A friend and I were discussing how difficult it is to stay motivated to eat healthy and exercise at our age. We are both in our 50’s. We both thought that after our kids were grown, that we would have all this extra time and would use it to workout. We would also eat healthier meals because we wouldn’t be trying to satisfy their discriminating tastes.
What a misconception that has been.
So the question I keep asking myself is, ‘why is it so hard to stay motivated when this should be the easiest time of my life?’
Well, first of all, when my kids were home I felt like cooking for 5 was at least worth my time. Now when I think about cooking for just my husband and I it usually feels like it’s not worth it. Instead I go pick something up or we head to one of our favorite restaurants. Not the best plan when you’re trying to eat healthy. Next I find that workouts are much harder to accomplish than they were when I was in my 30’s & 40’s. They take more out of me, and I can find so many other things that interest me more than exercise.
So I had to come up with some strong reasons to stay motivated and keep myself on track with the healthy eating and the daily exercising. I looked around at my friends who have taken care of themselves and the ones that haven’t. I see the quality of their lives as they age. That’s a big motivator for me. I want to be healthy in my later years; it’s important to me to be active and engaged. When I see people that are dealing with all kinds of health issues and they seem to be sitting on the sidelines of life, that scares me.
I also learned an interesting statistic that has inspired me to workout. We typically lose around 5 lbs of muscle each decade after 40, and along with that we usually gain 15 lbs of fat if we don’t do anything to reverse that. That’s a sobering thought.
So here’s what I find that works for me. I know that if I head right to the gym first thing in the morning (passing the computer that’s calling to me) I have a better chance of getting my workout in. I set up hikes, tennis games, pickleball etc. with friends a day or two ahead so I know that someone is waiting for me. That makes me much less likely to bail. I look for opportunities to get in a little extra exercise no matter what I’m doing: take the stairs instead of the elevator, park my car on the opposite side of the mall, walk to a neighbor’s house that’s a few blocks away instead of drive.
When I go to the grocery store I pick out some of my favorite items that I really like and I know are healthy. Then when I cook that meal I make extra and have it for a couple lunches instead of eating out. I also make sure I buy healthy snack foods and quick meals that I eat when I just don’t have time to cook (love greek yogurt & mix it with fruit and granola). I have located the menu items at some of my favorite restaurants that are healthier and have fewer calories so I always know what I can get when I eat out. When I go to friends’ houses I fill my plate with the salads and good protein before I get to the items that are less healthy. When there’s not room on my plate I don’t seem to be tempted as much to eat them.
So the question becomes, is all of this making a difference? When I look at my parents who are in their mid-seventies and are still very active and healthy I think that’s got to be a big reason. It helps me feel like I can still be active and healthy for quite a few more years.
So what are the things you’re doing as you age that you think will make a difference? Let us know in the comments, I’d love more great ideas!
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