I’m Aging….And I’m Not Handling It Well

Remember in our 20s when we could work an entire full week, attend grad school after work, do a happy hour during the week, spend Friday and Saturday night partying or in Vegas, coordinate dance practices during Saturday and Sunday mornings and afternoons and then go back to work on Monday, maybe only slightly worse for the wear?

Yeah, I’m not there anymore. The hardest part about turning 40 is that I keep hearing that things are going to keep popping up and it’s just part of the aging process. It’s probably the part of this transition I was completely unprepared for. I try to take care of myself to the best of my ability (short of a perfectly healthy diet and not drinking at all). But it doesn’t seem to be enough anymore. Genetics and plain old age seem to play a more important part now. And the stress of being the Middle Generation.

I don’t feel like I’m “middle age”. I’m still quite physically active. I sleep better, probably eat better, and definitely drink less than I used to. So my body is breaking down more than it used to and mentally and emotionally, I’m completely unprepared for this. I’m just starting to ask my parents questions about our family history of disease because it seems like a good idea to be aware. I’m having to come to terms with the fact that the things my body feels aren’t the same as how I feel. The difficult part about that is that I don’t know what is a normal change and what is something I need to look into. It sends me down a rabbit hole of questions.

There is a part of me that wants to have a discussion group on different physical challenges people are going through now at this age. Maybe others are talking about it, but this general aging process isn’t something I’ve had discussions about until now. I’m hoping that learning that we are all going through all of these transitions together will help me lower my stress levels about what I’m going through.

For now, I write and I try to find ways to accept my body’s transitions.

The Fresh Food Controversy

Are you South Asian Indian? Have you ever heard either your mother or some other Indian aunty (or I guess, our generation now since a lot of us are moms) who says that food has to be fresh and nothing else is good enough? Are you or someone you know the type that will only eat food that has been cooked that day and anything else should be thrown out?

I grew up with a full-time working mom in America which means we were all about leftovers. And we grew up loving them. There’s nothing better to me than pasta or chow mein that has had a day to soak in its grease and spices. It is amazing. Even now, I meal-plan so that we have leftovers for at least a day (I also have no capability of controlling how much I make when I cook so inevitably, we end up with at least 2 times the amount we need).

My sisters and I are some of the healthiest people I know. We don’t get sick too often, are fairly active, and in good shape. So I’m wondering about this whole “fresh is best” idea.

Is there a valid point to be made? Does something lose nutritional value or taste sitting in the refrigerator for a day or two? Or is it just a preference? Other than straight up mold causing sickness, is there anything wrong with eating something for a few days?

Can you even argue with someone who claims that food is only good for that day? Or can you just happily take their leftovers because they refuse to eat them?

I also wonder if this claim is something that is made by people whose strength is cooking. Do they just like the idea of making something new every day? Does their self-esteem depend on it?

I like eating fresh food but I have no problem eating leftovers as well. To me, it’s all food. If it was good before, it’s good after. If it isn’t good, it wasn’t good to begin with.

So….what do you think?

Yes I’m Vain….But It Keeps Me Healthy

When I was 15, my metabolism quit. Like it got up and said “F*** you” and left. Prior to that, I was a super skinny kid and didn’t really worry about what I ate. After that, it’s like everything I ate just stayed on me. I ended up at around 130 pounds at the time. For a 5’2″ girl, there’s nowhere for that weight to really go that will look attractive. I wasn’t consistently athletic at the time so it wasn’t even muscle weight.

Now take a look around you. Take a look at yourself. Are you in shape? Are you taking care of yourself? Are you being healthy?

If the answer (the honest answer) is no, join the club. There are way too many of us out there that aren’t taking care of ourselves. The American Heart Association recommends walking around 10,000 steps or 5 miles per day. This is hard. I bought myself a Fitbit because I thought I must be easily hitting this number daily chasing my kid around plus working out once a day but nope. I still have to take another walk and really push my activity levels to hit this number. I rarely ever reach 5 miles. It’s frustrating.

After my metabolism quit, it took me another 6 years to come out of denial that I couldn’t just eat what I want and not work out and look like how I wanted. I always wanted to have the perfect body. I’ve always been a perfectionist. And somehow I thought that it would just come to me without me having to work for it.

One day, I looked at a picture of myself and saw how I looked in a shirt I really liked. It felt awful. I realized that I wasn’t just going to magically get into shape. It was, at the moment, I decided that I didn’t want to feel like that again. I joined a gym and started counting calories. I lost a ton of weight and not only was working out regularly but had joined a professional dance team so I was dancing regularly. I felt stronger and healthier.

I’m writing this because when I look around me and see so many people who don’t seem care, it’s frustrating and scary to me. My metabolism quit early and it took me 6 years to figure out what to do about it. But, mine quit earlier than it does for a lot of others. For those of us who are¬†entering our 30s and inching towards our 40s, there are things that won’t work as well as they did before. We are at higher risk for health problems if we don’t start taking care of ourselves as soon as possible.

I’m sure a lot of you are thinking that you like the way you look or you’ve accepted your bodies for what it is. I applaud that. Here’s the thing. We don’t have to have the perfect bodies but we shouldn’t be treating our bodies like trash cans either. We don’t have to not enjoy food but we shouldn’t ignore the consequences of what we are eating as well. The point is that we aren’t eating healthier and exercising to look like supermodels. We are doing it so we feel better about ourselves. We are doing it so we can be there in the future to take care of our children. We are doing it so we don’t miss out on something just because we thought it was too much work when we were younger and couldn’t be bothered.

Unfortunately, I see way more people around me who don’t care than do. I hope they realize that change starts when you take the action to change. I’m hoping that most people understand that those who are physically fit really work hard at it. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Even for those people who are naturally thin, they have to watch what they eat and work out so they don’t end up with other health issues.¬†In the end, we should all feel better about ourselves not only physically but emotionally.

Exercising and eating right does wonders for your mind and soul as much as your physical body. For me, it’s a coping mechanism. It helps my stress levels stay down and for me to deal with whatever problems happen in my life. It also boosts my confidence levels regardless of what I look like or how I’m feeling at the moment. There are plenty of times I’ve gone into a dance practice or work out feeling down or mad and 3o minutes later, I will feel really good about everything because I just needed to take a break from my mind and focus on my physical activity instead.

There are plenty of groups and articles to help you learn how to take care of yourself if that is where you are stuck. This is something I really believe in (even if I slip up every so often and eat a bag of jelly beans myself or have more alcohol than I probably should have). I hope you will be inspired to take the step to treat yourself with the respect you deserve.