Are You Expanding Or Contracting?
Because of work and family commitments, many of us have sacrificed our health for the promised rewards of a secure future and a comfortable retirement. To use an old sports metaphor, we Boomers are essentially in our “fourth quarter” of play. We’ve worked hard, sacrificed, raised families, and now it’s finally time for retirement. Some of that sacrifice has led to chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The health care systems we trusted all those years assured us that all of our ailments could be controlled with “proper medication.”
Some of us now want to get off our “meds” and start living the lives we envisioned all those years while working.
If this is you, and you would like to:
- Regain your natural health (get off or greatly reduce meds)
- Achieve and maintain a high functioning quality of life (avoid assisted living)
- Improve your vitality, work, and play capacity (garden, play with grandkids)
- Regain your confidence to explore and try new things
I encourage you to continue reading and see what might be possible for you!
First, don’t fall prey to societal programming that tells you that you are too old to do something. I encourage you to examine your beliefs regarding the difference between your chronological age and your attitude age. As baseball legend Satchel Page once quipped, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” Let this question start to set the tone for the rest of your life. I firmly believe that most people can resume activities they once enjoyed IF they are willing to do the physical preparation necessary. You may not be as quick or strong as you once were, but you can still be out there enjoying your passions. Don’t be the person who talks about what you used to do; be the person who is still out there doing it!
Foundation of Good Health – Diet & Exercise
Second, the foundation for good health has been the same for centuries: diet and exercise. Hippocrates counseled us centuries ago, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Arguably, this is a simple concept but difficult for many in practice. Our human body is designed to move; that’s why we evolved into upright beings. There is an expression in the exercise world that motion is lotion. I understand and empathize with arthritic joint pain, for example, but if you seriously reduce inflammation through improved nutrition and move those joints in an appropriate manner, things usually improve rapidly. At a minimum, you are aiming to be able to perform your activities of daily living (ADLs) efficiently and pain free.
Your New Job in Retirement
Third, your health IS your new job! I honestly can’t think of anything with a higher priority in your life than your health. Health is not just the absence of disease but includes your robust physical, mental, and spiritual health. Some of us have put some hard miles on our bodies, but you will be amazed at the rejuvenation capacity of your body. Give it what it wants and needs (good food, water, sleep, a little exercise, no stress) and voila! You will be feeling and moving better already.
There are some recommendations along the way, but remember: You know what you need to do. My gift is suggesting bite-sized progressions to keep you moving forward at a pace suited for you. Make a commitment to yourself and trust yourself to know what’s best for you. For far too long, many of us have abdicated our right to and responsibility for our total health. We were led to believe that the answers were outside of us in the form of institutions and experts. I’m not suggesting that you stop listening to advice, but you need to turn up your crap detector and resurrect your critical thinking skills. You are your own best advocate for what is best for you and your body.
Your Daily Choice
Fourth, I invite you to make the daily choice that was put forth by the authors of the fabulous book about healthy aging titled Younger Next Year (Chris Crowley and Harry S. Lodge, M.D.), and that daily choice is:
GROWTH or DECAY?
In the beginning of this piece I used the similar terms expanding or contracting. Please use whichever word pair suits your personality and mood, but use them! This choice can serve as your personal litmus test for how you are doing in all areas of your life. When I refer to all areas of your life, that includes:
- Working toward improving your physical capacity for daily activities, sports, and play
- Reading and lifelong learning opportunities
- Exploring your relationship with your authentic self
- Confronting your fears and not allowing them to stifle your growth
- Rediscovering or turning up your creativity (everyone has something creative to contribute)
- Eating healthy foods
So let’s take action and start or continue growing and expanding!
Remember: It’s YOUR movie