Senior woman doing stretching exercise on the beach

Getting Healthier and Stronger at Any Age

Good day my Wonderful Friend!

 

Today, I want to share with you a story about my Star client who knows the secret of achieving any goal. We often like to talk about the achievements of young or middle-aged people, but often forget to share inspiring stories about the elders. Yes, they lived more years, and they have seen more and done more, and sometimes they lack energy and motivation to be more active or to improve their health. The good thing that they are still with us and we can help them to bring back their own inner power and feel more energy to stay healthier and prolong their lives. There is no doubt that alife of good quality and healthy habits will allow elderly people to connect with family, to have more fun and joyful time, and to continue to be active contributors to the society.

Today, I have prepared a story about an elderly woman who achieved her fitness goals (despite her age) and has become a great role model for others.  Get yourself a fresh cup of tea and allow yourself to relax for the next few minutes and enjoy your reading. It’s a story time just for you to get inspired now, and to encourage others later on:

In 2015, I was coaching a lady by the name, Hamda: a 64-year-old widow with four grown-up children.  Hamda came to me for help with anxiety related to her health issues, as well as wanting to reduce her weight.  Usually, during the first session, I recommend a very effective technique that has worked with most of my clients in the past. I explained to her the concept of positive affirmations and that repeatedly seeing, reading and writing positive affirmations of how she wants to feel, act and look like in the future can affect the subconscious mind to such a degree that it slowly starts transforming the body to align itself with healthy thoughts. Some clients are skeptical at the beginning of coaching about the incredible power of affirmations until they try them and see the results.

The next day after the session Hamda started reading and writing her statements in her language ten times a day. I also suggested to write down the affirmations with a bright marker on a colorful paper and post it in the places that she spends most of her time; these are the affirmations that she was reading daily: “At any age, I choose to feel younger, stronger and healthier! When my energy is low, I know that it is temporary and I can continue to exercise to feel better! I can be happy, energetic and fit at any age! I have what it takes to renew my body and to achieve my ultimate health goals.  I take full responsibility for my health and for my happiness! My past failures, pain, and worry remain in the past because they belong in the past! I enjoy the process of creating my bright future! I understand and listen to my body, I exercise daily, I eat healthy food, I maintain healthy lifestyle habits. I have enough energy, will power, time and resources to achieve the results I want!”

Hamda started reading and writing the affirmations right after waking up and before going to bed.  She posted them in her bathroom and bedroom.  Even though Hamda had issues with her weight and worried a lot, she still had the energy to run a successful family business.  Hamda had a close relationship with her children. When her husband died from a heart attack, Hamda sold his business and opened a perfume boutique, something she had always wanted to do. Even though Hamda had issues with her weight and worried a lot, she still had the energy to run a successful family business.  Hamda had a close relationship with her children. When her husband died from a heart attack, Hamda sold his business and opened a perfume boutique, something she had always wanted to do.

Even though Hamda had issues with her weight and worried a lot, she still had the energy to run a successful family business.  Hamda had a close relationship with her children. When her husband died from a heart attack, Hamda sold his business and opened a perfume boutique, something she had always wanted to do.

During one of our initial sessions she was sharing with me:

“My business was rapidly growing, and my body was growing at the same speed. I do not understand why my mind is still so clear and fast, but my body is so heavy and lazy. I am out of breath after climbing two flights of stairs. I feel I’ve lost control over my body, my heart hurts sometimes, and I am scared to die early, like my husband. I have so much to do, my family and my business need me.  I have gained seventeen kilograms in five years since I started my business. I have energy and willpower to run three branches of my business and zero will power to take care of my body.”

Hamda had two main issues: she loved food, and she didn’t move much. Especially at the end of a long and tiring day, her will power would be so weak, and she would eat late and a lot.  We both agreed that she needed to commit by showing some actions toward a healthier life. Together, we developed a program for Hamda, where she chose the activities that she wanted to try out: it was yoga and evening walks outside. The research shows that empowering elders profoundly affects their motivation and that we need to involve seniors in planning, selecting, and evaluating their own physical activity program. It is important to let them make their own choices. Hamda’s daughter, Sarah, hired a personal yoga trainer and started doing gentle yoga exercises with her mother two sessions per week. They were holding each other responsible and tried not to miss a single meeting.  Four times a week Hamda started walking with her two grandchildren starting with thirty minutes a day. Hamda’s older son Saeed bought his mom a fitness tracker FIT BIT with a simple screen to show the number of steps she took a day. This gift certainly helped Saeed’s mom to stay focused on her goal.  After three months, she increased her walks to one hour per day. Later on, Hamda met other women of her age walking in the same park and continued walking with a group of regular walkers. After the first package of ten private sessions of yoga was completed, Hamda decided to do yoga two times a week and shared with me that she started feeling sensations in her own body and gaining a better sense of balance. She once called me and shared with excitement in her voice:

“You know Gulnara, it looks like I was disconnected with my own body for so many years…We are taking it slow with my yoga trainer, but I feel alive again.  You know, I am so surprised… I have never thought that at my age I can do with my body what my trainer is pushing me to do.”

You probably wonder, dear readers, what factors of motivation helped Hamda to stick to the program and achieve desired results?

Firstly, she was open to my suggestions but actively participated in choosing her own favorite activities and the frequency of her sessions. Secondly, she had a clear goal to reduce her weight by 17 kilos. Thirdly, Hamda was prepared to invest her time, money and energy to her goal and was ready to pay the price for feeling and looking healthier. And the last and fundamental reason behind her success was support from her loving family!

At first, she started with food. Hamda impressed me with her discipline with the food quality she started eating, and the size of her portions was much smaller! Hamda found a great and fun yoga trainer, who was passionate about helping people. With time, Hamda bonded with her trainer and was looking forward to every next session. By walking with her grandkids, Hamda had time to talk to listen to their stories.  Later on, she connected with a support group of other walking ladies. Once Hamda said to me

“When I think of my childhood, growing up we didn’t have the opportunity to attend sports clubs, gyms or walking tracks. It was a land of the sandy desert surrounded by the ocean with extremely hot weather outside…and no facilities, but Allhamdullilah people were very active and moving a lot back then. Nowadays, new generations, mashallah, have everything.”

The most beautiful thing about Hamda was that she felt young at heart and was not afraid to try, to take a risk and push herself.  After four months of our coaching program, Hamda showed me the notebook where I was giving her the home assignments and the list of affirmations that she was reading out loud daily in her own language. I was impressed to see how neatly she wrote down her thoughts about her activities and her progress after our sessions. I did not understand a single word, because I cannot read her language, but I saw a sense of pride and self-confidence in Hamda’s eyes when she was showing me her notes. Hamda was disciplined, but not too hard on herself; she was committed and celebrated small wins. She had to push herself, but she did not focus on the goal so much. She really enjoyed her activities and the whole process of doing something great for herself. After our program, she reported that she had more energy to go on with daily tasks and felt much lighter, less worried and more energetic. Even though the metabolism of older people slows down and makes it harder to lose weight, by eating healthier and exercising Hamda fixed her metabolism rate and has become best friends with her own body. She lost five kilograms and planned to continue her journey to a stronger and healthier body (and more fun and active lifestyle).  Hamda is my Star-client, a great role model for others. I was privileged to be a part of her positive change.

We all have people in our lives who are growing older, and perhaps they wish to be more active and happier, but many of them have a hard time finding that energy because of their age.  How can we shift our focus from cure to prevention?  How can we help them to strengthen their health instead of focusing on curing the illnesses?

How can we show our elders that they have the power to make that positive change by shifting their negative thinking and believing in themselves at any age? Initially, it may require a great deal of energy and efforts from adult children, family members, and health care provides to empower the elderly.  We can do so much when we have power ourselves to support the generations before us with patience and to enter their vulnerable, yet the beautiful inner world, filled with joy, pain, past stories, and future hopes. 

Do you have an aging person in your life who you can help? Be careful to mind your energy stores so that you can function effectively while still being able to be strong for someone you love.

With Love,