Making Peace With Aging
A close cousin of the global $75 billion diet industry is the $50 billion anti-aging product industry. In a society that worships at the alter of youth, we’re inundated with yet another stream of disempowering messages that keeps us battling our bodies and highly distracted from what it really means to live fully. God forbid we get fat, but heaven help us if we get old and fat!
There’s a long list of reasons you may want to change your body’s shape, weight or appearance, but sadly the real culprit remains that harmful collective set of social expectations that equates thinnness, youth and health as one in the same.
These days much of the wellness industry that claims to focus on health and fitness is just a re-branded version of diet culture telling us that there’s one way to look, one way to eat and that we’re simply more worthy a person if our bodies are a certain way,
Now that I’m in my 50’s and noticing some gradual changes, I’m ever more conscious about my inner narrative about my body, aging and self care behaviors. I fully admit that some times I catch a glance of myself in the mirror or in a photo and I’m not fully comfortable with what I see. I’ve got a few more aches and ailments that get my attention more than I’d like. But then I catch myself and challenge those unhelpful thoughts: “What is causing me to feel this way about my body right now?” “What external factors are impacting my feelings?” “What matters most to me when it comes to my health and wellbeing”
Identifying and disengaging from from diet and anti-aging culture frees up so much mental energy to channel into things that can actually bring you more joy and satisfaction. And the research is clear, people with more positive attitudes about growing old tend to live longer and healthier lives than those with negative thoughts about aging.
I’m committed to practicing what I preach. I’m not perfect but at the core I honor and appreciate my body every day. Doing what makes me feel nourished, vital and balanced are my priorities.
Most recently, one of the ways that I maintain ongoing respect for my body has been discovering new ways to move with group interval training and salsa classes! Appreciating the marvelous things your body is capable of and doing activities that make you feel good about yourself is a great way to develop a more empowering attitude toward our ever changing bodies.
To be clear, I’m all for looking your best and feeling desireable; and yes I’m a little in awe of the celebrities making 50 look like the new 30, but remember they’re simply not the norm and the ways they maintain their appearances aren’t necessarily healthy.
So I remind myself that comparing is despairing and that my true worth as a human being is not and has never been tied to my appearance. I choose to view my body as an instrument of Life, not just an ornament. That’s some good wisdom that’s come with getting older, right there.
Starving yourself, overexercising, seeing yourself as a neverending problem to be solved, or disparaging yourself because of the way you look drains your precious life force energy.
It’s a radical but definitely more life-enhancing choice, that regardless of how healthy we are or hope to remain, to embrace your whole self right now. Your body, this incredible vessle for your core essence deserves your love and respect.
I understand that some of you may be afflicted with chronic pain or an injury that is keeping you from doing the things you most love. Regardless, our bodies are still doing amazing things every day, and for that, we can be grateful.
My wish for you is you not fall prey to diet or anti-aging propoganda.
Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.