I don’t know about you, but I am noticing many changes in my body the last couple of years as I enter my mid-50s. My body doesn’t respond as quickly to weight loss. Physical fitness changes one used to expect to see after a normalized regimen of exercise are taking much longer to occur. Skin is changing on my face and limbs, and new aches and pains appear depending on the day and the weather. Sex drive and even a liking for your significant other seems to be in question on most days, for no apparent reason. What is going on and how do we navigate these kinds of changes?
Aging is inevitable, right? But there is a difference between aging and aging beautifully where we feel good, where we move freely and where our outlook is positive instead of diminished for the days and years ahead. First things first: knowledge is key! When you’re equipped with information, you can create a plan and take steps to age the best way you can. So, a little about what is going on in your body…
People, particularly women after menopause, lose bone mass and density as they age, reducing calcium and other important minerals as well as overall height. Even the bones of our face change. Eye sockets become larger when our eyebrows recede, resulting in wrinkles between the brows, crow’s feet and sometimes hallowing or bulging of fluid below our eyes. The lower jawbone also recesses, causing less structure and definition in our lower face. Dentists are often the first to notice bone loss when they do annual x-rays of the teeth, commonly resulting in both tooth loss and gum issues.
Our skin also changes. It is at the mercy of many hazards. Our lifestyle: what we eat, drink, smoke, how we sleep, and our stress levels all have an impact on our skin. Remember, your skin is the largest organ of your body, so it is going to be on display as a mirror of your general health. Our facial skin is the first to tell us when we haven’t had enough sleep or when we’re in a state of mild dehydration. Genetics and previous sun exposure from our youth also play a factor in the condition of our skin as we age. And because women talk much more than our male counterparts, we often have more volume loss issues around our lower face than men do. This loss of definition is the biggest area of complaint I hear from my clients. Our mouths start to sag, our lips retreat into our mouths, our chins begin to disappear, and we often develop marionette lines at the corners of our mouths that head downward toward our chins.
What to do about these changes? Start today before bone loss get’s the best of you.
You’ve heard it a million times before. Exercise, or as I like to call it, physical activity, is POWER when it comes to holding back the effects of age on our bodies. Do you want to be the gal that needs help to get something off the floor or from a high shelf as you age, or do you want to be able to do these things for yourself? Movement is key to being able to maintain your mobility. The best way to keep your joints limber and your muscles as strong as they can be is to keep moving. Walking is great but it is very linear meaning the same movement repetitively in the same direction. Shaking up your routine, doing activities that cause you to keep your shoulders, hips, knees, ankles and feet flexible and able to rotate or go different directions is vital. Yoga is a great option for this. Dance is also great. Pilates is another strength builder. Chores around the house are good but again a limited option for those important joints of yours. Doing weight bearing activities strengthens your muscles, which in turn strengthens your bones. In fact, women with a few extra pounds on them get the effects of weight bearing when they are active.
Staying hydrated, particularly with water is important. I’ve had people tell me, “I don’t like water.” Well, your body is 60% water so I would try to like water because your body needs to replenish its water supply. Think of a beautiful ripe grape. It is round, the skin is taut, and it feels full when you pick it up. Now what happens when you let that grape sit on the kitchen counter for a week? It begins to lose its shape, wilt, and wrinkle. This is what happens to our bodies when we don’t water them. There are all kinds of ways to flavor water to make it more interesting: a slice of fruit, powders and flavoring are all readily available.
There are many other ways to help you navigate aging that we are going to discuss in following blog posts, but these are two of the main ones to get started on. Don’t wait a day. The job is yours to embrace the journey as you age. Seize the day and years ahead!