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Getting the motivation to exercise

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A few months ago, my six-year old grandson really took me aback. “Granny”, he asked innocently enough, “would you do me a favour?”. I assumed he wanted a second biscuit and said “of course”. As one does. “Granny, would you and Granddad try really, really hard to stay healthy, because I want my children to know their great-grandparents?” Well, that was surprise. I promised to try. What else could one say?

Too much trouble

We all know that one means towards good health is exercise, but how often do we do anything about it?  It feels like so much trouble. Once now and again is fine, but doing it on a regular basis is something else altogether. There are so many excuses – a bad night’s sleep, someone coming for dinner, just don’t have the energy today. And so forth.  It’s easy to slip.  Believe me, I know.

And yet you know you should be doing something to keep yourself in good shape. They keep telling us this. You probably know what might be possible if only you could get off the sofa and go do it. How can we get the motivation?

Find something you really like

First, you need to find something you really like to do. In my case, this was difficult as I had no love of sports all my life. I was no good at any of it – indeed, I was the girl in my PE class who no one wanted on their team. I tried to avoid sports wherever possible. Not surprisingly, this continued well into adulthood.

What about you? Did you used to love tennis? Or swimming? Or dancing? Perhaps you just enjoy walking. Have a think if there is something that you could still do that you really like to do. Are there others who could go with you? All that would be a good start.

Other benefits

Second, you need to think about what additional pleasures you will get from the endeavour. If you have a friend who likes to swim, you could go together and have a chat afterwards. If you go to an exercise class, you might make new friends and expand your social life.

Or, like many of us, you may want to lose a little weight or improve your body tone. This will certainly be another secondary benefit. Or particular exercises may help to reduce certain pains, like those arising from arthritis. I got started on yoga, because it was recommended by an osteopath as a means of strengthening my painful back. I have now been doing it for over twenty years.

Third, you need to make it really easy for yourself to keep at it week after week. You need to find something that fits readily into your daily routine. Is the swimming pool nearby? Is there an obvious walk? Are there exercises you could do in your own living room?

The extra push

And finally, you may need an extra push. Setting a target will help, such as promising yourself that you will go to the gym twice a week. My husband thought up a very novel means – he blamed me for not nagging him. I can now nag with impunity and he is happy.

I’m not sure I can manage to fulfil my grandson’s ambition for me, as I am not so young. But I intend to keep trying.

 

Originally published on the website of British Seniors: https://www.britishseniors.co.uk/life-over-50/guest-authors/getting-the-motivation-to-exercise/

My granny likes to stand on her head

My older grandson went into his nursery school not long ago and told the teacher “My granny likes to stand on her head”. And he was right.  Despite being in my mid-70s, I do like to stand on my head, having practised Iyengar yoga for over twenty years. I never heard what her response was, but I liked the sentence.

 The image of grandmothers

It made me think about the images that come to mind when we hear the word “grandmother”.  I suspect that many people, including myself, have two very contradictory ones.

On the one hand, we immediately think of our own grandmothers. From our childish point of view, they were old, wrinkled, wore sensible shoes and certainly didn’t get up to much. Something like the picture of Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother, who was additionally portrayed as very round and sweet.

And then we look at ourselves and our friends and the image changes completely.  We don’t feel or look nearly as old as our grandmothers seemed. We are active, we’re often still in work and some of us can stand on our heads. (I am not alone – a number of the women in my yoga class are grandmothers.)  Or perhaps we do other things – sports, dancing, travel. We are busy and we feel vibrant and young.

What is going on?

It may well be, as many people believe, that things have genuinely changed. They say that sixty is the new forty and we can be just as active as we were some decades ago. We look around at ourselves and see enthusiastic, engaged women, not remotely like that picture in our heads of our own grandmothers.

But it is also possible that our own grandmothers were not as un-engaged as we thought. Perhaps in their own way, and suitable to their own times, they were more active than we ever imagined. Undoubtedly, some were very conventional, but others were busy with politics or local organisations or even – for all we know – dancing!

First published by GRAND Magazine.

Anniversary

It is now somewhat over one year since Celebrating Grandmothers was published, so it feels a good time to reflect on it.  This blog is intended for me to write about the book and my efforts to publicise it.  I have written a number of guest blogs and I might put them here, too.

In Celebrating Grandmothers, I provide space for 27 women of very different backgrounds and circumstances to talk about how they feel about being grandmother.  They discuss their love for their grandchildren, how they worry about them, how relationships change when you are a grandmother and how being a grandmother affects the way they see themselves.  And much more.

Being a grandmother is incredibly fulfilling.  I love being a grandmother and I love writing books – the two seemed made for each other.  But I don’t like writing about myself, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to let other grandmothers do the talking.  I am delighted with what they had to say.

Grandmothers are too little celebrated.  They are ‘hidden in plain sight’ as part of the background of the main show.  Many think of them as just dull older women, although we know better.  This lack of attention will probably change as women of the ‘baby boomer’ generation find themselves grandmothers.  There are already a lot of books and movies centring on older people and some advice books for grandmothers. I am sure that these will grow considerably in the coming  years.  There is a lot to talk about and, well, celebrate.

For more information, go to http://www.celebratinggrandmothers.info

cover Grandmothers