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6 Ways To Develop Healthy Habits

The thing about habits is that we do them without thinking. For example, brushing our teeth is a habit; eating is a habit; how you react to people is a habit. These are things you do automatically. With this in mind, it’s reasonable to think that you need to make it a habit if you want to keep up with your strength training long-term. Being consistent and forcing yourself to practice even when you don’t want to is a good step in the right direction. Sure, it sounds uncomfortable to “force” yourself to do anything, but it’s really just a short-term struggle you will have with your mind.

post-it note reminders to exercise
6 ways to develop healthy habits after 50

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Healthy Habits

As soon as your mind (remember we spoke about developing the right mindset) is on board, a habit can form. And then you’re onto a good thing. Then strength training will just be part of your day, like eating and breathing. It took us about six weeks to turn our curiosity about exercise into a habit. Actually, for us, it’s become more of a full-blown addiction! For us, aging isn’t about “getting old.” Healthy aging, in our opinion, is about staying physically active, finding new things to enjoy, and connecting with family and friends. For many people, growing older brings fear and anxiety that stem from misconceptions. The reality is that you are more potent and resilient than you realize. With the right approach, you can maintain your emotional and physical health; and thrive, whatever the circumstances or your age. To help you along the way, we’re going to share a few tips for developing healthy habits with you.

1. The Time to Make Healthy Food Choices is Now!

In our 50s, we’ve seen some other 50+ers make some questionable food choices along the way. We’ve heard every excuse in the book, from “We’re old enough to eat what we want now” to “Who do I need to look good for anyway?” In the end, these are just excuses. Eating healthy can be tough. It almost seems like we revert to the convenient meals we wanted in our teens. As Jerry Rice says, “Do today what other people won’t so that tomorrow you do what they can’t.”

Making healthy food choices now will do great things for your future health. And it’s not about limiting yourself to bland meals or eating purely for good looks. What you eat can impact your body’s ability to cope and, of course, either strengthen or weaken you to diseases.

First and foremost, we don’t expect you to eat a diet as sparse as a runway model. Instead, we recommend adopting a healthier approach. That doesn’t mean skipping on burger night with your friends. Instead, go to burger night but consider a side salad instead of fries and skip on the bun for a bun-less burger option! If you eat cereal in the morning, look for sugar-free varieties and add a few pieces of fruit to add in.

Let’s talk about vitamins and minerals. When you’re on the horizon of 50, your bones weaken, and your muscle mass declines. Now is a good time to increase your intake of calcium and vitamin D. The big 5-0 is also a time when lethargy kicks in and energy levels do a disappearing act. This can be a result of vitamin B12 deficiency. While you should aim to get most of your nutrition from your food, taking a decent multivitamin isn’t a bad idea.

2. Reduce Caffeine and Sugar

We’re probably going to be boo’d right out of the 50+ club with this one, but caffeine and sugar don’t really serve you well. In fact, they take away from you. Too much caffeine robs you of your own personal energy, and soon, you become reliant on it. As you get older, it’s also a bit of a sleep deterrent. At times, we’ve had our share of too much coffee, and we noticed just how restless sleep can be as a result. “But coffee smells so good in the morning!” Yes, but be aware that it can rob you of your sleep, and can also increase anxiety and lead to irregular heartbeats. It can be an issue when you have a heart condition. Sugary drinks and sodas can also be tempting. However, they contain high amounts of sugar that lead to health issues like obesity. Sugar can also significantly increase inflammation and irritation in the body, which is bad news for people with arthritis.

3. Schedule Workouts

After 50 you begin experiencing signs of aging that include loss of muscle mass, lower bone density, general weakness, slouching, and low metabolic rate. It certainly sounds like something you have to look forward to, doesn’t it! We’ve already discussed the many exercises you can do to ensure that you reverse these signs of aging and live a more flexible, agile life – it’s all about improved quality of life in the end.

The hard part isn’t knowing what to do; it’s sticking to it. Unfortunately, it’s easy to lose interest or get busy with other things. You know the whole “I will workout tomorrow” excuse! We know how it goes because we were once in the very same predicament. The best way to overcome this problem is to develop a workout schedule and actually block off time in your diary. If you know that you exercise from 7 am to 7.45 am every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, it will be easier for you to form a habit than if you just leave it up in the air. To ensure that you stick it out, invite someone to join you. Your partner, child, or friend will help you stick to your plans.

hand weights and kettle weights
Commitment is pushing yourself when no one else is around.

Another way of ensuring that your workout times become a habit is to choose the same time to work out every time and to ensure that it’s at a time where other commitments are unlikely to crop up and interfere. If you find that an hour before bed is the only time that can happen, then so be it! We find that first thing in the morning is the best time for us. It gives us a burst of energy and endorphins for the day, and once it’s out the way, we have time to do all the things we want to do that day. Freedom!

4. Make Active Hobbies Your Thing

Now that you’re heading past 50 and toward the golden years, you might have time for hobbies. And hobbies are great at this stage of life. Hobbies help individuals shape their personality, act as inspiration, energize lifestyle, and connect with like-minded people. Engaging in a hobby will also provide mental health benefits and fill you with a sense of achievement. Avoid only engaging in hobbies that are sedentary. Be strategic about your hobby choices, as you can use them to maintain an active lifestyle.

Some obvious active hobbies include: Joining neighborhood runs, playing pickle-ball, lawn bowling, learning Tai Chi, joining a walking group, walking the dog, playing catch with the grandkids, doing weekly gardening, hiking, playing golf. These are just a few ideas. Active hobbies help to tone, shape, and strengthen muscles, reduce weight, and increase energy levels. They are also great for cardiovascular health.

5. Find a Fitness Buddy

For us, we’re lucky in that we have each other. We hold each other accountable for being fit and strong, and the fact that we have each other keeps us motivated, dedicated, and hardworking.

If you have a partner who will join you, great! If you don’t - perhaps it’s time to find someone who will join you with your workouts. Most 50+ers report that an active fitness buddy helps them achieve their fitness goals and stay committed to the process. Ask a friend or family member to join you, or if you’re struggling to find someone, see if another 50+er in your community might be interested in getting active. It’s worth it!

6. Track Your Progress

We strongly recommend that you start tracking your progress from day one. Make a list of what you want to achieve from your strength training efforts. Your list might look like this: Weight loss. Getting stronger. Relieve aches and pains. Feel more energetic. Competitive in sport. Then make a list of your current measurements. Note down your height, weight, measurements over your stomach, waist, legs, and arms. Record your clothing size and take a before picture so you can compare it with an after picture in a few weeks. When you start working out, set goals for yourself. Note how heavy your first weights are or how many reps you can achieve before getting tired. If you see that you can only manage using a 3-pound dumbbell this week, try to work your way up to using a 5-pound dumbbell in a fortnight. Each week, make a new note of how you have improved. As you see your progress climbing, you will undoubtedly feel motivated to push harder and achieve more. Seeing a visual representation of your progress is also good for your mental health. Achieving goals isn’t a passive thing! As Jerry Dunn once said, “Don’t limit challenges; instead, challenge your limits!” To reach your fitness goals, write them down on paper, create a strategic plan for achieving them (following the exercise advice in this book), acknowledge possible hurdles, make the required sacrifices, talk to others about the challenges, and act every single day on achieving that goal.

It's never too late to embark on a journey toward a healthier, more vibrant you, especially when you feel the effects of neglecting self-care for years. Rediscover the path to physical well-being. 


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