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Motivation: The Challenge of Maintaining Your Health

Motivation.

Aging comes with its challenges. Losing your pizazz for something is somewhat normal in life. Ebb and flow in all things are to be expected to some degree, but the trick to ensure that you don’t gradually let your newfound health and fitness slip away from you is to strategize for success. Set in place some preventative safeguards for quitting – yup, those are little measures that don’t allow you to quit. It can sometimes be challenging to motivate yourself, but it’s essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.


A woman exercising with battle ropes
MOTIVATION: The challenge of maintaining your health

Table of Contents:


Building in the "Safeguards"

One of the most effective safeguards we have found is to commit ourselves to keep moving. You might not have the inclination to do a full workout every day, but on those days, remember your commitment to move. Do a few stretches that will keep your muscle memory current, and your flexibility primed. Be cognizant of the fact that your body and mind must serve you well, not just now, but for the next 10, 20, & 30 years. That’s a lot of mileage your body still must handle, so you better get a good maintenance plan started now. In fact, you’re just approaching a bend in the road – so much more awaits you around that bend.


Keeping Your Head in the Game. Keep Your Mind Focused on Fitness and Health. With over five decades behind you, you're probably quite well aware of the role the mind plays. No doubt, you have tussled with your mind many times over decisions, scenarios, thoughts, and feelings. The mind is a powerful tool. Once it latches onto an idea, it’s hard to get it to let go. You can use this characteristic to your advantage. Expose your mind to more fitness and health-related content and media. The more you see it, read it, watch it, talk about it – the more likely you’re going to develop an interest and passion for it. And it’s a lot easier to stick to something you’re interested in – trust us on that one.


Finding Your Health. It’s not easy being a 50+ or a senior, and wanting to live a cleaner life. Heck, it would have been hard at 30 or 40! The world around you is and will be stuck in its ways. People want to continue being the way they have been for decades – many people don’t want change. There’s an entire population who would scoff at the idea of getting fit and in shape now. Much the same, that population is stuck in a cycle of poor food choices, not enough sleep, over-consumption of alcohol and other bad habits that don’t just lead to aches, pains and dependency, but actually shorten their lifespan. That’s okay. We want to tell you that you don’t have to be like everyone else.




Finding Your Fitness Tribe

You’re well within your rights to take your future into your hands and while there are millions of people in your age group that might go against you, rest assured they’re not in our club. You just need to find your tribe. Just like there are millions of people out there willing to continue making the unhealthy choices they’ve been making all along, there are millions of 50+ers who have realized the value in healthy living and staying active. These people are your people. Find them and stay close to them! Where do you find them? The first place to start looking is community fitness groups and health and fitness classes aimed at people 50+. You don’t have to join a group or class forever, but you can meet other 50+ers who are in a similar mindset to you by going a few times. Strike up a few friendships because these are the people you can call on for a chat and a walk or a Sunday morning stretch session on the beach.


The Importance of Having a Network. Another place you can find a support network of active 50+ers is on social media. If you’re not on social media, you can ask someone to help you with that, but the chances are that you have some presence on the likes of Facebook. Facebook is filled with groups for our age group, and these groups serve as a place for like-minded people to share ideas, provide support, and cheer for each other along the way. When you feel like you’re not alone in it and have others around you or in touch with you working towards similar goals as you, it’s easier to stick to the plan - this is another thing you should trust us on. Do you know anyone who shares similar fitness goals? A friend or family member? Exercising together has shown to provide encouragement and motivation. It can make workouts more enjoyable as well as holding each other accountable.


Know Your Why

“Knowing your why” is something we tell every 50+er we meet who struggles to stick to the plan or exercise sporadically. You’ve undoubtedly spent your life learning about the importance of goal setting, and in your 50s and beyond, goal setting is still important. Having purpose and reasons for doing things isn’t a strategy simply for the boardroom – it’s a great strategy for life. If you know why you want to start stretching and getting fit, you can keep reminding yourself and even use them as motivation along the way. Many 50+ers have similar reasons for focusing on their physical health, but there will be a few differences here and there.


To inspire you to draw up a why-list of your own, we’re sharing our reasons below. Perhaps these apply to you too:

It’s fun to play games competitively. We thoroughly enjoy hiking, running, and being active with our friends. Without a healthy exercise routine, these activities would be considerably more challenging for us to enjoy.


No one wants to become a burden on their loved ones. It stands to reason that at some point, our children will take care of us. Talk about turned tables, right? We don’t want to become a burden on our children prematurely, if at all. By maintaining a level of physical fitness, we get to keep our independence.


To shed the tummy tire. It almost feels like weight finds its way to the midsection the moment you hit your mid-forties, and it just gets worse from there. By staying active, the tummy tire can start to reduce.


Healthy organs. As we get older, we need to ensure we’re doing things that help our organs do their job. For instance, IBS is an issue that seems to plague older people. This is when the digestive system and all the organs involved seem to be at some sort of war, and the result is gas, discomfort, pain, and unmentionable bathroom antics.


Another problem that can crop up is heart health – cholesterol, high blood pressure – you know how it goes. Regular exercise can help all manner of problems related to organ health and function. Exercise increases blood flow, thus delivering more healthy oxygen to essential organs – which means your organs get the nourishment they need to function better.


Mental health boost. Depression, lethargy, sadness, listlessness – none of these sound fun because they’re not! Exercise gives you something to focus on other than your mental health problems, and it also inspires a fresh release of feel-good endorphins in the brain that help reduce all of the above-mentioned mental health issues.


To keep up with the grandkids. If you have grandkids, you already know how high-energy they can be. If you want to keep up with them, you have to maintain a good energy and fitness level.


Set Clear Goals and Create a Schedule. It’s important to establish measurable and achievable fitness goals. Be specific about them. Maybe it’s becoming more flexible, running a certain distance or being able to lift a specific amount of weight. Clear and measurable objectives gives you something to work towards. By creating a schedule, you’ve ensured a time that’s set aside on either a daily or weekly basis. That way you can eliminate the excuse of “not having enough time”.


Track Your Progress and Reward Yourself

A great way to track your progress is to keep a journal. There are also some great fitness apps out there that can keep track of your activities. It can be extremely motivating to see your improvement over time, and this can be used as an encouragement to keep pushing yourself. For some people, the reward system works well. Why not celebrate your achievements and progress with a non-food reward? Maybe a new outfit, or add something to your fitness equipment, maybe book a spa day for yourself. A reward is something that may help acknowledge your hard work and dedication.


Visualizing the Benefits and How That Plays a Crucial Role. When you mentally project a positive outcome from your efforts, it ignites a sense of purpose and motivation. This mental imagery can provide a clear roadmap for action. It boosts confidence and instills a belief in your ability to succeed. Visualizing the rewards triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, creating a positive feedback loop that enhances determination and drive. Visualization acts as a source of inspiration, and encourages perseverance. The emotional connection brings commitment and accountability. When you have this heightened focus, it will result in a greater likelihood of success and achieving your desired goal. Imagine the feeling after completing a workout. Visualize the outcome, such as your improved mood, energy, and a better overall health.


Make Fitness a Habit

You do several of the same things every day because you've been doing them for years already. These are called habits. You have habits, and the sooner you make your fitness routines a habit, the sooner they will become part of daily life. You’ll soon start doing them automatically. To develop a healthy habit, you can start by setting reminders. Stick a post-it-note on your fridge to remind you to do 5-10 squats every time you open it. Leave a small set of dumbbells at the front door to inspire a few bicep curls when you enter and leave the house.

Another way to develop a habit is to set reminders on your mobile phone and schedule workout routines. We find that first thing in the morning is the easiest for us. We schedule a little bit of time to complete a series of stretches to get the day started. Keep setting these reminders until you no longer need them. If you have a favorite television program that runs for around 30 minutes, be ready for it in your workout kit - ready to exercise your way through the episode. Meeting up with a friend regularly for exercise is a great way to develop a habit and stay on track. When you have to meet someone, you become more accountable and more likely to develop a regular habit.



Enjoy Some Rest & Relaxation

Of course, it’s not all about exercise. You also need to ensure that your body is getting enough rest and repair so that it can heal and be strong. If you overdo it, your immune system will take a knock, and you will only set yourself back. Because of this, it’s important to plan your exercise for the week. Set out the times and days and set the remaining time for rest. During your rest times, make sure you’re sleeping enough, eating right, practicing deep breathing and stretching (which is great for anxiety and high blood pressure by the way), but in a relaxing way. If you allow your body time to rest, it will serve you even better when you need it to be active and strong.


...and finally

Realize that motivation can (and will) fluctuate. Having an off day? Don’t worry that’s perfectly normal. Focus on the long term, stay consistent, and most importantly be kind to yourself. Remember that every step you take towards a healthier you, is a step towards an even better version of yourself!


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