Fabulously fit for 40 and beyond…a journey in progress

Once upon a time in a life far away, I used to care a lot about both my looks and my weight. Then life smacked me upside the head and there was little time to care about such things. I eventually gained weight, took it off, kept it off and gained some of it back. Pretty much that shitty struggle many of us have. For the past several months I have been on the fence about actively doing anything about the weight, instead committing to just finding balance in my life with regards to what I eat and how I move my ass.

Yet as I slowly edge closer to 40 (less than 6 months away now) I have been in serious talks with myself about how I want to treat this temple known as my body. Frankly it depresses me to think about ever returning to Weight Watchers or any diet program. While the idea of just living a life compatible with the health at every size ideology resonates with me, after a few months of playing around with it, I must confess it simply isn’t working.

I figured this out recently when after a few months of not limiting myself in what I ate but also realizing my clothes aren’t fitting and that I feel like shit physically. Turns out carbs hate me and my daily carb fest is packing on the pounds. Also when left to my own devices and not being intentional I hate exercising, then again I was the kid who managed to fail gym in high school multiple times. I love yoga but yoga is a mental thing for me and while I am flexible as hell these days and can do all sorts of silly party tricks with my body, my body is like move me lady!

At first all this body shit was coming from a place of vanity but now it’s about living well and living long. My gene pool to be frank sucks ass. On both my mom and dad’s sides of the family, people don’t live long and it’s not just a few people. Neither of my dad’s parents lived to a ripe old age, my mom’s dad checked out at 54, and then my own mom kicked the bucket 4 days after turning 50.  None of which is exactly a winning endorsement for any expectation of a long life for me.

One common thread in my family is that none of my relatives took care of themselves. Most were overweight and affected with ailments such as diabetes and hypertension and problems that eventually morphed and claimed their lives. Looking at all the women in my family with the exception of my mom, we all share a certain build, one that predisposes us to carrying weight smack in the middle. Apparently carrying extra weight around the middle is bad.

I am going to be honest I had been mulling all this over and making some baby steps which have me seeing some results but a call last night has me now fully committed to changing my lifestyle. My aunt, my mom’s remaining sister (another sister died at 34, collapsed and died) is barely in her 50’s and suffering from congestive heart failure and it’s not looking too good. My aunt much like my mom and many other relatives who are gone now, enjoyed life, ate, drank, smoked and got merry. Now like her 2 sisters before her and a brother she is facing a premature death.

Maintaining optimal health for me is unfortunately tied to my weight, and I admit that is a hard pill to swallow. But I don’t want to end up swallowing pills on a daily basis to stay alive like most of my family so the alternative is a shift in mindset, so as I wrap up my 30’s, I am kicking off my personal quest to be fabulously fit at 40 and beyond because I want to make sure my 40’s aren’t my last full decade of life. I want to do everything possible to ensure that my kids don’t know the pain of losing me when I am still relatively young. I want to live to see my kids grow up (okay I am technically halfway there with the 20 year old) and I want to see grandbabies. I want to be the fabulous Grammy in her 70’s and beyond. So while I am not quite ready to run back to Weight Watchers or anything like that I am getting serious about this maintaining health thing.

To keep myself honest I will periodically share my journey in this space which I expect will have its ups and downs but that’s the thing about a journey. It’s a process and while in my case the end goal is important, so are the lessons I learn along the way.

For readers 40 and beyond, I would love to know if you made any lifestyle changes as you got older that you never would have considered when you were younger?

7 thoughts on “Fabulously fit for 40 and beyond…a journey in progress”

  1. Not 40 yet either, but my biggest motivation for eating healthy food and staying active is setting a good example for my daughter. I don’t want her to suffer from preventable health problems, and I certainly don’t want to lead her right into them. If she chooses later in life to be sedentary and not eat healthy foods that is fine because it is her choice, but I want to give her a good foundation. I have friends my age who are parents now struggling with chronic health issues caused by a lifetime of poor nutrition. By the time they left home as young adults they were at a severe disadvantage, health-wise. They want to do better by their kids, and they are! Children do as we do, not as we say.

  2. Good luck with this journey. I’ve tried the whole intuitive eating/health at every size thing and it packed on 20 lbs. I realized that I have a problem with food. I am working hard to face those problems… but it is rough. I am only 26, and I feel like I’ll be fighting forever, maybe I will be… but at least I am not giving up (for now).

  3. I really applaud your honesty and reflection in this piece. While I’m not over 40 yet, I can definitely understand this juggling act of healthy living. My Mom is super unhealthy and has underwent many surgeries including brain surgery. Twice. She has never taken care of herself…except for now. After a knee replacement. She reminds me not to be reactive, but to be proactive with my life and my health. You said it right when you said it’s about “living well and living long” and we’ve got to keep focused on that. Great post.

  4. I am 32 but I can feel and see a big difference in my body going from even say, 27 to now. Things have changed an a lot of that had to do with getting married and getting comfortable and putting on 10 or 15 pounds but it also has to do with being older and moving to Maine. I don’t walk as much anymore and I don’t bike as much anymore. It is just harder to do here than in a big city (like Toronto or Chicago) Once you are out of Portland the bike lanes are few and far between…BUT today I decided to change things and I biked the damn 12 miles to work (and it will be another 12 home). Not to say you have to jump in and go that far BUT biking is a great, low impact way to make a change. I feel like when I am active and walking and biking I can eat pretty much what I want, and it isn’t an issue. I do however try and stick to what one of the other commenters said; simple, fresh food that does not come out of a box, bag or can.

    I used to work at Curves, and I don’t suggest you go anywhere near that place (it’s like a cult!) but some of their diet ideas made a lot of sense. Grazing on small snacks that are high in protein throughout the day really helps. pair that with something slow digesting, like oatmeal or a fiber bar really regulates my energy and blood sugar and I don’t fiend for chips and ice cream w hen I get home at 4pm.

    A lot of it is about feeling good about taking time to be fit. I feel guilty when I take that time for myself occasionally since I feel like i could be doing other more “productive” things like chores and who knows what. There is really nothing more important to me or to my family than me being healthy though. I try and remember that.

  5. I really believe living in Maine makes us lazy. This is such a chill laidback state. For me Kettlebells is the only thing that I enjoy doing on a regular and not so regular basis. But I don’t know if it’s just because I love my instructors. And the only food plan that has worked for me constantly is incorporating the foods from the bellyfat diet and making my portions smaller.

  6. Girl, it’s good to see you taking these steps. I am still 4 years away from 40 but I hope I can share some thoughts on your (our) journey.

    As a lifelong athlete, at 35 I understand that staying fit is no longer about vanity for me but about my mental and emotional well-being. Exercise is my way of being a warrior through life–especially as someone who has struggled with depression as one point in another. Having a nice, fit body is but one of the end results. But, that isn’t want motivates me. Because of this, I will work out as long as my body allows me to. For me, it’s about discipline and commitment. If I can commit to taking care of my body, I can commit to anything (good).

    One question I have for you: do you really feel that you need WW? At the end of the day, it’s processed food. And, in my humble opinion, part of being healthy is eating food as unprocessed as possible. I really think you can do it without WW, especially if you are going to low carb it. I wouldn’t even worry about calories in the beginning but, instead, focus on eating as clean and healthy as possible.

    Good luck on your journey. Again, I am very happy for you. Exercise is going to create wonders in your life.

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