Oct 23, 2018
What if you could be years younger in days? I lived it.
When I was driving to the airport last week I had the strangest feeling.
I can’t remember a time – perhaps because its NEVER happened – when I just got on a plane and went somewhere without a schedule.
I wasn’t going to deliver a presentation.
I wasn’t going to deliver a hug.
I wasn’t going to attend a lecture.
No one would ever know if I showed up or not.
I was going into this total black hole of nothing to expect, nothing to measure success, and it was uncomfortable.
I was heading to the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah. Yet, once there, I had no agenda. I was going just to witness it. Having done a podcast with CEO Kyle Case and been a guest on his) I was intrigued for sure and excited about capturing some inspiring moments (they’re coming up) to share with Flipping 50. We share a common mission and I wanted to see the games and help spread the word.
That was all well and good.
I had no appointments, no schedule, no mandatory time restrictions.
But I was uncomfortable.
How many times a day do I have check my watch? Making sure I’m on schedule for my next client or interview? That I’ll hit my deadline for the next article? That I’ll have to my team what they need from me next?
And I was missing it?
How often do I wish for a day clear of appointments to focus on a project for a big block of time? Or how often do I (or you) crave a weekend free of to-do lists and errands to catch up or get ahead (someone is laughing their ____ off at that)?
I had created it. I was staring at a few days just like that.
I was uncomfortable with the lack of schedule ahead of me for the next three days.
I do honor boundaries. I have self-care practices. I avoid overscheduling and draw sharp boundaries on time off. I don’t do evening appointments or weekend coaching unless it’s rearranging that can’t be avoided.
And yet… I was at a total loss.
I kept feeling like I needed to be doing something.
At the end of my first day I realized that it was worse than that.
I was looking for reasons not to do things. Fun things.
I was looking for boundaries.
At one point on a hike to explore St. George’s beauty, a low fence – 12 or 14 inches from the ground to full height – threatened me. It was to keep tortoisesinand safe in a reserve, for crying out loud! It was not to keep humans out.
It took an adventurous 10-year old ahead of me to show me the way.
Minutes later as I looked at vast red rocks just begging to be climbed I didn’t see anyone else on them so I thought that must be off limits.
There were no signs saying so.
I just assumed.
I finally started out on the hike. I was off the grid literally and figuratively. It was just an area waiting to be explored.
So I went. No steps, no path, no people ahead of me, just me blazing a trail. I scrambled up five or six of them to stand at the top with nothing to see or do or feel.
Just to be there and be.
Yet, I was still a little uncomfortable.
Like a kid years younger playing hooky who keeps looking over her shoulder, I felt like I was going to get caught so I wasn’t completely enjoying the freedom.
I looked down and realized I didn’t have my watch on. That never happens! I had no idea how it did, but was so glad it had. After all I had no place to be. No one was expecting me. There were half a dozen venues I could visit at the Senior Games, but I didn’t have to.
I didn’t need a watch to tell me I was hungry. I wasn’t concerned with minutes, or distance, or a heart rate. So I just gave in. There was no measure of the way breathtaking scenery was filling me up.
But I wondered.
Am I hiding behind a schedule?
I frequently tell my clients, both women in midlife and fitness professionals, that structure provides freedom.
I may have taken it a bit too far.
Was there so much structure in my life that I’ve forgotten how to use free time wisely?
When I began coaching in 1995 – the kind of coaching around figuring out why pieces of life aren’t quite coming together even though things are obviously important to you and you’re committed to them – this sort of challenge happened to other people.
Now the coach becomes a student. This is exactly the kind of homework I might give someone: get off the grid for 2 or 3 days and break out of your “have to” “shoulds” and cramming so much into your days that you forget why you’re doing it.
Kids have forgotten how to use free time and so possibly had I.
It’s a “thing” we began to notice about children a couple decades ago. They’ve gotten so used to constant stimulation that they don’t know how to entertain themselves. A Gameboy or an ipad or game tells them what to do. There are fewer and fewer markers and tablets that aren’t electronic or building toys kids can explore. Sit them in front of a movie. It’s so much easier. But then when there’s not that, boredom sets in and they can’t entertain themselves.
Was I a victim too?
So I decided to be uncomfortable. I decided to do what I wanted to when I wanted to do it. For three days.
It was hard.
While I was running on my second morning there I realized it had been 25-30 years since I’d just gone for a run. I just set a time and didn’t care where I went. So I ran… to parks where I stumbled on the Huntsman World Senior Games women’s softball event, past the 5K and Half Marathon finishes.
And I noticed.
More than usual, I noticed things. We coaches refer to it as being present. I’d lost it, apparently because having found it, there was a distinct difference. I noticed the view, hard not to, and people on the path. I was tuned in and present. Not focused on getting it done and getting back or finishing an interval. Not simultaneously doing something else.
I quote research by Ellen Langer frequently. I’ll link to a book you may be interested in if what I’m about to share intrigues you. I came back looking years younger. I actually felt myself looking better. You and I know we’re pretty hard on ourselves, our own worst critiques.
Especially, perhaps at this time in our lives when things are changing rapidly if you’re not matching your hormone needs to changesyou make. You know, thinning hair, more pronounced wrinkles, sudden lines in the neck, crepe skin around legs, cellulite some days not others…
But I actually felt like I aged backwards in those three days.
Maybe it was interviewing 94 and 84-year-olds to start my trip. Possibly it was the abundance of adults older than my 54 at the games. Maybe seeing 96-year-old Charlotte’s results in the six swim races she competed in.
Maybe it was the clean air and perfect weather.
But I felt lighter, happier, and like I had fewer crows feet, without Botox.
I have to give a nod to St. George and the perfect climate over my stay. A sunny 75 with low humidity was perfection. Sunny works for me.
It wasn’t the food. I – you heard it from me – ate junk food two nights in a row. Well, the closest I’ve come to sabotage in quite some time. The hotel restaurant served what it served and I’m sure I ate a combination of gluten, dairy, white flour, and anything-but-healthy fat. After two nights I couldn’t take it any longer, because food shows up in energy and in a glowing complexion or not, pretty quickly. (That also means you can turn it around in days if you want to!)
I attribute my energy and the way I feel changed to these things I learned that I need present in my life:
Every sidewalk or hallway I walked down or sidelines I sat on during those few days people exchanged hellos, good mornings, and smiles. Every single one.
The fact that I notice that even is something to acknowledge.
It’s not true of every day.
Even in Boulder where I call home and believe that truly people are happier here – from the athletes to the volunteers to the family members cheering and the community members – it was a unique environment.
Physical activity changes people.
It changes lives.
Changing the way you think about physical activity changes what it can do.
It’s not about a scale.
It’s not even about a body fat measure (and you know I promote the value of body fat knowledge over weight alone)
It’s not punishment.
It’s a gift.
It’s not a deficit so you can eat cake.
It’s a reward for a body that simply is meant to move.
For the men and women at the Huntsman World Senior Games it’s a starting line.
Not to compete against someone else.
Not to win vs. lose – because in many sports that’s how it’s labeled – but to win or win. Finding new strengths, exploring new activities, being a part of something bigger.
For some I met it was something that led to losing 75 pounds and most likely finding herself again.
For others it was a dose of something that she needed for mental health as much as physical health.
For some it is social.
For some it was far more motivating to get stronger and build endurance than to simply lose weight but that happened to
For some it began as a family challenge and turned into something exhilarating
… you’ll see it all in the blog full of Flipping 50 moments I’ll share the link to here.
What this triggered for me was the need to change some habits.
I wasn’t honoring the way I use energy best. I wasn’t honoring the best times of day for me to create, write, connect with others, to exercise so that I could, sometimes I wasn’t honoring a desire to drink less coffee and more water.
It’s easy to slip. It may surprise you but it’s easy for me too. When you’re in it, doing it regularly it’s so easy to let a day go by and skip or get caught up in work and let a long much needed hike slip into a 20-minute more rushed than enjoyed workout.
So I’m challenging myself for the next two months- these last two of 2018 – and if you’re listening to this after the fact, you can still comment below the show notes at flippingfifty.com or comment on Instagram if you’re following there.
Comment about how you’re going to change a habit. I’ll share the process.
We all have these triggers or cues. Triggers usually are related to bad habits. Cues are related to good ones. It’s a certain cue that you have to focus on in order to follow through with a habit you want to create.
I want to break from work and stay committed to a workout even if I don’t have a race or event coming up. But just putting the hour block on my calendar is not the cue. That hour break to get set up, exercise, clean up is the habit I want.
The cue is maybe a 2 or 3-minute thing in reality.
For me I have to decide at 8am I go get dressed – in my swim suit, bike shorts or running shoes. If I’m driving to the pool or doing weights at the gym then getting into the car has to happen then. That’s the cue. When I’m successfully in the car on the way to the gym it’s going to happen.
So here’s what I challenge you with:
It can get tough over the end of year excitement to stay focused on health goals. It doesn’t have to, and if you have something set in place to help – you’ll stick to it.
Share your years younger plan
Then share this with a friend and surround yourself with a community of women flipping 50 together. We can all be years younger.
If this was valuable please leave a rating in iTunes, it really helps us all spread the possibilities and expectations about the way we age.