39 and Holding
So much of our culture is negative about age, particularly with regard to women. Grey hair in a man is often admired but not so in a woman. Everywhere you are encouraged to hide any sign that you might have progressed past a baby-faced youth that, frankly, I’m glad to have left behind. I wouldn’t go back to 19 if Dr Who programmed the Tardis for me. Go back to the insecurities, the confusion, the callow melodramas of our teens? Not likely!
A patient recently came to me complaining of many different ailments. “Well,” she sighed, having enumerated them, “what can I expect at my age?” She was only in her early 50s. We cleaned up her diet and sent her to yoga classes. She returned rather sheepishly to inform me that her yoga teacher was 70… “and you should see where she can put her legs!” Pretty soon this patient had shed her sad attitude. She was eating well, looking great and experiencing a youthful surge of energy.
So put away the expectation that ageing will be a dismal experience. You can have riotously joyful times ahead of you. How? A lot of it is to do with choices and good choices are often fairly simple. Choose to do things differently – here are some ideas:
- Do at least the 10 minutes exercise a day that I’m always batting on about. Honestly, it’s so easy and everyone that does it ends up feeling great and doing more exercise of their own free will. 5 minutes brisk walk away from your house and 5 minutes back – that’s all it entails. It must be every day though; that’s the key to success.
- Find an activity you enjoy. Want something peaceful? Try yoga. With a bit more pace? Try Pilates. Look up all the leisure centres in your area and see what takes your fancy. Boxercise? Great for anger management. Badminton? Good for hand/eye co-ordination and can be as gentle or fast-paced as you like. Go for something exotic you’ve always wanted to do or wondered about – canoeing, rafting, salsa dancing. Or hire a bike for a quiet ride through the lanes.
- Get books from the library on things you’ve always wondered about – Norse mythology, astronomy, trees (how many can you identify?), geology… There are so many interesting things all around us – go find out about some of them!
- Ask everyone you know to tell you about their specialist subject – you might be fascinated!
- Do the evening class that sounds the most fun. Tell your family you’re doing flower arranging and actually do motor mechanics or computing, then stun them with your newly acquired skills.
- Get some really gorgeous paper and pens and write to lots of folk you haven’t been in touch with for ages.
- Clear things out – it is very invigorating. Car boot it all and make money too!
- Join a book club or a local writers’ group. Just go along to listen if you don’t feel confident enough to join in to start with.
- Go to see a nutritional therapist, a medical herbalist, an acupuncturist or an iridologist and have an MOT. They’ll help you prioritise what you should be doing to improve your health.
- Visit a chiropodist to get rid of tiny corns or unattractive hard skin.
- Have a beauty treatment, like a seaweed wrap, just for fun.
- Make a list of the things you like doing: long hot baths, foot rubs, candlelight suppers, exotic holidays. Then work out how to get as many as possible into your life as often as possible. Patients who do this definitely increase their happiness quota.
- Decide to do a nice gentle detox for your body this spring.
- Sort this out now and not only can you improve your present health but also your future.
- Try being vegetarian for a week. If you’re already vegetarian, go vegan for a week. Try any diet that makes you think about your food and experiment. Get books from the library, or try a recipe from a magazine. Read Eat 5 by Helen Foster and find out how much fun getting your daily portions of fruit and vegetables can be.
- Really do the 1.5 litres of water a day. All my patients end up loving it, however much fuss they make to start with!
- Replace tea with Rooibosch tea for half your daily cuppas. Combine this with drinking more water and you’ll feel more energetic and lose water weight.
- Ban refined sugar from your diet for three days. Who knows, it might stretch to longer when you realise how good you feel eating dried fruit instead of sweeties.