Midlife Extension – Breathe Space into your Life
MY MIDLIFE EXTENSION aims to breathe space into your life rather than draw your focus towards a lengthy period of age-related decline, diminished mobility, stiffness, and restricted movements. Like extending your home, breathing space into your life is an investment that will pay you back. For fit Midlifers, identity matters far more than utility - it's not about how much we age but how much we don't.
I often witness facets of the age-related decline of my contemporaries. I see them deliberately considering reaching the top shelf instead of just doing it. They must focus more on their movement and the inconvenience of it becoming an everyday annoyance. The scariest thing is that their movement is like that of the older people at my late mother's convent nursing home. Where everything the older people did require deliberation and concentration, disrupting the ceaseless flow of life; the simple actions and responses that were once made simultaneously and mostly without thought or effort.
For the elderly at my mother's residence, it appeared that about 20% of them seemed older than they were and were miserable about life. But some residents had a young mindset and felt more youthful, had good mobility, and understanding and lived longer - unless they had a terminal illness.
You may think that people who felt older had a nasty illness, and that was why they 'felt their age' and worried about dying more. It didn't matter whether these people had a disease. It was about their perception of their age and their health consequences. And it is the same for most people in midlife.
I always ask myself, what if people could positively view the process of growing old? On my mother's floor in the convent, those residents (who needed 24-hour care) felt older and were less likely to go out. They were lonelier, less mobile, and less physically active than the residents on the upper floor, who did not need 24-hour care and came and went as they pleased, with many of them being the ones I would describe as having a 'younger' mindset.
My mother told her neighbouring residents they shouldn't worry about their age and do more. She would always want to be doing something, saying, 'I may be disabled in body but not mind. I still feel younger than my actual age.' She had a tenacious resolve and a sense of self-mastery, and her purpose was to continue as the family matriarch.
I sometimes must pinch myself because, at times, I am mirroring my mother's beliefs. Even though she was in her 80s and disabled, she still had a positive, more youthful outlook.
What if more people had the potential to change their ageing attitude? What if Midlifers who feel older than their actual age could be targeted with a health message of a 'Midlife Extension' to promote positive health behaviours and attitudes toward ageing? Would it give them a licence to try new things, to keep evolving, and to grow, unlike their parent's generation?
Midlife extension – a fulfilling time of your life
According to psychologists, midlife reflects how society views and treats ageing rather than biology. People tend to live as directed by social and cultural expectations, where youth is seen as the happiest stage of life, followed by middle age and old age, accompanied by the inevitable functional and emotional deterioration.
Fit Midlifers don't categorise themselves by age but by who and where they are now, and it's exhilarating to know they have 20 to 30 years of prime living to do. Society would have them believe this time is the beginning of the end.
Fit Midlifers have the wisdom, experience, and resilience they have accomplished over the preceding decades and are now experiencing the transition to a more streamlined version of themselves. They accept that they will look older (yet remain fitter than the average), and this allows them to focus on the things they can control – their health and building their midlife extension.
Midlife Fitness facilitates the continuation – or return – to flowing, unimpeded movement without being unduly conscious of physical ability. To achieve a permanent middle age, not eternal life but eternal youth, and not to settle for a vision of a future as one of decrepit old age - as far too many people do, internalising negative beliefs about ageing - as shaped by social and cultural stereotypes. My training philosophy focuses on an extension of midlife with a short old age to write a new narrative of ageing as it could – and should - be.
Please let me know your thoughts on what a Midlife Extension means to you!