Mirrors and Your Life: Are You a Victim of This Sneaky Thief?

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Sunset on the Connecticut River: No Make Up Needed

I wonder when it starts. When do we start caring about that image staring back at us in the mirror? I do know babies love mirrors. Pets can be interesting in front of a mirror, too. I also noticed that 7 year old girls like mirrors, at least when they are shopping at  Justice, a popular girls clothing store (however, not sure if they are looking at themselves or the cool unicorns on the leggings they are trying on).  I remember when I belonged to a gym decades ago, usually going in the early evening when my children’s father  was home from work and they were ready for bed and I could finally escape. This particular gym had mirrors everywhere! Yes, I understand that it is important to have the right “form” when lifting some heavy weights, or apparently, you can hurt yourself (hence, the heaviest thing I lift is my vacuum cleaner). I never quite understood the exercising in front of the mirror thing, though. I also always felt a bit under-dressed in my jogging shorts and long tee shirt, when all the other women had on these interesting outfits….thongs were the rage back then with tights. To each their own, but all I was there for was the rubberized track so I could jog mindlessly around in circles, and relax until I felt the tensions of the day slip away. But those mirrors. Floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Not sure if those girls in the thongs could see themselves from the back, but my guess is they probably already checked it out at home before presenting themselves at the gym. Clearly, they liked what they saw in the mirror and felt good about it (I hope) because they went out in public like that. Like I said, to each their own.

Anyway, I decided to write about this topic because over the course of the past few weeks I have experienced various casual discussions with individuals from different parts of my life (family, friends, co-workers, etc.) that have to do with dealing with that image. That reflection of ourselves in the mirror. It struck me how much our appearance really matters (for some more than others).  What we are judging ourselves on varies from time to time, depending on our age, and what we might be going through. The change of seasons, especially going from winter to spring and summer seems to escalate the chatter about weight and dieting. Anxiety builds as the time gets closer for us to remove the secure layers we have enjoyed over the cold dreary winter months. People complain about weight gain and how they will appear in their shorts, if they can fit into them. Often people are focused on specific body parts, such as hips and thighs and butts and tummies (of course). As we age, changes in our bodies become ridiculous, and seem to happen overnight. A friend of mine tends to wear pretty scarves to kind of hide the inevitable changes to necks that happen after a certain age. Her mom told her that trick (funny, the only tricks my mom taught me have to do with cleaning and cooking…priorities, I guess). Anyway, I have discovered that if I lift my chin up high enough, and jut my jaw out, I can miraculously be rid of those seemingly new wrinkles under my neck…..although I look kind of weird and it is really hard to maintain, so I don’t walk around that way (often). And then, of course, we have the saggy arm issue and the veins. My old high school friends and I  got together recently over drinks and appetizers, and the conversation was pretty hysterical. We actually laughed out loud at what our topics of conversation have evolved into over the years. Before it was where we were going to get the beer, and how we were going to sneak out at night (and other things) and now it was all about veins and the horror a few of my friends have gone through to get rid of them. I know it is a medical issue however it was still struck us as funny. What have we become?! The mirror does not lie.

The very sad thing to me is the way mirrors literally steal time, precious hours away from some people. I remember a woman I knew who was married to a younger man. She was truly a “spiritual” person, into yoga and art and organic everything. However, whenever she would visit relatives she would be in the bathroom for over an hour to apply her make up. Somehow, she did not feel right with her natural face or whatever, so that she had to apply foundation (that creamy stuff that is the color or your skin and is supposed to cover imperfections?), and blush (to make it look like you are rosy and healthy?) and eye make up and lip stuff…..and VOILA. She missed some meals with us, but she looked good.

I regret the amount of time I wasted when I was young and hated my curly wavy hair. I spent hours in front of the mirror devising ways to wrap it and pin it and tape it and iron it just to make it be straight. It took me until I was in college and 20 years old to finally get it layered and let it go. I felt free. It was like I retired, and left a job I no longer had to do. My time was freed! I just had to wash my head and that was it. Why had I wasted so much time trying to change something that was naturally me just because I did not like what I saw in the mirror?

Don’t get me wrong, I think checking yourself out in the mirror is pretty normal. It is great to feel like you look pretty good and presentable when you leave for work in the morning. That your clothes are kind of clean and not too wrinkled, that your hair is not a mess, there isn’t anything stuck in your teeth. It’s all good. But sometimes, spending too much time checking yourself out, especially excessive scrutinizing of particular body parts can become a problem. Sometimes referred to as “body checking”, which is a common behavior among those with disordered eating, it can be detrimental. Besides spending lots of time scrutinizing yourself in the mirror, body checking might involve squeezing fat layers, or circling wrists or arms to feel if they are the same size, and have not changed and other self-checking behaviors. For those with disordered eating, body checking often leads to more restriction and may worsen behaviors. For others, excessive checking of our bodies may lead to anxiety about our bodies and even trigger eating issues.

And although I said “the mirror doesn’t lie”, for some it actually does. My experience with individuals with eating disorders proved to me that people can look in a mirror and see a totally different image that what everyone else in the world sees. I am guessing you may know someone who always “feels fat” and complains of this and when YOU look at them it is infuriating because you see a thin person. You want to say, and probably have,”you are not fat! you are so skinny!” and find this does not help. Try not to get mad at someone who does this because to them, they see something different. Some people tend to “distort” what they see in the mirror and you will never understand or convince them otherwise. And if you experience these extreme feelings yourself, If you find that you can’t stop with some of these behaviors, and it is truly occupying too much of your day, consider seeking some support from a therapist who specializes in body image issues. Don’t let the mirror and body checking consume your life.

Even if you can’t relate to excessive body checking, and you are just a typical person who wants to be sure they are presentable, it is still important to be aware of how you feel when you look in the mirror. Ask yourself, how much of my time to I give to judging my appearance? Am I trying too hard to change the real me? Is it worth it? Am I accepting of the natural changes that occur with age? Remember, there is no right answer to any of these questions. Only YOU can judge what is important to you. It may well be worth it to take the time to wrap that scarf around your neck to cover what you may feel are imperfections that you have not gotten used to yet. If if makes you feel better, why not? Scarves are lovely, and even young women who have nothing to hide wear them all the time. And by all means, apply that make up if you like it! I love my under eye stuff which takes 10 seconds to apply but is magical and prevents me from having to answer people who ask “are you tired? you look so tired!” when I forget to put it on. Some women just love makeup, and if that is you, then have at it. But if putting on makeup is an hour long ordeal and feels like a job, then why let the mirror steal those hours from your life?

And when it comes to your body, ask yourself, how many minutes am I scrutinizing my body in the mirror? If it is a quick check after you get dressed to walk out the door, then no big deal. If you got a new outfit for a wedding, and you can’t help admiring yourself for a bit longer than a minute before you walk out the door, oh well. It is fun to dress up sometimes.  If you have a new purchase you aren’t sure about and have to check yourself out ten times before deciding to return it, no big deal. But, if you find yourself spending an hour glaring at your body with negative thought running through your mind that just make you feel awful, well, that is a different story. Try to give up some of that time in front of the mirror. Work on the words you are saying to yourself (that “self-talk” always going on in your brain). Try to make it more complimentary, (you look pretty good for an old lady!) even if you don’t believe it at first. Fake it till you make it, they say. But, if you are struggling with feeling good about yourself then maybe it is time to seek out some help.

Finally, ask yourself what YOU notice in other people. Do you really notice if someone has makeup on or not? Do you notice the veins in anyone’s legs? Do you really care about anyone’s saggy arms or chin? The first thing I notice about a person is the expression on their face. Are they smiling and happy? Are they kind? Are they genuine? Are they unique? Do they make me laugh? That is what is important to me, and I am guessing that is what is important to you, too. Then why judge yourself in ways you would never judge others? Two of my favorite people often dress up as chickens and a moose outfit just to entertain kids at our school. And everyone loves them. Does it really matter what you wear or how you look?

Don’t let the mirror steal your life away.

Women and Their Aging Bodies: Not That Fun, But Then again…

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Mom and me dancing the night away at my nephew’s wedding

I did something really stupid about 2 years ago. Those of you over 50 but still stuck in your brain like you are still in your late 20’s will totally get it.  Well, I have never been athletic and have never liked team sports and definitely never participated in them. I hated that mile run in school because, well quite frankly, I could not run a mile when I was in high school. BUT, I could do a mean cartwheel. As a kid I would spend my time on the swing set and monkey bars, in my own little world. I admired my friend Terry who was an amazing gymnast (this was in grammar school) and she got me doing cartwheels, splits and hand stands. I would spend hours trying to perfect my back walkover, and eventually I could do it. I was so flexible, it was easy back then. In college I resorted to yoga since doing cartwheels around campus might be weird. I was good at it, able to touch my feet to my head, do handstands and back bends with ease. But as time went on, and I got older, I transitioned into biking and jogging and belly dancing classes with my friends. Well, it never occurred to me that I would lose my flexibility and strength. Until I decided to show off one day. I can’t remember who I was showing off for, maybe it was one of my 20 something year old kids but anyway, I went to do a cartwheel in the yard and it was not pretty. My arms gave way, I almost landed on my head were it not for my elbows hitting first. I was appalled, and frankly, kind of scared. What the heck??! Doing a cartwheel was nothing! and yet, there I was, almost with a cracked head.  I tried again, but very carefully, and determined, but yes, it was true. I can’t do it. And then, it dawned on me that something had happened. I might be thinking and feeling great, like I did way back then, but my body had changed. My arms could not hold me up. This was not good.

I went through a phase of trying to do something about it. I started practicing standing on my head…the easy way, you know, leaning against a wall. One problem….my neck hurt. Oh great, now even my neck is weak. Then I decided I was going to practice my back bends, and do a back bend by Christmas. This plan did not work (despite my husband promising to give me a monetary reward). I just was not motivated because doing a back bend did not benefit my life in any way. Yet, this lack of flexibility has bothered me so much that I made a plan to stretch over the winter. I am a firm believer in habits, and that you can create a healthy habit just as easily as you create a not so healthy habit. So every morning over the winter I incorporated toe touching and stretching exercises with my morning coffee and the news (which I watched anyways, so it was easy….10-20 minutes in front of the TV, not bad, kind of relaxing, 2 birds with one stone). It did work and by the end of the winter I was touching my toes with ease. Then came spring and flower season and those precious minutes in the morning had to be spent watering my garden and talking to the bunnies….so needless to say, my flexibility has lost its priority in my life.

Besides my inability to do a cartwheel or a handstand or a back bend…..there have been other changes I am not too fond of. I am guessing I am not alone. I am talking about eyesight. I have always been blessed with 20/20 vision and for that I am grateful. Yes, I went through the typical phase where you have to hold the menu 2 feet from your face to read it (I think this happens in your 40’s?) Anyway, I bought the cheap reader glasses and that solved the problem. But then I turned 50 and something else happened. Darkness. When it was dark, I could not see. So driving at night becomes an issue when you can’t see the exit until you are on top of it. Or read the signs. I finally had to admit, I needed an eye doctor to see what was going on. Long story short, I needed glasses. Expensive ones which I lost twice, so changed to disposable contacts because I lose things and that solved that problem (until I left them in overnight, because I forgot to take them out, loss of memory another issue but another topic). When you leave disposable contacts in overnight and try to get them out in the morning, you can cause a corneal abrasion which hurts and is not fun. But at least this sudden loss of night vision is treatable.

What isn’t treatable (unless you are a millionaire and kind of vain) is what happens to your skin. I can only speak for myself but it was kind of nice in just one way when I couldn’t see because when I looked in the mirror, I thought it was pretty cool that I wasn’t really getting many wrinkles. Wrong. When I got my contacts I was a bit flabbergasted. Not only could I see that my bathroom floor really DID get dirty (I always wondered how it stayed so clean…it was because I could not see the dirt)….anyway, I could now see my wrinkles. The only ones I really was not a fan of was the ones around my neck. I toyed with the idea of a bread clip in the back of my neck. It kind of works to pull everything back (but this technique is not comfortable, and I am all about comfort). Scarves work, but who wants to always where a scarf? If you hold your head high that helps. But it gets tiring. So making peace with these new neck wrinkles is the only answer.

Besides the neck, I have noticed my arms are starting to look like the principal from my elementary school. Mrs. Torrent was her name and she was terrifying. Back in my day, they were allowed to spank us if we misbehaved at school. Mrs. Torrent had a giant thick silver leather strap that she would whip the bad kids with. When she would point with her arm to walk a certain direction you shook in your shoes and went that way. Her arms shook too. She had these skinny arms with hanging skin that shook when she pointed in her dramatic scary way. And when I saw the picture of me dancing with my mom (above) all I thought was, dang, I am Mrs. Torrent.

Hair is another issue. I am not someone who has energy to put into hair. As a result, my head usually looks like a bit of a contrived mess. My issue is the skunk look. I am not ready to go gray. I am not sure why, maybe just that I don’t like the color gray. I do like white and if I was guaranteed that my hair would be the pure beautiful white that my grandmother had, or my mom now has (who says her hair was gray first, so maybe, just maybe if I am patient, there is hope). I love white. I am working on this shallow concern of mine. I just have not figured it out yet.

There are other issues that bother some other women I know who are getting older and not thrilled about the changes.  The tendency for the fat on our bodies to migrate to our tummies from our butts. Women for some reason (guessing culturally) have a big issue with belly fat. Yes, excessive belly fat is associated with some health issues, but if it is just natural aging belly fat, and your cholesterol and insulin and all your labs are normal then you have nothing to worry about. I absolutely love the new looser fashions and even the new bathing suit styles that are looser and more comfortable so that those of us who are no longer into wearing bikinis have really pretty things to wear. Although, I am all for anyone wearing anything they feel comfortable in. I totally loved the energy of the elderly women on the beach we visited on a cruise that stopped in Tortola and Virgin Gorda in the Caribbean. As I sat there on my towel feeling somewhat self-conscious in my two-piece, a women just strolled out of the water with NOTHING but a bathing suit bottom. Nobody blinked. She sat on her towel with her hubby and basked in the sun. I was jealous. I wish I had that confidence, but then again, we clearly grew up in different cultures that focused on different things. She was way older than me.

Despite all the things I am not thrilled with, there is much more that I am SO happy and grateful for. If you are, like me, noticing changes that might be throwing you a bit and making you think that you need to do something, take a moment to think of all the good things about getting older as a woman. To me, this is what I am grateful for:

  1. Knowing, through my years of experience, what is important. That someone’s energy and heart and soul is what matters, not the wrinkles on their neck or the gray roots coming in. The people I crave to be around have much more that straight brown hair or strong arms or a flat stomach. I need character and a loving and generous heart. Those who fight for a cause or care about the helpless, elderly, homeless, hungry and poor, those are the beautiful people.
  2. I am so grateful for health. Health is something worth working towards. Everyone is different so you need to do what works for you. To me, health does not really mean being able to do a cartwheel or a handstand, but it does mean being able to get up if I fall down, lifting a bag of topsoil, pushing my lawn mower, lifting my laundry basket up the stairs, and being able to bike along my favorite bike path for an hour or two. It means having the energy to make it up the multiple flights of stairs in a village in Cinque Terre Italy to be able to get to that restaurant on the top of that mountain to have a glass of red wine and watch the sun set. It means having the energy and stamina to hike down the Grand Canyon Angel Trail and make it to the bottom to camp at Phantom Ranch, and then hike back out (on my bucket list). Your idea of health may be different, but what you want for your life is what matters.
  3. The gift of time. As I get older, I am realizing that time, well, it is a slippin’ away. It feels more priceless now. So much so that I am getting a little bit better at saying no. I am guessing lots of women my age are feeling it too. We want to spend our time wisely, doing the things that mean the most to us. For me, that means being with family and friends, although my work time fills me up with more than most people have at work, and for that I am grateful. I also spend less time on having the perfectly clean house or the perfectly weeded garden. It is good enough. Good enough is now one of my favorite phrases (right along with “Here’s to….!”). Yes, time is more precious now.
  4. Comfort. Being comfortable is a priority for me now. For some reason, I can no longer stand tight clothing or belts. My shoes need to be Naturalizer or Aerosoles. I can’t wear anything itchy. I am guilty of wearing pajama bottoms underneath a long dress to work.  I have several blankets in my house for anyone who stays over to cuddle on a couch or wherever (the garden swing, fire pit, patio). I promote coziness.

I could go on and on, but my husband is waiting for me and our nightly “date on the couch” where we watch some silly show that we tape so that we get to eventually unwind at the end of the night. Yes, life is short, wrinkles and gray hair come but, in the end, if you have energy to dance the night away (like my 85 year old mom), then well, maybe getting older is not that bad. Although, if I am honest, I really do want to do a cartwheel again. And if I do get there, you will be the first to know it!!









Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Always Stick: Tips for Successful Change

Cheers to a New Year!

All I did was bend over to tuck in the sheet to make the bed when suddenly, “OUCH”! What did I just do?! My left lower back in a single moment seemed to just scream out at me in sudden pain. I literally stayed bent over in that position for a good minute, afraid to move. Did I pull a muscle, slip a disc, break a hip? It was a rude awakening that yes indeed, I was getting older. I slowly made my way to the standing position, but was unable to bop out of the room in my usual fashion. I moved slowly. It hurt, but was tolerable (barely).

Just having spent almost two weeks burning the candle at both ends on our yearly holiday trip to Florida, I thought I was doing pretty good until that moment. Not being one to make resolutions, I am one who does believe in re-assessing your life when something negative happens. This painful experience was an eye-opener. I thought “I need to do something. I can’t live like this”. I have always felt bad for people with random pains, such as knee issues, hip pain, neck pain, etc. My own husband has issues with his back as a result of an accident long ago and needs to do yoga, weights and a daily hot tub in order to avoid pain. My younger sister was very strong and loved her weight training, maintaining strength and fitness throughout her life, until eventually she needed a hip replacement (despite her strength and fitness). Lots of people I know have cartilage issues that affect their knees and ability to get around.Yes, I felt fortunate none of these ailments affected me. But now, here I am, with even more empathy for those with pain. I look back at how I have joked about how I dislike weight training, and how I don’t have the patience for yoga (which I once loved), but now am learning, the joke is on me. I tend to be a person who just likes to do what I enjoy, and so I have walked and jogged and biked and hiked and danced the night away, and it has served my lungs and endurance and heart and sanity well. But clearly, as we age our muscles tighten, our bones weaken, and if we want to avoid pain, and if a lifestyle change actually can prevent it (in my case I am hoping so) then maybe it is time to re-assess. Funny, it just so happens to be New Year’s, the time for resolutions. Do I make a specific resolution that I will do yoga and weight training for X amount of days a week? Like I said, I am not a fan of resolutions, but I am a huge fan of avoiding pain, so I need to do something.

I have looked into this topic before (what makes people successful at keeping resolutions, how do people maintain change,etc.).The answers and opinions are out there, however different for everyone. We know that positive thinking is important verses a constant negative “expectation” of failing. Always thinking “how long will this last?” predicts an end. Telling people about your goals motivates some people (not all….personally, I would hate the pressure). Having “SMART GOALS ” is a part of most behavioral change programs. Specific. Measurable. Attainable/Agreed upon. Realistic. Time-bound. Yes, there are lots of tips for accomplishing your goals, however I am also fascinated by what makes us fail….because I personally want to avoid that thinking. I don’t want to set myself up for failing so I have been doing a lot of reflection and soul-searching since feeling this pain.

I have been thinking about what I have seen contribute to failure to change in many of my former patients (or just observation in others). One mistake I see is being too specific with expectations. I have written about the “black and white, all-or-nothing” thinking before, and I still believe this is a huge barrier to meaningful change. Yes, according to the “SMART” goal guideline, being specific is supposed to be helpful. Yet, I have seen  when a person is unable to accomplish exactly what they had planned for even just one day, they feel bad. Feelings of not doing “good enough” contribute to “giving up”.

Another mistake we often make is in the “realistic” and “achievable” expectations. So many of my patients often have had a very specific weight in mind, for example, they designate as their goal weight. They come up with these number from various places, such as a magazine (“famous Suzy Q is my height, and she weighs blah blah blah, and so should I”). Or, “my doctor said for my height that is what I should weigh”, or “I used to weigh that in high school”, or “I don’t know, it sounds good”. People often like even numbers I have found. I have never heard “I want to weigh 147”. Also, people fail to take into account our bodies never weigh one number. We fluctuate (and it is normal, which is why daily weights are a bit silly and meaningless). But weight is only one area people get too unreasonable. I have been guilty of being quite unreasonable in my physical capabilities (which has likely contributed to my current pain issues). Oh yes, I made a casual bet with my husband that if I could do a back bend by Christmas, he would pay me 100 dollars. This never happened because I wisely gave up. What was I thinking? I also was under the impression I might be able to actually rank in a decent position in a yearly local road race if I started training. The first time I tried to up my jogging speed I felt a painful twitch in my hip which has taken months to fade. Yes, I have had to lower my expectations (as my age increases, my expectations decrease). But, that does not mean I am going to give up.

I also think having “time-bound” expectations can be sabotaging. Things don’t always happen when you plan them, so how would this set anyone up for being successful (unless it is only me, but I doubt it). Saying “by Christmas, I will be able to do a back bend” clearly was not too smart. And definitely not doable. I failed. No, I am not a fan of a tight time table. Instead, I prefer the feeling of “movement” in a better direction.

So, what does all this mean as far as avoiding failure, feeling successful, and moving toward change? I can only share my feelings and experiences. Personally, I have realized that I am a very visual learner. That means, I need to actually “see” something to understand it. That is probably why I loved chemistry, because the molecules and reactions are all drawn out, and are actually structures I can see. That makes sense to me. And so, as far as making changes (for me, incorporating stretching or yoga as well as strength training) I need to visually look at my calendar/schedule/real life. For my walking/hiking I tend to look at the week ahead and then I know the days I can come home and do my thing. It does not matter if I have a holiday party on one day and a girls get-together on another. I like the flexibility of being able to be social as well as active. With a rigid schedule feelings of guilt and obsession often creep in for some people, so being flexible does not affect your health or your fitness in any big way. And, it leads to more success.

When it comes to fitting in my flexibility training (sounds official, really it is elderly stretching), signing up for a yoga class at noon will not work because I am at work. Before the holidays (after I tweaked my back the first time by trying to run fast) I found that instead of standing in the kitchen and watching the news on our small TV like I usually do while sipping my coffee, I could easily incorporate some stretching. I don’t count, it may be ten minutes, but it is a start. It has already helped (well, until I bent over to make that bed, now I have my left side to work on). The bottom line is, it is doable because it is realistic, not time-bound, and flexible (I may do 5 minutes, or maybe 20).

Another factor that leads to success as far as making change is creating an environment that is supportive of the change you are working on. I will give the example of hydration, since this is an issue for me. I am not a fan of water, however flavored seltzer I can do. When I run out of it, I forget to drink enough when I am home. At work, I have a large coffee cup which triggers me to drink (as I make a point to fill it with water after I finish my coffee and am pretty good with filling it 3 times at least). But at home, it is a different story. And, leaving an open bottle of my favorite chardonnay in the fridge door is a good example of a sabotaging environment! If it is my plan to drink less wine and more water, then replacing that bottle of wine with my favorite flavored seltzer is a good example of creating a supportive environment. The same applies to food. It is so much easier to eat healthier when there is food available. Looking at your schedule, calendar, life in general and planning that time to grocery shop and plan a menu helps create that supportive environment for healthier eating if that is a change you want to make.

Finally, how you look at changing behavior is really important, especially when it comes to making “mistakes” or “slips”. No matter what it is, eating, drinking, exercising, stopping swearing, getting to bed earlier, you will not be perfect. You WILL not do what you had planned to do for whatever reason. I choose to look at these instances as gifts. So-called mistakes can actually provide insights into reality. Real life. This is what we NEED to know. Instead of beating ourselves up for not doing what we expected, why not stop and reflect? Ask, “why did this happen?” Only then can we work on addressing the real things in our lives that need fixing (or adjusting). Over time, we get where we need to go. There are people who prefer very specific plans (when it comes to eating or exercising) and it is comfortable for them, or has worked in the past for them. Although I am not a fan of dieting, etc, because I have seen some negative consequences in my work, you are the only one who knows what you need. I only suggest that incorporating some of the flexibility and common sense into whatever plan you choose may help to prevent that “all or nothing” way of life many fall into in their lives. Movement, no matter the speed, is still change.

In a nutshell, what I have learned from my experience with myself and others:

  1. Don’t be too specific. Make goals but be flexible with them.
  2. Don’t put too much emphasis on time. Does it really matter if you exercised for 20 minutes or 30? And does it really matter if you weigh whatever by whatever date? Or run a mile in 8 minutes, or do a back bend by Christmas?
  3. Be realistic. Don’t go by what others are doing, or what they eat, or how much they weigh. Know yourself, that is all that matters.
  4. Look at your schedule, your calendar, your life. Every week is not the same, and so how can you expect to be able to do the exact same thing every day? Work on flexibility, not perfection.
  5. Create a supportive environment to help you accomplish your goals. If you want to eat more fruits and vegetables, you need to buy them. If you don’t want to waste money on buying lunch at work, you will need to bring it (which means grocery shopping and making lunch).
  6. Welcome the wealth of knowledge you can gain from your “mistakes”. This is the key to change. You have at your fingertips all of the lessons you need to learn to help you gradually create the lifestyle you want. You just have to stop wasting time beating yourself up and instead, say “hhmmm, that was interesting….why did I do that? what might help next time?” Yes, a gentler approach to ourselves always helps.

So here’s to you, and all your efforts at healthy change, and may you never make the mistake of trying to do a back bend after the age of 60.