Aging well has been important to Americans for generations, but maybe never as important as with the baby boom generation. The generation that is reaching 60 has always wanted to look as young as they felt. Born into national wealth and power with the promise of limitless potential and self-worth, they now face the harsh reality that pursuits of wealth, career and staying young may have yielded success on the first two but are falling short on the third.
Boomers are not giving up without a fight. Many are in denial about their increasing vulnerability and are desperately hanging on to the last threads of their youth and individualism at any cost. They want to remain vital, healthy and sexy, but their purchases of products and services that promise a youthful appearance are yielding a diminishing return.
As a personal health and fitness coach for 25 years, I have worked with people of all ages and walks of life in their quest to look better, feel better and gain more energy. For many of my clients moving through their 50s and beyond, a crisis occurs that triggers a panic that time is running out.
The two common areas of crisis are physical appearance and health problems. Many of my clients have focused on career or finances at the expense of their health and fitness and are not prepared for the physical decline in their 50s. They wake up one day realizing that they are overweight or lack sufficient energy to live life on their terms and are desperate to regain control to reverse the situation. Those who are driven by a health crisis have either experienced a life-threatening illness, such as a heart attack or cancer–or have been moved by someone close to them who has experienced one. In either case, the fear of loss is strong motivation; there are still things they want to do, accomplish, or experience.
The crisis can be a slight moment of anxiety or a major period of panic–either of which is rooted in an unhappy, unfulfilled feeling. Not every person openly acknowledges or even recognizes that a crisis is occurring–some people just have a nagging, persistent feeling deep within that if the time is ever going to be right to make a change, it’s now.
I’ve seen my 50-plus clients react very differently to their crises. The extremes go from trying to dress and act younger, to the other extreme of resigning themselves to the fact that they are way “over the hill” and should just give up.
My approach to both is very similar. Rather than be taken captive by either extreme, I help them recapture their lives and futures by either pressing down on the brake or on the accelerator. If you are in the process of doing everything you dream of doing, and are as happy as you want to be, it contributes to aging well and there’s no real sense of crisis!
As their coach, I help them capture important moments of each day and the days of each year. It’s about decision making–deciding to hold on to their own sense of identity by making positive decisions and taking positive action. Finding their purpose for living reveals a path to obtaining maximum satisfaction and joy. I help them reinvent themselves to find fulfillment in a way that is healthful and helpful not only to themselves, but also to others around them. I’m in the total fitness business. I believe fitness is far more than just physical health and appearance. Early in my career, I was more focused on appearances, but I recognized it wasn’t a sustainable motive to stay fit. In order for someone to be committed to health and fitness as much as they are to a career or other area of life that is considered important, the fire inside has to be equally as strong.