I was back in the best shape of my life after 50
I was back in the best shape of my life after 50
As told to Nicole Audrey Spector
I knew I let stress get the best of me, particularly when it came to poor eating habits, but I didn’t realize how much I would let things get bad until my job hosted a wellness event and a nurse visited our offices to check our body mass index (BMI),* blood pressure and cholesterol.
My levels weren’t great, to put it mildly. My blood pressure was high, my cholesterol was through the roof, and my BMI indicated that my weight was in an unhealthy range.
After the wellness event was over, I made an appointment with my primary care physician (PCP), who promptly confirmed all of the less than desirable findings and urgently recommended major life changes.
“You could have a heart attack or stroke if you don’t change,” the doctor said, stressing that I needed to reduce my weight and get my blood pressure and cholesterol in check. For the last two, he offered me medication to help.
“Nope,” I said. “I got myself into this mess, I’m going to get out of it. And if I can’t do it myself, then I’ll take the drug.
I was deeply disappointed in myself and left the doctor’s office in tears. I know these types of medical issues aren’t always within one person’s control, but I was determined to try and fix mine.
As a former aerobics instructor, I knew how important a balanced diet and exercise are to creating a healthy life. And yet there I was: eating cookies stressed out at my desk as the numbers on the scale kept climbing, along with my risk of heart attack and stroke. Somewhere along the way I had given up on myself. When had I done that? As? Why?
I didn’t have all the answers, but it didn’t matter. I decided to change and wasted no time. I immediately overhauled my diet, ditching soda, salty and sweet snacks (I still indulge in my favorite treats, but in more moderation) and sticking to three small meals a day. I’ve also increased my daily exercise routine. I exercise a lot, ride 10 miles on the stationary bike every day and walk 45 minutes with weights, but even just a little bit of exercise can be hugely beneficial to your longevity and more importantly, I believe, the quality of your life. your life.
But my changes weren’t all physical. There was also a mental component to my health transformation.
I’m a painter and I set out to create this new and improved version of myself just like I would a new masterpiece. I visualized how I wanted to look and how I wanted to feel. I asked myself: “What would I wear? Where would I go? Who would I be with?
To help center me and fully realize my vision of my future self, I have been bringing mindfulness into my daily routine. It’s very easy: all I do is lie down on the bed and observe my thoughts with gratitude and with the aim of connecting with the present moment. I often fall asleep while doing this, but I find that even if I fall asleep for a while, this practice still does the trick in helping me unplug and reduce stress, which is crucial, since stress was what was driving me to overeating as well as eating poorly.
With the combination of workouts, healthy eating, and meditation, the weight has steadily dropped over time and I’m now at a healthy weight for my body. My blood pressure has stabilized as well, as has my cholesterol. My doctor is more than satisfied with me. I promised her I would change everything and I did.
I’m happy too, but I’m careful not to be smug. Being in amazing shape takes a lot more work than it did when I was younger. Also, I’m enormously lucky to have the ability to be so active and feel so young.
I have been spending time in an assisted living facility lately with my 95 year old mother in law. She is there because she has memory problems, but most of the people who live there need to be there because they have lost their mobility and can no longer be independent. This is a recurring reminder to me to take nothing for granted and keep moving.
Turning life as I knew it upside down to get myself in shape after 50 has been hard. At first, it was possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But once I brought awareness, which helped me release the anger that I was in an unhealthy situation, it got a lot easier.
Now, working out, eating right, and meditating are as much a part of my daily life as snacking and sitting still were. The difference is that I am much happier and feel much more alive and present. I am invested in every day, every moment, and I can say with absolute certainty: I will never give up again.
*Editor’s note: BMI is only a measure and should not be used to assess health without input from a healthcare professional.
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