Having done a 360 in my career, and in life, my 40s speaks volumes that “it’s never too late to change”.  I’ve lived it and continue to try new activities constantly. In fact, I took up skiing in my mid- 40s and loved it… That’s the wonderful thing about ageing; you put yourself out there more.  

Being a health and lifestyle professional, working with women over 55, I’ve discovered that we go through different stages when we make changes in our lives.  Let’s briefly look at the first three stages.

The first stage is UNAWARE.  In this stage, making a change in your lifestyle is not even remotely on your horizon.  Others around you might be concerned for you and want you to start exercising and looking after yourself, but it’s not up to them, and the more they suggest it, the more you’ll fight it.

The second is the AWARE stage.  There’s been some type of ‘aha’ moment in your life.  A health issue, a glimpse in the mirror, a photo that you cannot believe is you, or others see you differently to how you see yourself.  An example might be the grandchildren saying, “Grandma, why can’t you pick me up now?” But in your mind, you think your fit and strong.

The biggest concern in the aware stage is your ability to ignore it.  But the unhealthy habits, like sitting too much and not moving enough will catch up with you at some point.  

It’s reflection time… consider this: if you cannot pick up your grandchild now, what will that be like in 5, 10 or even 20 years’ time?  Take out a piece of paper – write the pros on one side and cons on the other.  

The third stage is ACTION.  Start slow and be consistent.  Consistency will pay off every day, compared with the boots and all approach.  When you start slowly, you gradually allow your body to adjust to the change, becoming stronger and confident to move to the next chapter.  When you take it slow, the effects are more lasting, and you’ll see results, and this will have a snowball effect.  

I see women moving from the AWARE stage to the ACTION stage every day.  What’s important is to take your time in each stage, because when you’re ready, you’ll know.

This is what Linda said, “I'd been thinking about getting off my lounge for over 12 months. I wanted somewhere that wasn't surrounded by mirrors or machines that I didn't know how to use correctly”.  Sometimes, it can be years before you take action, and other times it happens straight away.

Being active gives you more energy, puts you in a better mood, improves your health, helps you sleep better, and when you do it in a group environment you gain more social connections.  And… staying connected is great for your mental health, you feel less lonely and more valued.  

Words by Peta Gillian

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