Ladies, Healthy Aging is Possible!
If you are anything like myself, having seen pictures of Blanche from Golden Girls and finding out that the actress playing Blanche was only 51 when the series started can be quite the surprise! Fifty-one used to seem far in the future for many of us, yet I find myself edging closer and closer to that number and feeling nothing like a “Golden Girl.”
On the other hand, I see pictures of certain celebrities and they seem to have been somewhat frozen in time for the last 20 years, possibly with some outside help at times.
The question is, where is the healthy medium? Perhaps I don’t need to look like a celebrity whose face appears perpetually in her 30s/40s. On the other hand, I’m not quite ready to move to Florida with a group of friends to live out my days while pondering my youth.
How to Find Balance as We Age
Staying or getting healthy can be a challenge at times, but is certainly possible.
Balance Your Diet
Let’s start with diet. The metabolism of our 20s may be a distant memory, but we can still enjoy life while also having good habits. Think about making a majority of your plate fruits and vegetables. Lean protein is beneficial as well. Does this mean we can have no carbs? Of course not, carbohydrates are also an important addition to any diet, but in many cases, moderation is key.
Hydration is Key
Water is also a very important factor in our diets. Staying hydrated is good not just for our external appearance but our body’s function as well. It can be difficult to remember that water should make up most of what we drink. Sugars in so many of our foods and beverages add up quickly. That delicious pumpkin spice latte is certainly a culprit. If you don’t like plain water, consider additives such as lemons, cucumbers, or even fruit of your choice to add some flavor.
Always Keep Moving
Exercise also matters. Most of us should be getting at least 30 minutes/day of exercise. You don’t have to go run a marathon (unless that’s your desire!) but it is important to keep moving. Finding something that you enjoy makes a huge difference. Can you watch a favorite show or read on your tablet while on the treadmill or elliptical? Does listening to music help keep you moving? Get a workout playlist with songs that keep you motivated. Do you love to dance, ride your bike, or workout with friends or a trainer? Getting into a routine and staying consistent with your exercise is what matters. Get your heart rate up to keep your heart healthy and get some resistance exercise several times a week to keep your bones strong as we are aging.
More Preventative Care
Screening exams can also start to feel overwhelming for some. While before we could get by with a yearly well woman exam, more is recommended as we age: mammograms, bone density screenings, colonoscopies, bloodwork such as blood glucose monitoring and cholesterol to name a few. Talk to your health care provider. They can steer you in the right direction and help to decide what is most appropriate for you.
Lets also talk about menopause briefly. For some it is an uneventful non event as we are aging. For others, hot flashes, night sweats, mood and sleep disturbances can feel overwhelming and be disruptive to your day. Sex can also change after menopause as the body changes-vaginal dryness and decrease in the elasticity of the vaginal tissue can make intercourse painful for some. The important thing to remember is, there are treatments available and your provider wants to help if possible!
Reach out to your CHI Health Women’s Health provider about your concerns and questions-that’s what we are here for!
Melissa Lambert is a women’s health nurse practitioner at CHI Health.