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My Top 3 Tips for Staying Youthful at 40 and Beyond

For many years people had me believing once I turned 40 it was some kind of downward spiral that just occurs. Well I'm here to tell you that's just not true. Do our bodies change? Yes. Can our energy levels shift? Absolutely, but there are ways to manage the process that can help us continue to feel youthful and really good well into our forties and beyond. For me, the focus on properly and equally caring for my physical body is one way I continue to manage this inevitable aging process. Through consistent exercise, a balanced diet and stretching I have seen these things make an impact on my body.

Around 28 years old, I had a 2 year old and a six year old so life was busy. My husband's job as a railroad worker kept him on the road and my mother was dying. With so much going on I felt very alone, and trying to do things by myself meant I had a lot of pinned up emotions that were taking their toll on my body inside and out. My weight wasn't coming off as easy as it had before, my hair was falling out, and my mental state was shot.

After several months of dealing with the chaos, the fog in my head started to clear a bit and I realized some changes needed to be made. The health of my body was important and the sooner I began to address the issues the better I could start to feel.

Exercise wasn't my thing. In fact, I hated it. I went to the gym one time in college with my boyfriend (now husband:)) and I was so bored and completely sore the next day I never went back. One day while watching television I saw a man by the name of Jorge Cruise on television talking about exercising with minimal time invested and not giving up the foods I love. I was intrigued. I picked up his book 8 Minutes in the Morning from the library and I was in. Even though the workouts were only eight minutes each day, over time I realized he was teaching me how to address my eating habits because they contribute to so much of our physical self in both appearance and internal health.

That set into motion my exercise journey and by 2009 I was introduced to Jillian Michaels. My workouts got longer, more challenging and my hunger for knowledge of exercise and better nutrition was born. Over the years I have come to enjoy different workouts (Pilates, HIIT training and kickboxing) and there are some I absolutely hate (spinning), but the goal is to try different things and find what you like so you can be consistent. Consistency is key. While I still can't say I love working out, I can say it is a part of my life now and the goal is to keep at it for as long as I can.

Along with consistent exercise, we all know a better diet is important. I try to stick to the 80/20 rule when it comes to my diet. It can be difficult to maintain a strict regimen one hundred percent of the time. Can it be done? Yes, but for me balance is important. The balance in my diet also keeps me from mentally stressing out and giving up because of the pressure to be perfect.

Three years ago I incorporated smoothies into my diet, and I have one almost daily for breakfast. A bowl of oatmeal and green tea are my best friends because we see each other everyday lol. Typically, my dinner is the only thing that changes, but I attempt to keep it as well rounded as possible. You may not be able to eat the same foods everyday like me, but find what you like and slowly incorporate it.

Taking the time to stretch is aIso a big part of my daily regimen. A while back, I heard someone say maintaining your flexibility is the the key to youth. While it won't take you back to twenty years old, maintaining our mobility is a big deal when it comes to aging. Several years ago I started having serious back issues from something that just happened one day. I took a step or maybe it was a wrong one, and it caused a pinched nerve. For years after that I would continue to have problems, but I was told by doctors they couldn't see anything wrong.

I was scared because things seemed to get worse and my concern was this would be my life going forward. After doing my own research, I saw a lot of information about tight hip flexors and hamstrings being a big cause of back issues. When I thought about it, maybe I wasn't properly cooling down when my workouts were complete. When I was back on my feet following my last episode in March 2016, I started taking my time to stretch (no less that 10 minutes) after my workouts and even on days I didn't exercise. I also enjoy yoga and incorporate that in my stretching time. I haven't had a serious issue with my back since and I believe this has played a part in keeping me healthy.

While I understand these things are not new to many, they are important. Having an understanding and committing to an exercise routine, better nutrition and stretching can make such a difference in how our bodies feel and help this aging process be a little more bearable. I feel great and even though I am forty five, in my mind I'm still 25. Wishful thinking I'm sure but I dare you to try it. Tell me some ways you have learned to age gracefully.


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