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!

With love
Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper






39 thoughts on “A new you this year?  Or is it more about maintenance and preserving the old(er) you!

  • 28th January 2018 at 2:47 pm

    Great dress! And a lovely story! I exercise four times a week, I have to because of my lung disease, but it makes me veel good! And having fun and enjoy themdays is very important!

    • 30th January 2018 at 7:50 am

      Hi Nancy! Wow – four times a week, that’s so good, but I do appreciate that your condition pushes you to do the exercise, really good! And yes, live in the moment and have fun!

  • 28th January 2018 at 2:52 pm

    Penny, I am so sorry you are not feeling on top form. Just remember also that you have just packed up and moved, which is an exhausting achievement at the best of times.
    Your advice about exercise is very good. For the past year I have been going once a week to a personal trainer, in his gym) and I do feel better for it; I try also in theory to do 10,000 steps a day but very rarely achieve that, but where we live us very hilly so I reckon the steps are often worth more!
    I love your blogs. Do keep writing, I’m sure nobody minds if you sometimes feel lacking inspiration, that is, if ever you really do. You are always sound so friendly and cheery.

    • 30th January 2018 at 7:59 am

      Actually Marion you’re right, the move was exhausting and we still have much to do, which takes its toll. But the low feeling I have now is just the after-effects of the 3-week cold that many people have had, so I know I’m not alone in this. And fortunately writing is one way to occupy the time when I need to just sit! So I won’t stop writing the blog.

      Your experience of exercise is interesting. I have a Fitbit and it’s 99% a great thing to have as I aim for 10,000 steps and always get up and move if I’m under 5000, but it has made me slightly obsessed with my pulse rate, but knowing it’s a bit high is no bad thing, and I shall be working on this over the summer. I’ve also decided that if I can keep going to the gym without a break for several weeks I’ll join the gym and then I can see a personal trainer which I really want to do. Hilly walks must be the absolute best! Thanks so much for your comment and feedback on the blog – much appreciated.

  • 28th January 2018 at 3:20 pm

    I also love that dress on you Penny. As a 50+ fatso (can’t stand the term obese!) I hear what you say about exercise and this is my weakness, hoping to work on it seriously this year as I can feel the difference my lack of fitness is making to my day to day life, everything is so much more effort and I can feel myself slipping into not doing things because of it. I am hoping the spring will kick start my efforts!

    • 30th January 2018 at 8:07 am

      Have you got a Fitbit Alison? That could kick-start the walking. I find I really like to know how many steps I’ve done. If you can, get the most basic one and find out if it helps. There are other elements to a Fitbit as well, and I love to be told my sleep patterns aren’t as bad as I think they are! Anyway, experts are saying it’s never too late to begin exercise. But get the BP checked, of course and start gently. Also see below at another commenter – there’s always YouTube!

  • 28th January 2018 at 3:36 pm

    That’s a stunner of a dress Penny. Suits you so well.

    • 30th January 2018 at 8:07 am

      Thank you, Anne. I’m looking forward to wearing it again!

  • 28th January 2018 at 3:47 pm

    Hi Penny – I am just 70 (why does it feel so much older than 69?) and live in Brighton. How do I find an exercise class for older women and/or a personal trainer? Thank you for any “sign posting” you can do.

    • 30th January 2018 at 8:17 am

      Well, as you must know already, there are many gyms and classes in Brighton. I spent 6 months just looking, mainly at the prices, as some (like the gym right next to where I live) are way above my budget. Look at the Alive gym in Castle Street. They’re very reasonably priced. Their Tuesday class is full of older women, but it was very active!!! However, some of the women have been doing the same class for nearly 20 years and there are one or two in their 80s moving along keeping pace – I was stunned! But they’re such a great bunch of women who have a coffee afterwards and who welcomed me and asked me to come along. I did that just the once because a couple of things got in the way and then I got the cold! Now attempting another class as I can’t go on a Tuesday for a couple of months as have another commitment. But having been to several gyms and kind of tried to ‘get’ the atmosphere, which I think you could do, I found Alive a friendly place.

      • 30th January 2018 at 10:46 am

        Thank you very much Penny – I appreciate that your generosity with info has saved me six months, particularly valuable to a person over 70! I am currently in third week of “the cold”, more like flu-lite, but I will check it out when I’ve got some energy back. I was much cheered to learn yesterday that Amanda Barrie, still hanging on in CBB, is 82.

  • 28th January 2018 at 3:49 pm

    A year on from my Total Knee Replacement, I’m just getting back to fitness workouts. (It took the swelling ten months to subside). I’ve found some great ones on YouTube, even for unfit seniors like me. At the moment, I ‘m doing 15 minutes of low impact functional training for seniors and 15 minutes of fast walking in my living room (the equivalent of one mile). No special equipment is needed, and I shall soon have the stamina and confidence to progress to more challenges.

    • 30th January 2018 at 8:20 am

      Oh very well done you. I haven’t as yet had any replacements but I do know knees are much trickier than hips. It’s so good to hear about your progress.

  • 28th January 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Great post and you’re looking younger and younger these days. My biggest problem is lack of exercise. Penny, I swear to God–moving out of Manhattan destroyed me. When I lived in NYC I was in the best shape of my life from walking everywhere. I am being truthful when I tell you I despise living in the suburbs. If it were not from the filthy developers like Trump, who changed the city and made it unaffordable for the middle class, I would still be living there but this is another subject altogether!! I need to go put my face on–LOL!!!

    • 30th January 2018 at 8:29 am

      Ah haa! Well. That pic of me is actually not all that recent!!! I wore that dress in January 2017 and so must have found it in Autumn 2016. So yes, I am looking younger there ‘cos I was a lot younger! LOL !!!!!!!

      As for walking, I know that it is a easier to do a lot of walking over here in the UK. We can walk around small towns and suburbs, no problem. Now I’m a city girl I catch the bus, which is why I need my coats (more about that in a future blog) and walk a lot, which is great and it gets the amount of steps up very well. But it’s not all good as I’m buying more clothes! I’ve given myself a big talking-to this end of the month as I have not been good at all. Still live in the moment, I say. But I share your frustration.

  • 28th January 2018 at 4:19 pm

    Penny – agree 100% about exercise. It does not matter to me what clothes/makeup/hairstyle I have if I am looking forward to a life in a wheelchair. And I was after falling off a ladder and breaking bones and being diagnosed with severe osteoporosis. No doc told me the cause of the osteoporosis, so I started digging…and found it was EPILEPSY MEDS. I cannot come off them, but with vast quantities of Vit D and weight bearing ( this is kilos of weights) I am now out of the OP range. So I feel so sad when people do not exercise as it just means a ‘reduced’ ability to take part in your life.

    • 30th January 2018 at 8:37 am

      Oh goodness, what a way to find out you’ve got osteoporosis! Just awful! But interesting you’re working your way back to fitness and better bone mass with exercise. I got scans from quite early on as I was diagnosed (wrongly as it turned out) with a rather scrappy machine in a GP’s surgery. I did however, go on to get mild osteoporosis, but refused the medication which you take once a week and have to stay upright, when the scan revealed I’d hardly changed over 5 years. I then said give me another five years to exercise my way out of it. Due a scan in a year or so’s time and I truly hope I’ve done it that way! Glad to hear it’s happening with you.

  • 28th January 2018 at 5:08 pm

    Love, love, love your words. I will be 69 this year and look forward to embracing 70! Your blog has inspired me on so many levels. THANK YOU!
    I am more “me” than ever before…and I do not mean that in an egotistical manner. In this season of life, I have more time to take care of myself…to be the best (not younger) me that I can be. I am most thankful for resources that allow me (and husband) to seek health answers, exercise, and healthy food.
    Like you, I am currently fighting a bug. Let’s get better and return to our routines that, though taxing, add such value to this season. As I like to say…”Aging is not for cowards!”

    • 31st January 2018 at 8:03 am

      Absolutely, ageing is not for sissies!!! That’s Katherine Hepburn I think! And yes, even with my poor pension, life as a pensioner is full of richness and opportunities which I’m grabbing!!!! Thank you so much for your feedback on the blog – it’s much appreciated.

  • 28th January 2018 at 6:07 pm

    I LOVE that dress! Utterly glamorous and gorgeous. Very wise advice. I may “only” be 57 but I find my aches and pains multiply without exercise. Find the exercise you like – something stretchy, something weighty, and something cardiovascular, is my motto. I’m doing the #walk1000miles challenge and it’s quite do-able (so far) – just over two and a half miles a day.

    • 31st January 2018 at 8:05 am

      The dress is lovely and another very forgiving one as it’s stretchy! Excellent to hear about the walking challenge.

  • 28th January 2018 at 6:17 pm

    I’m so pleased you’ve found a class that you enjoy. If you don’t mind me asking, what’s it called? As I’ve mentioned before, I love my Zumba Gold and Fitsteps classes but I’m still searching for a class in France. Perhaps I’m not looking enough! I’m going to be 65 in May and should have a health check. I’ve never had my cholesterol tested and I can’t remember the last time I had my blood pressure taken. I need to stop being an ostrich! We are so fortunate to be able to have these checks on the NHS (at the moment). I think you look fabulous in that dress, too.

    • 31st January 2018 at 8:12 am

      The class is just called Body Conditioning, but we never stop moving and do lots with weights. I find I can keep up but use the lightest weights. The one on Tuesday for Seniors, is quite a bit different, but had even faster movements, which was so interesting as the class comprised of many more women in their mid 60s-80s than the one I currently go to. I shall continue with this gym as it’s prices are very reasonable and it’s friendly. Go get those tests!

  • 28th January 2018 at 7:38 pm

    Thanks for your blog – I fine it interesting reading. I’ve been looking at your ‘other blog’ about the NHS and there is so much I could say about it but too much typing makes me ache!
    I have fibromyalgia and severe osteoporosis so exercise other that walking is difficult. I’m determined to get back to regular swimming soon (when it warms up a bit) and I’m looking for a personal trainer who’ll take me on with my fragile back. Once the’ new year resolutionists’ give up I may be in with a chance. At least I’m keeping my weight down, just about, and I’m trying to improve my balance with standing on one leg while cleaning my teeth etc.
    I’ve got a bit of a flare up of neck shoulder and arm pain at the moment so I’ll end here.

    • 31st January 2018 at 8:27 am

      Oh no, both conditions are so tricky and debilitating. Swimming has to be the best for you. I really think the NHS should somehow get out of its crisis mode and seriously go into how to promote health amongst the growing numbers of young-old, so that we don’t get those multiple morbidities. So, there should be personal trainers for the ageing. Maybe you have to pay for this, but I’d prefer not, as the benefit of keeping us fit as we possibly can be, must outweigh the current costs. Equally if we do get ill and have debilitating conditions, we could still do with personal trainers to tailor our exercise needs. I think the thing is there always have been public health people who do ‘exercise’ for older people. But i) they’re not exactly compulsory as I’ve attended so many workshops and conferences and information days where these ‘exercise’ people are trying to sell their classes, and ii) honestly I don’t find the idea of them all that appealing because I think their exercises are too tame, am I wrong? So, good luck with your search for a personal trainer. I mean, your local Age UK should have one – do they? And if they don’t, maybe they should.

      The thing is I find so many articles are about what to do about ‘the problem’ of A&E and ageing, etc etc etc etc etc. What about changing the attitude to i)here are an increasing number of ageing people, ii)we are working with these people to keep their optimum health, iii) therefore, together this is a partnership and not a problem.

      The key thing is how to prevent the admissions to A&E – and there’s a lot more to say about that. But I’ll stop!!! Thanks so much for commenting. I really appreciate it with your tiredness – onwards to the Spring and Summer x

  • 28th January 2018 at 9:05 pm

    You are a role model for your readers – perceptive about how many of us feel. I am 8 years ‘following’ you and hugely agree about getting every test you can and excercising+.
    Thank you

    • 31st January 2018 at 8:30 am

      Thank you Christine – oh, but you should see me first thing in the morning without makeup and contacts!!! You’ve made me think about something, and I’ll write about it shortly – thank you again!

  • 29th January 2018 at 1:37 pm

    A great post Penny and how very true!

    I walk several times a week but I know I need to do more core strength activities so I’m, working on that…

    I hope you feel more like your usual self soon – I bet the workout classes help!

    • 31st January 2018 at 8:34 am

      Yes, I walk quite a bit but found it just wasn’t enough – good luck with working the core strength. If you look at Tricia Cusden’s blog post you’ll see she found that her increased core strength saved her from a fall. Funnily enough I used to be fitter than her and after just a year she’s really so fit, so I thought, oops, I must get my act together – and I have!!! The class I’ve started is great! Thank you so much for your comment, Veronica!

  • 29th January 2018 at 3:05 pm

    I also really enjoyed Miriam Margolis and her American Journey. She manages to combine mischievous humour, sensitivity, interest in others and an open mind. She dislikes anything to do with sport and fitness, and yet obviously enjoys what life can bring in your seventies.

    • 31st January 2018 at 8:35 am

      Miriam Margoyles is just one amazing woman – respect!

  • 29th January 2018 at 5:33 pm

    Interesting post again and love the dress. I’m just getting over a nasty bout of flu, so not been blogging so much. Looking forward to Spring. The winter is going on a bit. xxx

    • 31st January 2018 at 8:38 am

      Oh, bad luck re: the flu which is far more serious than just a ruddy cold – which was nasty but not flu. The winter is pants as far as I’m concerned and I’m amazed that I used to love it. Kind of liked the coziness of it all. But now I just see the greyness and the viruses!!!! Onwards towards Spring – the crocuses and daffs coming up are heart-warming and good for the soul xxxx

  • 30th January 2018 at 8:20 pm

    Gorgeous dress! I am a member of a ladies gym and attend 2/3 times a week. We have several members in their 80s as well as some with mobility issues. Everyone gets an individually tailored programme according to their capability. The majority are in their 60s and 70s. We also have mobility classes. It’s all about increasing core strength and flexibility. I have made some really good friends during my seven year membership. ANY exercise at our age is an advantage because staying physically fit is really important.

    • 30th January 2018 at 8:50 pm

      Sounds fab. Do you mind if I ask you where your gym is?

      • 1st February 2018 at 8:52 pm

        I go to Gymophobics. There are around 35 branches I believe. It’s brilliant.

    • 31st January 2018 at 8:42 am

      That gym sounds great. I intend to increase my visit to this gym over the coming months. Once a current commitment has finished I’ll go to two classes per week instead of one. And if I can go to this gym without a break for 6 weeks I’ll join and get to see a personal trainer, which can only be good. I agree ANY exercise is good and it is NEVER to late to start.

  • 2nd February 2018 at 7:22 pm

    I taught yoga in gyms for years, and very quickly realised that gym group situations were not for me. I didn’t like having to travel, changes of clothes, and everything else involved, so I bought myself some bits and pieces from charity shops, such as a tubing thing with handles, a step, a thigh master for my bust. And some very light weights, plus resistance bands, from Kmart. But my fitness went downhill after an illness, and I’m now slowly working to get it back, with more movement in general, and some yoga in the mornings. These two have always been my mainstays.

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