When you have turned 40, it is like you need to have a personal swot team for your health – your doctor, chiropractor, physiotherapist, massage therapist (on speed dial), personal trainer, psychologist and a registered nutritionist and dietitian.
In our 20s + 30s, we were focused on our careers, our relationships, and building our lives. Now in our 40s, we are faced with the reality that we have hit middle-age. Our bodies don’t work as well as they used to. From vague annoyances (heartburn, bloated, physical injuries) to more significant disappointments (weight gain, fatigue, chronic disease), we can no longer get away with an unplanned lifestyle.
As we get older, we realize that we can no longer keep the schedule we did when we were in our 20’s and 30’s. We can no longer skip out on parts of our wellness plan. We are juggling our lifestyle while managing the other demands on our times…family, career, money, relationships. You know you need to do it – invest time in yourself. Time to work out, go to a yoga class, time for your physiotherapy exercises…time to prepare some meals ahead of time, and to pack healthful snacks, time for therapy, time to sleep…but how?
Below I share 7 tips for getting started in investing in your health and wellness.
Over 40? Invest in your health and wellness: 7 tips for getting started
- Identify your own personal definition of wellness. How it is you want to feel? How will you know when you are well? How do you want to live? Knowing what is included in your definition of wellness is important. From there, you can work backwards to creating the lifestyle needed to move toward your personal definition of wellness.
- Detect what are the essential parts of your wellness strategy. What do YOU need to feel well? As a Registered Nutritionist and Dietitian, I help people work on their nutrition with real food to fuel their wellness. I help people identify what foods they need more of, what foods they need less of, how to eat to maximize their energy, how to eat to manage their health, what supplements they might need, how their eating might need to change… But there are other parts of your wellness that are also needed – sleep, relaxation, exercise, movement, time in nature, stress reduction practices, healthful and supportive relationships – to list a few. What parts of your lifestyle strategy do you need to put in place to move you toward your own definition of wellness?
- Consider how your health and wellness fits in with other parts of your life… finances, family, relationships, fun and recreation, career, personal growth and your daily environment. We all get the same 24 hours in the day. How will your health and wellness fit in with other parts of your lifestyle? How your health fits in with other parts of your life is a personal question – and only you can answer this.
- Work with your calendar. Once you have identified how your health fits in within the bigger context of your life, book your wellness in! If it isn’t scheduled, it is not likely to happen. This is especially important if you are working on a new habit. For example, I book in grocery shopping on the weekend so I am prepared for the week ahead. I book in time with friends each week to maintain my social connection.
- Make it social – Social support is something that can significantly help you have more success in moving toward your wellness goal. It also makes it more fun! Can your time with friends be doubled up with a walk or run? Can you get together and cook while you visit? Can you take a yoga class together? Can you take a cooking class together? Last spring, I took mountain biking lessons. I booked my lessons with friends, allowing me to learn something new out in nature with people I enjoy.
- Identify your critical time periods – Notice when things are easier for you to invest in your health and wellness. For example, if I don’t work out within the first 3 hours in the day, I am almost guaranteed that I will miss my exercise for the day. Working out early in the morning allows me to get it done first before work or life seem to take over my priorities. Early in the morning is a critical time period for me to get my movement in.
- Skip the all or none – think some! Finally, skip the all or nothing thinking! I work with a lot of people who come to me feeling frustrated that they are not moving toward their health and wellness goals. In our discussion, we often find a black-and-white, all-or-nothing approach to their lifestyle. If I don’t exercise 30 minutes, then I may as well not do anything at all. If I overeat earlier in the day, then I may as well keep over-eating because I have blown my lifestyle today! Skip the all or none – think some. When working on your wellness strategy, remember that any amount is better than nothing.