40 is a big deal. A lot of people brush over it like it’s just another year, and it is… but it’s also so much more than that. It’s a milestone to celebrate and to contemplate. It’s a shift in mindset and perspective. It’s also an opportunity to take stock of your life and where you’re going… just to make sure you’re happy with the choices you’ve made and the direction you’re heading.
So as I move swiftly towards 41 years of age, I thought it was perfect timing for a little summation of what I’ve come to realise about myself, my life, my state of health, my level of fitness and overall wellbeing since turning 40.
1. Your Body Does Not Recover Like It Used To And Alcohol Is Not Your Friend
Duh! This is probably the most obvious point, but I think we all like to test it every now and then. When I talk about recovery I am speaking about so many different aspects. A night on the town will have you paying for days afterwards. No matter how much water you drink or how well you look after yourself, you don’t bounce back after a party like you used to. Hence the reason for less parties and really making it count when you do let go and boogie it out for the night.
I also mean recovery from sickness, as well as recovery from a serious workout. Your muscles even need longer to recuperate, and when you’re sick… you need adequate downtime to regenerate and bounce back. Taking absolute care of yourself is essential, more so now than ever.
My wins: I drink water when I drink alcohol and I don’t drink nearly as much as I used to, so you could say that I drink responsibly and do what I can to avoid hangovers. When I’m sick, I make sure that I get enough rest, vitamins and minerals, and good, wholesome food. When I’m training, I listen to my body. When it feels like I’m battling, I hold up and don’t push it. Immune boosters such as Linctagon-C and Corenza-C are your friends.
2. You Have To Train Harder To Maintain Your Shape, Fitness And Health
Gone are the days when you could simply go for a 40-minute walk and you’d be slim, toned and fighting fit. Nope. Your body needs exercise now more than it ever did and it needs the full spectrum. Cardio-vascular for your heart and lungs, yoga for flexibility and general wellbeing, and strength training for muscular stability, strength and the prevention of osteoporosis.
If you don’t put in the hours, you don’t see the results and what you want from it is entirely up to you! I’ve always wanted to be at my peak, so now I have to work that much harder to stay there. One week off and I’m almost back at the drawing board.
My wins: Staying fit in your 40s requires dedication and consistency. It’s a life-long commitment that you need to be invested in for your own wellbeing. When you consider it from that perspective, it’s so easy to maintain. I put in a little time every day, even if it’s just a 10-minute workout.
3. Eating Well Is Not Optional Anymore
As teenagers you can get away with anything. Literally. Eating whatever you like doesn’t affect you the way it does when you’re older. Your body just rolls with the punches (and the abuse, if you want me to be honest). As you age, you don’t have the luxury of just bouncing back, If you don’t eat well, you feel lethargic, you feel like you’re not getting enough goodness and you can also put on weight in a snap.
It’s a sad truth, but if I eat bread these days, I feel awful! My body just doesn’t like it… and I come from a lifetime of loving peanut butter on toast.
My wins: Eating well is a way of life. If it’s not fresh, if it’s not wholesome and it doesn’t positively contribute to your wellbeing, then it shouldn’t go in your mouth. However, moderation is the key here. If I want pizza, I will have it… but not every night. Again, listening to your body and being in tune with what it needs is essential.
4. Water Consumption (Or Lack Thereof) Shows In Your Skin
The moment you don’t get your quota of water in for the day it is visible in your skin. Your face starts to look sallow and your wrinkles become more prevalent. What a joy! Drinking water throughout the day needs to be a habit that never fades.
My wins: Always having a bottle of water in my bag and in my car is non-negotiable. It’s become a habit to simply sit and sip whenever I get a gap.
5. Sunblock Was Always Your Best Friend
Even when it gave you breakouts, even when it made your skin shine… sunblock was there for you to protect your skin from premature aging. I spent a lot of my younger years in the water and sunshine for months on end. Not re-applying sunblock when I got out or off the water is one of my biggest regrets, because I can see the effects now in my skin.
My wins: I’m paying the price for not wearing enough sunblock as a youth, so I’m making sure my kids don’t make the same mistake. I also make sure that any sun exposure is met with wicked hats (they are the best accessory) and sunblock that doesn’t react with my skin. Thankfully there are so many options available now and there is definitely one out there for your skin.
6. Some People Will Always Want To Put You Down – Stay Away From Them
People are funny. Some people just won’t gel with you, and that’s okay. There was probably a time when this was a real issue for you and you desperately wanted to fix it. But you’re not meant to be all things to all people. The moment you realise that, you are free.
Some people will always want to be better than you and they also might try and maintain that power in their lives by putting you down. It could be subtle or it could be blatantly obvious. Either way, you don’t need that in your life. Ever. Being older makes you realise that, and also makes you wish you could’ve figured it out sooner.
My wins: Listen to your heart and you will know when someone is not authentically there for you in the ways that you deserve. You do not owe anyone anything, but you owe yourself the best that you can offer yourself in this lifetime. So be brave and admit when someone is not there for YOU in the ways that he or she should be. When they’re not… walk away and hold your head and heart high.
7. Some People Will Always Want To Lift You Up – Keep Them Close
As much as there are people who want to put you down, there will always be those who want you to live your best life. They love seeing you thrive and they encourage you to reach for your dreams. These people are gold. Keep them close and repay them with your love, kindness and encouragement.
My wins: Never be afraid to tell the special people in your life that you love them. Never be afraid to express your absolute passion for them and what they mean in your life. Days are numbered and you might turn around one day and realise you had so much more to say, but never got the chance.
8. You Are The Mistress Of Your Destiny
Only you can steer your ship in the direction you want to go. It’s incredible how much power you actually have at your disposal, and most people don’t recognise this. To go through your life and not realise your potential is a mortal sin. We are literally capable of anything we set our minds to but we limit our opportunities by thinking we are not worthy or able.
My wins: In the words of Jack Johnson… “nobody ever told me not to try.” if you don’t at least TRY… you will never know. Rather try and fail than not try at all.
9. Choice Is Your Most Powerful Weapon
You don’t have to do things because you feel like you should. You also don’t have to live a life that is not 100% your choosing. It is YOUR life and not anyone else’s, so why would you not live it according to what you love? There are things that I love to include in my day that others will scoff at, and that’s cool. Let them scoff, and let me be happy. There is already so much pressure on us to be these invincible, perfect, society-friendly human beings. But not all of us want to be that and not all of us fit in with that, which is also 100% cool.
You can be the hippie with unbrushed hair. You can be the girl who prefers things that boys do. You can be gay. You can be a farmer. You can be a business mogul. What do you want? And is it what you want and not what you think is expected of you?
My wins: If it doesn’t feed my heart and soul, I don’t follow it. I have become a huge fan of the word “no”, because sometimes I just don’t want to do what others are doing, or I don’t want to go somewhere, or I don’t want to prescribe to the leanings of others. If it offends other people around me, that’s not my fault. That is their reaction to my decision. This is so important:
How people react to the way you live your life is not your concern.
10. There Are Only So Many Tomorrows, Make Each One Count
It’s such a cliche, but it’s so true. When you lose a person close to you, your life is thrown into harsh perspective. You find such a wonderful sense of gratitude for everything that you have and the simple fact that you’re alive. The same happened to me when I turned 40. I realised how life was racing towards the end and if I didn’t live for me and what I love, then what a waste of this beautiful existence that would be.
My wins: Every night before I go to sleep, I express such immense gratitude for the life that I have, the blessings that are mine and the day that I was so fortunate to experience. Each day is an actual gift. The moment we realise that, we are able to live them fully. Grasping each opportunity, making each moment count, and making sure we are literally “living our best lives”.