Is Age Really Just a Number? [Podcast Episode #045]
At what age were you at your best? When did you feel healthiest? What trajectory are you on right now?...are you getting healthier, more fit, and stronger, or is your health deteriorating with each passing year?
Age, despite what many people believe, really is just a number. At the same time, if we don't take very proactive steps to maintaining our health as we age, the slope becomes very slippery and soon it can seem impossible to right the ship. Here's how you can actually get better with age...
Make Your Body Work Podcast: Episode #045
- Learn More About Louisa Rogers
- Want to Connect with Louisa? Send Her an Email [click here]
- Lift Weight to Lose Weight? [MYBW Podcast #024]
- What's the Most Effective Form of Exercise? [MYBW Podcast #003]
- Learn How to Exercise Wherever You Go [MYBW Podcast #039]
- Get Back On Track Today - Start the "10 in 4" Challenge!
Is Age Really Just a Number? [Full Text]
Dave: Hey, thanks so much for joining me in this episode of the Make Your Body Work podcast. As you know, this show is all about helping you live a healthier and happier life.
One of the things that I love most about hosting this podcast is getting to read all the diverse questions that I get, every single day. It's neat, because some questions are very unique, and very specific, and other ones really show a theme, or a trend, and really highlight struggles that many people are having.
Today's question is an example of one of those. It's the idea of I'm aging, and I don't like what it's doing to my body. What can I do to slow down or stop that process? I just want to say thanks to Elaine for writing in. This question, like I said, is on the minds of many people, myself included, so let's dive right in.
"Age is just a number. That's what I've been telling myself for years, but it's getting harder for me to believe. I know that I'm not going to feel the same now, at 52 years young, as I did in my 20s, but the decline in my fitness over the last few years really bothers me. I've listened to every one of your podcasts, so I know that maintaining muscle is key. I've started doing that, and it actually does help me feel stronger. Of course, healthy eating is important as well, but what else can I do to stay young? I guess I just don't want to grow old, and I'm feeling feisty, I want to put up a fight," and then she puts a little winky face at the end, and I love that.
Elaine, thanks so much for writing it. It was just so neat, I love that word "feisty," that you're ready to put up a fight, you're not willing to just get old and let your body get weaker and deteriorate.
I just want to relate to you, personally, I'm, this year, 36 years old, and I'm actually in a place now where I'm excited about getting older, but I remember turning 30, and feeling like, "Wow, I'm getting old, and my body is going to start falling apart." It's sort of a scary thought. What can we do? Our health is so important, it dictates so much of what we're able to do in life, how we're able to enjoy life. What can we do about it?
Instead of hearing me talk about it, because, like I said, I'm 36 years old. I don't have nearly the wisdom as my guest does today. My guest, she wrote to me recently, and has been listening to my podcast, and said, "Dave, I've got a story to share." She talks about how her health is more vibrant now, at about 65 years old, than it was 30 or 40 years ago.
I'm really excited to have her join us on the show today, and share some of her tips, some of her experiences, and some ideas of what we can do physically, as well as mentally and emotionally, to help slow down that aging process, or at least embrace the positives of it. I'm really excited to introduce to
Meet Louisa Rogers
Hey, Louisa, thanks so much for joining us on the show today.
Louisa: Thank you for having me. I'm delighted.
Dave: I'm delighted. We've been going back and forth via email a little bit, and I was just telling you before I started recording, that I was really excited when I got your email, just because it sounded so spunky. That's the best word I can think of, your email sounded so vibrant. I was wondering if you could start off by telling the listeners, who are you, and why are you on the Make Your Body Work podcast today?
Louisa: All right. My name is Louisa, with an A, that's very important, and I'm standing here in my loft apartment in the town of Eureka, California, which is on California's north coast, only about an hour and a half south of the Oregon border.
I am 65 years old, almost, sorry, I'll be 65 in August, and I'm married to my beloved, who, we've been getting close to forty years, believe it or not. I also live in Mexico part of the year, and so I have two lives.
In addition to that, I'm a consultant, I'm a business management trainer and coach, and I work with many different groups, helping them work on their strategic planning, their leadership. I'm going to Uganda, believe it or not, in June, to help a group work with their strategic planning and management, related to their team and board. That's the business and career side.
I also have had a life-long, or adult-long, put it that way, adult-long fascination and interest in health and fitness, and that kind of thing. Sometimes that's part of my revenue, I write about that, and I do lead workshops on wellness, although that's not my primary income. I just have a great love for this whole area. When I saw your podcast and your website, I thought, "That's for me!"
Dave: I'm glad. You know, when you wrote to me, I'll tell you, the thing that really got me, that made me think, "I've got to meet this lady," is the fact that you told me about how you got rid of your car. Maybe you can tell the audience, what's the deal with that?
Louisa: All right, well, first of all, in all honesty, I'm 90% car free, by which I mean, my husband and I do have a car, in fact we have two cars. One of them is our van, and we go off on marvelous outings. In fact, we're going away tomorrow to the mountains, we'll take our bikes, we'll do all sorts of stuff. We do have a camper-van, so that's one vehicle.
The other one is an elderly, we call it my husband's mid-life crisis car, that he bought about twenty-five years ago. It's a very cool little Mazda Miata, but it's the very first generation, so it's getting old. We never use it. We only ... All right, if it's really raining, and it's hard, we use it, but generally I do everything on foot or bicycle.
I don't even use the bus much, although in Mexico I use the bus. In Mexico, too, I live in a pedestrian paradise. It's not just that I like walking, it's really important to me on so many levels not to use a car if I can help it, for the environment, for my body. I get a bit cranky and depressed if I'm in a car too long. I find I'm sort of, I just get irritable. I don't like dealing with traffic, I don't like ... It doesn't bring out the best in me, so for many reasons I avoid cars.
Dave: Well, again, this is one of the reasons why I emailed you back because I just felt so strongly like you and I would resonate with each other. This year I actually sold my car, and this is the first time in 17 years that I haven't owned a car. What a load off my shoulders, and what a free pass to exercise? Even today, I think by the end of today I will have walked about 12 kilometers, and it's just awesome, I absolutely love it. When you wrote that, I thought, "Okay, this woman's for the podcast."
Age and Adaptability
It's actually perfect timing, because I just got a question from Elaine, and I sent this to you already. Elaine was basically talking about aging. She was saying, you know, I get that we change as we age, but she just wasn't satisfied with the idea of giving up, or giving in. I loved her like, she said, "I'm feeling feisty, and I want to put up a fight." When you read her message, what did you think?
Louisa: I thought about it a great deal, and in fact, I discussed it with my sister. I'm almost 65, she's 61, and we both love fitness, and we're both aware of the aging factor. I discussed it with my sister to get her ideas on it, too.
First of all, I urge you to keep your
Adapt to change and embrace the opportunities that aging provides
I, for example, I have run marathons, I've run three marathons. I can't do that anymore, I have a bad ankle from an accident I had 25 years ago, and I just don't think it's smart for me to run. I don't even run, sadly. I jog occasionally, but I don't really run. That's where cross-training comes in.
I think it's really important to find things you love to do that work both parts of the body, the upper and the lower. Women, I think, are better at the lower ones. We tend to be natural walkers, you see women walking in pairs or small groups all over the place, all over North America I see them, they're walking and talking, we're very good at that, women run. I think some women are interested in upper body, but others, less so.
Look for some sort of activity that you like that will work your upper body. That could be rowing, for example, it could be swimming, it could be weights. Weights bring up the other issue, that you have to be cautious of injuries which I think can happen more easily as you get older. It could be some other water sport, like kayaking, paddling. I think you have to be adaptable and be aware of working all parts of your body.
Dave: I love that, because even in Elaine's message, she talks about that adaptability, and she said, she was listening to the podcast, and a lot of the guests on here talk about strength training, particularly for women, and particularly as women age. She said, "I've started to do that, and I did notice a big difference." I applaud Elaine for listening, awesome, I love that adaptability that you've already shown.
Louisa, what else could you say to someone who's noticed that their body has changed? It could be a woman or it could be a man, their body has changed, and they're not really sure what to do about it. What else do you recommend?
Louisa: Take a look at what you're eating. Food is going to be a big part of that, too, and I think that changes. Many women post-menopause find that they have to change their eating habits, that their body doesn't flow as well with some of their food habits as it had in the past.
You may choose other kinds of exercise. My sister, for example, loves and thinks her yoga. The yoga class she takes actually strengthens here. We don't usually associate most yoga with the strength side of fitness, but some types of yoga can do that.
Again, I would just keep experimenting. Look at what has worked, try new things, gently, don't rush into stuff, but try new things and see how it works, and keep experimenting. It's an ongoing trial and error, I think. Aging is about figuring out what's going to work for you at this time in your life.
Dave: I couldn't agree more. Quickly little story about yoga. This week I started a new hot yoga class, and to prove that it is upper body focused, by the end of the class the most difficult, or most challenging part was, we were doing a pose with our hands overhead. My shoulders were so fatigued, my body was literally shaking just trying to keep my arms over my head. This is coming from a guy that does a lot of strength training, so yoga is no joke.
Louisa's Slow and Steady Approach
One thing that I thought was so cool, just as we've communicated through different means here. I looked at your website. I see all these pictures of you doing activity. Right now, I'm looking, we're on Skype, and I can see a picture of you doing stand-up paddle boarding, and on your website there's a picture of you on a little, it looks like a folding bike. How did you ... Tell us more about your story. How did you find what works for you.
Louisa: The thing is, I did not grow up exercising. I grew up very sedentary. My mother hated exercise, and I was in her sphere of orbit more than my father. My father was a jogger before the word existed, so he was very active, but I didn't really follow his influence until later.
Sometime in my college years, I began to think, "You know, I really do have more to learn from my dad, and I don't want to be," much as I loved my mother, I did not want to just sit in a chair and smoke cigarettes all the time. I slowly, slowly began to kind of do some of that. I started jogging, and then, I lived in Britain for a year, and I lived in a part of Britain that had a lot of mountains, and I started hiking, and I loved it, I loved it. I also found something else, I loved being outdoors.
When I had smoked, when I smoked cigarettes, I didn't like being outside because I liked the flavor better inside, well that's telling. When I quit smoking, I found I just naturally was drawn to being outside more. Little by little, I had a bicycle in college, I started bicycling. When I moved to Vancouver, which I told you I lived in, I never had a car, so I was getting around by bike, by public transit, and by foot. Then there were the mountains outside Vancouver, which you know of.
I began to redefine myself, is really what happened. I changed my whole sense of self, from being someone who was awkward, self-conscious, and unable, really, to do physical things, to suddenly someone who saw herself very, very differently. It was a dramatic change. It still shocks me sometimes, even today. I still think, "Gee, I'm so different than I was as a child. How funny. How interesting.
It's a Step by Step Process
Dave: Let me ask you a
I wonder if you could explain those feelings, because I know to listeners, sometimes, they look at people, or hear from people like you, and will say, "Okay, that's great it worked for her, but I'm so far from that. I don't even like walking." What would you say? Did you feel like it was a step-by-step, baby steps process, or did you feel like you did have a revelation?
Louisa: No, when I say suddenly, it's probably
I think what wasn't little by little, was this sudden awareness that I liked movement, I liked it. That was a dramatic change. I didn't think I had liked it. Suddenly I found some things I did like it, I liked it after all. That was a quick change, but the actual growing and developing into becoming an active person was a gradual change.
An expert in anything was once a beginner. Take one step at a time!
Movement: Be Active All Day Long
Dave: I love the fact that you used the word movement, you like moving. That word "exercise" can be so scary.
Louisa: I absolutely agree, and that's another thing I think is really important. As you get older, the more you can integrate movement into your entire day and entire life, the better you are. I mean, this is true of any age, but I think again, as you get older, patterns set into the body. I don't think that's entirely ... I'm not sure you can entirely control that, no matter how active you are.
You have ways of sitting, ways of moving, ways of standing, ways of lying, and some of those ways are just predominant, and that's just going to set some of your muscle patterns. The more you move, all day long, not just sort of in a prescribed exercise period, for thirty, forty-five minutes or so, in a gym, but the more you move all day long, the more fluid your whole body is going to be.
Dave: You said so much, really, wise statements so far. I like the statement you just said about not just doing it for that proscribed amount of time, in the gym, and then thinking, "Okay, check, I did my moving for today."
Louisa: Yeah. I'm with you, absolutely.
Adopting a Positive Mindset
Dave: Can you talk to the audience, and Elaine specifically, and talk about mindset? Again, through your email, I just got such a sense that you love life, and you have this very positive outlook. Where does that come from?
Louisa: Well, I haven't always had it. I don't mean I'm a despairing person, and I'm not a person who struggled with depression, gratefully. I know there are people that really do, and that's not something ... I respect it, I don't think you can always control that kind of thing. What I'm saying, I've not always been optimistic, and I'm not always now, either. I think that is one of the beauties of age.
You go through periods where you see yourself being negative, or being a little bit of a victim, or feeling sorry for yourself. You get past that, you look back, and you think, "Geez, what was I thinking." You do that enough, after a while, that's the beauty of not being twenty. At twenty, you don't have that many experiences that have been accumulated experiences. That's what maturity is, I think.
Now, when I do go through those little periods, they're short. I tell myself, "Shut up Louisa. Come on, let's get on with it. Just be quiet." Or, as Barry, my husband, says, "Wake up, England. Come on." He's British, so he's all "Wake up, England." I say, "Come on. Get on with it, Louisa, I'm tired of this. You're boring. Get on," and so I do. It's shorter, that's all, it's not that I don't fall into bad emotional states, of course I do, but not for that long.
That's another thing, actually. Movement, to me, is probably my best mood stabilizer. If I'm feeling angry, upset, hurt, whatever, I know that if I get myself out, up and out is better than in, and get myself going, doing something physical, then probably within thirty, forty-five minutes, I will feel entirely different.
Staying physically active at an advanced age will keep you fit, and even more, it will keep you in a good mood!
If I may give you one example, I was in a hotel one night, this is going back about ten years. My sister had terminal cancer, and we knew that, kind of, but that night while I was
I was sitting there, all by myself, in this hotel room, thinking, "I've got to lead this business seminar tomorrow," and oh, my God, I was in a terrible state. It was raining, it was wild outside, it was this wild storm. It was about 7 o'clock at night. What did I want to do? Go eat cookies, sugar. Instead, I made myself, and it was hard, the hotel had a swimming pool. Swimming, I have turned to swimming as a backup many times, for various reasons.
It's not my number one preferred physical activity, but I lean on it from time to time. It was a dinky little pool, but I went down into that pool, and I swam, and swam, and swam, in circles, for, I don't know, thirty minutes, and then they had a sauna, and I collapsed into the sauna. By the time I got back upstairs I was okay. It's like alchemy, it just changes.
Dave: Without any guilt or negative feelings about indulging in your cookies, or a tub of ice cream, or whatever it is that, otherwise, you could have used to sort of console yourself.
Louisa: Right. Actually, I think I had a few cookies before I went swimming, but not that many, and the swimming helped, so it was okay.
Seeing the Positive Aspects of Aging
Dave: I love that. One of the programs that I run, it's called the Menopause Wellness Summit. It's helping women who are going through menopause find strategies that they can use to sort of maintain a healthy weight, and deal with some of the symptoms they're dealing with.
One of the speakers
Louisa: The year I turned 50, I walked the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage, it's 500 miles
My dad is turning 95 next month, and he's in marvelous condition. I mean, he is 95, and yes, you can see some signs of decline, physically and mentally, but he's still in incredible shape. I would suggest to someone, find someone older than you, who you admire, both for their physical and for their mental abilities, and keep that person in mind, and visualize them as you move along in your own life. He's mine, and he's really helped me, just by being who he is.
Dave: I love that. That is such a practical tip, and such a great way to continually be inspired.
Louisa: Yeah, and speaking of menopause, one thing that I have become is more humble. I used to be ... I think sometimes people once accused me of being a little arrogant, with my
I've developed much more compassion. One example of all of this was menopause. I was almost symptom free, I don't know why. Maybe I was lucky, I don't know. I don't want to say it's because I was so healthy, because there are other people who are also very healthy and still have problems.
Dave: There certainly are. I work with women all the time that are in that boat, so yeah, be thankful that you went symptom free.
Louisa: I know, it's amazing. I don't know, we'll see. Who knows what the future holds.
Dave: I do like that idea, though, of approaching a new year, or a new decade, or whatever it is, and asking, "What is going to be next?" and then the idea of finding, maybe, someone who's in that upcoming year, or a decade ahead, and aspiring to some of the things that they've achieved.
You are never too old to set new goals. Take every opportunity that comes your way, or create your own.
I've told this before, on the podcast, I think, but years ago, when I was in my 20s, I did a short race, maybe a 10k race. I remember, right at the end of the race, within the last kilometer, I could sort of hear footsteps right behind me.
I though, "Oh, no. Someone's coming," and I could tell this person was really running quickly. This guy passed me, and as he passed I looked at him, and he must have been, like, at least 30 years older than me. It really impressed upon me, I just thought, "Okay, getting old doesn't have to be something to be afraid of."
Louisa: Yeah. Were you, at all, sort of mad that someone thirty years older than you was passing you?
Dave: Not one bit. Honestly, I was so inspired, I remember, I went and talked to him at the finish line, and told him how much I looked up to him.
Louisa: That's great. I think that's awesome, not only that you were so accepting, but that you were not jealous of him. I personally am a little jealous-prone, so I can understand how you might have felt that way, but you didn't, so that's awesome.
Make Your Body Work Takeaway
Dave: Louisa, at the Make Your Body Work podcast, we like to keep it very pointed, and very actionable, and I was wondering, thinking back to Elaine's question, she says, "I want to put up a fight. I don't want to let age just sort of take over." If you were to give her one piece of advice, something that she could start with today, we call this the Make Your Body Work Takeaway, what would you say?
Louisa: I would say, do something physical, set yourself a goal of doing something physical at least once an hour for the next week, and see where you end up. I mean, maybe you'll stretch. Maybe you'll walk around, if you're at an office, maybe you'll just walk around the office a little more than usual. Maybe you'll do a little bit of yoga, right in your cubicle or wherever you work. Maybe you're at home, and you'll do some housecleaning that's really vigorous.
Do something, but on an hourly basis, so that you get your movement general quantity up, every day, on a regular basis, in addition to what you're already doing physically. You're already doing something, but I would add that, at least once an hour, do five, or a few more minutes of something physical every day. Try it out for a week and see how you feel.
Dave: I know you can't necessarily anticipate what exactly the outcome would be, but what could you expect from an activity, or a process like that?
Louisa: Elaine, forgive me if you're already doing that, but for most people, their lives are often quite sedentary, even if they do have an exercise program that they are dedicated to. I think that will effect everything.
I think being physical on a regular basis will make your body feel differently. I also think it will make your mind feel more
Exercise is an immediate answer to discouragement. It will reduce your sense of uncertainty and discouragement about how to proceed. Just try that experimentally, and see where you end up, and I think you'll feel a lot better, and more affirmative.
Dave: That challenge, I'm going to take that up. I love that. Quite often I have people say to me, "Oh, Dave, it's so easy for you to stay in shape, because you work in health and fitness," but little do people realize, a huge part of my job is writing. I write for a ton of different websites and magazines, and I can sit for hours at a time, so thank you for the reminder. I'm going to do that, once an hour, just get up and, like you said, a few stretches, or walk around the house, or the office, or wherever you're at. I love that.
Louisa: What I keep around me, wherever I am, is I have a ball, a stability ball. I have
They're not that expensive and they're not big and heavy. You don't have to have a whole gym wherever you are. You can invest in a few lightweight, portable things, that will immediately give your body a bit of a jump.
Dave: Again, I 100% agree. I picture people at an office with a hula hoop. All of a sudden you look over and you see someone wiggling around in their cubicle.
For the listeners, a recent podcast I did, podcast number 39, so makeyourbodywork.com/39, I talked with Daniel Bartlett, and his whole business is based around helping people learn how to exercise without any equipment. Check that out, he's got some really good tips that kind of go along with exactly what we just talked about.
Louisa, I think a lot of the listeners will probably want to connect with you, maybe read some more of your interesting story. Where is the best place where they could connect with you?
Louisa: I'll give you my website, and they can also write me, I'm happy to answer questions. My website is Louisa Rogers, shall I spell it?
Dave: I'm going to actually ... Is it louisarogers.vpweb?
Louisa: Yep, dot com.
Dave: I will, in the show notes for this episode, I'll like to that. Again, for the listeners, this is episode 45, so if you go to makeyourbodywork.com/45, you'll be able to get the link directly to Louisa's website. If they wanted to ask you any questions about the aging process, about your story, about what they could do, do you have an email address they could reach you at?
Louisa: Yep, and that is email@example.com.
Dave: Perfect, again I'll put that in the show notes so that people can ask you questions, because you're inspiring. Honestly, just hearing your energy, it's inspiring to me. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Louisa: Thank you, and thank you for all your kind comments. I feel very wise, listening to you, I mean listening you tell me how wise I am makes me really feel good. I'm going to enjoy my evening, tell my husband how wise I am. He'll laugh, but never mind.
Dave: When this goes live on the internet, you can play it for your husband, and give him a reminder about all your wisdom.
Louisa: His parting words to me ... I told him to leave, because I didn't want him hovering around, he said, "Have a good time on the podcast." So I'll tell him I did.
Dave: Louisa, thank you again.
Louisa: You're welcome, and thank you.
Dave: Thanks again, Louisa, for joining us today, and for sharing your words of wisdom with us. I just love your message of looking for ways to incorporate movement into our lives. It's not as though life is it's own separate entity from exercise, and we just do exercise for one part of the day, and then can sit back and relax. Particularly as we age, how are we incorporating movement into our lives every single day? Thanks for that challenge, moving every single hour.
I'm going to take you up on that challenge, and I will report back to you and let you know how it goes. Listeners, I hope you're going to join me as well. Try it. Set your alarm on your phone, on your computer, wherever it is, and let's move, even for a minute or two, every single hour, for the next week, and see how we feel.
Thanks to you, the listeners, for tuning in, and thanks for your continued question, and for all your feedback. I love hearing from you every single day. Honestly, it is the highlight of my day. I love opening my inbox and hearing your stories, hearing your messages, and just connecting with you, so feel free to email me at any time, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like some help embracing exercise, embracing
Thanks again for joining me, and I can't wait to see here here again next week.