The time to love our midlife body is now. We´re not getting any younger and ten or twenty years from now, we will look back at photos of today and kick ourselves for thinking we looked old.
I say I have a midlife body, but I´m 56. Unless I plan to live to 112, I´m already past midlife.
However, I don´t want to insult my fabulous 70 and 80 year old friends by saying “my mature” or “aging” body. I know they´d laugh in my face.
To them, I´m a kid!
However, the truth is that in our 40´s and especially in our 50´s, we do start to show certain signs of aging.
From the onset of aches and pains, to the rollercoaster of menopause, including sagging skin and jiggly arms, all these changes take a bit to get used to.
Read also: 6 Effective core exercises for midlife women
If we were insecure about or looks or our personalities when we were younger (I had an eating disorder that lasted 20 years), by midlife things can go two ways: our insecurities grow and we are stuck in a lifetime cycle of self-loathing.
Or, preferable, we grow so tired of trying to keep up an image of perfection, that we cultivate compassion for ourselves and embark on a quest for self-love.
I choose self-love.
This is my journey and mine alone, so keep in mind that I can only share my experience and my photos.
If you´d like to see a different representation of a midlife body, then I kindly suggest you write your own post with your own photos, to add to the pool of women sharing our experience dealing with aging.
I´m not saying this tongue-in-cheek.
We tend to complain that society is this or that way, or that there is a lack of representation, but what do we do to add to that representation? In my case, well, represent in any way I can.
I won´t wait for someone to pick me as a midlife role model. I pick myself!
So, here we go.
This is what I personally do on a regular basis to develop and sustain love for my midlife body.
1.- Stay active, lift weights, run, on a regular basis
I don´t care how much you hate to exercise. By the time you´re 40 or 50, exercise stops being a luxury.
It really is a must if you want to not only look, but most especially, feel, great in your midlife body. There are many solid reasons to exercise in midlife and beyond.
I´ve exercised my entire life and I swear by it for improved mental health (I´ve suffered from clinical depression and, especially, anxiety, most of my life), and even physical health.
My blood pressure at 56 is within normal limits, and so is my bone density. I have only a hint of osteopenia in one of my hips. A hint!
I´m not saying I couldn´t be hit with some debilitating and even life-threatening disease.
I have lost three good friends to cancer just this past year. I know being fit doesn´t make me invincible.
But it makes me feel oh so much better in every way.
2.- Include core drills when I work out
I don´t have a six-pack and I don´t want it. All the core work in the world hasn´t taken away the loose skin on my abdomen.
I´ve had two babies and that´s that. The reason I do core work is for strength and balance.
The core is the girdle of muscles in our abdomen, sides, our back and even the pelvic floor.
Making sure I keep them all toned improves my balance, reduces the risk of falls, and helps ease back pain from too much sitting.
Everyone seems to hate planking but I can assure you that planking in any manner or form is one of the best ways to strengthen your core.
3.- Set physical goals that are challenging and make me feel strong
Ok, I hear you, not everyone is a nut like me. I get a kick out of mastering yoga arm balances (this is fallen angel, and I learned it especially for my 56th birthday).
I´m now on a journey to master a freestanding handstand by the time I´m 60.
I´ve got less than four years to go!
As a certified yoga teacher (RYT-500) I know this is not for everyone. If you have osteopenia or osteoporosis, a slipped disk (I had one at 41 and recovered nicely), you need to find other physical goals.
Maybe it´s walking a 5K. Maybe it´s doing 100 squats.
Maybe it´s learning ballroom dancing, or riding your stationary bicycle.
Mastering something that makes you feel strong physically, mentally and emotionally plays a huge part in self-love.
Oh, and I became a yoga teacher at 55! That made me feel like I kick ass.
4.- Wear whatever I want to the pool or the beach
For a bit I shied away from shorts and bikinis. I had stopped running after I injured myself during a half marathon at 48.
Although I practiced yoga every day, my leg muscles just weren´t in the same shape after that.
I quickly acquired all kinds of cellulite and sag and I gave away all my dresses that hit above the knee.
Then I took up HIIT and Pilates along with yoga (I practice daily but sometimes only for 30 minutes), and somehow feeling strong in my legs again led me to pull out the bikini, the shorts and crop-top UPF sun-protective jacket.
That, and looking at other women my age at the beach, made me realize it was not only ok, but more fun, to be carefree again and show my legs and abdomen in a bikini, hormone patch, sag and all.
5.- Avoid deleting the photos I don´t like
When I see a photo of myself that exposes what would be considered a “not so flattering” side, I ask myself “why do I think it´s not flattering?” It´s usually because it shows the reality of my slowly aging body.
In this particular photo, above, you´d think I don´t work out. I mean, look at the flab in the arm.
It´s a skinny arm, sure. This is my natural state. But it also looks flabby.
And yet the photo was taken the same day as the one where I´m flexing my biceps with weights.
When I first saw this picture, I wanted to delete it. But then I realized this is also me.
And if I want to love my body I need to love it when it looks pumped and when it looks soft.
I can´t play favorites if I really want to get down to the bottom of this self-love deal.
6.- Play up my assets to feel confident
I believe we are all more confident when we feel good about ourselves. I´ve always loved my hair.
So I take care of it and, when I want to feel extra amazing, I take the time to style it.
Some women do this with a hairpiece. In fact I bought a beautiful hairpiece recently, to glam up in a few minutes when I don´t have the time or energy to do my hair.
I also love playing with clothes, makeup and accessories. I do this when I´m speaking in public, attending an event or sometimes just for the heck of it.
7.- Share the reality of my aging body on social media
Granted, I make a living online. Not everyone does, and not everyone feels the need to share any part of themselves whatsoever with their digital community.
But since I do, deciding to post what my midlife body looks like up close and personal, has actually liberated me from the fear of others finding out that hey -surprise- I´m not perfect and I don´t look like I´m 20.
Of course I don´t.
Worst of all, I didn´t like myself at 20.
I hated everything about me.
Ah, but it´s never ever too late to turn things around and love your midlife body. If I could do it, so can you!