How to Become a Super Ager

I read a fascinating article recently from the New York Times that discusses how some people over 65 experience the usual forgetfulness of old age, yet others somehow manage to remain sharp.  My mom, who will be 89 this month, assures us she is falling apart.  “Getting old is not for sissies!”, she reminds me.  Not gonna lie.  She has limitations.  She is diabetic, doesn’t drive after dark.  Yet, for her 82nd birthday, then again for her 87th, she climbed a mountain.  She plays bridge a few times a week, plays the piano (beautifully), drives (in the daytime), texts like a teenager and downloads games with her I-phone, is active on Facebook, lives in her own home and has a sense of humor to make you laugh so hard your sides hurt.  She’s a Superager.

Top of the Mountain

“Superagers” (a term coined by the neurologist Marsel Mesulam) are those whose memory and attention isn’t merely above average for their age, but is actually on par with healthy, active 25 year-olds.  For those of you who have a penchant for scientific details, I suggest you read the article, but if you’re like me and love a good bottom line, here it is: How do you become a superager?  Research shows: work hard at something.  The article says many labs have observed that the critical brain regions increase in activity when people perform difficult tasks, whether the effort is physical or mental.  So you can keep this part of the brain working well through vigorous exercise and mental effort.

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Here’s the interesting part, however. When you increase the activity in this important part of the brain, you feel worse, not better, in the moment.  Think about the last time you wrestled with a mental problem or pushed yourself physically.  This is a great life lesson:  Hard work makes you feel bad in the moment.  It’s afterward that you feel good, whether emotionally or physically.  Many a morning I have groaned as I laced up my tennis shoes for a walk or workout. Yet, NEVER, and I mean NEVER have I regretted the time spent working out!  Perhaps you’ve felt the same way, too.  Whether it was digging in with a mentally challenging problem or something physically challenging, it feels so good when you are done.

I love what the Marine Corps says: “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

Superagers are like Marines:  They push past the temporary unpleasantness of intense effort.  Studies suggest that the result is a more youthful brain that helps maintain a sharper memory and a greater ability to pay attention.

A fact: brain tissue gets thinner from disuse. The old saying is true:  If you don’t use it, you lose it.

We all love to be happy.  But sometimes, the greater happiness comes, not from indulging in inactivity, but in pushing through the hard thing and enjoying the benefits afterward.

This year, challenge yourself mentally.  Learn a musical instrument.  Learn something new on the computer.  Try a new sport or hobby.  Work your brain.  You’ll be glad you did!

A Simple Secret for a Great 2017

Hello, there!

With just a few days into the new year, it’s pretty common to have a regret or two about the past year as well as hopes for the new one.

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Perhaps your noble intentions fizzled.  You tried your best, but it wasn’t enough.  Or maybe you flat out made a bad decision with really unfortunate consequences. Friend, I have been there.

I often hear this phrase: “If I could just have a do-over”. In fact, I’ve said it, myself.   But you know, regretting and wishing we could undo past mistakes takes a LOT of energy and brain cells, and never makes us very happy anyway!

The truth is, we simply don’t get to have do-overs. You see, it’s impossible to undo that wrong choice, un-say those unkind words, un-eat, un-drink or un-skip that workout.  We can’t un-spend, un-lie, un-cheat or un-fail to do something we meant to do but didn’t.

Which is why I’d like to share a different approach to this new year.

Rather than be consumed with debilitating, depressing, and useless regret, skip the self-accusation and line up your behavior with your goals…yes, One. More. Time.

That’s what Oprah Winfrey says has helped her lose 42 pounds in the past year.

As successful as Oprah is in other areas of her life, she has failed repeatedly to reach and maintain a healthy weight.  But she didn’t let it stop her from trying one more time.

As you and I think about past failures, there’s a lie that calls to us: “It will always be this way”.  But we must remember that that’s all it is: a lie.

What’s the truth? If you want to feel better, then do better.

Wow.  That sounds so simple.  But it really is true. Consider these timeless words of wisdom:  “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” Isaiah 43:18-19.

But, I have wrong doing in my past that haunts me, you may say.   “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9.

My friend, don’t spend another second consumed with regrets about the past.  If there is something about which you feel guilty, confess it to God, do what you can to make it right with others, then trust Him with your future.  Thank Him that you still have breath in your body and time to make new choices.  And do better, moving forward.   In other words, make better decisions starting today.

Remember, if you want to feel better, do better.  With God’s help, you can!

I’d love to hear from you about your dreams and goals for the coming year!  And if I can pray for you about that or anything else, I’d count it an honor.  I send my best wishes to you for a great year!

Georgia Author of the Year Connie Carey is the author of Falling Up, a step by step guide for moving beyond grief and finding joy again.  Click here to claim your copy.

 

 

Four Tips to go from “Out of Whack” to “Back on Track” After the Holidays

I hope you had a wonderful, blessed holiday season!

walk-along-railroad-tracksI love Thanksgiving and Christmas, but confess with all the heavy food, rainy weather, being off-schedule and out of the habit of exercise, I’ve felt a bit out of whack.  My usual (somewhat) healthy routine has been DERAILED. Bleh. Well, today, I’m sharing with you what I’m doing to get back on track before the new year.

  1. Get moving.  I’m treating myself to a walk every day this week and it feels FANTASTIC.  Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, I still get in a walk at the local mall.  I’ve also ordered a new work-out DVD.  My current ones have gotten a little stale and maybe my body has plateaued with the repetition, so a new one is on it’s way, just to shake it up a little.  Also, my fitness tracker died on December 1, so I got a new one.  I use the Jawbone UP.  It’s amazing how motivational it can be to watch my steps add up during the day.
  2. Throw out the holiday junk food.  Throw it away, give it away or take it to the office.  Healthy choices are so much easier when I eliminate the temptation by getting it out of the house.
  3. Drink that water. Water helps with weight loss, energizes muscles, helps keep skin looking good and helps rid the body of toxins.   (Wow. I think I’ll have a glass right now!)
  4. Make this delicious Detox Soup.  This is my go-to soup!  I love making a big pot and enjoying it for lunch throughout the following week.  It’s practically calorie free (except for whatever meat you may choose to add), full of nutrients and so easy to pull out of the fridge for a quick meal.

Delicious Detox Soup – Ingredients: 1/2 head of cabbage, 1 cup celery, 1 cup diced onion, 1 cup sliced carrots, 1 sliced green pepper, 2-3 cloves of minced garlic, 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth, 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon basil, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, few shakes of black pepper, 4 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.

Instructions:  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add celery, onion, bell pepper and carrots and saute until slightly tender.

Delicious Detox SoupThen add garlic and chicken or vegetable broth.  Add tomatoes and cabbage and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook until cabbage is tender.  (By the way, the monogrammed tile was a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law.  I love it!)

Connie's Delicious Detox Soup

Stir in oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt. I usually use fresh basil and oregano from my garden, but this time of year, the basil is done.  This paste works just fine.

Connie's Delicious Detox Soup

Connie's Delicious Detox Soup

 

 

Add a few tablespoons of Bragg’s Liquid Amino to desired taste.  It’s a natural soy sauce alternative containing 16 amino acids, which fight fat and build muscle.

Adjust seasoning to taste. Add roasted chicken or lean ground beef, if you like.

Connie's Delicious Detox Soup

Above all,  SKIP THE GUILT.  Instead, start the new year fresh with these four tips and enjoy a healthier, more energetic you!

Blending music and humor, 2014 Georgia Author of the Year Connie Carey inspires her audiences to view their challenges from a renewed perspective. Her book, Falling UP, offers healing, hope and a touch of humor for hard times. For booking info, visit www.conniecarey.com.