Author: Laura (page 1 of 32)

How’s your tread?

So I’m sitting in a tire and car repair place, having come in for an oil change and being told I need new tires.  Not a big surprise; the ride has been very rough lately.  But disappointing nonetheless as these current tires were supposed to last many thousands of miles longer than they have.  Hmm.  Won’t even go there.

Anyway, they’re just tires.  So even though it’s a cost I did not anticipate, it’s not a disease.  Or death.  Or something else that can’t be “fixed”.  But tires are important.  Without them, I can’t get anywhere (at least not in the society I live in).   And I need to be able to depend upon them.

But think about it.  How many things do we depend on to be there….people, jobs, health, friends…and one day, they suddenly aren’t?   Has it really been that long since we paid attention to them and examined them for any problems?  Has the road been that rough, that we were wearing them down for years without even knowing it?

Or maybe we just get used to the bumps, potholes and other challenges of covering ground day after day, week after week, year after year.  So we don’t notice when it really does get too slippery.  When we need to slow down and take stock of things.

When you’re young, you just assume everything is going to last.  Then you get older and look back and it’s sobering how many people have drifted away.  How your tastes have changed.  How you no longer consider staying up past midnight a thrill (or even a possibility).   Then there’s your body.  Wow.  Who knew you were actually going to age.  I mean, there should be an owner’s manual that helps with the maintenance of a body after 50.

Pain relievers.  Orthotics.  Reading glasses.  Knee wraps.  The tread gets a little thin.   Can’t take those corners quite as fast.  Little harder to see at night.  Maybe walking will burn as many calories as running.

And like a set of tires, we need balancing ever so many miles.  It’s so easy to get so caught up in day planners, meetings, calls, obligations, commitments, you name it.  I think back to pioneers who had breakfast, worked in the fields all day, had dinner, went to bed.  Granted, they didn’t live past 35.  But they also weren’t worrying about the text, the email, the instant message, the social media post or whether their cable provider is going to raise their rates.  Balance wasn’t an issue for them.

I think it is for us, and I think that getting older gives us the right to achieve balance any way we can.   And maybe, ironically, that means more time and space for us to just be…and less time worrying about all the other jazz.

I’ll leave here with a new set of tires, and the ride home will be much smoother.  Maybe I need to look at a few other areas of my life…check under the hood…and get things on a smoother road.  Cause I want to keep going for a long, long time.

 

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

             Thomas Merton

 

 

 

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Age smart: build your bones.

Okay, January’s over. So are all the resolutions.

But you can still make a profound impact on your strength and health in 2017. One that might be the difference in the quality of life you want no matter your age.

DSCN4415I’m talking about building stronger bones and muscle mass. (Stop that eye rolling and sighing. Consider a few things and then decide.)

Them bones.

Our bones are important, and we want them as strong as they can be. Hip and spine density can have a major influence on the risk for falls. The stronger your bone, the better your balance. The better your balance, the more likely you can walk with confidence, negotiate unsteady surfaces, and even stand more comfortably in the kitchen, at a museum, or while watching your grandson play soccer.

A woman’s bone density peaks at age 35, then decreases slowly (1 to 2%) after menopause. A Tufts University study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of fractures among women aged 50 to 70.

Strength training decreases the risk for osteoporosis. (And gentlemen, 20% of patients with osteoporosis are men.) Regular weight training can actually have a positive effect on this. This is major if your doctor has told you that you are losing bone density, or you are already on medication.  I sure prefer a little huffing and puffing to taking pills.

Them muscles.

According to the Mayo Clinic, muscle burns 5 times more calories than fat does. Studies show that after working out with weights, you can rev up your metabolism for up to 38 hours after a workout. Great news.

file0001915885273But building muscle mass is about more than burning fat.

It’s about being able to lift 5 pounds of sugar, 20 pounds of potatoes, or 30 pounds of dog food. It’s about being able to get up out of a chair unassisted. Holding a grandchild. Swimming a few laps in the pool and then getting out safely.  Carrying golf clubs.  Hiking a trail.

That’s why weight training for everyone 50 and over (that includes 60, 70, 80, 90….) is so powerful. It builds both bone mass and muscle mass. If you’re working your muscles, you’re working your bones. And vice versa.

While there of course are variations between men and women, studies suggest that sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss) begins at age 45. Strength then decreases by approximately 15% per decade in our 60s and 70s, and about 30% after that.

To me, that’s scary.

I have no plans to become Wonder Woman, but I would like to know that I will be able to carry my groceries, pick up a toddler, or open a bag of Chili Cheese Fritos when I’m older. (We all have our priorities.)

 So what do you do? And how often do you do it?

It’s up to each individual of course, but the experts say that some type of weight lifting regimen done two to three times a week can make a big difference no matter your age.

Even a 90-year-old who has never picked up a weight can build muscle mass.  Remember Jack LaLanne?  He never stopped working out, living to the strong age of 96.

I went to a real-live fitness expert for her thoughts. Anne is a certified ACE instructor, certified to teach seniors, certified to teach spinning, has competed in and finished triathlons and Ironmans. She also is certified to teach Body Pump.

Anne wants everyone to know that “Change is always possible; never think you are hopeless. The biggest factor truly is the quality of our lives. Will we be able to do what we want as we age? Not working muscles and bones can really affect quality of life and whether we can live at home independently.

 “The great news is you are never too old to improve your muscle mass. If you’ve been inactive a long time, the key is just to start slow and pace yourself. And even if you are wheelchair-bound, it’s possible to do simple weight training and get results.”

She says what we hear so often, because it’s true. “Make it a way of life, not a two-week fix. What we want are small changes that we can live with over time…this can result in a big change.”

 20150125And for those who dread the idea of getting up early, or going to a class, or trying something new?

“Even when you don’t want to go, chances are once you get there and do the activity, you will feel better. I’ve never been sorry later that I made myself get up early and go. Plus it’s more than exercise. If you go to a gym or participate in a group class, you make wonderful relationships, which is even more important as we get older. It’s a support system, which is very good for us as well. As an instructor, I have been profoundly affected by how I become involved in people’s lives, and the opportunity to see the progress they make.”

Anne says everyone plays a part.

An instructor can change a life, but so can another person in a class. Maybe your friend doesn’t want to go, but sees you going and how well you are doing and decides that maybe now’s the time to try it. It’s a powerful nurturing effect we all can have on one another.”   I have found that to be true as well.  Everyone feels shy about walking into a gym, rec center or class for the first time.  But once you’re through the door, you’re welcomed and supported.  Working with a certified personal trainer or in a class with a certified instructor is the best way to gain confidence quickly—and learn the proper form so you can get the benefits without injury.

More muscle mass, stronger bones, and reduced symptoms of arthritis, diabetes, obesity, back pain and depression—weight training sounds pretty awesome.

168HAnd it’s fun! Really. I personally like how it feels afterward…like I’ve really tested myself and can feel the difference. Starting slow is truly important. But if you stick with it, I bet you’ll get hooked.

Hey, don’t get defeated because you didn’t do anything new for yourself in January. January’s for amateurs!

Ask the groundhog: February is when the REAL change can begin!

 

“I don’t care how old I live; I just want to be LIVING while I am living!”

         Jack LaLanne

 

 

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A Moment at a Time.

Remember when Lucy Van Pelt would set up her “Psychiatric Help” boxes and dispense advice for a nickel?  She was never too timid to shy away from the big questions: ”what is the meaning life? Why are here?  Why do I never get what I want for Christmas?”

Even as we grow older, the big questions never seem to go away.  We might get a glimpse of an answer here or there, but it then seems things change or go wrong and we’re right back where we were in the beginning, asking the same questions.

I’m finding as each “big” birthday passes, it’s only natural to really start wondering what my purpose is.  What have I done to make a difference.  What mark will I leave on the world.

And am I really screwing up?  Blowing opportunities?  Missing out on gifts of the universe?

It can be quite a heady dilemma.  You look at someone you went to school with.  He now lives in an exciting city now with an important job.  He travels the world.  Has a beautiful wife and two perfect children who now have two perfect children of their own.  He’s already planning his retirement beach house and from all outside indications, he’ll get it.  Then he, his perfect wife, and their perfect dog will just go on to a perfect next chapter.

Egads.  What are you doing that compares to that?

If we get too caught up in this frenzied thinking, we can’t move.  We feel thick and slow.  Like we’re not in the mainstream, somehow standing outside of the current that seems to be moving everyone else along.

I love the scene in “Finding Nemo” when Marlin asks the sea turtle where the Australian current is, because he has to ride it to get to Sydney and find his son, Nemo.  Crash, the wonderful gnarly turtle, exclaims, “You’re riding it Dude!  Check it out!”  Sure enough, Marlin’s already in the current, moving forward faster than he realized.  Actually his bigger challenge will be to figure out when he needs to jump out of the current, so that he can realize his dream of finding Nemo.

It all just makes me wonder sometimes if I’m looking elsewhere for things I have right now…or looking backward and worrying that I left something behind, when that can’t be…because once something is part of you, it’s along for the ride no matter where you go.  Or don’t go.

And as for the whole “what am I doing here” worry that can drive us to devour an entire bag of Cheetos at 2 a.m., thinking small might just be the key.

In his book, “How Then Shall We Live,” author Wayne Muller says, “A life is made up of days.  Each day is an opportunity to say something honestly, to make something more beautiful, to create something precious, to give a gift only we can provide for the family of the earth.  To dedicate a single act to the healing of others is a day well lived.”

The Dalai Lama said, “We are visitors on this planet.  We are here for ninety, a hundred years at the very most.  During this period, we must try to do something good, something useful with our lives.  Try to be at peace with yourself and help others share that peace.  If you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true goal, the meaning of life.”

A single act of healing.

Sharing your peace.

Saying something honestly.

Contributing to others’ happiness.

Tiny things, yet huge.  Seemingly more and more rare these days.

And needed so so so much.

As boomers, let’s lead the way.  Let’s be there for one another.  Let’s rock the act of being gentle.

Let’s change the world—one gesture at a time.

 

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

       Aesop

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Don’t ever give up!

Uphill both ways.

That’s what they say about the hiking trails in the Rocky Mountains: they’re uphill both ways. And somehow, they’re usually right. But then, it’s all about the journey, right?

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So many of us baby boomers have wanted to do something for so long, thought about it so many nights, spent so much energy gearing up for it, and then once we’ve done it, we’re so tired that we do well to make it across the room.

A word of advice, or more of a warning that’s actually an admission no one tells you about: if you do cross the desert or swim the seas to make your dream happen, or you go through the exhausting exercise of moving across country, starting a brand new business, retiring to something you’ve never done before or any other major do-over, be prepared: you will be tired.

Very tired.

And it will take you more than a year to really get back on your feet again…and not just because you’re 50+, 60+ 70+ or beyond. You’ll have bursts of energy, you’ll relax many of those rigid muscles because you’ve finally given your inside voices a rest. But you’ll still have stretches where falling back into lazy habits will seem so comforting and so right, until one day you wake up and realize you’re in the same spot on the same couch, just in a different zip code.

And that’s okay. Because even animals hibernate. They have down seasons as we do. Plants go dormant. The weather shifts.

So if you need another 6 months or a year to add a new exercise program, a new volunteer effort, a social adventure into unchartered territory, it’s okay.

In fact, it’s recommended. Because you no longer have to “hurry up and relax.” You’re there. Which can bring you to the next worry: once you “get” the thing you’ve always wanted….will you “miss” missing it?

Sounds crazy. Maybe.

But it’s surprisingly common. There’s a lot of safety in having an ideal Shangrala in your mind, a safe place you can escape to when things around you are just too much to deal with. Always knowing there’s a place that restores your soul where you can go for complete escape is a wonderful thing. If you actually move there, or go work for that company, or follow that wonderful man or woman, and have this joy every day, what will you do then?

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If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.

Very wise words from someone that I’m sure has taken the plunge. The closer you get to the flame, the more chances you’ll get burned. Maybe things won’t be as you remembered. What if it’s all a ruse…what then? Will anything be left you can believe in?

I’m happy to report that when it’s really your soul talking to you, it’s something you can believe in. Granted, once you achieve it, you have to make it work—you have to supply the energy and sweat and effort to carve out your place there. But it’s real. All these crazy thoughts, the second-guessing and turmoil in the middle of the night…that’s the ego, the childlike part of you that wants to stay hidden in Mother’s skirt. It wants to convince you that you can’t possibly do this—and definitely not on your own.

 

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But I say, yes you can. I did. I have. And I’m still alive.

And while I’ve had some  issues over the years, still occasionally get scared and lonely, wished I could just call someone I’ve known for years and ask them to come over and help, etc., etc., I’m in grateful awe of what the universe empowered me to accomplish: changing my reality.

Taking a whole new path.

Going out there and seeing what else is possible.

And whether you stay in your dream, or your dream changes…or you find due to a change in your life that you need to return to your old stomping grounds, or downsize, or find a new place to call home, you will know you are doing the right thing:

Achieving your dream, wrinkles and all.

 

 

 

 

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

            Harriet Tubman

 

 

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