Recently I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in many years. She commented on one of my blogs, saying she hadn’t known I had an eating disorder and followed up by saying “I’m so sorry.” I was a bit puzzled and asked why she would apologize to me. That’s when she told me that she should have known because, all along, she had been struggling too. I responded the only way I could at that moment by saying I didn’t know she was dealing with it either, so we were even. But what surprised me most was what she said next: that she was ashamed because at her age (which is my age) she still struggles sometimes. We spoke for over an hour and afterwards I realized... I do need to discuss this.
Eating disorders are not often thought of as an older women’s disease, rather girls in their teens and early 20’s. Yet, in fact, as per www.heathline.com it's estimated that about 13 percent of women over age 50 are living with an eating disorder. And eating disorder treatment centers like the Renfrew Center report a 42 percent increase over the last decade in women over age 35 seeking help.
Another fact to note here; eating disorders are a mental illness.
Let’s think about that for a minute here. If you struggled as a teen like I did, like she did, and never got the right help or completed counseling to the point of total recovery, chances are you will carry the struggle with you moving forward into your later years. And once there, where do you turn? An even more in-depth and recent study done by verywellmind.com states that research specifically dedicated to disordered eating behaviors and eating disorders in people in midlife is significantly lacking compared to younger populations. Keep in mind that the numbers don’t really tell the full story as so many women (and men!) do not come forward to seek help out of fear of judgement.
So now it’s time for me to speak from my own experience because comparing myself in a “then and now” scenario, I do believe that the stigma that exists toward eating disorders as a whole is greater in and for older women. Society has us feeling like we should be more secure and confident and carry an “I don’t give a shit” attitude, when in truth, we are all still children, just older. That kind of confidence only comes once you have indeed recovered.
As of 15 years ago I didn't think I would ever be able to live without my eating disorder. There was a strange dependency on it because it was all I ever knew, it was all I ever was. I had let it define me, at least within my own mind. And when I started to try to strip it away from myself, a huge internal struggle ensued within me as I tried desperately to figure out who I was without it. I clung to proverbial crutches, like alcohol and cigarettes, as my fear of letting go heightened. After all, I had it for what seemed my whole life.
My eating disorder, specifically anorexia, started in my teens. While many around me took notice, very few ever said anything. It was such a taboo subject more so than it is now. When I was that young, we never even discussed breast cancer! So I let it be a secret because I was afraid to open up to the wrong people who (I thought) would never understand. I was afraid of the questions I couldn’t answer and the judgments that put me there in the first place. But as long as I held onto that fear I could not be released from within myself.
I could feel the side-eye stares all the time. But how could I explain what I didn’t understand? So I kind of just went about life as if it was a normal way of living, silently listening to a voice within me that would constantly tell me I would never be good enough, I would never be accepted… because I would never be pretty enough and of course, I would never be skinny enough. I really thought that being skinny would make people love me. I was 100lbs. But what I saw in the mirror was so different from what other people saw so most of the time I could shrug off the comments and innuendos because I truly believed they were wrong. I wasn't too skinny. I wasn't skinny enough.
For the sake of getting to the point quicker, I’m not going to go in depth about every situation I dealt with or the ordeal I put my family and friends through for so many years. Some relationships completely dissolved while others were strengthened, and taught me that who is meant to be in my life, is and always will be. I’m grateful to them because they are the true reason I kept fighting back. Jumping ahead to get to the point quicker, I’ll skip the stories of being pregnant and underweight, being told and fearing that I wouldn’t carry my baby to full term… or about all the lies I would tell to my family cover up the real reason I ended up in the hospital many times… how I lost teeth and hair and damaged a kidney… or how I went through therapy twice, each for extensive periods of time. Keeping this as short as possible - here’s the gist of it...
By the time I was in my late 20’s I had 2 children and had just lost my Mom to cancer. Still struggling with my inner-thoughts and my morbid sense of body image, I was also feeling more lost than ever. I started exercising, to a point that could be considered obsessive. I know now that that was to compensate, but then I just knew it made me feel better. It gave me a sense of control and made me feel satisfied. But it was obsessive, which actually falls in line with an eating disorder. I HAD TO EXERCISE! If I did then I was “allowed” to eat. However, to me, a single pretzel had over 100 calories so I would have to do high impact aerobics for nearly an hour before I felt like the weight of that pretzel was worked off.
I went so far as to get my certification and began teaching aerobics. Somewhere during the 5 years that I taught, I stopped hearing the voice and I started feeling stronger, though at that time I never stopped to analyze that. I just kept going.
The class I taught started to grow in numbers so to be able to see me better I was put on an elevated platform. Not being used to that, one day when I was teaching a step aerobics class I stepped too far to the right, twisted my knee coming off the platform and fell to the floor in pain. It was excruciating but I managed to keep from showing just how painful it was and I drove myself home. It took over 6 months in a brace to heal and, within that time I had become sedentary and depressed. The voice started in again. I hadn’t heard it in such a long while and now it was creeping back into my head. It was a loud, “Well now what are you gonna do?!” …Like it was chiding a child who broke his toy. And the vicious cycle started all over again.
This time the not eating would soon catch up with me in a big way. The day before my 39th birthday I felt ill and got up to get some water. Next thing I knew I was waking up in a hospital with concerned faces staring at me, none of which I knew. They told me I had a “cardiac episode” which was explained to me that the stress I was putting on my heart was leading me right into an actual heart attack and THIS was my warning. The Dr. was very stern and discussed everything with my husband. I went home wearing a heart monitor… And now everyone knew. Most would just tip-toe around me. I remember so vividly the Easter holiday that year… the family dinner with about 16 people sitting around the table. You know how you always have that few minutes where no one is talking and everything is so quiet that you can hear the ticking of the clock on the wall? I felt like the spotlight was on me and they were all looking at me from the corner of their eyes. So I ate. Every last bit on my plate! As if I was screaming at them “Take your eyes off me!” without saying a word. But the guilt that overcame me afterwards was too enormous. I was suddenly completely overwhelmed and it made me feel ill. The voice came back screaming “WHAT DID YOU JUST DO?!” YOU IDIOT!” And that’s when my bulimia started.
From that point up until my early 40’s I had been in the hospital twice more. The last time, I was 42 years old and the hospital physician mandated that I seek treatment or they would put me in as an in-patient and keep me there. The fear that brought on while I sat in that hospital bed had me reviewing my life and asking so many questions. Those questions led to the beginning of an even harder struggle for me as a battle within took place between my efforts to get better and my strong feelings of inadequacy and dependency on the only way I knew how to cope. This may sound strange to many of you but stripping away my eating disorder was like tearing my child from my arms. I wasn’t just stripping myself of my illness. I was stripping away my identity, as I knew it to be. I started to drink, heavily. I smoked, a lot. I even dabbled with an oxy addiction. But I kept going. I crawled at first but I kept going. I became defiant. At times I would have rage for no apparent reason, other times I would cry harder than I ever had. My emotions were all over the place. I forced myself to really look at what was happening and to come to terms with it. There was so much self-reflection happening that I felt like I was just getting to know me for the very first time. I thought hard about how I had become nothing more and nothing less than a people pleaser. It was the only way I thought I could be appreciated, as well as being a great way for me to keep myself out of the equation... to focus on everyone else. It was then that I realized, in truth, each time I struggled it was because of that.
Through the trials and tribulations, I finally did recover... I even helped to create a program for eating disorders awareness called The Inner You that still runs in NYC high schools. I wanted to help girls NOT to become me. But as much as I could teach, I was taught so much more. It really kept me going each day. And then, at 48 I slammed right into menopause. By the time I was 55, I was over 150lbs and started to have the same ugly feelings about myself. But this time was different, because this time I was older, wiser… and stronger. This time, I told the voice in my head to shut TF up! This time, I took the lesson I had learned and I applied it. I refused to let it take me again but was terrified if I started dieting, I would spin out of control. I knew that same fear was in those around me as well. So I reached out to a good friend who helped me research diets and pick the best one out for me and she helped me monitor myself. Doing it right was empowering in itself and when I started losing weight the right way for the first time in my life, I was excited. It seems all I had to do all along was just take the wheel, so to speak. Eating disorders are all about control but when you are in the throws of it you never stop to realize that the ultimate control is in defeating it.
Like Dorothy clicking her heels and saying, “There’s no place like home” the nightmare finally ended for me. And now here I am. I now consider myself, not always first, but I do factor into the equation at least. I meditate each day. I take long power walks, lift weights, roll tires, ride my bike and swim as much as I can. (BTW water aerobics is my new high!!!) And THIS TIME I do it for the right reason: I just want to be healthy! By the Grace of God, I made it out and at 58 years old I am now a stronger, happier and healthier person today than I have ever been in my entire life.
So, here is my advice to my dear friend… shed no tears. There is no shame in being ill. An eating disorder is a mental illness. You survived it so far because you are still here. That proves you are a fighter. But if you struggle, still… Know that I am still here too. That inner voice can be powerful and pull you down into the muck of a dirty swamp but trust your own power to pull yourself out. No one else can do that for you.
MAKE EVERY DAY BETTER! MAKE EVERY MOMENT COUNT! MAKE EVERY MOVE PURPOSEFUL! See you next month! ~ Tracy
You won’t ever get what you want by sitting there wishing for it. I haven’t bought into that since I was 12. It takes action. It takes forward movement. Heck , any movement! And it takes finally realizing that nothing will change unless you do. You have to lead into each day with a “I can and I will” attitude…every day say in your head, say it out loud. And then stick to it. No matter what.
I had a few "no matter what" moments this past month. My arthritis was off the charts and I found it difficult to keep my usual pace and much harder to grip my weights, even with my grip rings on. I had worked myself up to 15lbs in each hand but found that I had to slide back to my 8lb weights. But that’s ok. I didn't take it as defeat and I did not quit. I didn’t say screw it and push off my routine. I just did it with 8lb weights. It was better than doing nothing. And it actually helped alleviate the pain, in great part I think because my mindset was different. I always feel stronger and healthier after even the shortest, easiest workout and I tend to focus less on the aches and pains. When I started my healthy journey just over a year ago I swore I would not let my arthritis hold me back. And why should I? As per mayoclinic.org Exercise is crucial for people with arthritis. It increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps combat fatigue. See, knowledge is power and armed with that bit of wisdom I gain momentum.
But such is life, sometimes we do slide back a little. That’s why tomorrow comes along… you always have a chance to start again. Don't let it get you down or create a reason to be hard on yourself. Maybe it’s necessary because it’s like taking a slight reprieve and then jumpstarting all over. You can apply that theory to exercise just as much as you can apply to life in general. The one thing you must never do is quit. You can change course, switch direction even slow down but never give up. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Just a walk around the block can change your mood so if that’s all you can manage, I applaud you. Next time do it twice.
I know incentive can be a difficult thing to find and I believe that's a huge part of why we fail sometimes. We have so much around us to impede our focus and in today’s world its usually stress that takes the front seat. So whenever I feel like things are getting the best of me, I use Motherhood as mine. And perhaps even more, Grand-motherhood. While I have a strong conviction that the want and need to be healthier and stronger needs to be for your own personal inner gain in order for you to really achieve your goal, having some kind of incentive to keep going during the trying times is a blessing. I want to live long for my Grandsons and what’s more I want them to see me as strong and fun and full of spirit. And when I'm 90 seconds into a plank trying to reach 120, I keep saying to myself "do it as if their lives depended on you doing it!" With that in mind I can accomplish anything!
Wherever you find your incentive, keep it with you like a lucky penny in your pocket or the worry stone I often carry in mine that no one knows about. The simple need and the want can drive you just as strong as anything if you don't let any excuses deter you. They're easier to find than momentum so be careful.
May... the sweet warm air, the sun, the flowers... Ok I know some of you are inserting allergies in there! But keeping to the delights of spring, I can smell the lilac tree on our front yard from around the block. The days are getting longer and we're creeping toward the summer shorts and tank tops. Oh my! Find incentive in that and get started because when you know you are healthy you feel strong and when you feel strong you gain confidence and when you are confident you exude your beauty. No matter what your age! It has to begin with that feeling.
And with Mother's Day right around the bend, my heart sinks and soars. I lost my Mom 30 years ago this June to cancer. It still feels like yesterday. But with every step I take and everything I venture out to do, she is with me. And I feel very lucky to have had such an amazing Mom. She inspired me to always be the same for my own girls. They're grown now, in their 30's. And when I look at them today, I know I succeeded.
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO ALL! See you in June! ~ Tracy XO
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
~ Happy Mother's Day! ~
For me, this season has always been thought of as a new beginning... between Passover and Easter holidays, the warmer weather, the budding flowers and the children’s voices and laughter that you begin to hear once again after a long winters break. My Mom made Easter so special for us that it has long been my favorite holiday. We dressed up in frilly dresses with little white gloves, white patent leather shoes with the buckle and of course the pretty hat with a ribbon through it. My dad and I would fight over the black jelly beans (I love licorice!!) and he would steal them from our baskets when we went to church with Mom. I was always a force to be reckoned with so boy did I give him the attitude when I came home. You know the 6 year old hands on hip, cock your head sideways look him straight in the eye and give a long whiney “heeeey those were miiiine!”
I took a long walk yesterday. There was a breeze at my back pushing me to go further and as I continued on I thought back to the knobby knee little girl I once was and I felt much the same. The emergence, out from the slumber of winter. The excitement just to breath the warmer air. I wanted to play! This is what spring does to me! But it’s not only the children that emerge... My path was filled with hello’s and how are you’s. It’s time for us now too. Time to take in that deep breath of spring air and, if you take a step forward with it, I will dare you to keep going. Shake off the aches and pains and stiffness... and the excuses!
There are many different ways, some we've forgotten about, for us to not only enjoy the beautiful weather but to create movement that exercises our muscles, including heart and brain. Though the brain is technically not a muscle, I like to treat mine as such.
Gardening! One of my favorite pass times. Though it wasn't always. Growing up in a somewhat strict Irish household, 1 of 5 children, we were all designated our chores weekly. In the spring and summer months I somehow got stuck with the weeding and as a teen I hated it for so many reasons! The dirt, the bugs, sweating in the suns heat while my friends were running around having fun. Typical teen. But then I grew up. I got married. My in-laws had a 2 family house and we moved into the upstairs. My Mother-in-law was an avid gardener and one day we were in her garden together and she showed me how much love she put into it and how seeing the results of what she created gave her a sense of accomplishment. When she passed away many years later, I felt it my duty as well as my honor to keep her garden alive. So I did. I began with plucking the weeds and while doing so realized how the ability to know a weed from a flower was instilled in me all those times I spent cursing in the garden when I was younger. We ended up buying that house... and I planted and I rearranged and I watered and I weeded and I... LOVED what was now my garden. It was amazing to me to feel that same sense of "wow look what I did!"
One day I bought a beautiful rose bush and planted it against the back wall in honor of my Mother-in-law. I would often sit in the yard next to roses and I would talk to them as if I were talking to her. Over the years the bush grew over 8' high and sprawled itself out, extending it's roses and filling the yard with such a sweet aroma. There was a time when I was struggling with myself and I was hurting and sad. I sat with the roses and I asked my Mother-in-law to always look over us. The very next day, my husband and I came out the back door and my husband suddenly crossed his arm in front of me to stop me... he said, "Look at the roses!" And there within them, they had formed a heart. She heard me. And she answered. See the photo below.
So now I find gardening to be so peaceful and somewhat cathartic. It lets you create something all your own. My garden soon inspired reactions from my neighbors and guests and the praise made me feel like I really did something right. The bugs no longer bother me, unless they're eating my flowers! And the cool dirt feels so good in my hands I rarely use gloves. I really feel like it helps my arthritis too!
In fact, Gardening is a great exercise for managing arthritis. Per http://www.greenthumbs.cedwvu.org/ ...It helps keep joints flexible; maintain range of motion; and keeps your joints moving. This helps prevent muscles from weakening and becoming stiff.
Just remember to do the bending and lifting correctly and "make every movement purposeful” and you’ll get an awesome workout.
O.k., I used that term again. What exactly do I mean by make every movement purposeful? Concentrate on the muscle group you are using. Just as mirrors are beneficial to keep your form correct, simply thinking of the specific muscle as you use it does the same and will help emphasize the strength you put into it. That’s my general rule for all activities.
What are some other ways to have fun in the sun and get your exercise in....
Tennis! Even if you suck at it! Pick up some support tape at any local pharmacy, put that racket in your hand and have fun! The point is to just get moving.
When was the last time you played basketball? I remember playing “SPOT” when I was little. I had a big brother who never seemed to mind his kid sister hanging around and there were all boys in my neighborhood so like they say, you fit yourself where you are. Now if I could only find some friends to play with me!
Beach walking. The sand will give you’re entire body quite a workout. You may be exhausted after just 1/2 a mile but boy what a view! And the fresh air in your lungs that carries into your brain is so easy and clarifying. It’s an incredible way to spend a morning. Or an evening.
And how about this one: GET A PUPPY! I just did! And oh man, what an ass-kicker it is! I’m now up at 5am every morning and before 9am I have walked 1/4 mile twice! I go into work just 2 days a week now so the time I’m home is spent trying to poop out a puppy who is just a furry ball of energy! Fact of the matter though she poops me out faster! When I get home from work we do another 1/4 mile around 7pm and then we're back out at 9pm for the last walk.
No joking here... if you are a sedentary person looking for motivation to get up and start moving, get a dog! You can’t put off the walks, you’ll be up and down trying to keep them in line, and they will make you play!! She pushes my buttons and tests the boundaries but along with it comes a compassion and and an unconditional love that so fulfilling you start looking forward to all your activities together. Tulip is a rescue from Texas. She is a 5 month old Jack Russel Terrier who can defy gravity and jump 5’ straight up in the air. There’s not a baby gate that can keep her in. But I know once she's out of the puppy phase she will be the best dog. She has already been on several of my long, fast paced bay walks. At first I wondered if her little legs could keep up with me but... I'm the one having trouble keeping up! I take it as a challenge to either walk even faster or take it to the next level and start running!
Yes, I got on my new bicycle! What a great feeling! I just tested my abilities around the neighborhood but will soon be taking it to the paths and testing my limits.
There are so many options it's impossible to not find something that will drive up your ambition to move. Unless you're creating and sticking to the excuses. It's easy to sit on the couch and say "I'll get up in 5 minutes." Do yourself the biggest favor and the first time you hear that in your head, actually get up! Move. Whatever that movement is it's much more beneficial than sitting there. ;)
Meet ya back here in May! And as far as those April showers... learn to love walking in the rain!
XO ~ Tracy
***** Mom's Roses *****
Spring is just around the corner... and I CANNOT WAIT! It’s one of my favorite seasons, the other being the fall. I hate too hot, I hate too cold. Give me a 70 degree day with a little breeze and call me happy! And with the changing season in mind, I’m getting excited to be able to get out and move about. I am craving to take long walks by the bay again. It’s been so frigid cold and we’ve been bombarded with snow storm after snow storm so that’s been impossible. I do ski whenever I can and love the snow but at this moment it has lost me as a fan.
The biggest thing I am excited for is my new bicycle that my hubby gave me for my 58th birthday in January. It’s a hybrid which means its good on roads as well as dirt paths. And it means he did his due diligence. It also means he fully supports me and that keeps me going. #Blessed I have not ridden a bike in many years but when I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s our bikes were everything to us. I simply cannot wait to get the wind in my face free spirited feeling again. I am so excited that I may even put the baseball cards in my spokes!
It’s much harder in the cold winter months to find the motivation or the energy to exercise. Combine the weather with a quarantine and you find it's easy to fall into a state of sedation. And if we don’t have the right atmosphere and space to move at home it’s nearly impossible to gain any incentive. I remember Oprah once saying that, if you feel stressed and anxious go clean a closet. The organization relieves it. So find yourself a corner and claim it. But now, let’s keep going with that strategy… organizing our time is just as beneficial, if not more. What’s more stressful than running out of time to accomplish our goals whether on a daily or a weekly or even a monthly basis? If you want to stay healthy and fit then you need to put exercise into your schedule. Plain & simple.
Thinking back to springs past… Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s with a touch of the 80’s before I became an adult… we roller skated in streets and at rinks and turned jumping rope and hopscotch into competitive sports. I often think of all the things I used to do when I was young and yearn to do them all again. Red Rover Red Rover! Obviously we can't do all the things we did when we were young. You have to know your body and you have to know your limits and separate them from fears. My bones fracture easily so I’ll probably never roller skate again. I’m not afraid to, I’m just being sensible. Thinking like that doesn't make me feel like I'm missing out because I took the control and made this decision. If that decision is made out of a fear that we can't or shouldn't because of what we will look like doing it... then we let it hold us back as if someone is not allowing us to do it and we will probably regret it.
When I reflect back I sometimes think of my Mom on her 40th birthday. I remember that we had some relatives over for cake and I walked into the kitchen to find my Mom at the sink, both arms leaning on the counter at each side with her head down. I don’t know if she knew I was there at first, but I walked in and asked her what’s wrong. And she replied, “if one more person asks me what it feels like to be 40… It’s just the day after yesterday and unless I’m looking in the mirror, when I look out through my eyes, I’m not a day older than 16.” Immediately I sensed her frustration, that I never saw before. Yet I often feel now.
"Back then" our Moms didn’t work and they wore house dresses all day and never minded running to the grocery store in them… with curlers in their hair to boot! But I'd heard so many stories about how my Mom danced and ice skated when she was younger. She stopped doing those things and it wasn't from fear of injury. It was the stigma. Whether it was "You're a Mom now" or "that's not appropriate behavior for your age." Just saying that quietly in my own head right now I feel the frustration she had.
These days we have it a lot better though. And we should be grateful! 50 is the new 30, if you ask me. Today we have the chance to still be young if we so choose to be. No one bats an eye at me in my biker shorts jogging by the bay or at the gym lifting tires. And to be real honest most of the people I meet on my paths, whether they're walking, running, biking or got rollerblades on, are around my age. I don’t see anyone our age ridiculing anyone else for trying. We are who we are and if we want to be at our best we must let go of fears. They simply trick us into leading a boring life. Put on the shorts and get the heck out there and just do what you love to do. You’d be so amazed at how internally uplifting and empowering it is. AGE IS A STATE OF MIND. Ignore the number and do the things you want to do. For me that's getting on my new bicycle, riding again and feeling like a kid! I simply cannot wait. I have all my protective gear, head, elbow, wrists and knees and I'm ready to go the first nice day we get! Anticipation is one of the greatest feelings! When you have something to look forward to it keeps you going mentally. So let the wheels within you start spinning! Think about the spring and what it is that you yearn to do.
I'd love to know what that is! Drop me a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And I'll let you know how it goes with me next month! Meet me back here in April! ~ Tracy
Let’s go back to my first 2 blogs where we acknowledge the idea that it’s a healthy body that leads to a healthy mind. All my bogs are still viewable if you keep scrolling down on my page. But, with all my heart and soul I believe that now. It’s not the other way around. We feed our body, we feed our mind. We exercise our body we exercise our mind. We become strong and strength brings a healthy confidence and we’re able to embrace ourselves and be proud of ourselves. It’s an amazing feeling.
I hear so many people my age and older saying how depressed they feel. The holidays are over and so is the busy-ness of it all. But the hustle and bustle that’s usually replaced with “the norm” can’t be now because these days we don’t even know what normal is anymore. Nothing is the way we are used to it being and the world outside seems bleak, so we stay inside and we isolate ourselves away from family and friends.
When I began my physical fitness career almost 30 years ago, it was for all the wrong reasons. I was 29 and struggling internally with negative thoughts of being inadequate, not fitting in... not being thin and pretty enough. To me, THIN was pretty. Inside my mind, exercise was just a way a way to lose weight. And at 110lbs I wanted to lose weight. :/ I was depressed and trying hard not to show it to the world because I really did not have anything to be depressed about. It was all inside me, all coming from years of being berated over and over by the voice inside. My voice. It seems strange to me when they say an eating disorder is all about control, though I recognize it is. But looking back now I see how much control I actually let go of and let the voice take.
Eating disorders and depression go hand in hand. And why? The main reason is because of the failure to maintain a healthy weight. The results can be tragic. As per webMD Studies show that anorexics are 50 times more likely than the general population to die as a result of suicide.
Per Betterhelp.com: The benefits of regularly exercising are plentiful. Regular exercise can improve your cardiovascular health while also making you stronger and leaner. But did you know that it can also improve your mental health? Whether you seek a supplemental treatment to help manage your depression or are dealing with a stressful project at work, starting to exercise for mental health can benefit you greatly.
So, how does exercise connect to your mental health exactly? Multiple studies have found that exercise can help relieve stress and anxiety. This decrease in negative emotions can be attributed to the added levels of endorphins, and serotonin exercising produces. These chemicals are known to improve one’s mood and sense of well-being. Working out can also help you take your mind off the different stressors you are facing. Maybe you need help coping with a divorce or a recent setback in life. Exercising can help alleviate anxieties and stress over these events while also helping you build your confidence. As a result, regularly exercising can continue to improve your mental health over time.
Other benefits of exercise include:
Improvement in sleeping patterns· Better memory· Feeling more energetic throughout the day· Increased self-confidence and self-esteem· Being motivated to choose healthy methods to handle stress· Improved mood and outlook on life· Feeling more positive· A decrease in stress and anxiety· Having access to an inexpensive method of managing mental illness
And as per the Jed Foundation, in as quickly as just 5 minutes into physical activity, individuals can notice an enhancement in their mood… Exercise can help alleviate depression.
Going by all this information, it’s actually imperative that we exercise at our age.
So here I am after all these years getting back into physical fitness. But it’s different now. I can feel it. It took years to really understand that the voice was something I could control and once I did that I started my journey to becoming… me. I’m working out to “feel” good, not look good. When I exercise, I get into my head and think clearer than ever. And when I’m done, I feel exhilarated and strong. And healthy. And confidant. And all of that makes me feel beautiful.
This month I turned 58. I’m 129lbs. I saw my youngest get married. I put on the MOB dress, did my make-up and hair and I looked in the mirror and you know what my first thought was? I said, “eh. You look ok.” Now I’ve never been one to give myself compliments so that’s actually huge. But what it reflects is I’m no longer the 30 year old woman looking in the mirror thinking “I’m so fat” at 110lbs. I’m now the 58 year old woman who at nearly 130lbs is willing to accept that any flaws I have are simply characteristics of who I am and recognizing that I worked hard to get where I am and that I am just fine the way I am. Maybe I looked gorgeous that day like my husband said. That felt good, yes but more to the point, when I looked in the mirror, I was simply fine being pretty, to myself.
I don’t like to keep regrets. As long as I know I have tried my very best, I keep moving forward with my head held high and my heart content. Whenever I do look back I don’t have many because I truly try to see the lessons within everything. But the one regret I do have, is the waste of time. When I think I could have been feeling the way I do now all along. Yet, as I said before perhaps, I couldn’t realize that then because I wasn’t old enough to understand it all. That is the most magnificent testimony to the true beauty of aging. The quiet strength that has developed over the years and the wisdom that seems to magically appear along with it.
I learned a little game that simplifies the obvious and clarifies in my head where I want to be, how I want to feel as opposed to how I may be feeling. Below are 2 lists of words. You choose which you want to feel more like. Each and every day, look at these lists and just mentally take one from the first list and replace it with one from the 2nd list. Then that entire day think of that positive word that you just brought in. Think of how you can achieve feeling like that.
I want to feel….
Like something is missing Satisfied
The choice really is yours. You really do have the control... how do you really want to feel?
I leave you now with the tips below... Have a great Feb and I'll see you in March! ~ Tracy
De-COM-pression time/Reality check:
CREATE the time FOR YOU!
The floor does not have to be vacuumed everyday! Wake up 1 hour earlier just 3 days a week!
Screw the damn dishes in the sink. They’ll get done eventually!
I’ve heard it said that the secret to life is finding the right balance to everything you do. But balance is not something you find… it is something you create, so says Jana Kingsford. And it’s important to do so. So say the professionals. We’ll get back to that in a minute….
Finding time is sometimes not so easy and when we can’t, we feel robbed of the chance to do what we want. Which is also probably what we need. Between work and home, women are often pulled in different directions and a greater percentage of that time is spent helping others. We all know that one trait of a woman is to push herself aside to concentrate on the needs of her family and friends. So, it’s no wonder we are sometimes shocked when we look in the mirror, because we were not paying attention. Suddenly, it’s time to pay attention. Always bear in mind that what you see in the mirror, no matter what you look like, is not a reflection of your soul. That’s where your true beauty and spirit come from. But it is a reflection of the time that has passed by while you were not paying attention to yourself. Whether it’s puffy eyes or saggy bottoms what you see in the mirror determines your mood most days. Not one of you can say I’m wrong about that. If you like what you see, then you feel good. If you don’t… then you don’t. If the clothes fit, it’s a good day. If they don’t you’re an irritable biotch. Erase from your mind that this has anything to do with how beautiful you are. What it is, is the internal need and the desire to be better, stronger, healthier, and more confident. The want for our clothes to flatter us. To not have to hide under bulky sweaters. To not suffocate in pants that are about to burst their button. And then we think, “ugh… at my age to get started now….” which can lead to the downward spiral within you. THAT effects everyone around you. If you think about it, taking care of yourself is a lot like being on the plane when the oxygen mask drops down. They say give it to yourself first so you can be most effective helping others. When you're feeling good about yourself you're apt to make those around you feel good about themselves.
Use every excuse in the book but what it comes down to is your will and you finding…no, creating the time to find your balance. The weather is colder now so my walks have become less frequent. And now that I am back at work, I have little time in my mornings to do anything more than a 15 minute stretch. I come home from work Mon thru Friday at around 6pm. I cook a healthy dinner for my husband and I, clean up, set up the coffee for the next morning and then I take 45 minutes to do my workout each and every night. I call it my 8pm workout and I hold myself to it. I find that no matter how tired I feel, if I give it the same importance as my having to be at work diligently, once I push myself to get started, I automatically fall into my routine and feel awesome afterwards for doing so. Then every weekend, I keep my time flexible but carve out a solid 2 hours that I fit in wherever I can. I had to adjust... it's quite different from my nice weather routine but continuing to making ME important is not selfish for the reasons I've stated above. And more....
Finding the time for you is actually more necessary than you know. Yes for peace of your mind and love of yourself but let’s bring in another kind of balance; the physical kind. It’s no secret loss of muscle leads to loss of strength. According to a recent article in Seniorsmatter.com, that loss in strength in turn affects balance and coordination. It’s important to keep that in mind when you are just starting to work out. You need to know your body, how it moves on a daily basis, what hurts when doing what…. Be mindful of that when exercising even it’s a movement you’ve done before and feel you know well. Balance is crucial. It keeps us from falling or moving wrong and injuring ourselves.
Take the newest craze, the “figure 8”. They’re driving me crazy with all these commercials showing these young skinny tone girls so easily maneuvering their mid section into the motion of a the number 8. Now, figure 8’s are amazing for your obliques and all your core muscles but it only takes 1/8 of an inch off course to slip something out of whack. I tell you, proceed with caution. Work them into your routine gradually. After a while you’ll become a pro and can brag about it! 😉
Muscles naturally shrink with age so we all find that we are not as strong as we once were. Without exercise, every movement no matter how big or how small can become more difficult over time. But the good news is that muscle loss can be reversed. Increasing your muscle strength, endurance and mass improves your physical ability and leads to better mobility . And how do we do that? By lifting weights. 😊 How many of you just gasped? Not kidding! Not only will lifting light weights tone you and build your muscle mass it will strengthen your bones and that strength bring back your balance. In addition to that, there are so many serious health issues that light weight lifting can actually help to reverse. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, "Low levels of estrogen and other changes related to aging (like gaining weight) can raise your risk of heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis." However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an exercise program that includes lifting weights can help reduce the signs and symptoms of many diseases and chronic conditions, including obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, back pain, and even some forms of cancer.
Do I have your attention now? It’s simple; start off with 2lb weights. One in each hand. Strap some ankle weights on. Push yourself just a little more each time. Work up to 4lb weights. Work up to 8lb. Do it gradually and only increase when the weight you’re using feels useless, or too easy. You will find that as you increase weights and your muscles build the little things like going up and down steps or just getting out of bed in the morning are no longer an issue. And you will feel more energetic and have more confidence in yourself.
If arthritis is an issue as it is with me, and you find grabbing and holding on to your weights is a little difficult, you can find "pro grip rings" at most Sporting Goods stores. They're easy and comfortable rings you wear on your fingers that help grip the weights.
And for those of you who are having balance problems at the beginning, this is where that Booty Kicker (that I told you about in my last blog) comes in. It is perfect for balance! Try it with your squats. As long as you’re not using it to lift up with your arms and use it for balance only.
It would be great to hear how you created your balance! Send me a note to email@example.com and write my name in the subject field. We're all in this together and having support is so important! I'd love to cheer you on!
And I hope you all have happy, safe and healthy holidays! With the rush and the stress of it all, remain diligent and determined and take care of yourself!
This month I weighed in at 127lbs. That’s good!! Though that may sound a bit crazy coming from me. But my healthy mind now understands that muscle weighs more. And that being too skinny at my age only actually makes me look older. I want to show the world that, at #MY57 I feel like I am healthier than ever, stronger than ever and smarter than ever before. And THAT is what makes me feel BEAUTIFUL.
To offer a little background on my fitness history, when I was 29 years old, I became a certified aerobics and fitness instructor. For almost 6 years I taught step aerobics. I was healthy then, healthier than I’d ever been and that was after having 2 babies. Unfortunately, my career ended when I tore the ligament in my knee in a freak accident. During recoup, 6 long months of it, I got lazy. I ended up following a different career path at that time, one that had me mostly sitting 9 to 5. Naturally, I lost muscle and over those years, gained weight. The next 10 years would see me battling on and off with my eating disorder that had started when I was 16, It had subsided quite a bit when I was an instructor but I don’t think I realized that back then. If I did I dismissed the thought because I was only paying attention to the negatives inside my head. So, perhaps that old adage of “with age comes wisdom” is indeed true because, now as I look back on myself, I wish I could shake me and tell myself that I just needed to take the control back and drown out the negative voices by filling my soul with the things that would give me a more empowering outcome. I wonder if at that time it would have made a difference or, did I have to live all these years to understand it? One of the greatest things about aging is the education you carry within you.
Now here I am getting back into it after all these years and I feel really good… yet I find that even though I have all the muscle and the strength to throw a good punch, I cannot open a water bottle or a jar to save my life! Arthritis is a real bitch but I operate on the fact that… so am I. The covid made my arthritis worse and I could let it slow me down, on some days it does, but I had spent too much of my life letting things stop me from being who I really wanted to be. Things like fears and insecurities that often lead me to having nothing more than false hopes. I got over those, so I certainly was not going to let arthritis do it. Like I said in my last blog, it takes determination, and we all have that deep down within us. It’s one of those tools often thrown to the bottom of the toolbox. I’ve been asked why I would work out like I do if it hurts and all I can say in response is that the pain eventually goes away but the results of what I’ve done for my body and mind are long lasting.
We really need to embrace the beauty of the strength and wisdom within us. You are not any less beautiful because you have wrinkles or gray hair. You are more beautiful when you accept that and embrace it because you give off that aura of confidence. THAT’S beautiful! But in truth, never mind what you are portraying to the world! I think that’s one of those things we “old ladies” come to find. That it’s more about what you feel inside. Look, it’s only natural that “at our age” we start looking back and wishing we could be young and beautiful “again.” There is not 1 of us that hasn’t. It’s like us having the “you had your chance” moment. Wow. Stop that! I hung around with someone who always denied their age and it really annoyed me. My Mom died from breast cancer at the age of 52. Getting older and having the ability to do so much more and make so many more memories with the people you love is really a privilege. But I do sometimes wonder about when or how time started and who decided we would age each year. Who put that numerical stamp on us? I get that it’s a celebration, but It shouldn’t just be one of age. It should be a celebration how long we have been here to enhance the lives around us. The way society is now, “ageing” has become somewhat of a competition that some women will take drastic measures to win. Instead of admiring someone’s life for the years they lived, we ridicule and “seek treatment” for the process we all naturally go through. There is too much emphasis on the obscured definition of beauty and not in what is real, spectacular, ever-lasting beauty. The kind that shines from within and lights up a room. You find that within you when you feel strong and healthy and confident. So whatever it is that makes you feel that way I implore you to just get up and go do it!
Any workout will work if you stick to it, but you need to choose one that you know you will have fun with so you will enjoy and look forward to doing it. Pick one that you know you will follow through with because the key is to really keep up with it. You won’t see results immediately and that’s why a lot of people fail because they expect that, in just 2 weeks they will see a huge difference. When they don’t they let the disappointment take them to a bad headspace and give up. You need to realize that it just doesn’t work like that. Just give it an additional 2 weeks and you will see physical results. Remember that, especially at the over 50 mark, metabolism slows down so it may take us a little longer but STICK WITH IT! DON’T QUIT! Quitting is the thing that depresses us because we feel like we’ve failed. And in reality, we have failed if we quit. So, don’t fail! Continuing with it will empower you! That’s a promise!
Ok so let’s talk about the 2 most popular types of at home workouts: Pilates and Xtend Barre. BOTH are great workouts that are easily done at home. Now, as I stated in my last blog about a diet needing to fit you in order to stick with it, that is true for your exercise routine as well. Do your research, go onto YouTube and find some workouts. Try a few of them out until you find one that excites you enough to keep coming back to it. Pilates really does need some instruction until you get the hang of it.
Pilates is a type of exercise called Contrology. Its all low impact movements that are controlled and held. It focuses on flexibility, posture, core muscular strength and endurance. A lot of times people will see the apparatus that goes along with Pilates, i.e.: the Pilates table and get a little frightened but Pilates is easy enough to do at home as a floor or standing exercise without all that. All you’ll need is a floor mat and your favorite workout video that can guide you. YouTube is full of them. Remember this is just to get you started on figuring what works best for you. Later on you may opt to join an exercise program/class. There are some very well worth ones out there but always and again what works for me may not work for you so just search though some and find a few you like and feel good doing.
Pilates uses movements such as “The 100” or the “Elephant and the “Swan” all done in order one after the other and are very precise, strong movements. Technique is very key with Pilates. You most likely won’t sweat during Pilates as there no cardio workout involved so you won’t burn calories either. But you will feel your muscles working and you will feel stronger, in mind as well as body.
Xtend Barre is great because it’s designed for all levels of fitness. You just go along at your pace and do what you can do at the level you are at. This is still a low impact exercise, but some routines may just get you sweating as your movements are quicker than they are with Pilates. There is still control in your movements but it's emphasis is more on repetition than duration. Many Barre routines include Pilates movements so you get a cross mix. Xtend barre uses a bar, like a ballet bar, which is great for those who need help with balance. Now you could be thinking “how the heck am I going to get a ballet bar in my home?” Well, for 1 thing, see my video below... I have a simple inexpensive solution but for a 2nd thing… you can use your kitchen counter or the back of a bar stool or chair! Again you can subscribe to a class or download an app but in the beginning I suggest you first see what's out there on YouTube and make sure this is the exercise you want to do and know you will keep up with.
If you are going to choose an online class I do recommend the OPENFIT classes. They are fun & easy to follow and often offer challenges that help you set goals and reach them!
Check out OPENFIT: follow.https://www.openfit.com/plans/xtend-barre/?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=paid_social&utm_campaign=video&utm_term=prospecting&utm_content=XTND&fbclid=IwAR2zxgbE_oM1Ruqj_0sotguZaaR_xDm1FC818tklSDQuMso7rfpIInmnmfk
I found Xtend Barre to be a refreshing step up from Pilates. Pilates uses a lot of concentration which is great for the mind as well. Xtend Barre is a little hipper and more fun and changes the pace a little so I like to switch between the 2. Whichever you choose, do what you can to get started. It’s not a race! Monitor your time only so you can see how much further you can take yourself the next time. Very quickly you will see that you can get a 45 minute workout in.
One of the first things you notice when you replace simple carbs with high-fiber foods is that your belly may flatten out. The reason: Most Americans only take in 15 of the recommended 25 to 38 grams per day, according to the Institute of Medicine. As a result, the healthy gut microbes that keep us lean have less to munch on, and the unhealthy microbes—which feast on sugar—take over. Those are the little buggers that cause bloating, and make your belly look bigger than it actually is. “Bumping up fiber can help promote healthy regularity,” says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition.
Eat This! Start with simple swaps that feel natural to you. Trade the white bread for whole-grain or add some beans to tacos and stir-fry. And if you’re hungry between meals, reach for raw nuts. “Nuts are a great source of fiber and healthy fat, which can help fight inflammation in the body and also promote digestion,” Smith adds.
I know the power within me now. I know for the first time in my life that I can stick with my healthy life style... because it makes me feel really really good about myself and I want to live the rest of my life HAPPY & HEALTHY! THIS IS #MY57
I'll be back with a new blog December 1st!
Until then, stay healthy and remember to make every move purposeful!
Here are my best tips for getting into motion...
Make every move purposeful. What I mean by that is, concentrate on the part of your body, down to the muscle that is moving when you are going about your day. For example, bending down to get something off the floor: concentrate on the bend and the arms reaching out and lifting. It’s also a good opportunity for a squat. 😉 Ok, so 1 squat will do what? Well, you won’t believe the power you feel when you use your mind with your muscle movement. 1 squat could empower you to do another. Then 3. Think about when you unload the dishwasher? Cabinets above, use the biceps to reach the shelf. Lower cabinets… another squat or lower back bend. Maybe while you’re at it a nice spinal stretch. Remember to keep those knees slightly bent a little. What ever the movement think about it while you are doing it. What happens is you begin to feel a sense of control and that leads to a power that will change your whole mindset.
Every morning, plank for however long you can. A plank is when your body is perpendicular to the ground, stomach facing down, elevating your torso off the ground with either your elbows or hands. Think of an extended push up. Never exceed 2 minutes though. You’ve accomplished everything you need to within that 2 minutes and it can be counter productive on your spine.
If you can only do it for 10 seconds… GOOD for you! The next day strive for 15 seconds! And the next day 20. You will build up to the 2 minutes eventually and quickly if you do this every day. C’mon, who can’t find 2 minutes? Planking is one of the best ways to improve your core muscles. See photo a to the side. Once you have a strong core you develop better posture, balance and overall strength and the rest is easy because, by that time you will have the desire inside of you to keep going. It's that empowering.
Whenever you have 15 minutes, turn on your favorite upbeat song and move to it! Swing your hips, do the cha-cha... the grapevine... just get moving in a way that makes you happy to move.
WALK! Around the block, up to the store... lunch break at work or "me time" after. WALK!
Do you see what I mean? NO excuses now! Busy people have to either make or find time. And let me be blunt; lazy people need to stop making excuses.