New Year’s Eve, our birthday, and illness all prompt us to take stock of our lives and we make promises that mostly go by the wayside within a few weeks.
We are bombarded with information on changes we should make in order to live a long healthy life. Humans are such creatures of habit that we easily fall back on what’s familiar. It is difficult to make changes and stick to them.
We all know that exercise is necessary for people of all ages. We don’t generally worry about children because they enjoy physical activity. They don’t walk; they run. As we get older, we drive to places where we could easily walk.
Experts recommend one hour of aerobic exercise, four times a week, and weight training two days of the week. Presumably, we need the one day to rest. If you’re not used too much activity, this recipe sounds daunting.
Don’t eat “junk” is another valid suggestion made by nutritionists. Grandma’s meat loaf is not junk nor are the waffles and syrup we heartily consume daily. How can I give those up?
Saving for retirement is certainly something we can all agree upon. What if you have only a few years before retirement or you’re already there. Perhaps all your money has gone to putting food on the table and sending your kids to college. There simply wasn’t any extra for that coveted “nest egg.”
Caring about people is supposed to keep you happy and healthy. Of course, having good friends and family nearby makes life much more enjoyable. Many families are spread across the country and the occasional phone call is all we expect from our busy children. Most friends are made at work or through hobbies and the older we get, the less our chances of making new friends are through these channels.
These are realities that we must face if we intend to enjoy a healthy lifestyle well into our 80s and 90s. How then can we make the changes that seem like huge sacrifices?
Begin little at a time!
If you take a brisk walk once a week for ten minutes or hoist 5 pound weights over your head now and then, you’re exercising. Each time you do it, try to increase the time and the frequency. Take up hobbies that can enhance you exercise routine such as dancing, golf, or tennis. You will be surprised how easy and fun exercise can be.
Removing “junk” from your diet also takes time. If you love meat loaf, make it with the leanest meat you can find and only add the freshest ingredients. Stay away from “packaged” foods, which often have hidden fats, preservatives, and large quantities of salt. Whole grain bread and cereal is rich with nutrients but don’t be fooled by many commercial brands that add sugars (dextrose, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup etc.). If you go out to eat, choose a restaurant that offers a selection of healthful meals. Most of all, don’t expect to change everything over night.
Fixing financial problems often requires help from experts. Browse the Internet for free advice and take stock of your situation. Be realistic, cut unnecessary spending and save what you can. By opening a savings account and having regular deposits, even very small ones, made automatically from your checking account, you can save painlessly. Every little bit helps.
Finally, keeping socially active should be “a work in progress.” Talk to your neighbors, take up a new hobby, or volunteer at a nearby hospital. Be willing to make new friends at every opportunity. The friends you make should be in all age brackets. You will be surprised how rich your life will become as you begin to interact with youngsters as well as people older than you.