What I Love About Being 40+
If you exercise, what’s your goal? Have you really thought about it?
Have you given yourself a free pass to let exercise be “for fun”? Or is the idea of workouts being FUN something you don’t allow yourself? After all, it has the word “work” in it. I think of my time devoted to physical activities as “playing sports” because “playing” sounds better than “working.” (I work A LOT already.)
Here’s what my competitive sport gives me a few times a week: a social experience, an endorphin-increase, Vitamin-D rich sunshine on my skin and in my soul, a chance to improve my skills, and keep my brain and body sharp and quick.
Tennis is so strategic, and you have to think in sync with your partner, deconstruct your opponent’s game. Change up whenever your game—your serve, your return, your slice, your forehand—isn’t working. (Just like in business, in parenting, in life.)
I’d say that’s worth 10 hours a week, wouldn’t you?
If you follow my work, you know that I’m a big fan of intuitively eating like we used to: when you’re hungry, eat whole and nourishing foods, as much as you need. Don’t count or measure. (Unless this is important to you. Some folks prefer to live with more rules than I do.) Minimizing the processed food, alcohol, and dessert. (Or even eliminating them, if that doesn’t do something weird to your emotional health.)
I feel the same about exercise. If I was ever an extremist about food, I’m not now. Same thing with exercise.
I don’t give a crap about having 6-pack abs. (I probably have 6-pack abs, and so do you. I just haven’t fat-starved myself for you to see them. And I’m okay with that.)
I have exactly zero interest in running a marathon. CrossFit, no thank you. I’m kind of waiting for CrossFit gyms to go away, if any of them are reading this. No offense to those of you who find your tribe there, in the triathlon packs and the CrossFit gyms. They are fun communities and certainly the extreme sports and CrossFit gangs are fit! Y’all certainly have lovely bodies.
But, the more reflective I get, as my own life experience increases….the more interested I am in overall health, rather than “peak fitness.” My goals are to be physically healthy, to have no activity I can’t do (hiking, skiing, biking, 10k’s, travel and adventures), and emotionally healthy enough that I always WANT to do those things with my free time.
And then, to have sports be something I do for the challenge, the fun, the sunshine, the camaraderie—and to break a sweat every day. Not for another way to create stress in my life. I have enough stress.
(I run a small business. I’m raising a teenager. ‘Nuff said?)
I’m fit enough. I’m muscular enough.
I do care about being fit. I do care that I can jog five miles. (Truth be told, I care that I can beat my dad, a lifelong runner, in a 5k or 10k too.)
I do care that I can win more than I lose, at a 4.0 level in tennis. I care that I’m a contributor to my team, that they feel they can win when I’m their partner.
I’m also at peace with the fact that I don’t lift weights. I think weight bearing exercise is great and important—but I let my 3-days-a-week yoga practice cover that. Nobody has time to do everything. And I had to give up weight lifting when I got serious about tennis.
One of the best things about being 40-something is getting over yourself. Letting go of what doesn’t serve. Being comfortable in your own skin. Loving yourself despite all the physical marks and signs of whatever has happened to you in that 40+ years.
My own skin includes silver stretch marks on my hips. Thank you, four beautiful babies.
My own skin includes laugh lines at the corner of my eyes. Thank you, so many memories with amazing people with whom I have a thousand funny inside jokes.
My own skin includes freckles on my knees and shoulders, even some pre-cancers here and there. Thank you, a thousand hours of fun in the sunshine.
I hope you let yourself off the hook a little and enjoy this moment, this day, this family and friends you have, this body you have. They aren’t perfect, but that’s what’s so great: they have so many ways that they’re beautiful and unique.
My body has served me so well, and I’m not going to criticize it for not having a 6-pack. I feel more beautiful at 40-something than I ever did in my uber-fit teens and early 20’s, when I criticized myself constantly.
I hope for the same for you.