As you know, I’ve hinted a few times that I’m not particularly on top form these days. That’s partly due to a virus I had, and partly to not taking a fitness class – for months – and walking really wasn’t sufficient. Because OK, I may look stylish and slim, but that’s no indicator of health. So, I’ve resolved to become a fitter version of myself. Consequently, three weeks ago I started a body workout class that involves a lot of movement with weights. This class I can tell you is very different to the quiet, gentle stretching, mat-based classes I’ve done before. You put in a real effort. And if you’re thinking well, it’s all right for you because you’re fairly fit. Well, first of all remember my age (71) and I’m telling you there’s someone who’s over 80 in this class! But read on for my advice on starting a class.
Have any of you read Nora Ephron’s pieces on women and ageing? She’s the wonderful American writer with a very distinctive voice, and screen writer of, amongst others, Sleepless in Seattle, Silkwood and When Harry Met Sally. I love her book ‘I feel bad about my neck. And other thoughts on being a woman’. One of my favourite pieces of hers is on Maintenance, where she ends saying it’s eight hours and counting, although, by the time she gets to her 70s she thinks it’ll be twice as long! Yup, I’m with her there. The things you have to do, to just stay still and look presentable, and I’m not talking about those hours spent on makeup!
Actually, there’s a serious point here. Maintenance is good. You keep healthy this way. It’s not just about frivolity, although we can all do with being a bit frivolous and light-hearted these days. Maintenance, when you reach my age, is not just about getting your hair done. Reaching 70 is quite a wake-up call. The thing is, I read a lot of life-style and fashion blogs. (This is so you don’t have to!) Many are written by mid-life women, and I just bite my lip when they write about what a thing it is to reach 50. Oh, yeh, I think. And then I sigh! Because they have another twenty years of youth before them! When I got to be 60 I felt no different to when I was 40. But 70, yes, that is different. You have to work harder just to stay standing upright. You think I’m joking? Sadly, I am not. I’m quite crooked when I get up in the morning. I slant to the right and it takes an hour to uncurl without exercises, and only slightly less if I do some stretching.
Anyway, here are a few pointers to maintenance that could help preserve your health and well-being – some are short points, some are longer, some frivolous and some not.
Know your state of health The first thing everyone should do is, at the very least, find out more about the state of your health. Get every test that you can. I’m talking about having your blood pressure checked, plus blood tests for sugars, iron levels and cholesterol, and don’t forget bone scans, all of which, for the moment, you can get free on our wonderful NHS. Grab every single one of those. Information is power – go find out the basics about your health so you can fix things, if need be.
Exercise Actually, I think my heartbeat is slightly too high. No, I don’t have any other more sinister symptoms, as in, every test is normal, and within range for my age (even the pulse) but even so I’d like my pulse rate to be lower. What to do? Exercise, is the answer. And not just a short walk! Yes, exercise. There is so much evidence out there, saying exercise is one of the key ways to keep us well as we age, so I’m giving you just one link, which is mainly about the longevity of our ageing population in the UK and the expected increase in those with multiple morbidities. One paragraph struck me and I quote the author, “…our model shows that future young-old adults, aged 65 to 74 years, are more likely to have two or three diseases than in the past. This is due to their higher prevalence of obesity and physical inactivity.”
Yes, get moving Another link to help you on your way is a post written by Tricia Cusden on her fitness journey. At the age of 69 she took up exercise for the first time ever. After just a year, she’s a different woman. If she can do it from a base of never exercising, so can I, as I really did get out of the routine of going to a class. And so can you. But get your general fitness checked first, including your BP. Be sensible out there.
Be frivolous and have fun Get your hair done and colour it any way you like. Or not. Do your nails, get rid of those pesky hairs on your chin. I have to. Above all, wear age-inappropriate clothes, because who the .… says they’re age-inappropriate anyway!
Wear that lippy And. Wear that makeup. Me, I don’t wear makeup because society says I have to. No, not at all. But I do like a bit of colour to define my face and eyes. If you have never worn makeup then I agree, it is a bit of a leap to start in your 60s and 70s, but don’t ever think you’re too old for makeup. No way.
Yes, check out anything that’s worrying you You know what it is in your life, in your body. Me, it’s my skin. I go once a year to a private clinic and get every part of my skin checked. It feels good to have that annual MOT of an area that’s my weakness, my health issue. What’s yours? You worried? Go check it out.
Go find a challenge And always, always be ready to learn new things and be up for a challenge.
At the moment, the woman I admire most in the world is the admirable Miriam Margolyes. If you don’t know who she is, she’s a prolific actress (168 credits according to IMBD ) who’s been in more TV and films than I can possibly name but perhaps, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ll remember she was Professor Sprout in The Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Just lately she’s been driving around the States, starting at Chicago, on to the mid-west and then into the deep south for a 3-part TV series Miriam’s Big American Adventure. Previously, I’ve heard her being quite forthright about President Trump, but in this series, because she’d lived in the States for 16 years she just wanted to learn more about what has happened and why things are the way they are. At the outset she was, she said, very willing to learn.
And there she was driving a huge number of miles meeting the most amazing, quite assorted bunch of American citizens from prisoners, sheriffs, boyz (and hoods) to large Christian families, Trump lovers and gun-lovers, and black suspender-wearing black women bikers! A right motely crew, I can tell you! But she learnt and was quite humble about what she learnt. And note for those of you who don’t know her – she’s not particularly fit as she’s quite out of shape, breathless even, and she’s 76 years-old. But wow, was she up for a challenge. What a role model. I truly hope I can become more like Miriam, I really do!
That’s all from me now, but I will leave you (for those lovely people who’ve read to the end) a pic (taken last year) of another cruise dress that I’ll be wearing soon!
Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper