I am having trouble wrapping my arms around this significant number. But, as my favorite philosopher, Winne the Pooh, says, “Oh bother.”
Intellectually I understand that my chronological age does not define me. What is more relevant is whether I am embracing healthy aging.
So, what is healthy aging? According to the NIH, many factors influence healthy aging, such as genetics, exercise, a nutritious diet, regular doctor checkups, and being mindful of one’s emotional health.
My genetics are mixed. My Dad struggled with heart disease for most of his adult life. He had his first heart attack in his 40s. Although my father never drank alcohol, he struggled with maintaining a low cholesterol diet and rarely made time to exercise. He passed away from his second heart attack at age 58. My Mom lived to 95, never exercised a day in her life, loved her vodka and cranberry cocktail each day, and only ate fried foods. She was completely healthy when she passed. Go figure.
I am not a jock. I was the last person picked in PE, and it was mortifying. However, after watching my Dad, I realized the positive impact exercise could have on my heart health. I used to ride a bike every day, but then I discovered that this was not helping my bone density. So, now I walk 5X a week for an hour. I have several walking partners, which makes it fun!
A study of adults 40 and older found that taking 8,000 or more steps daily, compared to only 4,000 steps, was associated with a 51% lower risk of death from all causes. I’ll take it!
As for my weight and nutrition, there are changes in weight and muscle mass that I have had to come to grips with. To put it bluntly, I cannot eat like I used to. As a post-menopausal woman, I must be more mindful of my consumption, as my metabolism is slower. This not-so-wonderful factoid motivates me to exercise!
Speaking of nutrition, I am a vegan. When I went off my hormones at 67, those horrible hot flashes reared their ugly head again. I interviewed a renowned nutritionist who had just finished a study on how changing your diet and gut biome can reduce hot flashes. So, I tried it, and it worked for me. You can read more about this in Menopause Mondays® Can Eating a Vegan Diet Diminish Your Hot Flashes?
Some days I feel like I am in my forties. Then there are other times, for example, when I am on the floor playing with my two grandchildren, I feel around ten years old until I get up, and then I think I am closer to ninety. Most days, I glide up those hills on my daily walks, other days, I am huffing and puffing.
When I reflect on this healthy aging concept, I am confident I am doing my best to actively participate in activities promoting healthy aging. I am active, make healthy food choices (most of the time), limit my alcohol intake, have healthy sleep habits, and am proactive about my healthcare. As for my emotional health – I learned to meditate to help overall calmness, and when I need extra help with life’s challenges, I have an excellent therapist to reach out to.
I shall embrace 69 and look forward to many more happy birthdays in the years ahead.
My Motto: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
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