Welcome to The Midlife ToolBox, a very special series of guest posts written by Midlife Bloggers from all over the world. We are unique women, and even though we are all getting older, our perspective, challenges, and ways we see life are definitely unique! I hope you enjoy these wise words and gain some insight from them. I know I will.
I am so pleased to have Christie Hawkes from So What? Now What? as our guest blogger in this installment of the Midlife ToolBox.
Christie shares how defining her key healthy lifestyle habits has really shaped her perspective as a woman in midlife.
Let’s hear from Christie!
Healthy Lifestyle Habits in My Midlife ToolBox
Ask any handyperson what their favorite tools are, and you’ll probably hear about some fancy gadgets you never knew existed, but ask which are the most useful, and you’ll get down to basics: things like a hammer, screwdriver, and pliers.
When Candi invited me to share my favorite tools for midlife, I had a similar experience. At first I tried to come up with something to dazzle you. But then I asked myself, “What are your most useful tools?” And it came down to the basics:
- Health and fitness
Health and fitness
In young adulthood, my primary fitness motivation was appearance. Let’s be honest, I wanted to look like the models in the magazines.
I’d push myself hard for a few days and then decide that I was never going to be that thin anyway, so what did it matter? I’d plop down on the couch with a box of cookies or a bag of chips; feel guilty after a while, and start the cycle over.
Now I’m less interested in striving for the ideal body shape and more interested in the long-term shape of my body.
I want to be strong and flexible with good balance, so I can enjoy as much of life as possible for as long as possible.
So the first tool in my midlife toolbox is health and fitness.
For me, that means participating in a variety of physical activities that I enjoy (running, Orangetheory Fitness, hiking, and yoga) and eating reasonably healthy most of the time.
Moderation in all things—not depriving myself of the foods I love, but not stuffing myself either. I focus on lean protein, produce, and whole grains. When it comes to treats, I do my best to eat mindfully, making deliberate choices and enjoying every bite.
Read more posts from the Midlife Tool Box Series
I’ve been fortunate to experience some pretty amazing things in my life—watching the sun set over the ocean, ziplining, floating amidst breaching whales, touring castles in France.
But my fondest memories? The people with whom I shared those experiences. Not only does connecting with people feel good, but it’s good for you.
A study by the UCLA School of Medicine found that strong social connections strengthen our immune systems, help us recover from disease faster, and may even lengthen our lives. That makes nurturing relationships a pretty important midlife tool.
So when I find myself hesitating to accept a lunch invitation from my coworkers because I’m busy or a night out with family or friends, because the television is calling my name, I remind myself of something a wise friend once said, “In this world of mass confusion and hurried existence, human contact still continues to be the most profound impact in our short lives.”
I’ve saved the most important tool for last: joy. When it comes down to it, if we dig deep enough, isn’t striving for happiness at the core of everything we do?
But is joy really within our control? Actually, it is. At least as much as any of the other tools are.
Just like some people start out with healthier genes than others, and some people are born into bigger, more closely-knit families than others, some people are born with sunnier dispositions than their more pessimistic peers. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve upon your starting point, wherever that is.
I have developed some strategies that help me enjoy life more, in good times and bad. I could write full posts on each of these (and have), but for today I’ll just tell you what they are:
- mindfulness practices, like meditation and deep breathing, to keep me in the present moment
- gratitude habits, like journaling and thank you notes, to keep me grateful
- performing random acts of kindness and connecting with people I encounter throughout the day, to spread the joy
- and deliberately incorporating the things that make me smile, like spending time in nature and listening to music, into my life
Putting these tools to use
These tools represent my values. Ideally, I use them to focus my time and energies, choosing those activities that will improve health, strengthen relationships, or bring joy.
Christie Hawks founder of So What? Now What? ChristieHawkes.com
Christie lives in Utah with her husband Larry and dog Charlie. They have a beautiful blended family of four children and 10 grandchildren! She is an executive for a nonprofit insurance company, is a published author and recently wrote her first (yet-to-be-published) novel.
Are you interested in submitting a guest post for this series? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and include your blog or website URL. We’ll have a chat! Thanks.
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22 thoughts on “How Healthy Lifestyle Habits Can Shape Your Perspective in Midlife”
Thank you Candi for inviting me to participate in this series. I’ve enjoyed reading the other guests’ posts, and I hope what I have to say will be useful to your followers. Midlife is an exciting time, but can also be challenging. Pulling together and sharing tools and tips makes it a better experience for everyone. Thanks again!
I think we all learn from each other, Christie, and your post is no exception. Thank you for sharing!
This post really resonated with me. I am similarly putting together a toolbox to help me not merely cope with, but truly enjoy this phase of my life. My tools may not be exactly the same but they are being chosen with thought and care. When I noticed that these “tools” seemed to be fitting into my lifestyle fairly seamlessly, I realized that it was actually my lifestyle that was altering because of them. That was a great moment!
Thanks for this – I will be following this blog with great interest. 🙂
Hello M.A. Bell! Isn’t that wonderful when we realize our lifestyles are changing in a positive way without our even realizing it? All those baby steps add up to a lot of ground covered. I’m glad to hear that you are not merely coping with this phase of life, but truly enjoying it. Sometimes we hear midlife spoken about as if it were a curse, when it really is something to be celebrated–all this knowledge and freedom we’ve earned! Candi’s put together a great series with her Midlife Tool Box posts. I look forward to seeing who comes next. I’m headed over to check out your blog now!
Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your thoughts, M.A., it’s great that we continue to experience the ‘aha’ moments all through our lives!
Great guest article, Christie. Thanks for sharing your tips!
Hi Donna, thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, Christie has some wonderful, practical tips for us!
You’re welcome Donna. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Experiences, especially when had with people you care about, are so much more rewarding than acquiring a bunch of stuff. Nurture health, relationships, and joy… sounds about right to me!
Hi Janis, I absolutely agree! Those are the things that really count.
I couldn’t agree more, Janis.
Hi, Christe – I completely agree with your ‘basics’. Nothing can beat relationships, health and joy!
Thanks Donna. If those three things are in place, everything else can be figured out.
Hi Donna, thanks so much for stopping by, it’s always appreciated!
Hi Christie – lovely seeing you over here on Candi’s blog and I loved your tools and agree with all of them. I think joy is such an important response to choose in life – we all talk about happiness, but joy has more depth and is something we can all make a conscious choice to grow in our lives. Simple gratitude and appreciation of all we’re blessed with is the beginning, nurturing our relationships, and just being aware of the small pleasures of life – all these grow joy don’t they?
Candi, thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂
I agree, Leanne, that gratitude is key to being joyful. For me, mindfulness–or simply being present in the moment–is another important piece. Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your insight.
Hi Leanne, thanks for sharing those thoughtful comments, and also for sharing on SM!
As I get older I totally agree with your basics in your tool box Christie. Health, relationships and joy are so much more important over materialism. I also think creating memories is important, and I’d rather spend money on a family holiday than a new couch (for example!).
So true, Jo. It seems we’ve gotten wiser. 🙂 Even when I give gifts now, I like to give experience gifts or items that can be used to create experiences. Most of us don’t need more stuff, but we can all use experiences and memories. Have a great week! Go out and make some memories!
Hi Jo, I agree…in the end it’s just stuff, where the memories, the relationships and the joy are priceless. Thanks for stopping by and for your support!
So true. It’s amazing how much we change as we get older and realize what’s important. It’s not about how we look or what material items we have. To me it’s all about our relationships with friends and family. My only regret is that I didn’t learn this in my younger years, but then again no regrets and no excuses are two of my core beliefs.
It takes those life experiences when we were younger to make us into the wise women we are today, right Anne? 🙂 I like your philosophy of no regrets and no excuses. We do the best we can with the skills we have at any given time in our life. The trick is to keep learning and progressing.