When I turned 50, I was confused: Could I still wear jeans? Do I still want sex? Will I ever be able to run in a marathon? Could I finally lose those last 10 pounds that piled on after menopause? Is this the when I become invisible? (Answers: yes, yes, yes, yes, and not a shot in hell.)
Now that I'm turning 60, there's no confusion in my life. It's been replaced with a delicious sense of calm, confidence, and clarity of purpose. What an extraordinary turn of events! Who knew that turning 60 would actually be a welcome milestone instead of a dreaded one? Certainly not me.
When I turned 50 I was filled with fear, mostly of the unknown. Instead of pulling the proverbial blanket over my head, I forced myself to embrace it, and make fear work for me. Feeling unnerved by the future pushed me to find the answers. But, when I didn't get the tools I needed to forge ahead, I did my own research, developed my own conclusions, and wrote my first book --The Best of Everything After 50--which became the call to positive action and healthy aging for many women, including me.
Ten years later, life is different. I'm different. My body is changing once again, and so are my dreams and goals. Instead of slowing down, I'm finding new ways to jolt my body, mind and spirit into action, so I will be stronger and more powerful as I get older.
Now that I'm turning 60, I've embraced a few smart and healthy habits to meet the new physical, mental and emotional challenges head on. Here are the ones I recommend you incorporate into your own life, starting today:
Ramp up your workout: Don't think that because you're older, you should slow down. On the contrary, it's essential to push yourself even more if you want to keep your brain sharp and body fit. Long walks are great, but running is even better, especially if you combine the two (learn more about the Jeff Galloway Run/Walk/Run program here). I started running when I turned 50, taking the slow and steady approach. But, now that I'm turning 60, I give my body a jolt with runs that are longer and faster. A body of research shows that running is one of the best ways to get and stay fit, balance your moods, sleep better, and keep your brain sharp. Bonus? My skin always looks great after a good run. This past November -- one month before turning 60 -- I ran my third NYC Marathon and scored a personal best.
Do jumping jacks and push-ups: Osteoporosis is a potentially debilitating disease that is caused by bones that get weak and thin over time. Bone loss starts in our late 20s and really speeds up when estrogen levels decline due to menopause. The best defense is to nourish your body with calcium-rich foods, take vitamin D supplements, and do exercises that will help maintain the health of your bones, such as jumping jacks, push-ups, and my favorite, the plank. Remember: bone loss doesn't happen only to women. One in four men will also break a bone due to osteoporosis. For the most up-to-date information on how to prevent or treat osteoporosis visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation website.
Rethink your eating: Here's a two-word mantra to guide you -- eat less. As you get older, you need fewer calories, and the calories you do eat should fuel your body, giving it the energy it needs to live an active and engaged life. Consider an extra jolt by doing an "occasional fast" every few months. While this might not work for everyone, it does for me, keeping weight down and energy levels up. Research also shows that intermittent fasting can help prevent diabetes. As with any new eating plan, always consult your doctor first.
Drink water at the right time: Your digestive system will change as you get older. For example, you may find that drinking milk or eating garlic now causes bloating or worse. While any significant shifts in your body should be discussed with a doctor, you can also try this simple trick to kickstart your system: after waking up, drink a full glass of room temperature water. Wait 45 minutes before drinking or eating anything else. To help pass the time, do what I do: go for a run, then do 20 push-ups, 20 jumping jacks and hold a 60-second plank.
Have sex: At this age, we know what we want, and know how to ask for it. And now, it's all about you (and having fun)! However, sex can be a bit more challenging for a few reasons: vaginal dryness (a common complaint after menopause, but easily remedied with topical treatment; talk with your doctor about options) can make sex uncomfortable, or you might not have a sexual partner in your life right now. If you do, have as much sex as you can muster because the benefits are many and well-documented: better sleep, clearer skin, healthier vagina, and closer connections to your partner. If you don't have someone to have fun with right now, don't lock that door and throw away the key. Instead, get a vibrator and get all the benefits.
Embrace your age: Since turning 50 and writing my first book, my mission has been to convince the world to "embrace your age" and love who you are now, which, in my view, is the key to happy, healthy and positive aging. Now that I'm 60, this is even more important to my well-being. I don't want to turn back the clock; I want to give myself the gift of a well-lived life. By embracing just a few smart and simple healthy habits, I know I'm doing everything I can to stay younger longer. Don't you deserve this gift, too?
Lastly, remember this: We can't control getting older . . . but . . . we can control how we do it.