I’ve had some friends who ask how I stay in shape for my age. Mainly I tell them it’s part of my lifestyle habit to keep active and eat right, and as a result I’ve stayed in shape. I don’t diet or count calories and I don’t actively try to be skinny. I believe we all need a little meat on our bones to be healthy and look good. Women should be womanly. Some don’t understand what that means so I thought I’d simplify it with my top ten tips for staying in shape over 50. Here they are:
- Eat less bad stuff
- Eat breakfast
- Everything in moderation
- If you can’t run at least walk
- Use your muscles
- Use your brain
- Choose happiness
- Love who you are
- Appreciate what you have
- Have fun
Eat less bad stuff and more good stuff. Over 50 and your metabolism slows. To help speed it up I eat snacks like almonds (high in protein), grapes (vitamin C), eggs (protein and vitamin D) or Goji Berries (antioxidant). I hardly ever snack on chips or chocolate bars. I mainly eat chicken and salmon with salad but I make it interesting by adding pine nuts, avocado, marinated fetta and things like that rather than salad dressing. For flavour add Bush Spice or if you want a hint of chilli Piri Piri Seasoning. Once you’ve eaten like that for a while you’ll enjoy fresher, clean foods and you’ll no longer crave the bad stuff.
Eat breakfast. Another thing to speed up your metabolism and avoid hunger later in the day. I might exercise before breakfast but I’ll always have breakfast. Bacon and eggs (small serving) are occasional on the weekends but I usually have a small scoop of oats & oat bran. I add a variety of things, like almond slivers, blueberries, strawberries and a tablespoon of protein (usually Body for Women). It’s filling and yummy and beats the morning tea cravings. Another favourite is wholegrain muffin with avocado and Bush Spice.
Everything in moderation. If I crave hot chips I’ll have a few not a lot, just to satisfy that craving. I love Peanut Butter and I may overindulged a little bit (fingers crossed here) but I try to keep to a teaspoon every now and then, not eat half a tub (like my son, Joel who can afford to because he’s super fit). I rarely have bread, so I think I’m allowed just the Peanut Butter, plus it does have that all important protein, potassium and magnesium (okay lots of fat too so go easy but it’s mostly good fats).
If you can’t run at least walk. Exercise at least three times a week. More if you can. It doesn’t have to be a sweat out at boot camp. It can be a leisurely walk around your neighbourhood with your dog (mine isn’t leisurely because Mahli only runs). If you don’t move it you lose it. It’s so hard to regain fitness when you stop. That’s why it’s so important to keep up a life-long habit of a daily walk or run. And don’t forget to stay hydrated, especially in the summer months. I love Cocobella Coconut Water! It’s delicious and healthy.
Use your muscles. For me this is the important one at my age. I don’t ever want tuckshop lady arms. If you don’t like hand weights or kettle bells just use your own body weight. Regular push ups and triceps dips are perfect, but you must use the correct technique. Ask a reputable personal trainer like Sharon Kelly-Knowles at Fusion Outdoor Fitness. Or if you don’t own weights but want to use them make them. When I worked in camps I used truck parts (yes I had to give them back when they need the part).
Use your brain. I don’t just exercise my body I exercise my brain. I write and read every day. I study anything that I’m interested in. My latest was a TESOL certificate so I can teach children in Africa (eventually). Physical exercise helps concentration so often a run before study can really help. I particularly like to be informed. If there’s something topical I’ll Google it or find a book so that I know what’s happening from (close to) the source, not gossip.
Choose happiness. I know we live in a harsh world but it’s how we perceive it as to how we cope with it. Terrorism and Ebola for example! I’m informed but I try not to see or hear too much of the scary stuff. I’d rather find cute animal stories and motivational human interest or fitness articles so I don’t get down. I’m optimistic and I’m pretty sure that helps me to remain happy. After every rain cloud there’s a rainbow and after every sad day, later comes another happy day. Always know that happiness will come and everything happens for a reason (though it’s sometimes hard to see the reason).
Love who you are. This took me longer than you’d imagine. I’m very short and I have a curvaceous bottom. I didn’t always embrace that but now I do. I’m not the normal height and people mistake me for being a pushover because I’m small (which I’m not) and I kinda like that now. My butt used to be the butt of jokes at school (no pun intended, well yes there was). Maybe that’s why I’ve been self-conscious of it. Funny thing is I’ve been wearing size eight for years, so it’s really not as big as I think. Because I’m no longer dwelling on my imperfections my body has become what I now perceive to be beautiful. I’m fit and healthy and I’m me. There’s no-one like me on the planet (my mum and sister are close but still not me). Hug yourself more often and remember how special YOU are.
Appreciate what you have. I don’t have much but everything I do have I appreciate, particularly my health. I have a dear friend fighting cancer and because she was fit before the disease she’s bravely beating it. Though she has the dreaded C, she appreciates the fact that she’s healthy (otherwise). She has fabulous family and friends around her (another thing to appreciate). Family is my most important thing and I appreciate that they are all healthy and happy. I appreciate where I live. I appreciate I have a job. This list on this goes on and on. Remember there’s always someone worse off than you, like the children in Africa who will one day attend Umoja Orphanage Kenya.
Have fun. Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun. I don’t mean overindulging in eating and alcohol, I just mean finding fun in what we do. It can be walking through a national park, learning how to knit, fundraising for Save the Elephants, teaching your grandchildren to swim, watching a comedy festival, joining a fun run, learning how to paddle board, taking your favourite four-legged friend for a walk or renovating your home. Do something that puts a smile on your face and keeps your brain or body active. Smile.
I could have given more tips than ten; like looking after your skin, hair etc. but the above are the most important to me in keeping fit and healthy. I know a lot of people my age who have wonderful lives, travelling and overindulging but aren’t looking after their health. I worry that if they don’t start soon they’ll eventually regret it. You can’t do many of the things you love if you aren’t healthy enough to do it. Imagine how much more fun everything you do is when you are confident your body won’t let you down and you’re not going to get sick, or old before your time?
One last thing. You’re only as old as you feel is an old saying but so true. If you’re dragging weight around, or that hangover just won’t leave your head, or you’re energy levels won’t get you out of bed – now is the time to get fit and healthy and hopefully to feel younger than you really are. Good luck.