Aging is Like Taking Care of Your Vintage Car…

Hey there y’all! I hope you enjoyed your start of February! My week was busy…and there was a full moon, so you can guess that it was also a bit crazy! But, I got to wake up every day, feeling like I could conquer the world, and healthy…which I am definitely learning, can be a blessing in the mid-life.

I was out walking the dog this morning and I heard someone mention on a podcast, that once we hit the mid life, we can still enjoy all the health benefits we had in our 30’s or 40’s, but we may need to make a few adjustments…and then he compared taking care of our aging bodies like caring for a good vintage car. I took note of this, as I grew up with a father who was obsessed with vintage cars and all he could do to make them great again…so I wanted to learn more.

What was being discussed totally made sense. When we buy the brand new car, we get the shine, the bells and whistles, the low maintenance, and the warranty in case something goes wrong (which it shouldn’t because even if we run it crazy, it is new and built to withstand the early wear and tear). Our bodies are much the same. When we are younger, we recover easier, quicker from a night out making bad decisions, sleepless nights, and over working our muscles. We may feel it some, but overall, with a small amount of adjustment, we can be back at it pretty quickly. This is not necessarily so for the vintage car, or the aging body. With a car, you must take care to keep scheduled maintenance, care for the worn interior (or replace it), and ensure that you are not “hot-rodding” it all over town on a regular basis. The aging body is no different. Proper and regular care, maintenance, and rest is often needed.

As I thought about this, and continued to listen, I began to think, at 51, I still am able to do most of the same physical activity as I could at 35. I may not be as fast, but I can still accomplish the work. At 51, I still suffer from occasional sleepless nights, and I may need an extra minute to catch up, but I can still function as a normal adult the following day. At 51, I can still say it is rare for me to be down and out with an illness or overstress, which I feel is because I take the time to care and nurture this aging body. All of these points were also discussed on this podcast…which did make me feel like, hey, maybe I do know what I am doing with my life 😊!

I share all of this because I know so many people who talk about their aging bodies and I don’t hear them all say the same things. I know I am not unique, as I know there are so many others in the world who take the time to care for their own bodies, and you can definitely see it in the work, pleasure, and physical activities that they participate in. However, what makes those of us who are aging gracefully when it comes to our physical health different than those who have the constant fatigue, ailments, and physical concerns? I am not doctor, nor do I play one on tv, but I can speak about my own journey and here is what I believe.

  • Understanding that as we age, our bodies do change and adjustments to our nutritional needs are required. I used to boast that I could eat just about anything I wanted, as often as I wanted, at any time of the day or night, and not really have to worry. This is not true any longer. I have always used the “everything in moderation” philosophy when it comes to nutrition, and for me, I eat not necessarily to enjoy food, but to fuel my body. Taking this stance on my nutrition has made my thoughts about food work for me. I don’t obsess on what I can and cannot eat. I don’t focus all of my daily activities on my meals. And, I certainly don’t feel the “weight” of over indulging in meals on a regular basis. Now, do I ever get off track…absolutely. But, a small turn to the left is easily resolved every once in a while and can still be managed in a way that I am not overly harsh on myself and don’t suffer any long term effects.
  • My physical activity continues to be a priority to me, however, what I do and how often has adjusted a bit at 51. I notice that I lose muscle mass a bit easier now, especially with menopause, and I must ensure that I keep a schedule that includes weight work on a regular basis. I certainly don’t feel that I cannot continue to lift the same amount of weight, as actually, my ability to lift weight limits has increased a bit over the years. This is not due to more spinach (and if you get that joke, you may be as old as I am!), but it is because being consistent with the workouts definitely ensures that my body, my muscles, can handle the work I put on them. Of course, with any type of workout, I had to start somewhere and it wasn’t with the current weights I use nor with the amount of workouts I accomplish each week. If you are beginning a journey to build muscles, especially in your mid-life, you must start slow. I continually think about injury to my aging body and I plan smart workouts ALWAYS. As with anything, you will NOT see the results overnight, and this will cause some to believe that if you do more faster, you will reap the benefits faster…and I can promise, the only thing you will gain with that is a bad taste for the work and a serious injury to your body. Again…use my philosophy…everything in moderation.
  • And, finally, I had to do some self coaching and definitely some work on my own body image in the mid-life. As someone who did get to enjoy a pretty fit and trim body in my early adult years (yes, I had to put in the work then, but in a different manner), body changes were a challenge for me to learn to accept. I could tighten up my diet for a week when I was in my thirties and quickly see the ab definition in my body…not at 51. I could spend a little extra time doing squats and see muscle lines in my legs in my 30’s…not at 51. And, I could run 10-12 miles on a Sunday morning and feel great by dinner, ready to take on another run before going to bed back then…but not at 51. These were hard changes for me to accept…and I am sure many feel the same. What I have learned, however, is that our bodies will take care of us for a long time if we take care of them. And, by keeping a positive mindset when it comes to our body image, it will impact the overall outlook we have on the aging process and our motivation to continue to take care of it, just like caring for that vintage car!

So, what I learned today is this, we can do more than we think, we are stronger than we realize, but it is up to us to put the work in, commit to the whole aging gracefully process, and learn that although aging comes with some hurdles, they are minor compared to what they could be if we just decided that when our bodies begin changing, we just give up on them and begin living life with different health habits. Of course, I will ask you to reflect on how you are aging…can you say you are doing it gracefully? Are you enjoying your mid-life without the pains and illnesses that can creep up at this age? Are you out hoping for the newest “model” to show up and when that happens, you know you can enjoy life again? Or are you caring for your body, the only one you will have in life, like that vintage car (my choice would be the 1958 corvette convertible, in case you wanted to know), so that you can continue to enjoy it, and life, well past the 50’s, 60’s, and beyond? Until next time! Cheri ❤️

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