Getting It Together After 40

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Summer is here!! For those of us ingrained with the age-old tradition of taking a summer vacation, there are definitely a few things we are going to need to remember as we plan our time away from our daily grind.

The most important thing to remember is that we are getting older and more wrinkled,  and our bodies are not exactly equipped the same as they were 10 or 20 years ago. As Darwin believed, it isn’t the smartest or strongest who make it the farthest… it’s the ones who can adapt the best. So here we go! Let’s embrace our evolved bodies, and let’s enjoy this ride of life (and our summer vacation!) with the wisdom that time has gifted us!

Enjoying life does not equate to eating unhealthy or lounging around. If you want to feel good and look good, you’re going to have to start from the inside.  As we get older, especially after we are 40, our body’s metabolism down-shifts, our estrogen levels take a dive, and our muscle mass and bone density all begin to drop. Unless our body was already used to avoiding processed foods and exercising regularly our old eating habits and our old exercise routines (or lack thereof) are not going to be enough anymore. The best and most effective way to handle these unavoidable changes in our body is to roll with them and make changes to the way we eat and exercise. Fighting them is useless, but slowing them down is possible.

So how do we slow down these metabolic and hormone changes? We eat foods that are nutrient-rich. We avoid processed food. Eating less and more often (think: smaller meals, or ‘grazing’) and choosing healthy snacks means we are not taking in a large amount of food in one sitting. Drinking enough water allows our bodies to flush out any toxins and not only helps our metabolism, but also allows us to not confuse lack of hydration with hunger.

Another lifestyle change that can make a significant difference is making sure we get enough sleep. Sleep is often overlooked but is actually critical to the body’s ability to restore and heal itself after a day of activity, exercise and consumption. A person needs any where from 7-10 hours of sleep a night, so if you’re not getting enough sleep, that’s an important change to make in your lifestyle. Remember, getting enough sleep also helps get rid of wrinkles.

So what about that ever-important vacation you wanted to plan this summer? Maybe this is a good time to hit that vacation with a new sense of who you are and who you want to be. Instead of hitting the beach or pool and just laying around ‘relaxing’, get in the mix. Jump in and splash around with the kids, move that body and start building your muscle mass and increasing your bone density. Take a hike or a walk around your vacation spot, ride a bicycle, or swim some laps. Get adventurous! Do that zip-line, or two hour walking tour. Strap on that backpack loaded with healthy snacks and take in the city or walk to the restaurant. Don’t let your current energy level be the standard by which you live. Change it! Your activity in the day will allow for better sleep at night which will lead to better energy the next day.

And making healthy food choices will lead to more activity and less fatigue. Getting older doesn’t have to mean getting slower or gaining weight (or getting wrinkles!) It can mean getting smarter, being armed with the knowledge of who you are and enjoying your life in ways you hadn’t thought possible. So go on that summer vacation or take that weekend trip, eat right for your body, sleep well at night and keep making choices that are right for your body and during the day you will see the version of you that you want to be.

Get out there and have a happy summer, everyone!!  (and don’t forget the sunscreen!!)