Aging—if you think it can’t or won’t happen to you, I got news for you. It can and it will, if you are not mindful.
I remember listening to my mom and a few of her friends (they were 50ish as I recall) sitting around sipping tea and comparing notes. They were talking in parental code about the aches and pains of aging (a conversation in which I vowed I would never partake). The story line was consistent for each one of them—creaky joints, gaining weight, feeling tired and unattractive. They had no resolve, just a sad surrender.
My instant judgment was: old. I also concluded that since they all wore the same matronly hair cut (very short and slight grey), and the clothes were unflattering, that it really was their outer image reflecting the inner one, and I swore up and down I would never be “that mom.” Well, the years have crept up on me, and I would like to let you all know—shit happens, and here is how it has played out so far.
1980s: (In my 20s) I was fit and sexy with two small children, an active life and partying like a rock star. Slender and toned; still teaching ballet, silken long hair and good skin.
1990s: (In my 30s) I was cooling down a bit but active, and eased up on the partying. My third child was born and yet I retained my slim and sassy look. I was still dancing and had added yoga, my skin and hair still intact.
2000: (In my 40s) I was lukewarm, tepid. I was aging gracefully and accepting the subtle changes to my body, still slender and agile (for the most part) until—life accompanied by menopause began to kick my ass. No time for yoga or anything else. I was tied to my career and my children. My self-image was sinking. My “sexy” just wasn’t, and I began to feel the depleting body and the pain of living life hard.
2010: (In my 50s) and I am making a comeback—it isn’t easy. I own a small and uncomfortable belly due to cortisol (so they say), fighting to retain all my hair and my supple skin. I am back to yoga, and the big thing is coming to terms with everything that aches and makes unsettling noise (knees, shoulders, neck) is my bane.
And to those of you who scoff, just like I did 30 some years ago—fair warning. Pay attention to your actions right now and your lineage—it holds all the keys to your future body.
Your mother, your grandmother, and hers will give you a very good idea of the internal clock and what your body has the propensity to become, whether good, bad or indifferent. We cannot help the family genes, but we can certainly be proactive to the onset of what is inevitable.
There is so much more to being fit than what meets the eye. It is a constant regime of care and love—inside and out. The hard part of the aging process is not to give in to what society thinks we should do or be or look like and honor every inch of it. And it is a very interesting thing to look at where you come from. We (men and women) tend to ignore our heritage when it comes this.
So to intercept some of the things my mother shared only with her friends, like hormonal havoc, obvious gene structure and the effect cultivating good habits has on your mind, body and soul, I would like to offer some very simple clarity, preventive medicine, if you will, for your health and peace of mind: honor your temple.
I call it the trilogy of body balance and peace: intake, output and rest. These three things will improve your mental and physical well being threefold.
1) Honor your Temple: Intake
You are what you eat, and it will rear its ugly head if you don’t pay attention. I was once the girl with an extraordinary metabolism—therefore, food was never important to me. It was fuel. If I ate, that was fine, if I didn’t, that was fine too, but now as I look back, I wish I would have had more respect for food and what it brings to our total holistic well-being. Mind/body/soul eating keeps you lean and clean. It also helps immensely with hormonal imbalances. There is a ton of information to be found on this. Dig in.
2) Honor your Temple: Output
No matter what the cost, be it money or time, exercise. It controls all the stability of your body. It is better than any medicine on the market and an instant game changer when you move. Walking is the most inexpensive and brilliant gift you can give to your body (especially if you are sad or blue) and little bursts of fast paces will do wonders. You do not need to be an athlete to engage the body, but you need to be committed. It just feels good. Take a walk.
3) Honor your Temple: Rest
When you are tired, rest. Rest is one of the hardest things to do because of the way life plays out. The chaos of life is demanding, but it is imperative to heed the call of your body. There is no way to function properly when tired. Period. It’s possible to get by for a while on little or no sleep—but over time this completely depletes your mind, body and soul.
We have this amazing thing we call a body and most of us despise it. Think about how awful that is. Think about how cruel and unloving that is. And it is no wonder our temple (our vessel, our body) rebels. But we do this to ourselves. It is time to rethink that thinking and stop the cycle of mental and physical depletion.
It isn’t good to ignore your body, pay attention to the voice inside. Your body screams at you in different tones when it wants to be noticed, like a child throwing a tantrum. It will not hush. It may seem quiet at times but if things go unattended—you will eventually pay the price.
The long and short of it, we break down. But we can hold our head high.
I would have loved to have a bit of this simple wisdom when I was younger, and what I can tell you is a breakdown is a breakthrough, which can lead to betterment.
Health is strength—mental, physical and emotional strength, and each one depends on the other.
Some say there are two choices as we grow older, to go out gracefully, or go out fighting. I don’t buy it. I would like to offer a third choice here, which is combining it all. There is always room for improvement at any age. The minute you lean into this idea, put your mind to changing and accept it, magic happens.
The trilogy of body, balance and peace—you can do it with fervor (a fight), with harmony (grace) and a sense of well-being (the sum of both).
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Kathryn Muyskens / Editor: Travis May
Photo: Wikimedia Commons