Keeping fit with an ageing body

Ah, the holidays, the most anticipated event of the year! The season to meet up with family and old friends and spend quality time together.

It is also the season of indulgence. Foods I would otherwise overlook in my daily life (I am looking at you, fried Bee Hoon!) become almost irresistible during the festive season!

Not to mention the food I don’t get to eat every day; it is my Achilles’ heel! Every festive season, I would eat to my heart’s content, and immediately regret it once the season is over, and I have to face my worst nightmare – the scale.

The scale is every dieter’s worst nightmare, especially when they know they haven’t been faithful to their diet.

As soon as they finally muster the courage to get up on it, depending on the numbers shown, it either makes or breaks their day.

As a dieter myself, when the numbers on the scale betray me, it’s back to square one. I would google high and low for the best diets to lose weight fast.

Patience wasn’t a virtue I had, at least when it came to losing weight.

You name the diet; I was on it. From cucumber banana smoothies, to skinny teas, the list goes on. I even tried going full on vegan, eating only raw fruits and vegetables.

I was depriving myself of vital minerals and vitamins, all in the name of “being in shape”.

No matter how hard I tried, or how successful my diet was, I always seemed to gain back the weight after the diets.

I was chasing the ideal, my less than toned body was just not good enough for me. I desired the ridiculously toned bodies of celebrities, sculpted abs and such.

Nevertheless, I tried my best to fit the standards and ideals I had set for myself, ignoring the obvious stress my body was under.

Somewhere along the line, something changed. My knees buckled when I ran, and sit-ups hurt my back and hips. The signs were there, I was getting too old for all this.

My metabolism suffered the most. Having already achieved menopause, with the added damage done by years of yo-yo dieting, it’s amazing that I still have a metabolism.

The emergency diets I used to resort to when I needed to lose weight fast, didn’t have the same effect they used to have.

On top of that, the taste of raw salads and vegetable smoothies became vile to me. I preferred filling up on rice, with a side of meat stew and stir-fried vegetables.

Due to weak joints and an easily fatigued body, I had shunned exercising altogether. I spent my time mostly sitting around and reading, and only getting up to go to work and do house chores.

As time went by, I became forgetful, demotivated and depressed. Unbeknownst to me, I was slowly letting myself go.

After a meeting with my doctor, he had recommended that I get back in shape. I was puzzled, everything hurt so much, how exactly was I supposed to do that?

Once I returned home, I researched endlessly, looking up ways to get fit at an older age, and my findings were surprising to say the very least.

Patience is a virtue, and this saying has never been more true, especially in the sense of getting in shape when you’re older.

Instead of running marathons, if your joints can’t handle the impact, opt for light exercises such as tai chi or yoga.

A simple 10 to 15 minutes a day should be enough to kick start your day. As any form of physical activities causes sweating, it is essential to stay hydrated by drinking enough water after each exercise session.

If you are a regular marathon runner, remember to not overdo it or push yourself too hard.

I cannot remember how many times I uncontrollably wince when I hear of older men ending up hospitalised after running a marathon.

It is important to take it easy and rest when your body is clearly telling you to stop.

However, if your body can take it, go for it. So long as you are moving and being active, it will greatly benefit not only your body, but also your mind.

As for foods, my doctor had advised me to avoid getting sucked into pyramid scheme shakes or skinny fit teas, as according to him, they do not have much benefit – if any – to anybody, not just us older folk.

He recommended eating a balanced, nutritious meals, which entailed rice (carbohydrates), with a side of vegetables (minerals, vitamins and fibre) and meat products (protein).

He also recommended that I increase my intake of probiotic rich foods such as kimchi and yogurt.

Probiotics are basically the good bacteria naturally present in our digestive system.

These bacteria do not pose any harm to us, and instead aid our body in many ways.

Depending on the strain, they can help reduce inflammation, improve digestion and also boost our immune system.

Health supplements have also gained a huge following among us aging folks. From krill oil to spirulina, these supplements provide us with plenty of health benefits if used properly.

Nowadays, more and more companies are coming up with their own health supplements, or as I would call them, “miracle medicines”.

These companies claim that they contain all sorts of anti-aging properties and have the ability to alleviate all illness symptoms, from gastric to cancer!

And most of the time, these “medicines” don’t even have a nutritional label!

How are we, as consumers, supposed to take their word for it when these companies are not very transparent with their own customers?

Therefore, it is important that we properly read the nutritional labels on all health supplements before taking them as to avoid health complications later on in life.

To grow old is inevitable, however as we age, it is important to take good care of the body that we have.

I have ditched my unhealthy habits and mindset, and am now focusing on maintaining good bodily and mental health.

Ever since I changed my lifestyle and diet, I now feel more energetic and motivated!

Remember, take good care of the body you have, as it is the only body you have.


The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.