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Archive for February, 2019

PostHeaderIcon 13 Ways to Improve Your Health for Better Aging

We all want to stay vibrant, active, and healthy in our senior years. Unfortunately, that rarely happens through luck alone. It takes effort and dedication all year long to ensure today’s good health lasts into the future.

 

The keys to healthy aging aren’t a scientific mystery. Adopting a lifestyle that includes good diet and exercise habits—and excludes substance abuse, social isolation, and chronic stress—can prevent many disabling health conditions. Unfortunately, while most people understand these principles, many struggle to execute them.

 

If you want to improve your health for a better aging experience, try these 13 practical solutions for a healthier lifestyle.

Eating a Healthy Diet

Specific diet recommendations change as you age, but the principles remain the same:

Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats, and fish. Avoid ultra-processed foods, and too much sugar, salt, or saturated fat. Older adults should take extra care to maintain a healthy weight, stay hydrated, and get enough fiber, calcium, and vitamin D.

 

Changing your diet is hard work, but the benefits are worth it. A balanced diet not only promotes a strong, healthy body, it also sets the stage for good mental health. These tips will help you make sustainable changes for healthier eating:

  1. Make small changes; gradual adjustments are more sustainable than crash diets.
  2. Make a grocery list and stick to it. If you can’t resist impulse purchases, use grocery delivery or online ordering with curbside pickup.
  3. Eat well despite obstacles. If you face mobility challenges, try a meal delivery service that delivers either meal kits you cook yourself or pre-made meals that only need to be reheated. Homebound and food insecure seniors may be eligible for meal delivery through Meals on Wheels.

Preventing Substance Misuse and Abuse

Substance-use disorders are more common among seniors than you might think. Not only are seniors vulnerable to alcohol abuse, in part due to declining tolerance to alcohol, but they’re also susceptible to prescription drug problems. Keep yourself free from dependence and addiction by following these tips:

  1. Don’t drink more than three drinks on a given day, or seven drinks in a week, per NIH recommendations.
  2. Manage medications. Avoid taking too much, too little, or triggering a dangerous drug interaction.
  3. Keep a list of your medications and provide health care providers with an updated copy.
  4. Don’t change how you take a prescription without talking to your doctor.

Staying Active

Physical activity is great for both physical and mental health at all stages of life. Older adults should aim to be active every day for a minimum of 150 minutes per week. These tips make that benchmark achievable:

  1. Exercise for 10 minutes at a time. Short workouts are easier to commit to when you’re starting out.
  2. Adapt exercises for safety. Many exercises can be done using a chair or wall for support.
  3. Schedule workouts to encourage follow-through. Exercise with a friend if it helps your motivation.

Nurturing Social Connections

Spending time with friends probably isn’t what comes to mind when you think of health-promoting activities. However, research has proven that social connection is highly important for good health. Social connectedness reduces stress and negative thinking, increases your sense of purpose and self-worth, and even protects your physical health. If you need more friends in your life, take this advice:

  1. Schedule time to call friends and family to maintain connections.
  2. Join a hobby group or religious community, or start volunteering to meet new people.
  3. Connect online. While not a substitute for face-to-face interaction, the internet is a great tool for reinforcing established relationships and forming new ones. However, be wary of online scams. Stay Safe Online names some of the most common scams.

 

Changing long-standing habits is never easy. But when it comes to your health, it’s always worth it. When you make these important changes to your lifestyle, you’ll be rewarded with better health throughout your senior years.

 

Image via Unsplash

PostHeaderIcon Making Fear Work for You

It was about 15 years ago. I was a new mom looking towards a career change. I wanted to be a personal trainer and I was confiding in my cousin via messenger. I told her I was a bit scared, since I sacrificed and spent so much money on acting school, then I stopped pursuing show business. Now I was going to invest what little money I had on more education in a new field.

She told me I was being negative. Looking back, maybe I was being negative but the truth is, we are always scared when we embark on something unknown. Fear is just our mind telling us that we are doing something that is unusual and to approach with caution.

Fast forward fifteen years and I’ve lived a full life as a Certified Personal Trainer. My career continues to grow. I became a fitness instructor, a yoga instructor, a sports/fitness nutritionist, a corrective exercise specialist and much more. I lived my dream and helped thousands of people along the way.

The point of this story is you’re going to get scared when its time to make a change. I always do. But that doesn’t mean you won’t do it. One definition of the word “courage” is to recognize one’s truth. The other definition is to be afraid, but to go ahead and do it anyway. Confidence only comes from experience. Until you get to that level, you must rely on courage. This means, you just have to journey into that great unknown with fear in your heart and pretend that it doesn’t phase you.

If you want to change any direction of your life, be it health, relationships, career or anything else; be prepared to feel fear. If you’re not afraid to feel fear, if you enter into your quest with the fool hardy notion that everything will come easy and things only happen to those who are always confident and perfect, you will be more likely to fail. The most successful of us fail several times before we get it right so be prepared for obstacles. If you’re looking to lose weight, there are weeks that may not go so well. Something might happen that will pull you out of your diet or training regimen. At this point most people give up, but if you are prepared for obstacles, you will soldier on and meet success.

Fear just may be the greatest motivator to excel in life, as long as you use it to take action and not to hide behind a rock. It’s not easy, planning classes in many formats, including workshops. I have to get in front of large groups of people and keep them entertained and motivated, most of the time for an hour or more. I have nightmares that I miss my class or that no one listens to me or does the exercises. I am afraid that I’m teaching things that may be wrong or out of date. I’m terrified that my clients will not make their fitness goals.

How do I handle these fears? I make sure my classes are prepared and thought out. I keep up to date with all the latest information in fitness, nutrition and motivation. I plan and practice everything until it looks effortless. I take good care of myself so my body can handle the challenges of my job. When I do screw up, and it will happen (especially if you are doing something new and different) I look back to see what I could have done to make it better. Then I try again and do a better job. If it weren’t for fear, I wouldn’t care. I’d half ass everything and that is not a formula for success.

You Don’t  Have To Be Perfect:

One other related message I want to convey is that you don’t have to be perfect. That is one of the greatest lessons I’ve had to learn. For so long, students have been asking me to make them a yoga video and I never did because I struggled to find the right camera or production team to make it awesome. Someone finally told me to just film myself as if I was teaching a class. “It doesn’t have to be perfect.” I swallowed my fear and did just that, all in one take from my laptop. I made a yoga and pilates video for the students who asked and they said they loved it. I had to start somewhere.

This is true for everything I’ve ever done. I’ve had to just do it and learn along the way. I know the first class I ever taught was not perfect, but I had to keep teaching and learn from my mistakes before I became he kind of teacher that people told each other about. My first class had two people in it. It took several months to build it up to an adequate amount. To tell you the truth, I was fired from my very first job teaching yoga because I wasn’t a very good teacher. It took me a long time to gain the kind of experience that taught me to excel. Now my yoga classes are packed. But I had to start somewhere. Shoot, I had to get out of the house after having a baby and start taking yoga again.

Everything is a great act of courage and I want to encourage everyone to be brave. That doesn’t mean you’re not scared. That means,  you do it anyway. Deep down inside our timid, insecure selves is something very special that we have to let out. We have to give the world our knowledge, our special way of being. Imagine if I let my fear of starting a new career path stop me fifteen years ago? I could have taken the safe, unchallenged path. Imagine if my teachers did the same thing, and all our teachers before them? We owe it to the world to go out in spite of our fear, even if we’re not perfect.

So what do you have to lose? You can always go back to what you were doing before. Nothing is guaranteed, but if you feel a pull towards a certain path, do it. If you’ve been looking to try out yoga or dance or fitness or martial arts, try it. You’ll be the beginner. That’s scary but its also exciting. It means there’s so much for you to learn. It may just change your life completely.

There are so many quotes about courage, but instead, I’d like to share a poem I found which I wrote when I was a teenager. Every once in a while, my father would take me to the sand dune to train for the cross country team. It was the hardest workout but when I reached the top, I took in the most awesome view of the ocean horizon.

A Hill of Sand

A hill of sand dared I to climb

With sinking foot, fast beating heart.

I’d slip and trip from time to time,

Yet from that slide would never part

I claimed I’d make it if I cared

With fortitude, moved on, stopped not.

Without a doubt and not a care

Could falter me to take my shot

I climbed through wind, through dust, harsh heat.

I looked back not, there wasn’t time,

Ignored my thirst, my aching feet,

Seeing the peak of that hill shine.

Then reaching it, though breathing hard,

I turned about in awe to view

The past I left behind so far,

And all below who never knew,

Knew that their necks needed to strain

So hard to mark that I so high

With oh so much there climbed and gained

Few followed me, most stayed behind,

For some preferred to walk a path

Unlike a hill but flat and dull.

Others preferred a hill of grass,

No sinking feet to lift and haul,

Then some would have a hill less steep

Where movement was in simple ease,

While others never reached their peak,

Like those who never would be pleased,

But I atop my sandy hill

Beheld great freights, broad rocks and trees,

And views those cowards never will.

For this steep hill was made for me.

–By a 16 year old Rhea Morales

 

For a related article about the new science of stress and why its actually good for you, check out this link:

Great News About Stress

Photo credit:
Photo by Jeremy Lapak on Unsplash