Earlier I shared steps that I took over the summer to improve my overall health. Everyone reaches a stage in middle life where serious self-evaluation is needed. I do not begrudge my many years of running, but I do now see that my dedication has done some real damage. Here’s what I am doing now to try and make it up to me. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes.
1. Maintain a healthy weight. We all know our metabolisms slow as we age, though many don’t slow as much as we think. Instead, our appetites grow along with our income, especially once we hit our 40s. We also tend to have desk jobs by then because fieldwork is for younger folks. Now that I live in a much smaller home with very limited pantry space, it’s easier for me to not eat as much or as often. So if diets haven’t worked for you, consider the “scarcity” model and only stock, at most, a week’s worth of meals. And, of course, try not to eat too many empty calories in the name of carbo-loading.
2. Improve flexibility. If ever I “short-changed” myself, it was because I always rushed the post-run stretch – if I remembered to do it at all. Early on I was in a hurry to get back to the kids. Later it was to get back to work. As a result, major muscles have shortened over time, resulting in poor posture, leg and hip tightness and injury proneness. I’m resuming my yoga and Pilates practice to help lengthen those limbs and realign my musculature. They now replace two days of weekly cardio. I’m also indulging in deep tissue massages since they improve my flexibility. It’s gotta be deep tissue, though, which hurts – sometimes for days afterward. Embed 15 minutes of stretching into your daily workouts now and you'll thank me later.
3. Take a multivitamin. I eat well, so I had dropped my multivitamin. But my history of fractures in my 40s (all but one running related!) and anemia reflect holes in that diet. If you find your energy lagging for any length of time, it may be a vitamin deficiency. Just make sure it's a good brand that is more product than filler. We all know the FDA doesn't monitor the supplement industry and as a result vendors overinflate ingredients and their benefits.