My 60th birthday is right around the corner.
I'm honestly not sure how to feel about it. This has been my best decade as an adult; I have been quite happy in my 50s. But my 60s? I have no idea what to expect. I’m a little nervous.
Milestone ages like the one I’m approaching offer good opportunities to reflect back on how far I’ve come and to decide what I’d like the rest of my life to look like. Every birthday is a reminder that whatever you have been, whatever mistakes and regrets you may have, there is still time to improve. I have lots of regrets, but I don’t have to let those things define me. You, too, can still write your own script.
As we age, our health often takes up more attention. Sometimes it can feel like the damage has been done and now we just have to live with the consequences but that isn’t always the case. Our bodies are pretty resilient! Did you know that the human body is remarkably good at repairing itself? One good example is smoking cessation. If you stop smoking, you will not only stop further damage to your lungs but there’s a good chance that the damage will start to reverse. While quitting smoking may not bring you back to the health of your youth, it will give your body a chance to heal.
And the same is true for cholesterol, blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle changes may not make the problems go away, but you will likely notice improvements as you build healthier habits. Maintaining a healthy weight and building muscle can add years to your life, as can eating a healthier diet. Growing up, my folks owned a mom-and-pop grocery store and when I worked in the shop, I was paid in candy. Looking back, I really regret eating so much candy as a kid. However, I know if I pay attention and eat healthy now, my likelihood of getting type 2 diabetes will be greatly reduced.
It isn’t just your physical health that can benefit from positive change, I encourage you to exercise your mind as well! One way I exercise my mind is by doing puzzles and word games; they help to keep my mind sharp. My favorite way to jumpstart the morning is to play Wordle first thing in the morning -if you’ve never played, I encourage you to give it a try! Along the same lines, read books, listen to music and challenge yourself to learn new things. Do something that makes your mind exercise. It will pay huge dividends as you get older.
My mom lived to 94, and she was doing crossword puzzles until just before she died. Her mind stayed sharp throughout her whole life. Yours can too.
Incorporating healthy changes can also help to improve your emotional and mental state. I have started journaling recently and I find that it allows me some perspective on how I’m processing problems. Instead of reacting and lashing out, I find myself taking time to think about how my attitude impacts the people around me.
No matter your age, you have the chance, today, to change the way you do life. If you’re not happy with something, or you know that old habits are hurting you, then make a point to change. Quit holding onto regrets and free yourself to be a better person. You define yourself, no one else. Take advantage of today to make yourself a better person. That’s what I love about cardiac rehab. It’s like a reset button on life, a chance to take a hard look at what you’ve done and find ways to make changes to make life better.
Keep on fighting. You’re worth the effort.