Fit, fabulous and over fifty

Does thinking about your age make you cringe and come out in a cold sweat? Are you constantly looking at other women of a similar age and wondering if you look older or younger than them? Are you buying everything and anything that you can to make yourself look younger? Oh dear….how sad! Are you one of the many women who have downloaded an airbrushing app on your phone so that you can ‘edit’ (lie about) how you look? Scrolling through social media recently I genuinely thought that a few people that I know had got a face lift procedure done, yet when I met them in person I realised that was not the case…in fact, because they had airbrushed their photos, meeting them in person was a significant let down…. Why oh why would anyone do that? How low must your confidence and self-esteem be to feel the need to alter a photo that you share online, mostly seen by your friends! Whatever about teenagers doing it, I’m referring to women around my age…I’m 47!  Am I worried or fretting about turning 50 in three years time? Are you joking? Bring it on…I feel very lucky to be alive, I probably wouldn’t pass an NCT but I’m reasonably ok yet always saddened by the fact that so many women spend their entire adult lives trying to stop ageing.

The media shows us airbrushed images of actresses who have turned 50 this year…Jennifer Anniston, Catherine Zeta Jones, Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani….leading some of us to believe that this is how we are supposed to look at 50! This is so far from the truth, the images are airbrushed, elongated and god only knows what else so they are not real…DO NOT TRY TO COMPETE. Be grateful for how well you do look and only strive to do what you can. Whether you walk, run, cycle or swim, just know that while it may tone you or slim you, it will definitely not make you look like an airbrushed photo. For those of you who do not exercise in any way and you are 50 or over, it’s probably best that you try to do something, even if you start slow and stay slow for a long time, it will pay off. Any type of exercise over 50 is beneficial, not just because your metabolism is slowing down but for your mental well being. Reaching a milestone like 50 inevitably means that life will have thrown everything, including the kitchen sink at you, and perhaps you have become an endless worrier (guilty), fresh air and movement can seriously help to make everything easier to deal with as it boosts serotonin levels.

You may not think it but women over the age of 50 have incredible legs. This is due to the fact that your legs, when you pass 50, don’t seem to hold fat as much as other areas do so why not show them off in a shapely pair of bright patterned leggings. You will feel great knowing that your best feature is being accentuated by a pop of colour.

It’s important to look after your joints no matter what your age. Always make sure to invest in the best pair of runners/trainers that you can afford with great support. They will protect your knees and help you to walk for a longer period of time (if you are just getting going). Just because there are a lot of over 50s out walking, cycling and running, don’t assume that everyone is, especially everyone who should be exercising. I do hope that reading this will give you the encouragement that you need to get going, it’s all about taking the first step and knowing that you deserve to take the very best care of yourself.

We all know that ‘work-out’ clothes have come a long way, how lucky are we to be living in times where we can throw on a double-layered top, they are so flattering and smooth those lumps and bumps that can gather around a sports bra. If you feel confident in how you look in the mirror, then you will most definitely get more out of your workout and stay out longer…it’s a win win!

You’ll be surprised how much more you notice the benefits of your commitment to fitness and the improvements in your body when you wear a t-shirt that is more fitted. You might be tempted to throw on a baggy t-shirt but not only will it make you look larger than you are, it will affect your confidence. You do NOT have to feel obliged to pick a bright colour for your gym wear if you feel that it will draw too much attention to an area that you might want to hide…choose a dark colour instead.

Nothing is more unsightly than large sweat patches unless you are running a marathon. Perspiration can be a particular problem for women around 50 for obvious reasons. If this is something that you are paranoid about and it’s putting you off heading to a gym or out for a walk choose drift materials. Dri-fit is specifically designed to allow your skin to breath and reduce perspiration, which can lead to skin irritation. Keep cool and calm in smarter, more technological materials instead. 

For those of you who find it hard to motivate yourself to get going or stay going, choose bright colours for your workout clothes. Colour gives you energy…it’s true. Colour has a psychological effect on the wearer. Bright red, pink, purple and orange ‘pump’ you up while muted shades, cool blue and soft pastels calm you down. So you can save black for below the waist or if you are very conscious of your top half too, wear a double layered black top with a bright thin breathable jacket….a winner all around.

Don’t ever worry about showing off some curves or what we call ‘lumps and bumps’. Fitted workout clothes work well, and take note that I said fitted not ‘tight’. As you start losing weight you will notice it more quickly and that is so motivating. For those of you who regularly exercise, choosing sports clothes ends up becoming second nature to you, regular exercise boots your confidence and that is key to being able to dress yourself…no matter what for!

Wearing your athletic wear all day is now more than acceptable…even if you haven’t or don’t work out at all. One city that this will never bode well in is Paris, French women wear gym clothes to work out in only and immediately change back into their regular clothes after. Does it really matter? Of course not, always wear what you are comfortable in and what makes you feel good.

Water-proof mascara and eyeliner and make up fixing spray (Clarins is by far the best fixing spay) can help to make sure that while you are out pounding the roads or doing a workout at the gym, keep your ‘made up’ face somewhat intact. This can really help especially in a gym scenario where there are mirrors everywhere. It is certainly not a ‘have to do’ but if it makes you feel better, DO IT!

Take advantage of any and every dry evening, get out of the house. Some people spend all of their free time on their phones…beware, it’s so addictive. Have you noticed how you might think that you are only on social media for 10 minutes, and you are horrified to discover that an entire hour has gone by? Live life to the fullest, grab everything that it has to offer, laugh at yourself ALL THE TIME (I do) and move, never stop moving. 

Louise O'Dwyer

Louise O'Dwyer is an Image consultant based in West Cork

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