Peace, Love, Jane

 
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I saw Jane Fonda on the Emmy Awards this week.

Well, I didn’t watch the show, but I love to take a look at the evening’s finery in the after photos. And there she was, in bright pink top to toe, a long ponytale and bangs. Her face looked a tad overly made-up and did it seem kind of motionless? I have no idea what she said, or who else was on the Emmy’s that night.


All I saw was Jane.

Where do I begin with the mixed feelings?

My first reaction was a rallying “you go girl” kind of response. Here she was, 79 years old and owning the stage with her ‘in your face’ finery. I have a soft spot for Jane. From the film Barbarella in 1968 to anit-war Hanoi Jane in 1972, the film Coming Home in 1978 to fitness guru of the 80’s, her chameleon like ability to reinvent herself has always fascinated me.

She has always projected a strength, an ability to endure that I admire.

In my Pilates classes I sometimes offer an ‘homage to Jane’ as we tackle an exercise reminiscent of her aerobics classes of the 80’s. Everyone laughs probably as much for homage as for the fact that we all understand what I’m referring to.

But then there’s the ‘work’ she’s had done. Is it a red mark on the tally sheet of Jane’s wonderfulness? Or do I ??????? (I tell myself that the woman chose to live in the limelight and the limelight has demanded she stay young looking and beautiful.) To her defense, Jane’s on record saying she’s not particularly proud of having cosmetic surgery, but that it did make her look 10 years younger.

Not so secretly I’d love to have ‘work’ done on my jowls and waddle neck. There. I admit it. I stand in front of the mirror and pull and push my face around until it looks like a more rested, younger version of myself.

I struggle to accept the physical changes of aging and seeing Jane, or any other uber-septugenarian, ultimately makes me feel like maybe I’m failing at Ageing 101.

And that’s the crux of it. The advertising and Hollywood worlds are pitching us the same sh*t just in a different decade. They have no clue how to approach older women, so they go old school and send us the same messages they’ve been at since we were teenagers. Be beautiful, be perfect. Value the outside, not the inside. Be seen, not heard. And for gawd sake, spend all your time on this so you don’t have an iota of empty space in your head to think great thoughts.

And just to add a soupcon of crazy to the mix, in true Baby Boomer style we’re barraged with messages of third act reinvention and resisting the very real, very insidious ageism that thwarts us at every turn.

My brain hurts. Does yours? We carry all of this around with us. The uncomfortable pull between these larger than life versions of what we should be and the real version of what we are.


I don’t know about you but I’m a 65 year old woman who wants to be healthy in an aging body, to make peace with my past and to make the most of my future. I’m still considering having ‘work’ done and feel fine about it. I wish I turned heads, but I never did, so meh. I’ll work til I’m 70 because I must. I bristle at being called ‘dear’ by the grocery clerk and I’m knee deep in an online business that muddles along.

I’m a product of 50+ years of shrewd marketing and it’s messaging is deeply embedded in my psyche. I am a Baby Boomer whose collective pride and legacy is stopping a war, being part of Woodstock, embracing the pill and free love and, well, just plain moving mountains.


I’m not sure of the answer. I think it’s always been right in front of me, literally. Live life in all it’s messy glory, one day at a time. Be there for those I love, help in whatever ways I can. Laugh a little. Worry less.

And one important little addition, now that the journey actually looks like it has a finish line, is to clean up my regrets.


Oh and about Jane...she’s quoted as saying “ “I have a fake hip, knee, thumb; more metal in me than a bionic woman, but I can still do Pilates.”


She had me at Pilates…

 
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Holiday Gift Guide 2018

2018 has been the year of self-care for me. I spent 12 months being coached by a wonderful mentor, and really up-leveled my own fitness and nutrition. Not only has the experience enriched my life, but I truly believe it has made me a better coach for my clients.

Many of the gifts in the guide this year have stood the test of time and I am including them again. I hope you’ll enjoy the guide!

Whether you’re looking for a gifts for friends, family members or for ideas to add to YOUR holiday wish list, you’ll find something here for the fitness lover in your life.

 
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1. Fitbit Alta HR

The Alta HR continues to be on my wrist most days, going on 2 years, which says a lot. It’s got a low profile, counts steps and measures my heart rate. It’s the first monitor I’ve worn consistently for over a year and a good reminder to get moving every day.

2. Blue Sky Mini Journal

How many times have I started a journal only to let it slide after a short while? Now each morning I write down ‘3 things I’m grateful for’ and it has truly helped me be more present, more grateful each and every day. This tiny 4x6 journal can be bought for less than 2 dollars. So pick up a dozen, some nice pens and wrap them in a beautiful bow as stocking stuffers.

3. Dog Songs by Mary Oliver

Last year I started a lovely ritual for those dark, cold winter mornings: a strong cup of coffee by the wood stove, a cat on my lap and a few poems from Mary Oliver in the dark of dawn to start my day. This year another Mary Oliver has been added to my pile of poems to read. As someone who is used to checking email and news before coffee, this has really changed how I face the day.

4. OPTP Soft Foam Roller

Foam rollers aren’t news to anyone. But a softer roller is great for those who find traditional rollers painfully hard. In previous years I’ve recommended the MELT roller, but it’s skyrocketing cost had me looking for an alternative. This roller fits the bill for gentler foam rolling.

5. Lole Lily Tote Bag

I saw this bag in a Lole store and thought about it for a long time before finally taking the plunge. I couldn’t be happier. In my opinion it’s the perfect gym bag with room for a yoga mat, phone, keys, water, tons of clothes, gym shoes, computer…it goes on forever! And transforms to a backpack too.

6. Xizozu Honor Medals

Created by my dear friend and artist, Christine Glade, XIZOZU™ Medals of Honor let you recognize all of the unique experiences of your life. I have several and wear them to remind myself of my hopes and dreams and to remember the strength I have to overcome adversity. They are MAGIC.

7. Hurricane Blend Coffee (reg. and decaf)

I’m picky about my morning cuppa and finally found this great blend at the Woodstock Farmer’s Market in Woodstock, VT. We hike near Woodstock and stop in for lunch on the weekends and I can easily stock up. And now, YOU can buy it online!

8. Instant Pot

I’m still in love with my Instant Pot. It has helped me become a much healthier eater by cutting down the prep time and the amount of cleanup involved. Here’s a link to one of my favorite dishes: Whole 30 Instant Pot Chicken Curry

Let me know how you like this gift guide by commenting below! And my best wishes to you for a peaceful holiday season.

 
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p.s.  I am an affiliate of a few of the companies listed in the gift guide and receive a small commission if you purchase from my links. But even without that, these are products I would recommend in a heartbeat!

 

 

The Loneliness of Age

 
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*Note: As I was driving home the other day, I happened upon an NPR story on the health risks of chronic loneliness and then saw an article in the New York Times about the same subject. While I wrote this essay earlier in the summer, I realized that it’s message is an important one any time, so here it is.

A reminder to all of us to take care of each other.

I really thought that this month I was going to write about the importance of self care during the summer.

You know, eat well, sleep well, get exercise, drink smoothies, take vitamins, schedule ‘me time”.

After all, summer is traditionally a busy time with picnics, barbecues, family reunions, vacations, community events, fireworks, fairs and so much more. A time when we can easily get run ragged with the pace.

The need to slow down and take care of ourselves warrants a reminder.

…YAWN. Honestly, I wasn’t excited to write about what I thought was a pretty overdone subject.

I started to wonder about those women who might find summer a lonely time.

I wondered if summer’s emphasis on group celebrations and activities could backfire and make some of us feel more lonely? If we don’t have extended family or friends, live alone, or aren’t able to enjoy the freedoms of summer because of jobs or illness there might be a sense of loss, loneliness or disconnect.

So I did some research and found that occasional loneliness in response to change or loss is normal, in fact even adaptive. We’ve all felt this from time to time. Actually, the discomfort of feeling disconnected encourages us to reach out and find some kind of social support to help us feel connection.

Chronic loneliness is destructive. Chronic loneliness is occasional loneliness gone awry.

It is the ever-present feeling of being socially isolated despite wishing for connection with others. It is self-perpetuating and the chronically lonely stay away from the very relationships that could sustain them. Chronic loneliness promotes secrecy, lack of trust and a fear of rejection.

Chronic loneliness also affects our health negatively and has become a recognized public health issue. It increases our risk of diabetes, sleep disorders, higher blood pressure, decreased immune response and even premature death.

The statistics on chronic loneliness, social isolation and living alone are eye-opening:

  • According to an AARP study:35% of all adults over 45 are chronically lonely.

  • Research indicates that chronic feelings of loneliness can decrease life expectancy by as much as 26%.

So, what to do to combat occasional loneliness and avoid falling into a more chronic experience of loneliness?

According to University of Chicago social neuroscientist John Cacioppo:

  • First, acknowledge our loneliness. There is no shame in being lonely. There is a strong taboo in our culture to avoid or deny loneliness and blame ourselves.

  • Second is to understand what chronic loneliness does to mind and body. Sometimes a good therapist can help sort out the thought processes that make the cycle of chronic loneliness so hard to break.

  • And finally, respond to loneliness with action. Reconnect to the world in a way that feels safe and non-threatening. Whether that means joining a group or simply calling a friend, it should feel challenging but not overwhelming or anxiety producing. Decreasing social isolation and forging meaningful, supportive relationships takes time and trust.

Most of us will only experience the occasional loneliness that comes with life’s ups and downs. In those cases, having a plan to re-engage with life will be all we need to get back on track.

Now You:

Does summertime create any sense of loneliness for you? When have you been lonely? What has helped you to feel more social connection and support? Have you helped a friend who was lonely and if so how have you helped them?

Leave your comments below.

 
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Something Is Better Than Nothing

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How many times have you said, “I’ll get back into an exercise routine when _____________________.”?

I don’t know about you but I’ve probably said this dozens of times in my life. However, the times when all the stars are aligned so that my life is totally on track and without complications and challenges are few.

I’ll get back into an exercise routine when…

  • I lose some weight.

  • I’m less busy at work.

  • My parents are settled.

  • I feel less tired.

  • The holidays are over.

  • Birthdays are done.

  • The weather gets better

  • I have more money

  • I start eating better

  • Etc., etc., etc.

In life, no matter what you plan, stuff will always happen to derail you.

I understand. It can seem impossible to exercise, eat right, stay active when life throws challenges at you.

And when life is throwing you the inevitable curve balls, the idea of being able to start over feels good.

Thinking about a fresh start is reassuring. You know, I’ll start a diet Monday, bring on the chocolate cake today!

None of this is not news to you. But here’s the thing you may not have thought of.

WHAT YOU PRACTICE IS WHAT YOU GET GOOD AT.

So when you say “I’ll get back into an exercise routine when _____________________.” then you are practicing taking health and fitness breaks or pauses in your life.

AND WE’VE ALL GOTTEN REALLY GOOD AT IT.

So what if you looked at life a little differently.

What if you learned the skill of staying active and fit in the context of all of life’s ups and downs?

Why not adopt the mantra that says “Something Is Better Than Nothing?” In other words when life challenges you, dial the health and fitness back, but don’t stop.

Some Examples:

  • You are having to stay late at work for an important project and are missing your regular exercise. So you think about it and decide that you’ll try to use the stairs at work to get some extra activity.

  • You’re really tired and feel like you don’t have one bit of energy left for exercise. How about you take a walk and commit to 5minutes. If after 5 minutes you feel you want to stop, fine. Otherwise, go another 5 minutes.

  • Thanksgiving is around the corner and you have 15 people coming for dinner. How about you organize a group walk on Turkey Day?

  • The weather isn’t great for exercising outside. Go to an indoor mall and walk the length of it a couple of times while you window shop.

You get the idea.

See your life as A Moving Life, one that incorporates activity into every day. Adjust to the circumstances and don’t beat yourself up.

Try to see life as an ebb and flow of more or less activity. Try not to see exercise as one of the chores you have to fit into your life.

IT’S SO MUCH EASIER THIS WAY. YOU’LL STAY ACTIVE, BE MORE CONSISTENT AND FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOURSELF BECAUSE OF IT.

NOW YOU:

Do you put your fitness/exercise on pause when life gets complicated? And how can you incorporate movement in your life even when life throws you curve balls?

 
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Transformation

 
 
 

‘Transformation’ is a powerful word. You hear it all the time in the fitness business.

“Lose Weight and Transform Your Body In 90 Days, “The Beastmode Squad 8-Week Body Transformation Challenge" (it’s a real thing). And one of my favorites, “Bombshell Fitness 8-Week Transformation Challenge.”

But LASTING transformation doesn’t happen in 8 weeks or 90 days. And as many of the women I coach have experienced, these ‘transformations’ are just too tough to sustain for the long haul.

The kind of change that truly transforms your life takes requires something very different. You see creating lasting change is a slow and ‘steady as she goes’ road to becoming the person you want to be.

  • What if you could commit to your self-care in a way that you never have before?

  • What if you could consistently and confidently take action that supports YOUR health,YOUR life?

  • What if you could finally be free of the information overwhelm because you knew exactly what you needed?

  • What if you could stop relying on willpower and start relying on your unique roadmap for the care and keeping of YOU?

  • What if you could have pride in your decision to make choices that serve your best interests?

Isn’t that what most of us want? To be stronger, healthier, happier, less stressed, able to enjoy life more and contribute to the world around us?

I think you know exactly how you want to look and feel. You have a vision of how you want to show up in the world. In fact, you have a really good idea of what you need to DO to feel healthier, lose weight and get fit.

You might have tried all kinds of diets to lose weight and gained it all back. You may have noticed that what worked for your body when you were 40 just doesn't work anymore and you don't know where to start.

Or you've joined a health club to get stronger only to fall off the wagon after a few days or weeks.

You may have even invested in 1:1 training only to find that your 30-something personal trainer just doesn't get you.

Maybe the overwhelm of advice on the internet has you unsure of what your next step should be.

You haven’t failed. You just haven’t had the tools and resources that can help you get where you want to go.

I’m here to say that lasting change is about digging in and getting real. Taking it one small step at a time. Doing the work even when it gets tough. Celebrating victories and becoming your own best advocate. Becoming comfortable with some discomfort. Being willing to let go of behaviors that don’t serve you and to build behaviors that bring you closer to your goals.

I don’t offer my clients transformations.

I offer them the guidance and support they need along the road to being their best selves and the knowledge and resources to get them there.

And that’s why I created The Art of Going Gray Signature Program, a solid and sustainable online health coaching program designed specifically with women over 50 in mind.

In this six month program I’ve coached women who have rebuilt their relationships to food, exercise and movement.They’ve gained confidence in their abilities to make and act on healthy choices. They’ve lost weight and decreased clothing sizes. Their bodies have become stronger, more energetic as have their mindsets. They’ve finally been able to show up in the world in a way they’ve always hoped they would.

I know this can work for you. There aren't any short cuts but small steps over time will create the lasting changes you want to see.

Change is never easy. But with my guidance and support and some powerful online tools the The Art of Going Gray Signature Program helps women create sensible and sustainable habits to create the healthy life they’ve always wanted.

I want my clients to succeed and I’m devoted to helping them create lives of deep, lasting health. It is and has always been my mission, my passion to help them get there!

When you commit to yourself great things can happen.

 
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The Art of Going Gray Signature Program is only offered twice a year. For more information click HERE.

 

Tales of a Failed Meditator

 
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Just the words, “mindfulness practice” can be overwhelming.

There is so much information out there and it seems you can’t turn anywhere without someone extolling the virtues of this kind of practice.  There are apps and websites galore with instructions on ‘how to’.

Maybe you even notice you feel just a bit of shame or guilt creeping in if you’re not someone who sits for 20 minutes a day.

I’m not a meditator.  I have no formal mindfulness practice.  There I said it.  I’ve never been able to be consistent with anything we typically think of as mindfulness…sitting for 10, 20,30 minutes while focusing on our breathing, letting ourselves be in the moment, letting thoughts go.

But my happy, quiet place, the place where I am truly in the moment is on a hiking trail in the mountains.  I CAN walk along and ruminate on all the stressors in my life – and trust me sometimes I do just that.  But more often, I am right there, aware of my surroundings and of my body working to climb those hills.  Nothing else.  It restores me.

Sitting practice is NOT the only way to go…we don’t have feel like mindfulness failures. There is plenty of room in the world for a simple approach to mindfulness, one the works for our lives, our unique circumstances.  After all, mindfulness is simply a way to slow down, to stop your mind and body from racing along and churning out all those stress hormones.

So let’s break it down.  There are really, really good reasons for post menopausal women to practice some kind of mindfulness. And there are some really, really simple ways to start incorporating mindfulness into your life.

Life is always stressful.  It always has been.  But for us, it goes beyond just stress reduction.

As post-menopausal women we benefit from mindfulness practice because it has been shown to regulate the stress hormone cortisol which we produce in spades once the estrogen and progesterone stop flowing.  And elevated cortisol levels can create symptoms similar to those of menopause.  These include, fatigue, sleep disturbances, bone loss, hair loss, weight gain (especially around the middle), depressed mood, loss of muscle mass and more.

So the benefit is real.  

And the practice can be so much simpler than it’s made out to be.

I’ve created a simple action plan and worksheet that offers three easy options for getting started with some kind of mindfulness practice AND helps you create your own practice. One that works for YOU, not one you think you SHOULD be doing.

And let me know how it goes.

 
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Your Moving Life

 
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Getting older is a challenge.

But there’s no denying. Time marches on.

Because you’re a baby boomer, I have no doubt you’re determined to make your “third act” purposeful and active. We are a generation of ‘do-ers’ and that doesn’t stop as we age.

Whether you are continuing to work, traveling or learning a new skill, the challenge we face in our 50’s, 60’s and beyond is to stay healthy and fit so we can enjoy our lives and contribute to the world.

But how? We see our bodies change right before our eyes, as our middles get thicker and our muscles get smaller. Joints creak and aches and pains are a near daily occurrence and injuries seem to pop up more often. We have bones to keep healthy and injuries and illnesses to deal with.

So what’s a woman to do? Spending long hours at the gym is so over and who wants to do that anyway?

Create what I call a Moving Life.

  • A Moving Life is one in which activity is natural part of your day. And if you’ve been pretty sedentary or even a weekend warrior, you’ll really benefit from these tips.

  • Choose to move each and every day. Climb stairs, park further away, do household chores, walk the dog, work in the garden etc.

  • Improve mobility and flexibility by Include bending, kneeling, reaching, lifting, pushing and pulling in your daily activities. Don’t be afraid to use your joints and muscles. Challenge yourself to stay mobile. Squat down to that lowest shelf at the grocery store, reach on tippy-toes into that high cupboard. Put on some music and move to the beat. Unless you have pain, keep trying new ways of moving that you might have slowly dismissed.

  • Stimulate your brain and body by trying new activities that appeal to your sense of fun. Try hiking, photography, belly dancing, etc. I know someone who became a sculptor at the age of 63! Talk about physical activity.

  • Approach rehabilitation of an injury or recovery from an illness as part of the ebb and flow. Do what you can. Walk, swim, stationary bike. Just keep as active as you can while allowing your body to heal.

You’ll learn a lot about your body, it’s abilities and it’s challenges if you do this. And you’ll be better equipped to weather life’s ups and downs.

More than any other time in your life taking care of yourself now is about changing your lifestyle to be MORE active, not less and to being flexible, willing and able to adjust to changes that will inevitably come along.

Here’s to Your Moving Life!

In the comments below let me know what you’re doing to create a Moving Life and how it has changed your life.

 
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