I’m 2 months away from turning the big 40. You know, the official “over the hill” and entrance into that new phase of “feeling old.” By now, I’ve had high-school classmates pass away and parents of some friends pass away. I am reminded daily by younger demographics that I may be completely out of touch with what’s “cool,” and I don’t expect that to miraculously change after I turn 40. My body hurts. My finances are ok, but my taste has gotten more expensive. My friend circle is pretty defined, and my kids are well on their way to growing up as little know-it-alls. If you can’t tell, I am super stoked for this upcoming birthday. That being said, I’ve decided to embrace this journey, and, luckily, I’ve acquired some practical tips to help me enjoy this new era. So, strap in, take a deep breath, and welcome this new chapter alongside me.
I remember when I was growing up and my parents turned 40. My mom is 10 months older than my dad, so she hit her big milestone first, and dad did not disappoint in ensuring that everyone knew this fact. He threw her a surprise funeral for her birthday party – seriously, he built a coffin, everyone dressed in black, and the cake was a tombstone. I’m not sure she found it as humorous as everyone else, but it certainly left a lasting impression on all of us.
My entire life my dad told me that on your 40th birthday you immediately feel changes in your body. For him, his eyesight went bad, and he was forced to wear reading glasses for the first time ever. For me, I’m not sure I’m too far off from his experience. I run regularly, 2-3 miles several times a week, and I’m starting to feel every step, specifically in my hip and needing to use the bathroom. Stretches, Epsom salt baths, and ice packs are my recent new friends. At least it’s not eyeglasses yet though, right? There has to be a way to cope with the body changes and the chaotic family life that isn’t slowing anytime soon though, right?
Some certainties that I’m learning, and hoping these help you too:
1) Stay active. Once you stop, it’s difficult to start again. And it doesn’t have to be extreme, it can be fun! Let’s face it, life is bustling with carpooling kids, work, homework, dinner, and all the obligations that come in between. Join your kids in their activities, practice their sports with them, or start adding aerobic movements to your regular conversations. My 6-year-old gets invited to at least 4-5 birthday parties a year that are at trampoline parks. My husband and I pay to jump when we bring her – she has her fun and we get to enjoy some fun-filled movement too. Baton Rouge has Defy Baton Rouge park, and both Denham Springs and Ascension Parish have parks as well. No reason your kids should be the only ones to have fun!
2) Be honest with yourself about your body changes. What’s up with hormones, metabolism, and age? Same food habits, same exercise routines, same life stresses … but not the same as when I was 20 or 30. It’s like my metabolism decided to hibernate and hit an all-time slowwww. Short tempers, night sweats, low libido, let’s have some real talk – none of it is pretty. What’s the solution? For me, I started seeing a really good OB/GYN, who did all the necessary lab work and listening to my needs, suggesting diet and exercise changes, supplements for stress support and hormones, and other needed medical interventions. Game changer. Need a good doc? Find a doc here! It’s worth the search.
3) Get a new hobby. For me, I spent the better part of my adult life in educational books, self-help reads, and leadership materials. However, this year I’ve decided to start reading some fiction, specifically some romance novels, and I’ve joined a book club at work, discussing my newfound treasures with friends. Check out the local Barnes & Noble for new reads, or visit the local library. My husband started a new habit and decided to start beekeeping with our neighbor. He’s involved the kids in learning about bees and their habitats, creating honey jar labels and talking about all the health benefits of harvesting your own local honey. The possibilities are endless for new hobbies, but the point is to try something you’ve never done before.
All in all, our lives constantly change. Seasons come and go, and getting older is inevitable. So make it fun and embrace new beginnings. Keep moving. Get the medical help and screenings you need, and find new habits that you enjoy. Cheers to 40!