As the years march on, many of us may find ourselves wondering how many years we might have left. We may try to avoid these thoughts, but who hasn’t—at some point— speculated about “what percent” of their life they’ve lived?
The truth is there are no guarantees, and we never really know how many years are still ahead. But what if we could shift the focus of those thoughts? Instead of focusing on how much time we hope to have, what if we put our energy into figuring out what kind of time, we’d like to have left?
Unlike the number of years, the quality of those years is something we have some control over. And the best part? It’s never too late to get started!
Age is More Than a Number
Consider Denise and Helen … looking at life from age 53 and age 78. Each of these women resolved to act when they started noticing changes they didn’t like.
They reached out to trainers certified in functional fitness, which focuses on your physical health within the bigger picture. It’s not only about how you look. It’s about how you move and feel— now and for years to come.
Denise and the H.S. Reunion
Denise was shocked when, shortly after her 53rd birthday, she attended her 35th high school reunion. The transformation of some of her classmates was hard to believe. She had been watching their steady decline every five years, but this time it was dramatic—many looked old beyond their years.
Thirty-five years ago, their year 12 break-up celebration had been an all-night bonfire down by the lake with swimming and dancing. Now, her classmates were choosing party venues based on a conference centre’s accessibility, parking, and ability to accommodate everyone’s dietary restrictions.
When the reunion party ended, Denise and some of her friends decided to continue the celebration at a local bar. Denise was surprised that she felt out of breath as she climbed the steep stairs to the second-floor room. Until this point in the evening, she had been feeling pretty good about herself. Maybe she wasn’t the most fit and young-looking of her peers, but she thought she was definitely better off than the majority of them.
While still catching her breath and listening to some of the others talk about their ailments, doctor’s appointments and dietary restrictions, a group of 20-something women celebrating a birthday came bounding up the steps, laughing and dancing.
The contrast was startling. Why did her classmates seem so old? She certainly wasn’t that old, was she?!
Sure, she’d started to feel her age a bit in the last few years. And she’d noticed that, while she was eating the same things, it was harder to keep her weight the same (and that weight was collecting in different places). But, she thought, “That’s normal, right?” She was feeling a little more tired and had some mood swings, but she still hadn’t felt like she was getting “old.” That is, until she got a good look at 53, right next to 20-something. It felt like yesterday that she was out with her girlfriends having fun, but lately she could barely stay awake past 10pm.
Denise didn’t like what she saw. Most of her peers seemed to be on a downhill slide, and maybe she was starting to slide as well.
At that moment, Denise knew she had a choice. She could continue as she was and just accept the inevitable. Or, she could decide to do whatever was necessary to slow her decline.
The first thing she did when she got home was make a list of all the things she still wanted to do and see. Next, she got the name of a certified functional fitness trainer in her area and set up an appointment. Her trainer created a training plan that targeted her specific needs from a holistic approach.
Six months later, she was able to cross the first place off her list when she returned from hiking the Blue Mountains. For this ascent, she was only breathless from the view—not the steep climb!
Helen Takes the Trip
Helen didn’t have her aha moment until she was 78.
On the drive home from visiting her daughter, son-in-law, and teenage grandchildren, Helen noted how quickly the grandkids were growing up. She had been there for each of their births, and now they were nearly adults.
She knew she was lucky compared to many of her friends. She was still able to drive the four hours to visit the kids. And each year at her annual check-up, the doctor commented on how great her “pathology results” were for “someone her age.”
She knew this was all good news, and that things could be much worse. Her dear friend Carol, who is exactly her age (they even share a birthday!) was living a very different reality. Her life was consumed with juggling doctors’ appointments, therapy sessions, and keeping track of her many medications. Carol would have loved to visit her own family, but travelling was just too hard.
But Helen also knew that her luck was just that—luck—and that despite some pretty good genes, that luck wouldn’t last forever.
For the first time, on the recent visit with her daughter and family, Helen noticed that it wasn’t all easy. When they went to watch her grandson’s hockey game, Helen was a little wobbly walking across the uneven grass field. She also noticed that she was stiffer than usual after sitting on the grandstand. Navigating their three-story home was another new challenge, and she found herself trying to avoid any unnecessary trips up the steep flights of stairs.
The moment, though, that really got Helen thinking about her future ability to enjoy her family was when her granddaughter, a university student, began to tell her about her plans to study abroad in England for a semester the following school year. She said, “Gram, you’ve GOT to come over when Mum and Dad visit. You’ll absolutely LOVE the UK!!”
This both thrilled and frightened Helen. She had always wanted to take a trip overseas, but she really didn’t know if she could manage all the walking. If she were starting to have trouble now, what would she be like in a year and half, when she was nearly 80?
As she drove toward home and reflected on her visit, she realized how much she loved being involved in her grandkids’ lives. She was so fortunate that she was always included and welcomed. Travelling with the family to England would be a dream come true.
In thinking about that possible trip, it suddenly occurred to Helen that when her granddaughter returned from her study abroad, she’d have just one more year of university before graduating. Helen would be 81. Would she be able to attend? After that, who knew where her granddaughter would live. Would Helen be mobile enough to visit? And what about a wedding in the future? Could she even hope to be around in five or ten years to witness that joyous occasion?
It was then that Helen remembered the advertisements she’d seen about functional fitness and the different emphasis of our type of training started to make a lot more sense (her aha moment). Functional fitness isn’t completely focused on just looking good like every other trainer in our market. Helen called the next day to set an appointment.
Helen just returned from England and is currently planning to attend her granddaughter’s graduation. After that, she’ll travel with the family to The Gold Coast for a week of holiday. Her trainer has promised to give her workouts to do while she’s gone so she doesn’t lose any of her hard-earned progress. She’s got too many things to do and see to slow down now!
Planning for YOUR Future
What about you? Have you done the math for your life, your family, and your goals? How many more years do you need?
What’s on your bucket list and what will it take for you to be healthy, strong, and fit enough to do it? The time to start planning is now.
To do that, it helps to consider your physical abilities in terms of what you will NEED to do, LIKE to do, and WANT to do.
In the chart below from the Functional Aging Institute, the top/dark line reflects the capabilities of someone consciously investing in their health and fitness. The bottom line is the trajectory of someone who becomes increasingly sedentary as they age (often believing that’s just what old age looks like).
As you can see, it’s the decisions we make right now that determine how we spend the rest of our lives.
Do you know where you are on this chart? It’s not just based on numerical age. So, you might be 57 and be very high on the chart. Or, you might be 45 and already realizing you’re not where you want to be. The reality is the functional trajectory of ageing is true for all of us. We’re all born and, at some point, we’re all going to die.
As we age, our physical abilities naturally decline somewhat. But, it’s not too late to slow that process down. The right personal trainer and program will help keep our abilities on the top line of this chart so that we can continue to do the things we love and want to do into our 80s, 90s, and beyond!
Like Denise and Helen, it’s not too late to turn things around.
The first step is to make the call and join us for our 21-Day offer. Please call Graham at Renewed After 50 on 0412 589 185. At Renewed After 50, we will work with you to begin the journey to a lifetime of health and fitness.