Life after 40: Prepare Yourself

You’ve heard so many stories about what happens when you turn 40 and beyond. Some are scary tales of medical debacles and new tests you should be aware of, others declare 40 is the new 20.

We all experience interesting changes as we age, but there are a few that I thought were myths until I faced them myself. I realized that being prepared for the inevitable would make my 40 feel more like 30 (I have no delusions of the 20 any longer).

Let’s not forget, we’re at that great age where we no longer have to live by our ego worry about being wrong, or carry the weight of perfection with every little thing around us. At this point, it’s about letting yourself go, enjoying any bad food we can, daily, forgetting our chores or paying your kids to do them and remembering we’re the ones that make the rules.

Okay, maybe there is a life in between there where we break through the shackles of what we’re “supposed to do” and completely letting things slide.

That said, there is a reality that faces most of us as our years climb but our minds and bodies want to keep doing what they’ve always done.

For instance, I would love to keep eating like I was 20. Not worrying and just deciding to run a marathon if I had too much cake, sweets or fried foods. Wake up one morning and after drinking chocolate milk and eating a pastry for breakfast, hit the road for a good 20-40 mile run. Okay, I never really did the 20 mile run, but a solid 5 still kept me from turning into a ball with legs. Now I have to be much more conscious of what I eat since my metabolism is on the downswing.

Studies have shown that while only a portion of the slow down of metabolism is age, there is an age related factor in how our bodies use and process food. It has a lot to do with muscle loss that changes over time. It’s natural; it’s not just us changing from crazy fit 20 year olds to old and lazy oldies – and we can’t stop it, but we can slow it down.

How? It’s time to consider ways you can challenge your body in a different way than you have in the past, and incorporating some new things. Trying Crossfit, high intensity interval training, mountain biking and other strength and cardio-blended exercises including the new PiYo (Pilates Yoga blend). This last one could mean the difference from picking that sock up off the floor or using the vacuum to help.

These changing fitness programs have proven to be very beneficial. Taking as little as 20 minutes, they result in great impact - not only on keeping muscle strength up, but challenging the body more dynamically. Another bonus, you don’t have to hit the gym unless you want to. These can be done at home, and there are many Apps that will give you programs to do on your own so it is affordable and flexible.

An added benefit for ladies? These activities also keep osteoporosis at bay. Women are more likely to be effected by this bone depleting issue than men, so anything that adds a little vibration or repetitive low impact keeps those bones dense.

Be prepared though, DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness) is real and two days after a new class the pain of trying to sit on the toilet made me wonder about Depends under garments.

That brings us to some other fun things that our 40 year-old selves are probably starting to notice but aren’t quite prepared for. Things like random hairs where there were none before, or the famous cough or sneeze requiring crossed legs to avoid bladder failure.

My mantra now, is to get ahead my age, to look forward to the new things that I will be able to explore like how glasses will look and how to laugh in public without peeing my pants.

I try not to fret about which one of my boobs will win the race to my belly button– now I just make bets.

It is this new discovery of myself at 40 that has put a smile on my face instead of a scowl. A scowl will leave more wrinkles and crows feet are endearing I’m told.

Here’s the best news. Resveratrol; an ingredient in wine that has proven to help with aging, also has a host of other health benefits. Highly controversial and requiring a lot more research. I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to be the guinea pig in that study.