I turned 50 last year. Yeah, I really didn’t get the birthday party I wanted. Well, maybe next decade. Getting in shape has been an incredible B* for the past two decades. Stress, hormones, injury, illness, arthritis…every attempt to improve my health just tanked. Setbacks felt like major failures, and I just gave up. Maybe it was time to just lay down in the garden and have the dirt piled on top of me. That’s how I felt.

No matter what I did, the weight just kept creeping in like a bad ex stalking your social media page. It just wouldn’t stop trolling me. To be fair, I wasn’t really doing everything I knew I should be doing to help it on its merry way, but WTH, I was busy building my corporate presence, running between households, upgrading a rental property, managing a pack of animals, listening to other people’s drama, and every now and then I got to shave my legs and take a nap. Why was I still overweight? Nope, it wasn’t physical, it wasn’t lack of desire or motivation: it was in my head.

We do not give enough credit to the mind-body connection and not doing so is a surefire way to fry all of your connections and short-circuit your wiring. After a bout of anxiety and panic attacks that lasted for a year, I decided that it was time to make some changes. It has not been easy, and I’ve had to do some things that are, frankly, weird, but I’ve always been open-minded, so I was willing to give a go to anything that made me feel better.

Eighteen months later, I’ve made some changes and am seeing marked improvement on all fronts. Today, I feel twenty years younger and have the energy to match. My mind is clear, my heart is full, and my body — well, let’s just say I haven’t seen this figure in some time, and I just don’t recognize myself anymore. Twenty down and ten more to go.

No miracle cures. I added stress and cortisol reducing supplements to my daily regimen. They can be bought at just about any store. No elixir. No diet. I eat what I want but I am mindful of how my body responds when I eat. I do enjoy some of the VitalAuthority™ products and drink my share of H2Orange ™ but I don’t order special food, and I don’t shop in the skinny chick section of the grocery store. I like fat juicy hamburgers, wings, and fries – suck it. Sodium and carbs take a toll for about 2 days so I combat the effects by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after consumption, and I limit my intake (nachos, margaritas, bread) to 1-2 days a week; balance, not restriction.

I follow an intermittent fasting schedule: two days of protein-only breakfast followed by whatever the hell I want for the rest of the day. Three days of eating what I want breakfast and two days of smoothie to-go breakfast, and you guessed it –- whatever the hell I want for lunch and dinner. Now, I’m reasonable; it’s not like I’m downing fast food twice a day and sucking down brewskies for dinner every evening, but if I want to have a beer on a date, I’m gonna have the suds. Be mindful, not miserable.

When I started my new job last fall, I decided that I wanted to take back my health and well-being, but I couldn’t focus on my body right away. I had to heal my mind and my nerves; both were PTSD zones of bad juju that just had to go. Setting intention, I instigated new routines and worked to establish new patterns of thinking and responding. It wasn’t easy, and I had some setbacks, but by the time I hit fifty-one this April, I had nailed it!

I have always been a big believer in clearing the mind to cut through all of the other BS. I live in my head; scary stuff happens in there, but it’s still safer than “out there.” You’ve seen it; good gawd, we’re a mess right now. It’s pertinent to the mind-body-fitness connection. If your thoughts are cluttered and are either hindering you from making good choices or helping you to make some bad ones (you know who you are) then it’s time to step back and deal with that mess.  If you look in the mirror and do not like what you see, start with that melon ball sitting on top of your shoulders. Is there an injury (physical or emotional) that needs to be healed first? Is there a message that you keep playing over in your mind that is self-sabotaging (negative speak from either yourself or some A-hole that you should give the final bird flip?) or are you just scared? Are you having trouble getting over that bad idea of an ex or having trouble putting down your not-so-good-for-you vices? Does the idea of being fit and fabulous scare you? It does change you. It changes how you see yourself and how others see you; sometimes that’s positive and sometimes not so good. Relationships can break when one partner decides to get his or her act together and change for the better. Sometimes it’s like meeting someone totally new for the first time, and that can be sexy! You could fall in love all over again (ahhh). Friends may not understand, and you may attract some not-so-attractive attention; you might need to prepare your mind for all of that. Layer all of this on top of hovering around the big 5-0, and you have a recipe for some disastrous (fun) sitches. Screw it –- go for it and let me know how it goes; I like saucy.

Am I at the gym 7 days a week? No. I am consistently at Hotworx ™ 3-4 days a week doing Hot Yoga and Hot ISO to start. I love their concept and their facility is the bomb. I dance my ass off while doing chores 2-3 days a week and walk the dogs four nights a week (rather, they walk me). I get 12,000 steps most days but make sure I hit 10,000 most nights before I hit the sack. I lift free weights twice a week. I don’t sit around on my ass all day watching T.V. unless I’ve done something to get and keep in shape. Again, balance. But I’m not tired anymore. I am spent at the end of the day but not tired — not mentally worn out. I’m happy. I’m fulfilled, and I’m a lot of fun.

What’s the payoff? I am about to be big money. I’ve dropped 18 pounds since December. I’m down two dress sizes, six inches off my waist, and have gladly donated my roomy clothes and shoes (yes, my feet shrank) and have started to wear those “someday” things that I bought in hopes that they would motivate me. Ten more, and I’m back at my fighting weight, ready to get back in the ring and go a few rounds (wanna give it a go?). Who wants to dress sexy when you feel frumpy? Not this B*. But now? Well, just step aside while I strut on by. I don’t want to look 20 or even be 30 again, but I do liking feeling like I am.

It all started in my head. I had to clear the clutter, release the hurt, the betrayals, the anger and the fear that came with age, reflection, and denial. Only then could I begin to rebuild my dreams, my confidence, my stability, and my buns of steel. And I am. The weight started to fall, the muscles started to shape, and the cellulite shrank and smoothed out (no kidding) while my waist and my thighs thinned out.

My mind is sharper than it’s been in years. I sleep better than I did as a kid, and my productivity and creativity are off the charts. If I had any more energy, I would bottle it and give it away.

So, while 50 wasn’t exactly what I wanted it to be, maybe I’ll try again at the double 5 -– I’ll celebrate 55 in honor of Dutch. Life at 50+ doesn’t have to slow down. If you get out of your own way, clean out the trunk, look under the hood, and spray off the dust while feeding the engine what it needs, you can drop a gear and the top while you wave at the millennials you speed past along life’s fun-times-ahead highway. Now get off your ass and go have some fun and lose what no longer serves you. Muah.

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