Here I sit with a lot of silvery white hair and no-line bifocals getting a bit of entertainment from those who are entering the point of life where I sit. When someone I know turns 40, they are often perplexed at the loss of hair (men), the gray hair sprouts (mine came in my early 30s), and the middle-aged middle. Invariably, a newly 40s friend or relative will comment, "Space aliens came in the middle of the night, snatched my body, and left this behind!" Midlife is a point in life where we have just as much to look forward to as what we have to see what is behind us. It is all in our point of view.
It seems that new-to-midlifers finally stopped what they were doing to take notice of their present status. It's harder on women, I think. Many discover that their waists are gone, breasts are perched on the shelf of their bellies, and their derrieres are broader than they remembered. Face it, when we have babies, our bodies are never the same as they were before. Of course, for men, the belly flop over the belt isn't as noticeable to them until they have to buy larger waist pants. After all, they measure the waist at the top of the hips, not the natural waist line. Is the onset of midlife a " be fat" sentence? Is it the step on the banana peel at the precipice of old age? There are people who would have you believe so, but I think otherwise.
What happens at mid-life is a natural shift of hormones because we are working our way out of the childbearing years. Yes, our bodies were supposed to be attractive for our spouse, or to attract a one. Now, our hormones make a big shift out of baby-making gear into empty-nest gear. As a result, we do thicken some in the middle at menopause, but we don't have to become fat.Our bodies still can be attractive, but for our current age.We would do well to avoid joining the restaurant loving crowd every week. Instead, spend more of your time with people who live a healthy lifestyle and cook for themselves. Our meals should consist of plenty of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Those vitamins and minerals are very important to maintain great health as we age. We could also use to lighten up on those carbs, although we still need them. While women have more testosterone in their bodies at this point, ladies would do well to avoid foods like bacon, butter, the fried chicken, and alcohol.These foods make you more round in the middle, although firm, because now you will put on fat more like men. Yes, men, you should, too. The DASH eating plan by the USDA is a great plan to follow to help protect your heart, arteries, and general health at midlife, while keeping your midlife middle slimmer.
Some midlife 'tweeners cringe at the thought of exercise because of sore or achy joints when it is time to move. We need to be more physically active and stay away from the sit-eat-and-gab-all-the-time groups. The very thing we avoid is the very thing we need! Our joints and muscles naturally stiffen because we have less collagen in our skin, muscles, and connective tissue. Pain usually comes from tightness and damaged joints called. Also, concerns of osteoporosis and osteopenia are more of a concern for most women. Movement is vital to our health, outlook on life, and our view of ourselves.
Our exercise needs are different than when we were in our 20s or 30s. Basic cardiovascular exercise is extremely important to maintain healthy artery walls, heart muscle, and lungs. While exercising, deep diaphragmatic breathing is extremely important to maintain great cardiopulmonary function. Those tiny muscles that control the expansion and contraction of the ribcage need exercise with deep breathing. Strength training should be total body, not spot training, to keep bones and muscles strong, but also to maintain proper body alignment. A Pilates class would be a great way to learn how to breathe properly, strengthen and tone, and build balance, while helping to align the body safely. Water exercise may be more appealing for aging athletes because the bouyancy reduces stress on lower body joints which are typically affected by arthritis. I recommend tethered running by time for those who loved to run. Cycling and elliptical are great replacements for running. Great exercise forms to increase stamina, balance, and agility are PraiseMoves and WhollyFit,alternatives to yoga, and SloFlo, an alternative to Tai Chi, meaning these have removed the Eastern religious influence from them. As for Crossfit, HIIT, Russian-style kettlebells, and bootcamp classes, I don't recommend them for the average middle-aged adult because of the increased likelihood of injury, stroke, and heart attack.We can spend less time in the doctor's office and more time doing what we love. Exercise is key to remaining healthy and physically active for a longer time.
We can stand in this time appreciating the nice space of freedom in which we find ourselves. Our kids were great when they were home, but now that they are on their own, you will grieve their absence. A few ways to reduce the loneliness of empty-nest is through technology, spend more time with friends, and take up activities you couldn't do when they were home. Facetime, Skype, and many more options are great ways to connect with children and grandchildren. It's important to not pester them, though. Work out the times when it is convenient for both of you. If they live nearby, be respectful by checking with them before dropping in. They are now living the busy craziness you used to live. Church is a great place to make friends and become active in various ministries of the church. Some of the moms would love to be free to siting Sunday School and worship, so offer to spend time in the nursery or pre-school Sunday school classes. You also can spend more quality time in prayer and Bible study. Your faith walk can grow deeper with the Lord now more than ever.You can have a busy, full life if you look at what's ahead more than looking back at what was. Midlife has as much to look forward to as it has to look behind. Make the most of it.
May God bless you!
Resources to check out: