In my forties I often seem to be juggling commitments all over the place. Work, kids, quality time pressure, deadlines, finding time to talk to those you love… Whatever happened to the era of my Father who was sitting at the dinner table, being served his evening meal at 5.30pm? My Mother worked too, so this was an impressive feat on her part as usual. He would then be watching the evening news or reading the paper by 6pm. Jeez, I am not even out of work by then. Anyway, different era, different expectations. I may well go stir crazy with that life anyway, but some Monday nights I wouldn’t mind giving it a go. So, how do I set myself up to cope with all this modern day living throws my way?
By staying physically and mentally fit that’s how. I have been practicing the first part for a while now, the second part is in its infancy, but I am getting there. I feel being in my forties, brings its own pressures, but also opportunities. I want to feel good and I want to look well. I want to invest in my future health and future proof the areas over which I have some control.
I won’t be troubling the cover of Men’s Health anytime soon, but I feel in pretty decent shape physically. This physical health feeds into my mental health. I feel I can cope with more demands if I am in a decent place physically. Yes, I do leave work some nights feeling like a JCB has run me over, but then I walk home and workout for half an hour. A new man emerges.
Aside from feeling good now, there are a stack of reasons why exercising will help me feel better in future years. If I am reasonably fit in my forties, then my chances of diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, premature death and more are significantly decreased. My Father could barely manage a run about in the back garden when we were kids without becoming a wheezing mess. Fitness and health was not really talked about back then. Now, us men know that what we do now makes a difference. I talked about living a sustainable life before, but it will be the opposite if I don’t help myself.
I have more energy now than I did 5 years ago. That means I am fresher during the day, but more importantly I can make a better fist of being a decent Dad. I have energy to play with the kids, cook decent meals and hold an engaging conversation with my wife (as opposed to simply complaining). I sleep better. I don’t crave booze or junk food (as much).
I firmly believe us guys need to mind ourselves better. For every fortysomething man who goes jogging, there are probably several who are sedentary and stressed out of their heads in the workplace. We are needed, we are important, we should keep ourselves in half decent fettle. We owe it to ourselves and our loved ones.
My basics for fortysomething man health
- Exercise daily
- Get your 5 a day
- Get your sleep
- Stay positive
- Make time for yourself
Feel the rush
Exercising can of course take many forms. It depends where you are starting from. If you have space a few dumbbells, chin up bar and some resistance bands would provide a great base to work from. I have come home many a night in a pretty crappy mood. If I leather some of the above for 25-30mins I am utterly transformed. The endorphin rush that exercising gives knocks the edges off the shit the day has sent my way. I can heartily recommend it.
Get your fruit and veg in. I take 2 or 3 pieces of fruit into work daily. At night (my most relaxing meal of the day) I pile on the veg (steamed). I will cover my 5 a day nearly every day. I would hate to see the cut of my jib without it. I would like to think I will look better in a crisp white t-shirt come the summer after eating similarly crisp greens by the barrow-load.
I enjoy sleeping. Poor sleep quantity and quality is a leading cause of illness and stress. I do my best to get my 8 hours plus. I get my hour of Netflix or Sky Atlantic with my wife, then it’s time to start thinking about hitting the hay. Last check of the phone, then it is fired in a kitchen drawer until morning. No screens in the bedroom! Coffee drinking stops around 3 or 4pm as well. This caffeine strategy was good enough for the Scottish rugby team in the last World Cup, so I follow their lead here. Sweet dreams.
I try to keep the bright side up. I don’t always succeed. Sometimes, I just get hacked off regardless. I am conscious that if things get on top of me, I have a propensity for negative or “catastrophic thinking.” This is when for that 5 minutes all seems pretty damn crappy in my world. I have identified this as a weakness and now I immediately stop it before it takes hold. You can’t beat yourself up for your thoughts, but you don’t have to let them own your day either.
Has time ever been more scarce? Seemed like I could lurch from one month to the next and all that has been achieved is a pay cheque. I often found myself wishing whole months away, so I could get to my next break faster. I now make time for myself through exercise and hobbies. Well, hobby (singular) really. This is it. The blog. Thanks for helping me make time for myself! Hope you find a way of doing likewise!
Thanks for reading,