Health & Wellness

Arrive Early. Stay Late; Changing your Aging Attitude

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Marilynn Preston knows all about the importance of staying vibrant, having fun and, as she puts it, living “a big, juicy life,” regardless of age.

Preston is the author of “All is Well: The Art (And Science) of Personal Well Being,” which shares advice on healthy aging, and she’s also a fitness trainer and the columnist behind America’s longest-running syndicated fitness column, “Energy Express.” One piece of advice Preston says she’s constantly doling out is this: “Start where you are. Accept yourself just as you are—old or young, overweight or under active—and from that place of love and kindness, if you are patient and persistent, your own personal path to well-being will be revealed.”

We asked Preston for some tips on how to feel light at heart, even as your body grows older. Here’s what she said.

Get Old: You’ve been writing “Energy Express” for 40 years. In that time, what has helped you to keep feeling good?

Marilynn Preston: Age is a mindset. Yes, you will age, but how you age is largely determined by you. Once I understood that, I felt liberated to live a big, juicy life, no matter my age. My mind is open to exploration and curiosity, to learning new things and being open to the next adventure. Take risks. Be grateful. Keep moving. Take time for family and friends. Help others. These are some of the things that keep me feeling good. Also: the occasional order of crispy French fries, a glass of good wine, and love, love, love.

Get Old: What are some myths about aging?

MP: The biggest myth about aging is the one you believe that limits your life. Growing older can mean growing bolder, taking on new challenges, living the life you’ve always wanted to live. It’s about deciding what you value and how you want to spend the time you have left. As you grow older, you should feel freer, more in tune with who you are and what you want to do in life. If you feel limited instead—afraid, lonely, shut down—you are living the myth. It’s never too late to be a kid again, to discover your purpose in life and pursue it with enthusiasm.

Get Old: What are some mistakes people make as they get older?  

MP: Aging isn't just for old people. Everyone is aging all the time! As you age, do you see your life getting narrower, instead of wider? That's a mistake. Do you see your limitations and forget to notice your freedom, your wisdom, your ability to work smarter, not harder? It's not so much a mistake as much as it's a missed opportunity to lead your best life. Since life is basically a story you make up to tell yourself, you might as well tell yourself the best one possible.

Get Old: If you feel a bad attitude creeping in, what do you do?

MP: Sometimes I just watch it creep in. What's happening here? What are these feelings? Instead of running from an unsettling feeling, sometimes I just lean in. Other times, I might distract myself with an activity that brings me pleasure—a long and vigorous walk always calms me down, and lifts me up. Another option is taking some time to sit and be still, always ending with gratitude for the life I have.

Get Old: What are some tips for healthy aging?

MP: Attitude counts for so much. Stay positive. Never stop exploring, being curious. Eat smart, be active. Surround yourself with a loving circle of family and friends. But I must say something here. Tips from others—no matter how wise—will not help you change your own life in a meaningful way. You don't change because someone else tells you to. It must come from you, an expression of your deep desire to make a positive change in your life. When you're ready, it can happen. Before that, I would say, love yourself just the way you are. If you can do that, you can do anything.

What do you do? We want to hear what advice you can share with the Get Old community.

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