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.