Fiftyish is a quarterly perspective on health, wellness, beauty and graceful living.
The acceptance of aging is a process that had to mentally unfold before I began to appreciate wellness, health, fitness and anti-aging products. I’ve maintained good health, always enjoyed clear skin – nary a pimple as a teen or young adult — and my 105-pound young adult and post-pregnancy self really believed I would be Olive Oyl skinny my entire life.
All lies, I say!!!!
“Age is just a number, and agelessness means not buying into the idea that a number determines everything from your state of health to your attractiveness to your value.”― Christiane Northrup, Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Well-Being
My Body is Broken
My brain says I’m 33 but that morning backache and knee pain suggests more my real age of 53. While internally I feel youthful exuberance, and gratefully, my God-blessed melanin keeps me wrinkle-free, my physical reality is that my body has aged, and it is broken with weight gain, high blood pressure, aches/pains, skin hyperpigmentation, and other effects of menopause.
Okay, “broken” is a stretch…but I have come to terms that my body needs regimented self-care, self-love and some healing during this naturally-progressing stage of my life’s journey.
Pioneering women’s author, health and wellness expert, and board-certified ob-gyn Christiane Northrup, M.D., wrote in her New York Times best-selling book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing, that “the secret to thriving is the knowledge that we are never simply victims of our bodies. It’s very reassuring to know that we all have within us the ability to heal from anything and go on to live joy-filled lives.”
We cannot stop aging or turn back the clock, so the goal for us fifty-ish age women should be looking and feeling good no matter what age we are. Northrup has widely used terms such as “gracefully aging” and “ageless” beauty to describe an overall mindset for women to embrace and own their body’s changes, and she has written extensively in books and on her blog about the subject.
These are themes that have also become more commonplace in my friend groups and amongst peers as we embrace graceful aging and laugh about being the old ladies in the room. However, we don’t sit idly by as if we have no say in the matter. My belief is that if there is breath in our bodies and we can move, we can – no we MUST — adapt and modify our lifestyles to embrace and love our matured, beautiful selves with intentional focus and some lifestyle, dietary and skincare changes. Oh yes, and some inspiration and motivation, too.
My fitness inspiration comes from my Goddaughter’s mom and friend, Lorna. For pretty much the 15 years I’ve known her, she has always gone to the gym. And in the last five years, she considered training for a fitness competition. I didn’t think she was serious because at that time, she was married with four kids, worked full time, active in church ministry, working on a master’s degree, started a storefront retail cake bakery, got a divorce, then later earned a doctorate.
But in the past several years, each time I saw Lorna, I exclaimed “girl, look at your arms and legs.” She was transforming right before my eyes. And then last year, I attended one of her first natural body fitness competitions, and I was in awe and shock (in a good way) about the whole experience and what I saw. She was 51 but looked 25.
It also gave me pause to really think about my priorities and why I could not commit to ANY type of fitness routine for the betterment of my health and overall wellness. I do want to be healthy and keep my blood pressure in check, feel good about myself, and look comfortable and toned in my clothes. I recognize that stress, mindless eating, and bad habits took over as life happened, but it’s never too late to regain control and make conscious, healthy lifestyle choices.
Yes, I got all of that from attending one of Lorna’s competitions. Here’s her story:
From Step Class to Fitness Pro
Lorna S. Deshay, Ph.D., (Mom, Marketing Expert, Cake Decorator, and Pro Fitness Competitor)
When did you begin your fitness journey?
I began working out in 1998 in a step class that was offered at a Rehabilitation Medical Center. In 1999 I began working out at Australian Body Works who later was bought out by LA Fitness. I have been working out consistently since 1999. At times I would work out two times a day, five days a week. My current regimen is working out one time a day, six days a week.
What was your initial motivation for beginning a workout regimen?
My initial motivation in 1998 was just to do something during my lunch hour. Who knew that the lunch time filler would be become an activity that I became so passionate about. I began to enjoy working out and didn’t feel complete if I missed a day or two.
How did that morph into fitness competition?
As I was working out at the gym, you begin to see the same people all the time. Especially if you are consistent with the times that you may go. There was a guy who asked me if I “competed.” I know I looked at him side eyed because that isn’t anything I ever considered. I worked out consistently and hard just because I enjoyed it. From that point, he began to train me. I still did not make a commitment to compete, I just thought maybe I would consider it. Well, as of May 2018 I competed in my first show as a Figure competitor. Before stepping on stage, I thought I would do one show and be done. The following day after the show, I was looking up other shows that I could compete in. Since May 2018 I’ve competed in six shows and have obtained my Pro Figure status with three natural bodybuilding organizations (SNBF, ANBF, and One World Alliance). My current goal is to compete in a World Championship show and the Natural Olympia.
Throughout your 20-year fitness journey, how have you balanced being a wife, mother, friend, employee, business owner, doctoral student and all the other things you’ve had going on in your life?
Regardless of my responsibilities, I had to keep up with my workout regimen. I specifically designated time at lunch to go to the gym and when I was working out twice a day, I would go to the gym again before I had to pick up my younger kids from after school care. When I knew that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the gym at lunch time, due to a meeting or other work-related obligation, I would get up early and go to the gym at 5am and be there when they opened. When I had to travel for work, one of my hotel requirements was the fitness center. If there was a LA Fitness in the area, I would map out how far was the hotel to the gym. I remember traveling to Columbus, OH and there was at least a foot of snow on the ground. I layered up and went to the gym. I prevented myself from having excuses for not going. My friends laughed at me one time because Atlanta had an ice storm and we were stuck indoors for a few days. They couldn’t believe I was calling the gym to see if they were open.
A lot of women just may not feel motivated to work out because they don’t feel they have the time or don’t feel they can commit. What would you suggest?
I think women should consider how they want to see themselves one year, five years, or even 10 years from now. A healthy body will not just happen or sprinkle over you. To prevent medical conditions as you get older, live longer and healthy, and even look better, women must set realistic goals. I suggest that if women need to lose weight, they should hire a trainer so that they can learn the correct way to eat and how to incorporate a workout regimen. Dieting is never the answer, eating correctly to be part of a healthy lifestyle is the answer. Most women may not be motivated to work out so finding a friend who will commit to work out, is the ideal solution. Accountability will help. It doesn’t matter what age women are, deciding to begin working out would be advantageous to a healthy lifestyle. Please remember that if you are having medical complications, on medication, or have had any surgeries, discuss with your physician before you begin any workout program.
Thanks Lorna. You are very disciplined and make good points about nutrition, dieting and accountability. What about women who may not have the financial resources to join a gym or hire a trainer or nutritionist?
I would suggest looking up beginner at-home workout programs on YouTube. Here is a link I found for a 15-minute beginners at-home cardio workout (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHyGqsPOUHs). Please remember to take it slow and work at your own pace if you are just starting a workout routine. Over time you will build up endurance to keep up with the instructor. Also, here’s a basic eating plan that is very easy to follow.
Maybe fitness competitions or intense workouts may not be a motivator or even a realistic expectation for most women to consider or pursue, especially in middle age, but a few things can be learned from Lorna’s competitive fitness journey, like discipline, attitude and commitment. She is focused and balances her family life by incorporating wellness, fitness, and health into activities, the types of natural products she has in the home, and preparing well-balanced, nutritious meals.
It also comes down to a matter of perspective and how one can translate lessons from another’s experience and journey into their own personal goals. Age really is only a number and for my fellow fifty-ish aged women challenged with their own wellness and mid-life aging concerns, recognize that feeling and looking good is possible and doable with the right mindset. Free your mind and rest your soul. You can look youthful and vibrant by creating your own style and finding your path for taking better care of yourself.
My #Thrive2019 Lifestyle Goals
In addition to visiting my doctor(s) for a physical and wellness checkup, I continue to seek out natural remedies for improving my sense of physical and mental wellbeing. I now primarily use items like castile soap, shea butter, coconut oil and honey regularly for my facial and skincare regimens.
I am also now more conscious about what I eat, making sure to include salads and raw and cooked vegetables in my daily diet, whether at home or at a restaurant. I drink primarily water as a beverage, either alone, infused with fruits and vegetables, as an herbal or green tea.
I move more, too. Either I’m walking at lunch, doing a Zumba class, punching and jabbing in a kickboxing class, periodically doing yoga, meditation and mindfulness activities, or taking advantage of the equipment in my complimentary workplace gym facility. My routine rotates weekly because I adjust based on my schedule and how I am feeling that day. But one thing is constant is that I am committed to doing something every day to actively move my body, even if it’s as simple as stretching to improve flexibility and balance.
How are you inspired and motivated to be an ageless beauty? What are you committed to doing to improve your health and wellness? Self-care is self-love and involves making actively conscious decisions about one’s wellness. Share your thoughts below.