How small changes now can have a big impact on your future
by Melissa Fox
As you turn the page on your life of hustle and bustle, practising mindfulness will help you discover how to make the most out of the chapters that lays ahead.
Mindfulness is the act of being fully present and aware of your surroundings and actions; it involves connecting with yourself on a deeper level. Though it can be uncomfortable at first, it can help shape your mood and guide your decisions.
This period of pause that stretches before you is a perfect time to begin to learn how mindfulness can improve your life, inside and out, particularly when guided by experts like Kim Rego, owner and certified mindfulness teacher at Mindful Bermuda. Where will you begin?
THE ACT OF REINVENTION IS BOTH MENTAL AND PHYSICAL
Part of personal growth is exploring your habits and whether a change can improve your quality of life. As registered dietician and nutritionist, Hanah Cannon at Island Nutrition says, “Every meal is a new opportunity to make a different, positive choice.”
Your lifelong relationship with food will be hard to change, but it’s never too late. For example, one research team followed more than 6,000 people aged 44 to 84 years over seven years. Those who made good-for-you changes like quitting smoking, following a Mediterranean-style diet, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight decreased their risk of death during that period by 80 per cent.
“You’ve worked hard your whole life; eating well and keeping active could help you enjoy the long and healthy retirement you deserve,” Hanah encourages.
No matter where you are on your journey to health, taking it one step at a time is the key to success. “Don’t try to overhaul your whole diet and lifestyle in one go,” Hanah cautions. Instead, she suggests keeping a tally of your food choices for a few days, and note where you can make minor improvements like upping your water intake or swapping healthy for indulgence (i.e. a Greek yoghurt for dessert).
Taking control of your health through nutrition means you might be able to manage developing chronic health conditions, as well. For example, you can control arthritis and inflammation flare-ups through healthy eating.
Prediabetic? You may be able to help reverse this condition through proper diet and programmes like Diabetes X-Pert Prevention & Management, offered by Island Nutrition (and fully covered by all local insurance providers). Contact Island Nutrition at [email protected] or 295 4082 for details.
Be sure to discuss your plans with your doctor before embarking on a nutrition journey, if only to get clarification around interactions between foods, medications, and supplements.
“Many foods and supplements can increase, delay, or reduce the medications we take,” Hanah explains. “Sometimes this can be beneficial such as taking Iron with vitamin C can increase the absorption, but taking Iron with tea or coffee will reduce the absorption!”
IF YOU DON’T USE IT, YOU LOSE IT.
Maintaining some level of activity is key to longevity, not to mention keeping up with the kids/grandkids.
“As we age, we develop issues from general wear and tear on the body,” explains Jenille Deveson-Smith, a personal trainer who focuses on helping older clients achieve their fitness goals. “Remaining active can help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, bone density loss, and more.”
If you’ve never been one for fitness, the thought of starting can be terrifying. Ease your way in with simple activities, like swimming or walking, and gradually increase the duration or speed as you become more comfortable.
“Beach walks are particularly challenging and activate more muscle groups, and you can enjoy the view of the water,” Jenille adds – she regularly leads groups through some of the island’s most picturesque locations. Bonus? Outdoor exercise is, by and large, free! Of course, there are advantages to training in a gym, including helpful staff and equipment, but “there are plenty of online workouts that you can do at home, too.”
While activities like walking or swimming will help improve endurance, strength training is excellent for seniors as well: “Lifting weights is said to increase bone density and overall health and flexibility, but also start slow with low weights and good form,” Jenille says. “I will use a chair and give seated exercises with dumbbells to reduce stress on other body parts. A chair is handy as well because some of my seniors cannot easily get down on the floor and standing for long periods becomes taxing.”
Before starting any fitness routines, discuss your readiness with your physician. If you don’t know where to begin, consider personal trainers to help and craft a training regimen to help you achieve your goals.
LETTING GO TO MAKE ROOM FOR MORE
The possessions you’ve accumulated over a lifetime’s worth of experiences may hold fond memories, but they may not serve you in the next chapter.
Organising gurus, like Marie Calendar, tout taking a mindful task to the act of purging: does this item serve you? If yes, keep it. If not, cut the ties. Other experts like Karen Shinn, the “Downsizing Diva” who has been assisting with downsizing efforts in Toronto for over 20 years, has discovered its the detritus that clutters forgotten drawers that is often the hardest to part with – books, calendars, cards, and the like.
Downsizing will free up space in both your home and your mind and maybe bring in a few extra dollars to help fund any dream excursions or adventures, or simply increase your peace.
Speaking of adventure now is the perfect time to travel (COVID aside). In the last few decades, there has been a renaissance for solo women’s travel, particularly among older generations. Resources like JourneyWoman.com and Solo Traveler offer a wealth of advice and tips for women either just starting or looking for their next journey.
If finances are a concern, seek out expert advice from your financial institution, or Bermudians can reach out to the Government Department of Financial Assistance (www.gov. bm/department/financial-assistance) for help with managing personal finances, like money management and budgeting.
All in all, age gracefully and live life to the fullest.