Published August 25, 2013

Getting Older, Getting Health Wiser

by Helen M. Ryan

"...children get older. I'm getting older, too." ~Fleetwood Mac

Well, time marches on and we age.

I notice a few more aches and pains over the recent years, and I am now like those 'older people'  I used to make fun of when I was a teenager:  I can tell by my body when the weather is going to change. Karma's a b****, no?

Although I can kick butt on the Spinner bike still and swing kettlebells like a champion, when I sit too long in front of my computer I walk all hunch-backed when I first stand up from the chair. I like to joke, "I'm a fitness pro" as I hobble into the other room, waiting for my body to return to normal.

Ah the joys of getting older.

More recently I have noticed another change: I am trying some new things and foods that I never would have considered before.

As I realize that I am closer to 50 than 40(!) I am trying to feed my body more of what it needs rather than more of what my mouth wants

Not all the time, of course, but more and more often (this girl does like her sweets).

I never thought, for example, that I would ever use almond milk instead of regular milk (80% of the time). I actually make vegetable smoothies now. (Remember, for most of my life I was a vegetarian who didn't eat vegetables, he he.)

When I am feeling tired, I stop to think about whether I should eat a piece of fruit paired with a protein, or a brownie. Mostly I will pick the healthier option, though sometimes the brownie still wins.

The other day I had movie theater popcorn and a full fat soft serve ice cream cone, so the next day I had lots of lean protein, veggies and another one of those vegetable smoothies (unsweetened almond milk, kale, spinach, 1/2 frozen banana, 1/2 scoop 100% egg white protein powder, crushed ice and a few frozen berries).

I am starting to imagine now what's going on inside my body when I eat certain foods

When I eat cookies and pastries, can I really hear my body screaming while trying to process all that sugar (or was that my imagination)? When I don't drink enough water, can I really feel my cells whining from lack of hydration (or is it guilt speaking)? When I eat a balanced meal with fresh vegetables and protein, does my body really give that sigh of relief (or is my mind playing tricks on me)? It doesn't really matter as long as I am aware of what I am doing to this body of mine...good or bad.

Aging is inevitable, but we can all small take steps to better our health. There's nothing wrong with an occasional treat, but giving your body lots of good things might help it last longer.

Aim for balance. You don't want to be older and bedridden, but you also don't want to be older and never having enjoyed life. Right?

Photo: 353 steps up to the White Buddha Temple in Pai, Thailand.