When I hit my mid-thirties, I had a sudden, strong desire to reclaim my health, and when I did, it had me feeling younger and better than ever! Unbelievably, I was watching other women my age begin to complain about their aches and pains. Not only were they having aches and pains, but they were increasingly self-medicating with unhealthy food and lots of wine. They were resigning themselves to the woes of the struggle of getting up and down a flight of stairs and how the extra weight was making them feel tired and old.
This was astonishing to me as I couldn’t help but think that 35 years old isn’t that far from being 20-something. I still had young kids to raise, and I felt like I had all the opportunities in the world; it just required my hard work and dedication. I launched myself into a personal campaign to get and stay healthy. Thirty-five was a transformational year that changed my perspective on what getting “old” meant or what it really meant to feel old, possibly older than your years. My successful weight loss and fitness journey had me feeling younger than ever as I approached my 40s. I no longer identified with my peers who felt old or that they couldn’t keep up with the kids. Now that I’m nearing 50 years old, I can still say that pushing myself physically has contributed to positive changes not only physically but also mentally and spiritually.
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Chronological Age Versus Subjective Age
The aging process brings a range of challenges. Not only does our appearance change from things beginning to sink, droop, and sag, but health and energy levels play a significant role. There’s also the sense that time seems to move more rapidly; we are more aware of swiftly fleeting time and reflect on the days of our youth that seemed to escape us all too quickly.
There’s no denying that none of us can flee our chronological age, which is celebrated by most people each year on their birthday. However, why is it that some people “feel” old while others insist that they feel amazing as they continue to age? Some of this has to do with physical activity and healthy nutrition and living what most would consider a healthy lifestyle. However, there is much more to feeling young than what first meets the eye.
If life has gone well, ideally, we gain wisdom and peace, both of which contribute to feeling younger than our years. We tend to experience a younger subjective age than what our chronological age is.
One of the key things I did to start feeling younger was to set a big goal and create a firm plan on how to achieve it. For me, that was losing about 30 pounds and then becoming physically fit. But here’s what’s most notable. The focus here isn’t on the physical transformation. The number one thing that contributed to reclaiming my youth was the act of setting the goal and successfully accomplishing that despite whatever challenges came my way. It completely transformed my mindset and set me up for the “what’s next?” mentality. Meaning, now that I’ve done this thing that I didn’t think was possible, I’m full of energy to set a new goal. While a big goal may seem like a difficult place to start when you want to reverse your subjective age and start feeling younger. Here are some little things you can do every day to help you to reclaim your youthful perspective:
Smile more often. It changes your mindset immediately.
Adopt a new pet. They will challenge and invigorate you AND get you up and moving when you otherwise wouldn’t.
Try something new. Go back to school, pursue a new major, learn a new language, or become a teacher, instructor, or tutor of something that you’ve already mastered.
Spend more time with your friends. Friends will challenge and engage you; they will move you to do things that you wouldn’t otherwise do on your own.
The Age Defying Properties of Exercise
Yes, exercise. I can’t overemphasize the power of exercise for instilling youth into you mentally, physically, and emotionally. Getting outside and exercising can instantly change your perspective from negative to positive, from old to young. Fresh air alone is invigorating! If you really want to start reversing that subjective age, begin lifting weights or adding resistance training to your routine. Lifting weights is endlessly restorative. Strength training will improve endurance and mobility; it will give you confidence. Strength training is also a daily reminder of the importance of setting goals, continuously increasing the goal, and struggling to achieve change. The entire physical and mental perspective around staying physically fit and strong is directly related not only to aging well but also to how YOUNG you feel your whole life long.
The Takeaway: The Importance Of Feeling Young
There is a reciprocal relationship between your subjective age, or “feeling” young, and many other positive aspects of life. Feeling young is a result of a healthy and fulfilled life, and in return, your mental and physical health is improved. Having life satisfaction and meaning are directly related to your well-being and play a role in resilience, optimism, and social support. Having and maintaining a youthful, energetic outlook on life continues to produce age-defying benefits that improve the quality of your day-to-day life even as the calendar pages continue to turn.