Healthstyle Blog

4 Things You Should Avoid to Live a Healthier Lifestyle in Midlife

I am going to share with you some of those mistakes that can prevent you from becoming healthier when you start a new goal, especially in Midlife.

When I was about 17, I had applied to work as a teacher and I was going to teach Math. For people who went to high school with me, they probably would find that rather odd. Math was not one of my strongest subjects in school. I didn’t like it but I do know now that if  I had worked hard, I would have done so much better. I just had it in my head that I was not good at Math and I really didn’t want to make the effort that was required. But I applied for this job, believed I could do it – after all it was middle school Math.

I met the parents of Obehi. She was not excelling in Math at school, they felt she was struggling and needed some help. I remember the girl like it was yesterday. Obehi was a slim, petite middle schooler. She was Nigerian with gorgeous eyes and I remember she had a very shy smile.  I applied for the position and I got the job. I was very excited because it was a way for me to earn extra money after high school. I just finished high school and I was going to England to do my A levels in the Fall so this was a great way for me to make myself useful and also earn some money. Some of the experience that I gained while teaching her (and it was strictly based on research) to improve her skills in Math I now apply to people who want to live a healthy lifestyle. You are probably thinking “What is the correlation? Healthy lifestyle? Math? What is it?” Just follow along and you will see why.

First Mistake: The Goal is Vague

The first mistake that most people make when trying to live a healthier lifestyle is they say “Oh I want to be healthier”. That’s a vague statement. What does that mean? You have to be very specific about what you want to achieve. Just saying “I want to be healthier or I want to lose weight, I want to build muscle or I want to tone” is not specific enough. It’s kind of saying “Oh I want to sell products.” What kind of products do you want to sell? You have to be specific.

When I met that girl,  I did find out from the parents the areas in which she was struggling but I also wanted to find out from her. So even though I spoke with the parents I also wanted to find out from her what she wanted. So I asked her “What is your goal with this? You feel you are struggling with Math but what do you want to achieve?” and she said quite confidently “I would really like to get a B. That is my goal. I feel like I don’t know Math and getting a B will be an achievement that will make me happy and make my parents proud.” So we set out to improve her skills and we had the B as our goal.

Now, you can apply the same to your health in Midlife. Maybe you want to meet the guidelines set by the US Office of Disease Prevention that says you have to do 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity per week. So 150 minutes per week. That could be your goal. That is a goal! Then you can decide “Okay, based on that, how am I going to achieve that?”

Be very specific about what you want or what area you want to improve on. Make your goal specific. Don’t be vague about it.

Second Mistake: No Minimum Baseline

You can’t track your progress without a baseline. You need that in order to move forward. How can you track your progress or even know if it is working if you have nothing to base it on?

When I started teaching Obehi, before I even began, I gave her a test to figure out her skill level. What would I need to work on? What could we use to track her progress? How to know whether what I was doing was working or not?  The only way I could do that was finding out her baseline skill. Over time I would give her quizzes and tests to see if the information I was teaching her was helping her improve.

It is the same for weight loss and living a healthy lifestyle. What I would like for you to do is weigh yourself on a scale before you even begin and get measurements on the following: your bust, your hip, your waist. For those who are suffering from a health ailment, it would be important for you to speak with your doctor and get the numbers from your doctor. You might need to check your blood pressure. If you are diabetic, you might need to check numbers there also. There might be some numbers that the doctors can also keep and help track of how you are doing because you want to know if what you are doing is working and if it is not working you can tweak them. Numbers matter. Don’t start without recording the minimum baseline numbers.

I remember with Obehi, she was so excited when she began to see the progress that she was making. When I gave her tests and quizzes she could see that she was improving. That was building her confidence. It is the same thing with weight loss. You get discouraged when the numbers are not up to your expectation. But this I can tell you, if you keep at it, you will see the numbers change. It will change! That is guaranteed. However, you have to be consistent and you have to keep going. Don’t give up! Living a healthy lifestyle is the best gift you can give to yourself especially in Midlife. I want you to realize that and never ever give up. Don’t worry about the numbers. The numbers will move. Don’t worry about the scale. Remember that the scale always provides us with numbers. I want you to view it as that – just numbers. Do not attach any feeling or emotion to the numbers that are produced by the scale. It’s your thoughts making you feel one way or the other and we can control our thoughts.  When you start to get attached to it that is when you feel like “Oh no, I did something wrong!” “I feel guilty” or you start to feel shame. No! Look at the numbers as neutral. When you get on the scale, write the numbers down and move on. Do not attach any type of feeling to it. They are just numbers. Numbers that can change one way or another. Regardless of whether it is changing in the direction that you don’t want, keep on going. It will change. It always does.

Third Mistake: Focusing on Too Many Things All at The Same Time

When I was teaching the young girl Obehi, her weaknesses were in Algebra and Statistics. I knew that I couldn’t focus on all of those areas at once because I knew that it would be overwhelming to her. So I decided to divide the tasks for each area into bite-sized chunks that she could digest easily. When you have so much, it is really hard to focus on all of those things at once and be successful. Guaranteed that there are some people who are able to do that, most of us just can’t. With Midlife our bodies are going through so many changes that can affect our weight, sleep, and mood to mention a few. We set various goals for ourselves. You might set a goal to lose weight, to change my diet, stop consuming fizzy drinks, go to the gym and workout 3 to 5 times a week or stop eating sugar. These list goals are great but you have to be realistic. You don’t want to have a long list and not be able to achieve any of them. It is distressing. It will just make you feel sad, defeated and frustrated. Being enthusiastic about losing weight and trying to live a healthy lifestyle is great but I want you to be realistic. Divide the tasks that you want into bite-sized chunks so that they’re easy for you to achieve.

When you decide that one specific goal that you want to achieve, figure out the tasks within that which you want to do and do it for fourteen days. Just two weeks. For instance you want to lose weight. Underneath that, you can say “I want to stop drinking coke.” Focus on giving up coke for two weeks. Once you achieved that, you are going to the next goal. The next goal could be going for a walk two to three times a week for 15 minutes each time and you layer that on top of the first goal. That is what you do. Keep on layering it. The other reason why you want to do it like that is, if you start doing something and you realized that in week 3 for example, something is not quite right while in weeks 1 and 2 you were fine, that could mean that the task that you just added is the culprit and you might want to tweak it a little bit, cut it back a little bit or increase it. That helps you to figure out what is going on. It helps you move forward so that you can see progress and you can achieve your healthier lifestyle goal.

Please don’t try to tackle everything at the same time. Select one area to focus on and then move forward. It can be so overwhelming trying to do so many different things and often you don’t achieve anything. Then you get frustrated and you may stop. You can do it! You just need to start with little steps.

Fourth Mistake: Not Getting Enough Rest

There are three super athletes I want to talk about today. Usain Bolt who is the reigning Olympic champion in three events and the first man to win 6 Olympic gold medals in sprinting. The other super athlete is Lebron James. He has 4 MVP awards and is an amazing basketball player. The other super athlete I want to mention is Roger Federer. He has won 17 grand slams. Amazing! All these men are super athletes. You know what they all have in common? They get an average of 8-12 hours of sleep a night. Amazing, right? They know the importance of sleep. These are super athletes. They are busy, they are training hard, this is their craft, this is what they do for a living but they make time for sleep because it is important and it helps their overall fitness.

Do you know which of these super athletes gets the most sleep?  Is it Usain Bolt? Lebron James? Roger Federer? It’s Lebron James with a whooping 12 hours of sleep every day. Awesome, right? A busy guy but he makes the time because for him it is important. He needs his rest and he feels he needs a lot of it. Who do you think is in second place? It’s Roger Federer. He gets 11-12 hours of sleep per day. He says when he does not have it he does not feel right. Lastly is Usain Bolt, he gets 8-10 hours of sleep per night. He feels he needs to rest and recover in order for the training to be absorbed into his body. All of them believe that sleep is an important element for their fitness. Why should you think otherwise?

I want you to realize that no matter how busy you are you need to make the time for sleep because that helps you to live a healthier lifestyle and also helps you to lose weight. I know with Midlife, sleep is even more difficult to achieve. Do you know that the amount of sleep you get can affect your ability to lose weight? There was a research done in Norway and what they found out was those who slept between 5.5 to 6 hours per night have trouble losing weight. They also found out that the people who have 5.5 to 6 hours of sleep gained more calories than those who had more hours of sleep.

Also, there is a hormone called Ghrelin which boosts your appetite and increases fat production. When you are young and in your teens that is fine. You want to boost fat production and you want to boost your appetite. When you are over thirty, not so much. Guess what? Ghrelin is increased when you don’t get enough sleep. That means your appetite is increased and fat production is increased. You don’t want that when trying to lose weight. So one of the mistakes I don’t want you to make in Midlife is thinking “Oh, I don’t really sleep. It is not that important. I am too busy.” Get your shut-eye! The bottom line is “When you snooze, you lose weight.” Remember that!

So here are the 4 different mistakes that I don’t want you to make:

  1. Don’t make your goal vague. Be very specific about the goal you want to achieve.
  2. No minimum baseline. Numbers matter. You have to have a minimum baseline to begin with so you can track your progress.
  3. Focusing on so many things at once. No! Focus on one task, break it down into small manageable steps and keep them that way.
  4. Not getting enough shut-eye. You need your rest. I’ve mentioned those 3 super athletes. They get their rest. They know the importance of it. They know it is a priority and I think you should do the same.

I hope you won’t make any of these mistakes so you can achieve your healthier lifestyle goal in Midlife. Now more than ever a healthier lifestyle is important. I want you to achieve a healthier lifestyle even if you haven’t been able to do that in the past. I want this year to be different for you. Share this with others too.

If you have any questions about how you can achieve a healthier lifestyle in Midlife, email me. I would love to hear from you.

Are you a midlifer and would love to know important tips about staying healthy and happy? Visit KwaviTV and say hello and subscribe if you haven’t done so yet. It is a lifestyle channel dedicated to wellness for women through the various twists and turns of life like motherhood, midlife, and menopause.

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