to me that age really is just a number.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 10.59.37 AMLynn Turcotte-Schuh lives with her family in Voluntown, CT on 14 acres of beautiful nature.  She was certified as a Health Coach in July of 2011 through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  She is a member of the International Association of Health Coaches and the American Academy of Drugless Practitioners as well as a Team Member at Nutrisults, a company poised to help people age gracefully. 

In 2013, Lynn founded Happy Mama Wellness – an organization whose mission is to help parents model healthy behaviors in all areas of life so that our children can be the next generation of leaders in the wellness revolution.

Fit After Fifty Mother’s Day Ideas

Allow us to be the first one to remind you: Mother’s Day is coming up! It is May 11th, making it a little less than a month away. We wanted to give you subtly weasel a gift idea out of your mother, plan, and if necessary, order online and wait for shipping. Whether you’re over 50 and your mother is over 80, or you’re … younger… and your mom is in her fifties, there are a lot of really awesome ways you can celebrate your mom in healthy and fit-centric ways.

Let’s start with a bit of a disclaimer and tip: If your mom isn’t yet living a healthy & fit lifestyle—and you’re thinking of a fit-centric gift to encourage her to live a healthier life—don’t just get her a gym membership and leave it at that. (Unless of course you want to be disowned.) Find a way to incorporate healthy behavior through your relationship. Invite her to do active things with her—cook her a healthy (and delicious meal)—and consider explaining to her how you want her around as long as possible and would love to help her pursue health. YOU can be the instigating motivation for her to change!

THAT said, here are some healthy & active ideas for Mother’s Day, from the team at Fit After Fifty:

1. Plan an active day with mom. If your mom is anything like most moms—she’ll LOVE spending time with you—and a day of fit activities can be an adventure that’ll likely be filled with smiles, laughs and memories that your mom will cherish forever!

Photo credit: mymajicdc.com

Photo credit: mymajicdc.com

2. If you don’t already know, find her “childhood fitness activity” that she really enjoyed, and plan to incorporate the whole family in doing that activity with her. Did she play softball growing up? Invite friends & family out for a game. Was she a swimmer? Take her to the pool for some lap swimming—and then enjoy some mother-child time in the hot tub before you go out for a healthy lunch!

Photo credit: SheKnows.com

Photo credit: SheKnows.com

3. Take her fitness gear shopping. Maybe she needs a new pair of trainers, yoga pants, or a new swimming suit. Take the time to GO with her to get those things.

Photo credit: Harboreast.com

Photo credit: Harboreast.com

4. Buy her a gym membership to YOUR gym if possible and arrange times during the week when you can exercise together. Maybe it’s time to introduce her to your love for Zumba!

Photo credit: Jive.org.ua

Photo credit: Jive.org.ua

5. Take her out for some restorative pampering. If your mom is already active, it’s likely that a massage could do her body good. While a spa day is nice & fancy—consider going down the path of masseuse who is trained more specifically to work on athletes—like an orthopedic massage therapist.

Photo credit: Pixabay.com

Photo credit: Pixabay.com

You might notice one common theme in our Mom’s Day ideas—spend time with her doing active things that will give her some quality time with you and will also contribute to her (and your) health. Now—start planning!

What are your Mother’s Day plans? Share your plans—or your ideas, Moms—on our Facebook page!

Spring Cleaning: Give Your Diet A Makeover

Spring is here—and people are hitting the roads on their bicycles, in their running shoes, moving to the outdoor tennis courts, and getting their workouts in in the form of spring cleaning. As we move past the dense wintery foods, and into BBQ & cookout season, get ready NOW to clean up your diet and nourish your body this summer! Spring is a great time to reevaluate what you’re putting into your body—the new life all around us is exciting & inspiring—and the seasonal produce is amazing!

As you’re getting ready to clean up your diet, ask yourself the following questions so you know where you should change things, what can remain the same, and where you have a little wiggle room:

1. How do you feel?

This can be broken down into a handful of questions that specifically address different areas of your body. Asking yourself things like, “How do my joints feels?” or “How does my digestive system feel?” Evaluating these things can help you address certain dietary changes you can make to correct those problems.

Healthy-diet2. What are areas you’re doing well in?

Before you get down to the nitty gritty, identify areas of your diet that you know are good-to-go. Do you tend to eat a healthy breakfast? That’s great! Do you drink enough water in the day to maintain a healthy hydration level? Awesome!

3. What areas do you know you’re not eating well in?

It takes a little research & education to REALLY know what a healthy diet looks like—and what YOUR healthy diet should look like. With modern media, however, it doesn’t take a lot to know some of the things that are genuinely bad for your health. What are some of those areas that you think to yourself, “I know this is bad for me, but…” Overeating fast-food? Too much ice cream? Soda? Beer? Acknowledge these things so you know where to focus

4. How would you rate your ‘food awareness’?

In addition to knowing what’s in season, it’s good to know how to literally clean up your diet by knowing which foods are typically exposed to more chemicals and pesticides than others (click here for a helpful resource). Ultimately, this printable guide helps you be informed about when it makes sense to buy organic or not, since ‘organic’ produce typically equates to “produced pesticide-free”

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, write your answers down, and begin to create a plan to change the areas you’ve identified. Stock your home with the healthy things—and preemptively plan an “escape route” for the unhealthy things. If there’s an area you’re not feeling well in—like stiff joints, unsettled stomach, constant headaches, etc. talk to a dietician about how you can change your diet to alleviate your physical issues.

Now that you’ve given your diet a makeover, get out into that wonderful spring weather!

What Motivates You to Get Fit? 3 Reasons Why We Exercise

For me personally, there are a LOT of reasons to get & stay fit. Some of you have probably read a bit about me and my decision at an early age to pursue fitness. When I was in college I saw a group of “older” men playing handball—and I decided that I wanted to be as active as them when I got “that old”. They were in their 40’s—now I’m in my 70’s—and still playing handball. I’ve put a lot of my life into pursuing fitness—and have met & talked to a lot of people along the way who are just starting their fitness journey and some who are well down the path to healthy, active living. Over the years, I’ve noticed a few common themes in what is motivating people to exercise and pursue fitness:

old man running1. HEALTH.

Health is a HUGE motivator—sometimes it’s our own decision to change how we feel physically—sometimes it’s a doctor or spouse-inspired decision. No matter what the instigator, once people are on the pathway to health, I’ve found in my years of getting to know fitness-oriented folks, the road to health is a big motivator in and of itself. Once people realize how good health feels, the motivation self-perpetuates. The fact of the matter is: we feel better the healthier we are! Who doesn’t want to feel as wonderful as possible?

2. JOY.

senior health joy

For some people, the joy of activeness needs to grow on them. For others, like me, it’s naturally engrained within them to find joy in activity. I’ve met a lot of people along the way who didn’t experience much joy to start out with—and now can hardly survive a day without some sort of fitness activity! If you’re among the group of folks who isn’t experiencing happiness & joy in your fitness routine, I have two pieces of advice for you: 1. Try something else. Maybe your current activity isn’t the right activity! 2. Surround yourself with people who are excited to get active every day. Their excitement is contagious!

Photo from here.

Photo from here.

3. LONGEVITY.

Of course, living longer is pretty directly tied to health, but I think these are slightly different motivators. A lot of people are getting fit & healthy so they can be there for loved ones—and be as active with their loved ones as much as is possible while they’ve still got time. Living a healthy lifestyle can add years to your life—and life to your years!

Are you motivated by one of these reasons? Or do you have another motivator to get you active & fit? Share your story with us!

5 Tips to Make Your Life Better – Start Small for Healthy Changes!

If we’re honest with ourselves, there’s always something we’d like to change, improve, try again, or just make better. All too often we attempt to make these changes suddenly—only to be disappointed when we aren’t as successful as we had wanted, or fail altogether.

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.”

Research shows* that it takes at least about 2 months to form a SIMPLE habit—like drinking water with lunch, or taking vitamins. It can take far longer than that to form a habit that involves more time or effort. Starting small and working toward bigger goals is, in many cases the way to go. Here are a few tips on how making small healthy changes can amount to big successes:

old-lady-writing1. Break down your big-vision goals into smaller chunks. Anyone who has trained for a marathon will tell you that they didn’t just set out one day and run over 26 miles. They started with a mile—and added to it as they saw success in smaller goals. Or even consider making vision-action board to help visualize the smaller chunks.

2. Plan the time for that task. Activities that aren’t habit yet are often the first to get dropped when we’re running short on time. If you’ve got a jam-packed busy day, be sure that part of your schedule includes enough time to fit your new small change in. This might be as easy as setting your alarm ten minutes earlier in the morning to accommodate your habit-to-be. Or add that small change to piggy-back something that you will ALWAYS do, no matter how busy your day. e.g. If your goal is to build a stronger core, after every bathroom trip, do 20 abdominal crunches or sit-ups. (Eventually, an activity as habitual as brushing your teeth can help train other habits to become more habitual.)

3. Swap things out. If you’re trying to add something new to your life such as  exercise or healthy eating, it’s likely that there’s something it can replace. Evaluate your daily routine & identify what needs to be swapped. For example, if you’re trying to cut calories—swap out that 2:30pm triple grande latte for the same amount of black drip coffee! (Or better yet, skip the extra caffeine and stretch for a couple minutes, or walk if time allows.)

4. Dedicate some time to learn more about what you’re trying to change. Read some success stories from people who have done the same. Use the Vision Board to better define what  & how you want to change, and then transform that board into an action board for simple steps to take toward achieving that vision. Don’t just focus on the greater goal of ‘losing weight’ or ‘playing longer with my grandkids’, look at the little steps along the way to getting there, such as choosing a healthier snack when peckish, gradually making your daily walk a little bit longer, etc.

5. Identify the challenges. If you’re anything like the rest of us, you’ve probably tried to make changes in the past—but have been discouraged by temporary defeat. What stopped you last time? What is a hurdle you know you’re going to have to leap over? Identify these things so that when they approach, you can avoid or defeat them. Make a plan for when those challenges arise. For instance, if you know that your book club host always has a table of decadent, sugary treats–come prepared! Arrive on a full stomach and bring your own snack, just in case you feel the need. Continuously sipping on water or a low-sugar beverage, like unsweetened ice tea, can also help combat the mindless munchies.

A very wise & lovable stuffed bear named Winnie the Pooh gave us this brilliant piece of wisdom:

“There is something you must always remember: You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

And we’ll add—you CAN make the changes you want!

Where do you plan to start? Have you found other methods to help you start to change?  Share them below or on our Facebook page.

 

*Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Thing, Why We Don’t and How to Make Any Change Stick, by Jeremy Dean.

Tips to Maintain Your After Fifty Fitness Perspective

Staying motivated to remain committed to fitness can be hard. We’re certainly well aware of that. It is a time commitment, a commitment to utilize energy—which at times we all feel we’re short on—and sometimes even a commitment to giving up things we greatly enjoy (like copious amounts of ice cream). At times, we can feel discouraged when we’re far away from goals, or when we start to compare ourselves to others, or when we slip up and miss an opportunity to get exercise, or when we overindulge in food or drink. We are no strangers to those feelings!

A huge part of the battle to getting & staying fit is in our heads. It is important to maintain a good attitude, a healthy perspective, and ultimately the motivation to keep going down the path toward continued fitness. Whether you’re feeling good about your current pursuit of fitness, or you’re presently feeling down or disconnected from it, here are five tips to maintain your after fifty fitness perspective:

Quote-0031. Understand the REAL benefits of fitness.

In today’s media-crazed culture, the pursuit of fitness can get mixed up and confused with a desire to “look better”. Remember that health-focused and fit living is about far more than fitting into a pair of jeans, or looking good in a tank top—it gives way to longer, happier, healthier, and fuller lives! It can help alleviate a number of physical ailments, and can literally help add time to your life. Fitness isn’t about looking good—it’s about “living good” (or living well for the grammar police among us.)  It’s about quality of life to do the things we want to do and more.

2. Don’t go at it alone—find people that support and encourage your healthy habits.

Finding an affinity-based community, particularly one that focuses on your preferred fitness activity, will provide you with two primary benefits: encouragement and accountability. Be an encouragement to others while you’re in those situations, too. Often times, encouraging others is a great way to motivate ourselves at the same time.

3. Only compete against your current self.

If there are two things we can be certain of in life, it is that there is only one you, and time moves forward. We’re not saying don’t enter into competitions that involve others, but the competition within you shouldn’t be against the others around you. Use your competitive spirit to strive to be the best current you. We say current, because it’s also important to realize that the past is the past.If you’re reading this, you’re likely over fifty. You’ll never be your 18-year-old you ever again, and that’s not a bad thing. (And we’re thankful for that, too!) So save yourself some frustration and don’t  compete against your younger self. Strive for greatness as your current you.

4. Remember your wins.

Keep track of times you’ve succeeded! When you’re feeling discouraged or  losing motivation, look back at  those times as an encouragement and reminder that you CAN do it. You have in the past, and you can in the future.

5. Focus on fun.

If you’re stuck in a boring exercise rut, of course it’s going to be hard to keep going! If you get up every morning and begrudgingly go for a run, you’ll likely lose motivation fast. Find things that make you feel alive! Search for activities that leave you feeling emotionally/spiritually refreshed when you’re done. Enjoying your fitness activities will leave you craving more rather than dreading the next time.

We love tips & tricks for maintaining motivation—what are some of yours?