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Archive for October 26th, 2017

As the years pass by, many women find that the lifestyle that worked in their 20s and 30s fails to achieve the same results in their 40s and 50s. As women reach their 50s (the average age of onset for menopause), they’ll have to compensate for hormonal, cardiovascular and muscle changes.

Weight gain in aging women is common because of decreases in muscle mass, the accumulation of excess fat and a lower resting metabolic rate. Hormonal shifts can cause a range of symptoms and increase overall risk for heart disease and stroke. And absorption of certain nutrients may decrease because of a loss of stomach acid. Clearly, your diet at 50 should look a bit different from your earlier diet.

The goal of the “50 and over” diet is to maintain weight, consume heart-healthy foods and, above all, stay strong! Use the following 5 tips to live your 50s in fabulous shape.

 

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1. Add B12 to your daily supplements

B12 supports healthy nerve and blood cells and is needed to make DNA. B12 is primarily found in fish and meat. It is bound to a protein in food and must be released from it by digestion in the stomach. As we age, our stomach acid decreases, making it more difficult to absorb nutrients such as B12.

Older adults are at a greater risk for B12 deficiency, but adding the vitamin to your diet in a supplemental form (either by pill or shot) can help prevent symptoms — which can take years to appear — well before they start.

2. Really cut back on salt

The older we get, the more likely we are to develop hypertension (high blood pressure) because our blood vessels become less elastic as we age. Having high blood pressure puts us at risk for stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease and early death.

About 72 percent of salt in the American diet comes from processed foods. You should significantly decrease and ideally forgo your consumption of processed foods (chips, frozen dinners, canned soup, etc.) and aim for 1500 mg or less sodium per day, which is about ½ tsp. You can start adding flavorful herbs in place of salt when you cook at home. Many herbs provide anti-cancer benefits as well; oregano, thyme, and rosemary are all high in antioxidants. Ditching processed food also means consuming more whole foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. This will increase your fiber consumption. Fiber helps you stay fuller longer, meaning you’ll eat less throughout the day and be more likely to maintain your weight.

3. Check your multivitamin for Iron — and toss it if it has it

The average woman experiences menopause and the cessation of her menstrual period around age 50. After menopause, the need for iron decreases to about 8 mg of iron a day. While the body can’t live without iron, an overabundance can be dangerous as well. Iron toxicity can occur because the body doesn’t have a natural way to excrete iron; too much can cause liver or heart damage and even death. Postmenopausal women should take iron supplements only when prescribed by a physician. If your multivitamin has iron in it, replace it.

4. Pay more attention to calcium and vitamin D

Due to gastric and hormone changes, D levels and calcium absorption tank around age 40. Furthermore, evidence shows that postmenopausal women have an increased risk of osteoporosis because of their lack of estrogen. To make matters worse, after 50, the body will break down more bone than it will build. This puts women over 50 at risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures.

It’s ideal to consume adequate calcium before age 30, but it’s never too late to increase rich calcium sources in your diet. Fabulously delicious sources of calcium include sardines (a double dose of omega 3 through the fish and calcium through the bones), spinach, broccoli, kale, and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt. In addition, your physician should test your vitamin D levels and provide additional supplementation as needed (vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium).

5. Eat like a Greek!

As we age, our blood vessels become less elastic, and the force of blood moving through our veins gets stronger. This puts women in menopause at an increased risk of heart disease. But there is a diet to help decrease our risk — and it’s delicious!

When researchers looked at the populations in the world that had the most people over the age of 100, they noticed these individuals shared a few common themes in their lives. The most prevalent commonality was their consumption of a Mediterranean diet. A 2000 study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a diet that adheres to the principles of the traditional Mediterranean diet (which includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, moderate wine consumption and olive oil) was associated with longer survival. Further, a 2004 study in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention found that a Mediterranean diet was associated with lower risks of cancer and heart disease. And a 2010 review of studies in the American Journal of Clinical Research affirmed the diet’s powers to protect against major chronic diseases.

Taking a Mediterranean cruise when you retire is a great stress reliever, but switching to a Mediterranean diet may be an even better idea!

 

Conventional wisdom holds that people who eat breakfast are slimmer and more inclined to eat healthy, but German researchers found that eating breakfast did not mean people ate less throughout the day, while Cornell studies have shown that skipping the morning meal can actually aid with weight loss.

Schenker and Bee advocate a diet rich with, among other things, iron (women approaching menopause are more likely to become anemic), vitamin C (to boost skin health), vitamin D (which helps with calcium absorption and immunity) and healthy fats (which help “oil” the aging body by lubricating the joints).

For dinners, the pair recommends dishes such as grilled sea bass with sweet potato and broccoli, a tofu stir fry, and a meat dish like turkey-and-bean chili once or twice a week.

“You only get one life,” says Schenker. “And don’t you dare skip on a glass of wine — it makes more of a merry time!”

5 tips for an ageless body

Go ahead, skip breakfast. Women over the age of 35 who try it say it makes a difference in their weight, and they tend to eat healthier throughout the day. Breakfast is not nutritionally “better” than brunch, so don’t feel guilty if you’re not peckish enough to chow down at a certain time of the day.

Feel full longer. To stay satiated, eat protein at every meal. While you shouldn’t ban carbs from your diet, build only one meal a day around them, and make sure they’re from whole grains.

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Fruits and fats are OK. Fruits are chock-full of fiber and nutrients and can jazz up a savory meal. A range of fats both healthy (nuts, oils, seeds) and saturated (lean meats), in moderation, is OK.

Don’t fuel (or refuel) your workouts. The idea that it’s necessary to eat before a workout is a misconception, and a cottage industry of energy bars and sugary sports drinks has been built around it. Eating well will suffice for the level of exercise you’re doing — 45 minutes a day, four times a week.

Less exercise is more. As you age, less exercise will serve you better in the long run, though you’ll need to up the pace and intensity. Plus, overexercise leads to dreaded “gym face” — that gaunt look when one has sunken cheeks and hollow eyes.

 

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Anyone who has ever taken an economics class has heard the phrase, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

It means that everything has a cost, even if that cost is not always immediately apparent. To achieve anything, you must give up something else.

In today’s happiness-obsessed culture, most pursue just the opposite: happiness with no costs, all benefits. We want the rewards without the risks, the gain without the pain.

But ironically, it’s this unwillingness to sacrifice anything, to give up anything, that makes us more miserable.

As with anything else, happiness has costs. It is not free. And despite what Cover Girl or Tony Robbins or the Dalai Lama once told you, it’s not always easy breezy either.

1. You Must Accept Imperfection and Flaws

Many people believe that if they just collect a house, a spouse, a car, and 2.5 children, everything will be “perfect.” Life has a checklist. You check each item off, you get to be happy and old for a couple decades, then you die.

But life doesn’t work that way. Problems don’t go away — they change and evolve. Today’s perfection becomes tomorrow’s swampy cesspool of shit, and the quicker we accept that the point of life is progress and not perfection, the sooner we can all order a pizza and go home.

Image credit: Victor Bezrukov

Perfection is an idealization. It’s something that is approached but never reached. Whatever your conception of “perfect” is in your pretty little head, it is, in itself, an imperfect conception.

There is no perfect. There is only what you wish in your head.

We don’t get to decide what perfection is. We don’t know. All we can know is what is better or worse than what is now. And even then we’re often wrong.

When we let go of our conception of what is perfect and what “should” be, we relieve ourselves of the stress and frustration of living up to some arbitrary standard. And usually, this standard isn’t even ours! It’s a standard we adopted from other people.

Accepting imperfection is hard because it forces us to accept that we have to live with things we don’t like. We don’t want to give that up. We want to hold on to control and let the whole world know how Canadian democracy should be and why the season finale to Breaking Bad was all messed up.

But life will never conform to all of our desires. Ever. And we will always be wrong about something, in some way. Ironically, it’s the acceptance of this that allows us to be happy with it, allowing us to appreciate the flaws in ourselves and in others. And that, my friends, is a good thing.

2. You Must Take Responsibility For Your Problems

Blaming the world for our problems is the easy way out. It’s tempting and it can even be satisfying. We’re the victims and we get to be all emo and indignant at all of the terrible injustices that have been inflicted upon us. We wallow in our imagined victimhood so as to make ourselves feel unique and special in ways in which we never got to feel unique and special anywhere else.

But our problems are not unique. And we are not special.

The beauty of accepting the imperfection of your own knowledge is that you can no longer be certain that you’re not to blame for your own problems. Are you really late because of traffic? Or could you have left earlier? Is your ex really a selfish asshole? Or were you manipulative and overly demanding towards him? Is it really the incompetence of your manager that lost you your promotion? Or was there something more you could have done?

The truth is usually somewhere around “both,” — although it varies from situation to situation. But the point is that you can only fix your own imperfections and not the imperfections of others. So you may as well get to work on them.

Sure, shit happens. It’s not your fault a drunk driver hit you and you lost your leg to a botched surgery. But it’s your responsibility to recover from that loss, both physically and emotionally. So get recovering.

Blaming others for the problems in your life may give you a smidgen of short-term relief, but ultimately it implies something entirely insidious: that you are incapable of controlling your own fate. And that’s the most depressing assumption of all to live with.

3. You Must Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

Bravery is not the absence of fear. Bravery is feeling the fear, the doubt, the insecurity, and deciding that something else is more important.

If we identify with our moment-to-moment emotional states and sensitivities, our happiness will surge and crash like a deregulated Wall Street derivatives orgy. For those of you who don’t know anything about Wall Street, that’s really bad. We want sturdy, resilient happiness. Not derivatives orgies.

True, long-lasting, kid-tested-and-mother-approved happiness is derived not from our immediate emotional states — being constantly giddy is not only impossible, but it would be unbearably annoying — but rather is derived from the deeper values we define for ourselves. Our Ultimate Life Satisfaction ™ is not defined by what we do and what happens to us, but why we do what we do and why it happens to us.

4. You Must Find a Deeper Purpose to Your Actions

A better way of saying this is you must choose what is motivating you. Is it something superficial and external or something deeper and more meaningful?

Being motivated by money for the sake of money leads to unstable emotional regulation and a lot of obnoxious and superficial behavior. Being motivated by money so that one can provide a good life for their family and children is a much sturdier foundation to work with. That deeper purpose will motivate one through the stress and fear and inevitable complications that a more superficial motivation would not.

Being motivated by the approval of others leads to needy and unattractive behavior. Being motivated by the approval of others because you’re an artist and you want to construct art that moves and inspires people in new and powerful ways is far more sustainable and noble. You’ll be able to work through disapproval, embarrassments and the occasional disaster.

How does one find their deeper purpose? Well, it’s not easy. But then again, robust and resilient lifelong happiness isn’t easy either (What, you mean nobody ever told you that?)

A large chunk of my upcoming book will be about finding a deeper purpose in our lives. But here’s a hint: it has something to do with growth and contribution. Growth means finding a way to make yourself a better person. Contribution means finding a way to make other people better. Look for ways that you can integrate those into your motivations.

There’s nothing wrong with sex, money and rock and roll (hey, preaching to the choir here). But the sex needs to be motivated by something deeper than sex, the money needs to be motivated by a value more sustainable than simply money, and the rock and roll needs to just fucking rock. Find a way to slide growth and/or contribution under them and bam — you get the best of both worlds.

5. You Must Be Willing to Fail and Be Embarrassed

I wrote in my book on dating that you cannot be a powerful life-changing presence to some people without being a complete joke and embarrassment to others.

Interestingly, this has become probably the most quoted line from the book and the one I get emailed about the most often.

The beautiful thing about humanity is the diversity of life values. When you live out your values and let them motivate your actions and behaviors, you will inevitably clash with those whose values contradict your own. These people will not like you. They will leave nasty anonymous comments on the internet and make inappropriate remarks about your mother. Anything you do that’s important will inevitably be accompanied by those who wish for you to fail. Not because they’re bad people, but because their values differ from yours.

(OK, some of them are fucking awful people.)

As someone much wiser than me once said, “Haters gonna hate.”

In any venture, failure is required to make progress. And progress, by definition, is what drives happiness — the progress of ourselves, the progress of others, the progress of our values and what we care about. Without failure there is no progress and without progress there is no happiness.

Relish the pain. Bathe in the scorn. The most important skill in life is not how to avoid getting knocked down, but rather learning how to stand back up. Haters gonna hate. https://medium.com/@MarkManson/the-hidden-costs-of-happiness-582ffe20177

 

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