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Exercising during retirementYou know, life is a funny thing. The younger version of myself would never have imagined starting a fitness program in my fifties. Working out was for the young right? I was unsure about joining a gym for fear of being the oldest one there, or of being told I was too old to start a weight program. I had always suffered from low self esteem and self confidence. Just thinking about being in a room surrounded by young, fit bodies gave me major anxiety.

But let me back up. I am not writing this post because I want you to join a gym, get a trainer, become the most wonderful physical specimen. No, this is about more than physical well being. It’s also about mental state. Now I can only attest to my journey but maybe it might sound familiar.

When I turned fifty my family gave me a little party. Lots of fun, drinks, merriment ensued. Great time. But the next day…I was still 50. What is it about the number 50 that seems to freak us all out? All I know is that when I looked in the mirror, I saw a different person staring back at me. Now obviously I didn’t change overnight except in my mind’s eye. And I blamed it on 50. Wore the mom jeans, stopped being interested in how my hair looked, basically let myself go. Why? Well I was 50. Call it what you like..stuck in a rut, in limbo, Frumpville, whatever. I needed a kick in the butt.

Now fortunately for me it was around this time it seemed like the exercise craze was setting in. Standing in line at the grocery store I couldn’t help but be drawn to those fitness magazines with headlines like “This Could Be YOU!”or “10 Exercises to Flatten That Belly!” Did I think these amazing things could happen to me? Or course not..well maybe. Anyway, I bought the magazines.

Reading all those shiny, glossy pages did help me make a change in the way I was eating. Exercises came next, first the ones mentioned in the magazines and then I graduated to workout dvds and a treadmill. I started noticing subtle changes in my mood, in the way my mom jeans fit and in the mirror. And to my amazement I actually seemed to be enjoying exercising. Endorphins? I don’t know but I decided it was time to step it up a notch and at least think about joining a gym. I say think about it because this is where my insecurities took over. I could not bring myself to make the call to join the gym or start a fitness class. I was completely frustrated with myself. Fitness for me became a mental game.

One day I came across an ad for a women’s only gym. I figured this was my best bet. Half my battle would be won.. no men. However, I still had this irrational fear of being an “old” lady in a gym full of young women. So I gave myself a little pep talk. This is something I have found really works for me. I list all the pros and cons of a situation and then go from there. Pros won out and off I headed to the gym to sign up before I lost my nerve. I mean I could always walk back out again right? To my surprise, there were ladies of all shapes, sizes and ages. Who knew? Relief set in immediately.

Within the first few weeks I decided to get myself a personal trainer. She gave me a fitness test to see where I was in my abilities and lo and behold I was in much better shape than I thought. I started working with her a couple of days a week and she put me through the wringer. She introduced me to weight training. I had always resisted this thinking that cardio was the way to go for losing fat. Wrong! The combo of weight and cardio is the key. One of the best things about this new found exercise program was seeing the shape of my body change, and for the better! And I realized, somewhat surprisingly, that my chronological age was not such a bad thing because now I had my new physical age. A much younger age of at least 10 years.

Anyway, what I guess I am getting at here is that we are oftentimes our own worst enemies. I know I am not alone with my fears and self doubts. I still have them but I am getting better. I am in my sixties now. I still work out religiously although now from home. I no longer have the trainer but I learned so much from her and we keep in touch. My mindset is better and I firmly believe it started with my need for a fitness plan. I even had enough courage to start writing my blog!

So if you are anything like me, I hope you can find the “you” deep inside yourself who wants to come out. We may be getting on in years but we still have so many bright days ahead. So…let’s go!

Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.