Strong, 50 and sexy…

“I’m 50 and I’m sexy!”

This is my mantra when I wake up and psych myself before heading to the bathroom mirror.

Eyebags, check! Ever- increasing white strands of hair peeping under the dyed ones, check!

Saggy breasts… saggy breasts?  Sure, had ‘em, but I exercised and dieted the heck out of them, bringing them to stand up prouder than I thought was possible at my age. My breasts may no longer be as perky as those of a girl half my age, but without having undergo breast enhancement, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of keep them looking young.

While many of us timidly surrender our bodies to the relentless  forces of gravity and time, my decision to fight back was a matter of necessity. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain and loss of energy forced me to rethink how I was taking care of my body. I wasn’t.

I ate what I liked, drank fizzy drinks like there was no tomorrow,  slept less, exercised even less. Sex? What sex?   But that was 15kg and over a year ago.  Today, I’m at my ideal weight, stronger and have more energy to do the things I want to do.

If I can do it, there’s no reason you can’t do it too!

Diet

The facts are simple. We are what we eat. Let go of the sugary food or those with a high glycemic index like white bread, white rice, donuts, white potatoes, fruits like raisins, grapes, cherries and watermelon. Even breakfast cereals such as puffed rice and cornflakes – old diet standbys – are included on the list of no-nos, believe it or not! Also avoid biscuits and crackers, and most of all, fizzy drinks, which are packed with sugar. Instead opt for the following foods that have low-glycemic index:

  1. Sweet potatoes
  2. Vegetables such leafy greens, asparagus, cauliflower
  3. Steel-cut oatmeal
  4. Quinoa
  5. Legumes, including lentils and chickpeas
  6. Wholewheat bread
  7. Skimmed milk
  8. Low-fat yogurt
  9. Sesame seeds, peanuts and flax seeds

Also keep off the oil and salt, and avoid pork and beef, since our digestion isn’t as fast as it use to be. Instead, get your meat from saltwater fish and chicken. Soya is also a terrific source of protein.

Breakfast is the key to what you eat for the rest of the day. Know your magic number, or the number of calories that your body needs per day to keep you at a healthy weight. Once you are conscious of what you eat, watch the pounds melt away. Keep a food journal to help remind you of what you should and shouldn’t eat.

Be sure to drink lots of water, take essential vitamins and mineral supplements  and don’t forget to take calcium to prevent osteoporosis, the bane of ageing bones.

Exercise

Exercise and diet go hand-in-hand in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise keeps the heart healthy and the muscles and bones strong. A good fitness programme for mature women should include resistance training, cardio, stretching, core and balance training. Go for a routine that will use the major muscle groups which include the chest, back, arms, glutes, hamstring and abs. Check out exercise videos that progress from easy to difficult levels.

Before you start any exercise routine, be sure to check it out with your GP.

If you don’t like exercising, you might want to consider Zumba as an all-around great way to keep fit if you like moving to a beat. Otherwise, get involved in these different activities:

Weight training

Muscle mass loss accelerates as we approach our 50’s, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (1).  A weekly routine will keep our muscle mass and tone up.  Choose a weight that will feel heavy after about 10 to 12 repetitions in three sets.

Cardio exercises

Cardiovascular exercises like brisk walking, running, jumping jacks as well as those that use equipment like a treadmill, stationary bicycle, or elliptical or stair machine can help keep the muscle healthy while lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels through increased stamina and endurance. 30 minutes of walking three times a week will do wonders for your health!

Core

Exercises that strengthen your core will greatly improve your posture as well as your balance. You can have a toned and tight tummy at any age.  Just 10 minutes of core exercises can make a big difference.

Sleep

Ah! Sleep!  As we grow older, we also find it difficult to fall asleep, or we sometimes wake up at 3am and can’t seem to fall asleep again. Older adults need 7.5 to 9 hours sleep each day. Lack of sleep leads to moodiness, attention loss and even depression. If you find it hard to fall asleep, try these tips:

  • Use low wattage bulbs to promote the production of melatonin, the body’s natural sleep inducer.
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, and and your bed comfortable. Reduce noise by wearing earplugs and light by wearing eye masks.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex. Watch TV or work on your computer outside of the bedroom.  Your body will recognize the bedroom as a place for sleep and rest.  Which brings us to …
  • Combine sleep and sex. Who hasn’t fallen into a deep slumber after a good night’s sex? 

Skincare

Saggy skin and wrinkles. Let’s pile all the blame on menopause. At around our late 40s to 50s, our oestrogen levels steadily decline and our menses become erratic and finally stop.  This is the harbinger of menopause. Collagen, which gives our skin its suppleness, declines, and our skin becomes significantly drier. The only thing to do is to hydrate the skin and  boost collagen production.

In the morning, just splash on cool water. No soap please. Then use a hydrating cream with sunscreen to hydrate your skin while protecting it from the harmful effects of UV rays. Add on eye cream to reduce the appearance of lines, eye bags, and crepey skin around the eyes. Make sure to buy one with collagen boosters like retinoids, peptides, or glycolic acid..

In the evening, follow this routine:

  • Gentle cleanser to help cleanse off all the gunk you’ve accumulated throughout the day as well as prepare the skin for the rest of the products that follow.
  • Anti-oxidant serum and cream to hydrate the skin.
  • Exfoliate to remove dead skin and encourage new cell replacement and collagen production.

We certainly can’t beat back time, but we can slow down the ageing process with a little knowledge, diligence and a whole lot of willpower.  We are strong! We are 50 and sexy!

References 

  1. https://www.nsca.com/uploadedFiles/NSCA/Resources/PDF/Education/Tools_and_Resources/FoundationsofFitnessProgramming_201508.pdf.

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About Melissa Lobo

I'm an energetic writer with a son and two perfect pooches. Before becoming the Associate Content Director for Project Female, I was a journalist specialising in topics related to women in politics and policy affecting women.