By Naomi Rabon, NW Fitness Team Trainer
I imagine one of the worst feelings in the world for me would be to look back on my life when I’m in my 80s or 90s and wish I had taken better care of myself. That thought first popped in my head – believe it or not – when I was in 7th grade.
I grew up with both my mom and my dad always complaining about their weight, talking about dieting, pinching their belly or thigh fat and commenting on how they felt about how they looked.
“Not too bad looking for a mama who had four kids in five years, huh Naomi,” my mom would often ask, looking for my approval of her stomach, hips and thighs. I can’t even count how many times she would ask me that, fishing for a complement.
I also vividly remember my dad longingly staring at a box of donuts, or half gallon of ice cream or a King Cake at Mardi Gras, and tell me and my brothers that he couldn’t have any because he’s watching his weight – only later to indulge and declare he’ll start his diet on Monday.
I’ve watched as my mom has gotten heavier, struggling with lifestyle-related health decline issues. And my dad, although he became physically active and more fit, continues to struggle with body image as well as his relationship with food.
Looking back 30 years to when I was that 12-year-old girl, it blows my mind that I was thinking about the quality of my life at such a young age. But seeing my parents struggle with weight, food addictions, body image issues, self-esteem and other obstacles, it all makes sense. I didn’t want that for myself. And I certainly didn’t want to look back on my life when I’m old and gray wishing I had done things differently, wishing I had taken better care of myself. My worst nightmare has always been to be in my last days of life and have regrets about how I lived it.
I know that at that point, there would be nothing I could do about choices that I made. And the biggest factor I believe people might regret when they are older isn’t how much money they made, what house or car they bought, what college they went to or career path they chose. I believe in our later years in life the one thing that will affect us the most, as well as affect everyone around us, is our health.
NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT
But at that point, what’s done is done and the choices that you made in your life, good or bad, will come to the surface. NOW is when you can make choices that your future self will thank you for. NOW is when you can make decisions and lifestyle changes that will give you the best quality of life possible as you get older so that you can enjoy your family, your friends, your life and everything that is important to you well into your 90s.
In a way, you are taking care of your elderly self now so that you can minimize the need for others to take care of you later, if it helps to look at it that way. You are being your own caretaker before you need to be taken care of.
1. Health Is Your Priority There is no other priority greater than your own health. I’m sure you’ve heard this before in several different ways, but you can’t take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself first. I am a wife and mom, and if I don’t exercise regularly, eat foods that nourish my body and get good quality sleep every night, I am no good to anyone.
2. Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind Don’t fall in to this horrible trap! Too many people I know could care less about tomorrow and are only concerned with enjoying today. This can lead to a gradual, miserable decline in health in the future. While I believe in living in the moment sometimes, and the importance of enjoying some of the little pleasures in life, not thinking about the consequences of your choices when it comes to your lifestyle can lead to a very unhealthy quality of life for the last 10-15 years of your life. Live now, worry later is not the smartest approach, and you may wish you did it differently when it comes to the “worry later” part.
3. Nurturing Your Future Self Care for and nurture yourself with healthy foods, regular exercise and rest as if you were caring for the most precious thing in your life…because you are! Your body and the health of your body and mind are the most precious thing to you. What do you have if you don’t have your health?
When you’re in your 70s, 80s and 90s, do you want to look back on your life and wish you made different choices regarding your health? Or do you want to look back on your life and be thankful for all the choices and sacrifices you made in order to have your health and longevity?
ABOUT NAOMI RABON
One of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.