Healthier Living & Disease Prevention - Wishing It Was Easy

This is a fact, how you treat you body when you are young, affects how your body will age and what chronic diseases and/or challenges it will face. I remember growing up, my mom would say, “put your sunscreen on”. She was ahead of her time, as putting SPF on when I was young was absolutely, 100%, NOT cool.. “We” all wanted the tan that we somehow thought emulated health and beauty. My mom knew better at the time, she had already gone through skin cancer.

So, here I am, looking at my arms and hands as I am writing this and seeing an endless mass of freckles on my arms, random white patches of damaged skin and age spots showing up on my hands. Looking at my skin, I certainly am not emulating health and beauty….urgh, I should have listened to mom. 

I have a sincere desire to age gracefully. I really want to be functionally fit, have healthy eating habits and practice good self-care. Yet, for the past seven years, I have distanced myself from exactly that. Sometimes I get overwhelmed thinking about how much work I need to do to get my mind, body and spirit to a better place. Then again, I also forget how worth it is to take those small steps and how much better I felt when I did treat myself better. 

As someone who has worked for two of the major leading health organizations (American Heart Association and American Cancer Society), I am quite knowledgeable about how lifestyle affects our bodies. There are always stories of people who “ran everyday, ate well and didn’t drink” that died at 50. Then the logic of “well, healthy living didn’t pay off, did it?” These are the types of stories that stick out because it is so uncommon, people talk about it. 

The stories not emphasized are about the 65 year-old, that spent most of her life 50 pounds overweight, that had a heart attack and  is now on heart medication the rest of her life. (By the way, she is now also at a higher risk for stroke.) Why doesn’t anyone talk about “these stories”? I believe it is because it is so common place in this culture, that no one questions it. Our lifestyle is such that we have become accustomed to taking medication for our chronic health conditions, rather than addressing them “head on” and tackling the core issue - lifestyle. 

As an advocate for healthy living and as someone who has struggled with healthy living, the hypocrisy is not lost on me. I am a wonderful, healthy living preacher. Now I need to practice what I preach. I also understand that living healthily is not an easy task. How we are taught to treat our bodies as a young person has a tremendous impact on us as adults. Most people are surprised when I tell them that 80% of cancers are preventable. A lot of times I will hear “cancer runs in my family’. When the actuality is that the lifestyle that has been carried through generations, i.e. poor nutrition, lack of movement, tobacco use, etc., is what has “run in the family”.

Learning and implementing good self-care is not easy. I did not grow up in a family where we had unhealthy eating habits. However, on my own, I did find food as a great escape to handle the stress in my life. Now, as a midlife adult, I am continually working on trying to handle my emotional triggers in a healthier way. It is not easy folks - living a healthy lifestyle can be a very complicated situation. 

This is what I know for sure, how I treat my body today is a factor in my health as I age. That means I need to start, TODAY, taking steps to better self-care. I need to forgive myself for the years that I have not been good to myself and focus on what I can do now to be good to me. As I said, it’s complicated, isn’t it?

Good references for healthy living: 
American Cancer Society Guidelines on Physical Activity and Nutrition
American Heart Association - Healthy Living

Yep - Midlife Happens

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I remember when I told my husband that I am not going to be “one of those middle-aged women” who doesn’t take care of herself and starts wearing only things with elastic waistbands. Well, I am just about there. I have put on a chunk of weight and do find anything with an elastic waistband as my preferred attire, even though I do have a few outfits that require buttoning or zipping.

The past couple of years have been rough. I’ve had my challenges with anxiety and depression, and feel like I can’t get out of this stuck spot that I am in. I happened to Google - ‘midlife women resources’ - and wow, Psychology Today has a whole page dedicated to “midlife’ - symptoms, causes and treatments. I found that pretty much all of the symptoms applied to me and of course, I am not doing very well with the treatment suggestions. (By the way, I love studying well-being and also practicing good self-care, but as I mentioned, I am stuck!)

Here are some things that have been on my mind this past year.

I feel like I am getting more and more invisible in our culture due to my age.

I’m mad as hell because I feel like there is so much emphasis on the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations. Well, I am a GenX’er and we’re still here!

I have lost a significant amount of friends and family from older generations, and just in the last year, seven of my friends have a lost a parent. It is hard to see these friends go.

I worry about my aging mom and caring for her.

I think, - OMG, I’m almost 50 and what have I accomplished in my life?

I also think - OMG, I’m almost 50 and statistically, I have less years left to live than I have lived.

I get mad because topics have started showing up in my Facebook feed like “great hairstyles for women over 50” and “you can still have a bikini bod in your 50’s”.

For the first time in my life, I am working for someone who is younger than me. I was absolutely not prepared for that shift in the workplace.

Retirement - OMG, am I going to have enough money to retire?!? (Thankfully I married a CPA and he is all over this stuff. He’s a great financial planner.)

What am I going to do when I retire? Seriously, what am I going to do all day?!?

Let’s be real. At the end of the day, I still think I can go and hang out with college-aged peeps and that they think it would be fun. I, of course, think it would be loads of fun. For me, it seems like “just a few years ago” that I was in college. Nope, 26 years ago I was in college…TWENTY-SIX!

I remember when people older than me would say, “I feel like I’m still xx age”. I get that now; I feel like 38 is my age. In fact, when I think of people and their age, I think in terms of them being “so much older than me”, when they’re actually around my age. (Remember, I think I’m 38.)

I’m am passionate about focusing on the inner self, being real about life’s (and now midlife’s) challenges and successes and taking good care of ourselves. There’s no going backwards, and as I age, I desire to age as gracefully as I can, which means I need to kick in the self-care pronto!

She@Midlife is here to facilitate conversations about the reality of being a middle-aged woman and how life starts to change in unexpected ways. We’re not getting any younger and taking care of ourselves is important at any age. However, I have learned that I now put on weight in different areas than I did previously. So, what I’ve been told from those older than me is true. Things change at midlife.

What is SheTaxi and the Road to Well-Being?

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This blog was originally published in September 2010 and updated April 2019.

People usually ask me “how did you come up with the idea for SheTaxi?” SheTaxi

has been a concept evolving in my head for the past few years. Like a lot of

people who experience a life altering event and then “find themselves,” that is

how it started for me.

At age 35, I found out that I had thyroid cancer. (If you’re going to have cancer,

that is the best one to get. It’s curable and the survival rates are very high.)

Regardless, I do not have a history of cancer in my family, so I was quite a

surprise to hear it; which started me on a journey.

I began assessing my life. What was working, what wasn’t working and how did I

want to live my life? I had been through a lot of experiences, more than one

person should go through in their lifetime. Some of these I brought on myself and

others were put on me.

I was exhausted. I was so tired of being me. I focused on what I wanted, instead

of what I had. I created more pain in my life because I was used to it and was

surrounded by people who were not good for me. I thought of my lump of cancer

as my ball of s*i*. I was angry and decided - this is it - no more. I have the

opportunity to live the last half of my life with authenticity, peace and grace. Let’s

figure this out.

I began dedicating a lot of time to personal development work. I was reading

books by motivational authors, biographies from individuals who inspired

me and listening daily to motivational podcasts. One common element began to

emerge from these resources - they all valued and cared for their mind, body and

spirit, something that had been severely lacking in my life.

Eventually, I made a commitment to take small steps each week to care for an

element of my mind, my body and my spirit. After spending a lifetime having a

very difficult time establishing healthier habits, this was the first time the changes

began to stick. I moved at a pace that fit me, was kind to myself, refrained from

judgment and lived “should-free”. I learned how to take better care of myself.

During the course of three years, I lost 60 pounds, reduced my anxiety, handled

stress better, increased my physical activity, made healthier food choices and

FELT BETTER. I got to the point that was able to walk by a mirror with criticizing

myself.. I was finally starting to like me. My well-being journey was working.

Fast forward to April 2019.

Here I am today, feeling very much like I did before I started my well-being

journey. I really don’t like myself. I’ve gained a ton of weight. My self-esteem is

feeling beaten down and I’m tired, and tired of being me, again!

The past few years have been rough. I had some significant life experiences that

impacted me emotionally. As a result, I started to back-slide in my self-care. I

started going back to old habits that I had for years that hurt me, rather than

soothed me. I have also done a wonderful job of “beating myself up” on all of this,

which has helped fuel the self-sabotaging behaviors again.

The biggest lesson I learned from the past few years is that I let my connection

with other people, who too struggled with self-care, go. If I had stayed connected

to the women who could relate to the ups and downs of daily life, I would have

treated myself much, much better. Instead, I retreated, went inward and checked out.

That said, I’m back and ready to start the well-being journey again. I know this a

life-long journey. Much like someone who is fighting an addiction, I need to stay

connected to people who are on the same road as me. There may be days that

are better than others, but I know that if I keep the Road to Well-Being by my

side, along with the great community of women who are on the same journey, I

am headed in the right direction.

So, that is why I created SheTaxi - because I want women to feel better and to

live healthier and happier lives.