“I’m never going to grow up” these were the famous words Peter Pan said as he flew back to Nederland.
This week I celebrated my 47th birthday and the count down has began for me! When I turned 45 I labelled that birthday “the half way year” as I have set a personal goal to live, healthy and functionally, until the age of 90, anything after that is a bonus, but if I can just get to 90 knowing what I’m doing and moving about, then I’m happy. Crossing out the year has begun, as I get closer to my final destiny. You may think this is a depressing though, I’m on the way down, I’m now getting closer to the end of my chapter, but actually this helps me focus more and more on how to enjoy what I have left and plan how I will get there the way I want. So this “countdown” is a physical and metal training and preparation to get to my 90th birthday and still be able to blow my candles, have a dance and a whole bucket of KFC!
Reflecting on this thought and how will I get to my 90th birthday; I spent time observing and talking to people to get their views on age and getting old. First of all many of us know that you are only as old as you feel but I guess I don’t have to tell you this. Of course our physical as well as our mental state influence how we look and feel. Many people you talk to about this subject will agree with you that the mental part is essential to stay healthy and in one piece, to be able to reach your nineties! Over the weekend I attended a 1940’s party for which we all dressed up to join the celebrations. It was a charity event and the organiser was a lady who had actually been around in the 1940’s and so knew what the era was all about. So if you do the maths, to have been a young lady in the 1940’s she is at least in her 80’s. She of course did not revealed her age but one thing you could see is that she was full of energy and you could not believe she was anywhere near her 80’s. There were several people in that room that I am sure were also around in the 1940’s and looked great. We also had another lady who demonstrated again that you are only as old as you feel and despite her age she took over the dance floor, made us all laugh by swapping hats with various people and lasted longer on that dance floor than some much younger people. I am sure that the extra sherry she had may have helped but nonetheless, here there was a person who I aspire to be, someone living fully still in great shape both physically and mentally.
Now there is no doubt that some times unfortunate diseases and physical inabilities may take over and stop us from reaching an older age in good shape and there is nothing you can do about it, but in many cases where we are lucky or blessed and we do not face these difficulties, it is up to us to maintain ourselves as best as we can to fulfil this goal and live a healthy and energetic life for as long as we can. And there is not secrete recipe for it, or a fountain of youth you can drink from, or a hidden portrait somewhere in the attic that you can lock your age in, but there is you, the answer to getting there in good shape is ourselves!
I am not going to bored you with any health or fitness tips, I think you all have had enough of that from previous blogs and other sources, and I am sure everyone knows of the importance of staying fit. This is only a part of the deal, the physical maintenance of your body is like taking your car to the mechanic for service or a check up; yes we have to do this to keep our cars running but it is not just this that keeps the car roadworthy, it is the every day care you take of it making sure you drive carefully and don’t bump into corners or lampposts! So yes, do take care of your body whichever way you see fit, there is not question about it. However what keeps that car looking good it’s you. What makes your body fit also comes from you and from your state of mind.
It is proven that the brain controls our physical abilities; that what your brain tells your body, it will do. It is incredible and fascinating as you can literally control your physical abilities through your mind. I used to conduct a training session where we demonstrated the power of positive thinking and the effect it has on your physical abilities, let me share with you the exercise. We would take a participant and ask them to extend their strongest arm sideways. Mirroring them, standing side by side with the opposite arm, I would try to push their arm down asking them to resist as much as they could. Generally most people would put up a fight and I would struggle to push their arm down. I would then introduce a negative though in their head, usually by asking them to hold a cigarette near their nose with the other arm and smell it. We would talk about the consequences of smoking and the fact that it kills you or gives you lung cancer. We would then repeat the exercise and this time I was able to push their arm down without a fight; they had lost physical power. There are always sceptics who would say that the cigarette was a distraction and therefore they were concentrating on it rather than the arm. To prove the power of this exercise I would then remove the cigarette and introduce a pleasant smell that reminded them of something positive in their lives, something about their childhood. We all store smells in our brains that remind us of events in the past and when you smell that scent again it brings back those memories. Arm stretched, scent on the other hand and nose just like the cigarette, I would push again and this time their power was back on and I could not push their arm down. The brain was back on positive mode and their body was being told this.
Physical ability comes partly from training and keeping in shape, but partly also from what your brain tells your body. When we suffer pain we try to distract ourselves, this is a way of our brain trying to tell our body that the pain is not there. So if we want to get to an old age and still be able to rock on the dance floor at your 90th birthday party, we have to not only prepare ourselves physically but mentally too. Remember, you are only as old as you think!