Hi. My name is Ursula Pong and I was recently invited to join the team of bloggers at Fabodylous started by Lai Wee Kiat.
I am a High School Physical Education and Health teacher specializing in fitness and have been involved in the fitness industry for twenty plus years. I will be blogging primarily about fitness/health issues amongst the baby boomer population and create a platform for those interested in finding out information on how to age gracefully and how to move efficiently. This can be helpful for the younger generation too as you can share this information with your parents or relatives who are baby boomers and use this information to invest in your body and brain before you move in to your 40’s and 50’s. If you’re wondering why I am targeting the boomer population, it is because I am one myself as I turn 53 years old this year. I am still very active in the fitness scene having just competed in a couple of figure competitions in the last two years as well as going in to the boxing ring as an almost 50 year old. I also plan on competing in another figure competition this year. I am very passionate about inspiring fitness and changing lives through education regardless of age.
It is quite common for us boomers to joke about not being able to remember why we just walked in to a room or why our body temperature is feeling extremely warm even in a highly air conditioned room during perimenopause or menopause. There are even moments where we question whether we are entering in to the early stages of Alzheimer’s during this period. If you can relate to this or know somebody who is losing their memory, and unsure of what to do about it, see the list below for some tips to learn how to look younger and keep your brain active as you age.
#1 Follow the 80/20 rule. Fuel your body with good clean foods 80% of the time or 90% if you can
You have probably heard the quotes “abs are made in the kitchen”,” this month’s diet is next month’s body” or “you are what you eat”. Believe in these quotes and use them as your mantra.
While personally dealing with Hashimoto’s Hypothyrodism and doing some research on a holistic approach to deal with my auto immune disorder, I discovered that proper portion sizes and low-glycemic carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, grains) are extremely important in managing that pooch and our mood as we age. Consuming lower glycemic carbohydrates can alleviate cravings, provide energy but more importantly, removes that blurred or foggy brain feeling you have at the end of the day. To keep your level of energy constant, I recommend eating smaller meals and snacks so that you are consuming food every 2 to 3 hours equating to 5 to 6 small meals in a day. The only time there is room for higher glycemic carbohydrates is first thing in the morning and after a high intensity workout. Believe it or not, you can squeeze in that small bagel, portion of pasta or even that oatmeal cookie you’ve been craving with a protein source after a high intensity workout. Remember to not view carbohydrates as evil but to see processed foods as the culprit to the obesity problem we have today. Our brain requires carbohydrates for energy which improves cognitive function, we need healthy fats to nourish our brain tissue and protein for balancing blood sugars. Hydrating adequately throughout the day is always important regardless of your age. When it comes to nutrition, there should never be a one size fits all approach so avoid following any of the trendy diets out there.
#2 Move your body everyday
“Take the stairs to longevity rather than the elevator to your demise” is a quote that can help you remember to move whenever possible.
Move as often as possible. Take the stairs, walk as much as you can and see if you can increase the pace of your walk to a brisk walk, jog and sprint. When you move your body,your heart rate increases and this in turn improves blood flow to the brain and produces endorphins. These feel good chemicals do exactly that – they make your overall mood better. When you’re feeling happy, your hormones can stabilize removing any stress you may have had prior to exercising. It has been scientifically proven that exercise fuels your brain so you’ll be able to think better and improve your memory.
Above and beyond walking or jogging, baby boomers must start pumping some iron. Yes, start lifting weights. Regress to progress and before you know it, you’ll be lifting heavier weights which is a must for improving your bone health and muscle development. Yes, you can be muscular and strong in your 50’s.
#3 Train your Brain
One of my favourite quotes is : “Tell me, I will forget, Show me, I may remember, Involve me and I will remember”. Your brain will love you if you involve it.
Baby boomers develop set patterns and routines from doing the same thing day in and day out over the course of their lifetime. How often have you driven to work in mental auto drive and arrived to your workplace wondering how you got there? I know I’ve personally done that a few too many times. Acquiring new skills increases the activity in the hippocampus or memory areas of your brain. Practicing some new simple skills will help you stimulate other parts of your brain. Stimulating your brain can be as simple as crossing your arms in the opposite way you normally would, eating with your non-dominant hand, brushing your hair or teeth with your non-dominant hand, mentally drawing the number 8 in the opposite way you would write it, saying the alphabets backwards, learning a new language or picking up music lessons. Get creative with your ideas.
#4 Surround yourself with things that make you happy
“Life is a choice. It is your life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honesty. Choose happiness”.
In order to be happy, you must surround yourself with people who are optimistic, filled with positive energy and NOT the energy vampires who drain the life force out of you. I love being around my daughter Kilani and my husband Marcel. I truly cherish our time together as a family and make time with my family a priority. Find whatever or who ever will make you feel happy. Allow your self to laugh and laugh hard, be silly and immature if the moment allows for it. Think and behave like a kid for at least 5 minutes a day. Studies have shown that even forced laughter will help elevate your mood as the neuro-chemicals in your brain increase. When you are feeling happy and positive, you will have a healthier brain and improved cognition, which in turn will enable you to remember more, communicate better and even be more effective at problem solving.
#5 Don’t take life too seriously
“Crap happens, just flush the toilet and move on….”
It is important to not sweat the small stuff as life is too short. Pick your battles and always focus on what you can do and NOT what you can’t do. When times seem tough, there are two great tools you can use. The first one is to take a step back and practice deep breathing for one minute. Deep breathing has been shown to switch off the “stress” system in your brain and body. While you are breathing, try to put things in perspective using the second tool, which is the “catastrophe scale.” This is a scale from 0 to 10 with 0 being the least and 10 being the worst thing that could ever happen to you or someone you love. By placing the adverse situation on the scale and comparing it to a REAL 10, you will notice that a lot adverse situations drop below 3 to 5, allowing your brain to put the adversity in perspective and will allow you to relax in that moment.
Decreasing the perception of stress will do wonders for your brain, body and in particular, your immune system, which is fundamental in delaying the aging process and preventing chronic disease.
I hope you enjoyed my first blog post. Stay tuned for more information on fitness, health and learning how to move efficiently and dynamically in my next blog. If you are interested in fitness education that is neuro based and focuses on moving well, check out our website at www.metmethod.com.
If you’re interested in building a better body as well as a better brain using exercise and mental coaching check out our website at: www.bbpcoaching.com.