Aged Care Opinion

Swinging 60s: how to prioritise your health later in life

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Health is the one part of life that everyone agrees is important, but so often it winds up at the bottom of the list.

From chronic pains to weight gain to other serious concerns – Aussies often fall into the trap of brushing it off and placing it to the back of their mind, and then eventually convincing themselves it’s too late. The fact is my story is proof that it’s never too late!

Rewinding three decades

The age of Nokias, Dunkaroos and mohawks defined the 90s! A time and era where millions of Aussie families were focused on having children and raising a family, myself included.

Throughout the 90s and the decades that followed, the responsibilities and excitement of being a mother and working in a family business meant I led a busy life, especially with a husband that worked away 3 weeks every month.

Having children is the greatest gift, but it also brought significant changes to my body, especially after the birth of my last child. I just couldn’t seem to shake the extra 15kgs I had gained. Over the years those 15kgs increased a bit each year. I even managed to lose some of it several times over the years, but it always returned with some extra. I knew this was impacting my health long-term. While this may sound like a given, it is something that registered subconsciously versus the realisation that perhaps my health was not at its best during that time, and there were 30 odd kilos that followed me.

Like countless others in the thick of raising a family, without even realising, my health and body was placed on the back burner and any issues that arose due to the additional weight in excess for my body type, were mostly ignored.

Suddenly I blinked and here I was in my 60s, where I saw a glimpse of myself when playing with my grandson and it was utter disbelief at who was looking back at me.

Navigating the maze of well-being

High cholesterol, high blood pressure, gallstones, fatty liver disease and joint pain – these are just a handful of concerns that were running rampant through my body as a result of the extra weight that crept up on me over three decades.

Looking at myself in the reflection and being taken aback was a pivotal moment of pain yet reflection. That moment was the catalyst for wanting to make a change and improve my health and well-being.

However, I knew this wouldn’t be an easy journey and I had to find what would work for me. From my 64th birthday, I pushed myself to improve my health with immense support and care from The 1:1 Diet in order to live the very best life I could, well into my 60s and onwards!

After just three months, I lost an incredible 22kgs with tailored and consultative care that worked for me, and I started to feel like myself again – a version of myself I had nearly forgotten. The health problems would dissipate, and I felt more energetic – I even joined the gym again and found it easier to keep up with my grandson. People commented on how good my skin looked, I felt my sinusitis disappear as well as the constant bloating I used to experience. It was certainly a journey, but one that’s worth taking, no matter what stage of life you’re in.

Three tips I wish someone had told me

1. Be honest with yourself: Health and wellbeing journeys are always incredibly individual and personal. It is arguably the one environment that should be kept as judgement-free as possible. What may work for one person could be starkly different to what works for another person. I knew that I wanted to thoroughly enjoy myself on my 64th birthday, my daughter’s 30th birthday and mother’s day, so starting this journey after these events was the most realistic for me. I didn’t want to set myself up to fail and recognising that straight off the bat served me well enough to succeed.

2. Surround yourself with support: They often say ‘it takes a village’ because it truly does! I oftentimes thought this was a solo journey since it’s my body I’m working to improve. But as a matter of fact, my family, friends, my wonderful 1:1 Diet consultant, Kate Blackett, and many more played such pivotal roles in my motivation, determination and overall transformation. Find your people!

3. It’s never too late! This is the biggest tip I wish someone had told me decades ago. As life went on, I mistakenly thought it would be too late until finally, I had to make a change. Having now gone through this journey, I was wrong, and it is absolutely never too late. No mountain is ever too steep to climb, and if you have the desire to change something, just go out and do it! Afterwards, you often realise that life doesn’t end in a certain decade, and you can go out and achieve whatever you want at any age.

4. Don’t let a slip-up lead to quitting! Everyone will slip up every now and again. Just put it behind you and get back on track tomorrow. In the past, I let slip-ups derail my efforts and instead of them being the exception, they became my excuse to revert back to old habits but I didn’t have the support team in place back then that I’ve had on this journey.

As someone who very easily could have chosen to ignore these drastic issues, it is important to advocate for Australians to make positive changes and put their health first. Navigating this over the past thirty years has been tricky but undoubtedly worthwhile, and I encourage all Aussies to do the same.

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Brisbane mother and grandmother, Sharon McIlwain, has gone through the struggles of having placed her health on the backburner, and decades later needing to tackle the challenge of addressing health issues and weight concerns. In her 60s, Sharon became determined to make a positive change, lose the weight she needed to and become the best version of herself that she so desired.

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