By Jackie White
I refuse to let time turn me into an old person. Some of you may goff at such an assertion, but I am telling you, I refuse. I have given this a lot of thought and researched how the hell I am going to dodge this bullet and I have a plan. I am going to share that with you today and I hope you find it to be inspiring enough that you jump on the “I ain’t getting’ old train” with me!
Let’s first make sure you can identify with this. None of us know when it starts setting in (Why is it that things “set-in” for old people?) Has this ever happened to you? You are in the store and you get a little annoyed thinking they could enlarge the font size on some of these labels. Or, how about this, you get a text and suddenly your smart phone’s font size is like mice type. You are really getting ticked now thinking why do they insist on making the font so small? And then it hits you, the font size hasn’t changed, but your eyes have! Gulp, you need readers. Sorry to let you know, Grandma Moses, it’s all downhill from now on.
Or, how about this fun realization. You are walking down your stairs and you hear an odd creak. You make a mental note to check out what’s going on only to realize that the creak isn’t the stairs at all, it’s your own damn knee! True story! Break out the Ben-Gay for your bursitus Bertha!
There’s more! You notice that there are more highlights in your hair, ok, maybe it’s grey, but you are not admitting that. You wake in the morning and you have pulled a hammie, yet the only thing you did was sleep. How can one sleep and hurt themselves? It can happen when you advance in age. Oh boy, here’s a real tell-tale sign of getting on in years: Have you caught yourself commenting on the kids “these days”, or are you constantly referring to “back in my day”. If any of this feels painfully true, I hate to tell you, but you are an old fogey.
It’s ok, just because time is passing, doesn’t mean you need to become the poster person for Geritol. If you need to ask what Geritol is, then you really aren’t that old!
The Plan to Foil Aging
Ok, here it is my plan, the plan you need to beat aging. Let’s start with a mind-blowing fact that you need to get your head wrapped around: 70% of all aging is voluntary. What? Who is raising their hand to join AARP? In the book “Younger Next Year”, it is explained that many of us get to an older age and we become apathetic.That's pathetic with an A, you don’t want to be that! This means you believe that getting old is inevitable and along with that comes becoming an old person and this where you would be wrong. Yes, things do age, like the body itself and yes, you get wrinkles (unless you live in Hollywood, then you just get plastic surgery and you look like a waxy version of the old you trying to look young). Whoops, getting snarky! Back to the point, there is a lot you can do to stay young. It is a choice. This is where you need to raise your hand and not sit by and let aging take you down.
Here’s what the choice entails: adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes:
Exercise: Exercise is the golden key to aging younger. According to Dr. Henry S. Lodge, you must exercise relatively vigorously almost everyday and lift weights 2-3 days of the week. Note: vigorously means check with your doctor, but you have to get some cardio in.
Nutrition: Eat what you are supposed to be eating (no, that’s not a staple diet of pizza, burgers and only rarely ingesting a vegetable. You need to drink water (a lot more than you think) and keep your weight in check. Again, check with your doc for the best guidelines for you.
Commitment: Commitment is about staying connected with other people, having a purpose and continued learning.
Let’s Break it Down (Not Break a Hip!)
Let’s get physical
Hey, even Olivia Newton John is getting old now and we need to heed her advice and get physical. Healthy aging is going to require you to get your butt up and start moving. When you don’t move as you get older you get stiff. Remember your grandpa doing that rocking thing as if he was trying to launch himself off the couch to get up? That is because his muscles were stiff and possibly weak. You don’t want to be rocking your old age like that!
Eat food, not too much, mostly plants
Michael Pollen, the author of “In Defense of Food”, has summed up the eating plan we should be following and that is “eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. Go ahead and stamp your foot and go have a big double cheeseburger, fries and chocolate shake, it’s the American way! Hey, I want that too, but at some point we have to decide if we want to be sticking around for a long time or if we want to be a patient in cardiology. Ouch. It’s the gosh-danged truth. You can have your all-American meal sometimes, but do the right thing at least 80% of the time. Only you can decide if that is a deal worth keeping.
Commit to staying connected in life
Studies have shown that people who live their longest happiest lives are those who stay connected to others. It’s important to get out there and get involved, make the phone call and reach out to others. It’s life enhancing. Equally as important is to have a reason for living. What is your purpose and how can you help others with that? Finally, keep your brain young by learning. Contrary to popular belief, you can teach an old dog new tricks, of course, not to imply that you are an old dog!
I would add one more very important aspect to living young and that is having the right attitude.
The right attitude
I inherited my attitude for not wanting to grow old from my mother who lived to be 86 years old. She too, refused to grow old. She had the best attitude. She never saw herself as old, in fact she told me she didn’t want to hang out with “old people” and by that she meant those who acted like old people. She surrounded herself with light-hearted, fun people, many times decades younger than herself. Add in more fun, laughing and enjoying life to it’s fullest as part of this attitude. Remember laughter is the best medicine!
One last thing, this time in your life can be the absolute best because it’s time for you to just be you! I say celebrate and embrace your weirdness! If you don’t do this now, then when? You can see the joy in people’s demeanor when they express their real selves by living their authentic life out loud. Those are the people who are defying gravity! Hit the gas because getting older gives you the green light, to just be you! So, adopt the things you need to do to take care of yourself and to avoid becoming an old, foot-shuffling, fuddy duddy. Grab this freeing opportunity to really begin living your life on your terms and join me in refusing to get old!
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.