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3 Proven Ways to (Re)Start Your Fitness Journey

fitness

There are days that I wish I was still a teenager and could eat whatever I wanted without gaining a pound. Sadly, those days are gone for us and in order to stay fit and healthy, we need to make an effort.

Regardless of how many times you have restarted your fitness journey, I have three proven ways to push you in the right direction. These are the three things that have helped me stay on track since I restarted my personal fitness journey this past winter. How’s it working you ask? Well, I’ve managed to lose 20 pounds. I’m not saying it hasn’t been hard or that I haven’t had my fair share of setbacks, but these three things I’m about to share with you have made the difference between recommitting to my goals or giving up when I hit those setbacks.

1. Group Classes

Signing up for group fitness classes is the single most helpful thing I have done for myself on my fitness journey. Having different classes scheduled throughout my week makes it possible for me to build my workouts into my schedule and gives me that healthy sense of guilt when I skip a class. I personally schedule 4 different classes a week to target all of my different muscle groups. Even if these classes are the only time you go to the gym, you are still getting to the gym 4 days a week.

2. Accountability Buddy

I admit that sometimes the guilt of not attending a class isn’t enough to get me out of the house. This is where my accountability buddy (or in my case, my husband) comes in. When I started my fitness journey I told my husband to only let me skip the gym once a week. That means going to the gym six days a week. At first, it wasn’t hard to get me out of the house and to the gym, but as it got harder and harder to lose those pounds, my enthusiasm waned. That’s the importance of having someone to hold you accountable. Sometimes my husband has to drag me out of the house kicking and screaming, but I still get to the gym. When you are about to give up on yourself your accountability buddy can help you refocus on what’s important.

3. Diet

Unfortunately, our diets also have to be a factor in our fitness journey. Eating healthy or, at extreme least, not overeating is an important piece of making sure we meet our goals. This is where I’m going to introduce you to the piece of technology that has helped me stay on track. Lose It! is an app that helps you with every aspect of your fitness journey, but especially when it comes to your diet. When you sign up you fill out your age, gender, weight, and fitness goals. Then the app creates a special program for you. You can log your food by just scanning barcodes or adding things manually. Plus, you get badges when you hit different milestones like losing weight, logging regularly, or exercising regularly.

These three things are the only things that keep me on track some days. However, your own fitness journey might require other systems of accountability. Wherever you are on your journey, I wish you luck as you move forward and remind you to never give up!

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3 Questions for Healthy Backstep

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“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or step back into safety.”

-Abraham Maslow

There’s two different cuts we can take at stepping back.

The first is when we revert to the comfort zone in the face of the challenges and contortionisic stretches required to play bigger, express broader, and adventure into new territories.

The other is when we move away from the machine so as to get a bigger picture than the next rung on the rat wheel.

We can all fall prey to working in our career vs. on our career, in our business vs. on our business, awash in our life vs. perspective on our life.

For example, it’s great to have that current job or business, especially if you love it and feel your highest self-expression pouring forth. Yet, we all know that nothing is guaranteed and, according to standard business wisdom, if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving back—there is no standing still.

Also, there may be personal or business practices, tried and true, that we engage in without thinking anymore of whether they are working.

Therefore, stepping back from the activity to get the bigger picture is a wise, forward-focused practice.

The same goes for the progress forward of our relationships, health, finances, personal mission and overall sense of well-being. Nothing stands still. It’s forward or back.

Alexandra (my partner in Back Forty crime) and I recently took a 911 weekend away. We cancelled all appointments and booked a last-minute hotel and unplugged, unscheduled, and unwound. Yes, we relaxed, and yet we began some meaningful (but not significant) conversations about how we want to design our Back Forty from the long-view perspective.

That weekend, and the inquiry thus begun, has produced ongoing ripple effects which have shaped our consistently upgraded views on many aspects of our work, mission, and enjoyment of life. Good thing! We figure that, with us being the forerunners, scouts and pioneers of creating a radical second half of play, passion and purpose, we are to live it to prove it’s possible!

From the bigger picture, all of us can see what’s working and what’s not…and put in the pieces we don’t see when up close and personal.

Incorporating healthy backsteps into your dance, to catch that bigger perspective, can make for a far more workable final choreography.

Here’s a few questions to ask from our own exploration:

Sustainable?

Sometimes, it’s necessary to look at the State of the Personal Union to see if how we’re living, how we’re working, how we’re relating is actually sustainable over the long term.

Sure, there are some crunch times in everyone’s life. Yet, you can’t really sustain crunchtime. Over the long term, you tend to get crunched.

ReFrame-able?

Consider the impacts of machines running on High all the time – they wear out, burn out, or at least don’t perform at their highest productivity.

Is the career, business, life you’re running safe and sound at the pace or peace it’s going? Is it worthwhile to re-evaluate and re-frame what’s really important and what’s really working (and what’s not)?

Unchainable?

We may think, at first blush, that everything is tied with a bow as it is and there would just be too much upset caused by rethinking and reorganizing the pieces.

Yet, that’s simply not the case. Were something major to happen in your world today, truly, all bets are off. So, what can we let go, mix up, or do differently?

In the 80’s, there was a Fram Oil Filter commercial with a famous tagline: “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.”

Today’s Back Forty question is: where can you step back from the trance to enhance the workability of your own dance?

“Often stepping back you see more, don’t you?”

-David Hockney

Finding Your Unique Style and More for Midlife

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Today I found a new YouTube vlogger that I have absolutely fallen in love with.

Meet Melissa55.

Melissa is a 60-something wife, mother, and grandmother living in Tennesse. She has been posting on her Youtube channel each week for roughly 3 years with topics surrounding midlife beauty. While I was trying to find out more about Melissa, I stumbled across a quote of hers that I absolutely love:

“I feel like if we stick together in this aging journey, we can lift up each other and grow older gracefully and beautifully.”

– Melissa55

She creates tons of wonderful content surrounding the conversation of aging and how to feel beautiful while doing it. However, my favorite video series of hers is The Aging Woman and in this video series, she covers everything from fashion and exercise to friendships and marriage. Today I am going to share a few of my favorite (initial) videos of hers that I am loving and maybe you will love them too!

The Aging Woman: Finding Your Style

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvH9QSjPSPs]

This is the perfect example of what Melissa is all about. She uses her own experiences from finding her way through midlife to help other women abandon the stigmas surrounding aging and beauty and really embrace themselves. So, if you’ve watched the video, what’s your style and how has it changed as you have moved through midlife?

Craving more Melissa? Here are some of my other instant favorites:

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5 Easy Ways You Can Make More Money In Midlife

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We recently created a survey to figure out what our community members’ biggest fears are. Now, our survey isn’t complete yet (you can still put in your own two cents by clicking here), but our initial feedback is overwhelming.

What is the most popular fear?

Finances.

Of all of the fears brought up by people responding to our survey, money-related fears made up a shocking 45% of all of the fears!

Because of this, I have chosen to devote this blog post to helping you at least minimize your fears. And, even if money isn’t your biggest fear, a little extra income is never a bad thing, right?

So, without further ado, here are five easy ways you can make more money in midlife – today!

Online Surveys

One of the most common ways to make some extra money online these days is to take part in online surveys. Not only do you get paid for your time, but you also get to give your opinion on different things like politics, new products, movies, TV advertisements, and the list goes on and on.

Some people will claim that you can make thousand of dollars per month by answering online surveys, and that might be true, if you are spending all your time doing surveys. That being said, expect to make anywhere between $30 and $300 extra each month if you fill out at least one survey a day. So, which online surveys should you sign up for. Here are some of the best options out there:

  • Swagbucks – This website is the most popular survey website. It’s very easy to sign up and you can earn an average of $0.20 to $1.00 per survey and surveys can last seconds or 20 minutes. You can also earn Swagbucks for watching videos, shopping online, and playing games (each Swagbuck equals about one cent).
    swagbucks

    I signed up for Swagbucks today and you can see that I’ve earned about a dollar in the first five minutes of playing with the website.

  • MySurvey – This website is another popular option. You can make as much as $0.50 to $1.25 per survey you answer.
  • Pinecone Research – This website specifically focuses on the research side of surveys. You earn $3.00 per survey and surveys last an average of 30 minutes each.

Website Testing

Another option is website testing from home. You visit a website, complete a series of tests, and then get paid $10. The downside (if you aren’t very outspoken) is that you have to speak all of your thoughts out loud. If this doesn’t deter you – it’s an easy way to make some extra cash. Check out UserTesting.com for more details.

Get Paid to Shop

This is my favorite suggestion. After all, who doesn’t love shopping? And who doesn’t love getting good deals when they shop? There are a few different options, but I can tell you that I have personally tried and approved both of the options I’m about to give you.

  • Honey – If you enjoy shopping online then this web extension is perfect for you. All
    you do is install Honey on your web browser and suddenly you get pop-ups whenever you are about to purchase an item. These are the best type of pop-ups. Honey will check every coupon code on the internet for you to get you the biggest discount possible. Before I started using honey I would spend at least 10 minutes searching for coupon codes before purchasing things online (when I remembered). Now I don’t have to spend the time and I always get the deal!
  • Paribus – Here is a reason to opt into getting your receipts digitally. Not only do you save paper, but now you can also get money for it! If you shop at Amazon.com, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Best Buy, Staples, Target, Nordstrom, Old Navy, or 22 of their other participating stores (see them all here), then you can be saving money. Paribus keeps track of your purchases through your email receipts. When a price goes down, they will submit the paperwork necessary for those “money-back guarantees” and give you the money. They do take 25% of your discount as a fee, but if you don’t normally scour your receipts for discrepancies months after the purchase, then you are still getting way more money than you would have without Paribus.

Sell Old Things

If you are anything like me, then you have a pile of things waiting to be sold at a garage sale or taken to be donated. These days there is no reason to wait. You can get rid of your items now, you don’t have to leave your house, and you can make money doing it. Here are some of the best ways to get money for your old stuff you wanted to get rid of anyway:

  • eBay – If you want to upload some pictures onto a traditional website, eBay is the way to go. eBay is the perfect way to sell old toys, collectibles, and electronics.
  • Facebook Groups – These days, almost every town has their own “Garage Sale” Facebook Group. Go to Facebook, type “garage sale” into the search bar, click on groups, and then pick the garage sale group that is closest to you. It’s that simple. Then you can simply post things you want to get rid of on the group page and tell people where to pick them up.
  • OfferUp or LetGo: If you would prefer to use an app. Both OfferUp and LetGo are great options. You simply download the app, upload what you’re selling, and message others to finalize the sale all through the app. If you’re concerned about strangers being able to look at your Facebook profile or texting your personal number, this is the right option for you.

Lose Weight

This last idea is probably the most surprising, but I promise you that this is real. You can actually get paid to lose weight! There is a website called DietBet where you can earn money by betting that you will lose weight. What is actually happening is that you are betting against a bunch of other people that you will lose weight. Whoever reaches the group goal gets to split the earnings and those who don’t make it lose their entry fee. If you want to lose weight, stay motivated, and make money doing it. DietBet is the perfect solution.

Bonus Tip!

Download your FREE Top Ten Tips for a Radical Second Half eBook by clicking the image below! This 19-page eBook is full of tips for making your life the best it can be in every aspect (not just financially). So go ahead and get started!

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Ultimate Aging Advice: How to Keep Your Skin Healthy & Beautiful

Happy Healthy Skin Month!

November is National Healthy Skin Month, so I thought it was only fair that I created a post dedicated to helping women in midlife keep their skin looking healthy and beautiful. Healthy skin is extremely important, and as you create your second half of life, it gets absolutely vital!

You may find yourself wondering, “Is it normal for my skin to be doing this?” or “What should I be doing to promote having healthy skin?”. After all, there are TONS of anti-aging and anti-wrinkle creams and products out there, but how do you keep your skin looking healthy and how do you know which products are the best?

Well, I’ve done some research so that I can bring you the answers you want and need.

First of all, the most important thing to know is MOISTURIZE! As you age, your skin is literally deflating. By moisturizing regularly, you help your skin stay hydrated and smooth. When looking for moisturizers, the two most important things to look for are SPF and Retinoid. By making sure your moisturizer has at least an SPF 15, you can help protect your skin from skin cancer. By choosing moisturizers with retinoids, you are able to speed up your cells. Retinoids target the DNA in skin cells to boost the cell’s functions.

My other big tip is to remember the rest of your skin! While you face should get the most attention, making sure to moisturize your jawline, neck, and chest on a regular basis is just as important.

To find out how your skin changes as you age, what the top three moisturizing products are, and more, check out the infographic below:

midlife-skincare

Most importantly, don’t assume that wrinkles are something you need to get rid of. Just ask The Back Forty Co-Founder Alexandra Levin. Check out her blog series about why she is in love with her wrinkles!

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The Top 12 Apps Everyone in Midlife Needs (+5 Bonus Apps)

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In our busy world, apps make everything easier. After all, the phrase “there’s an app for that” wasn’t coined for nothing. Especially when you are in midlife, things can get hectic. Between family and work, sometimes it’s hard to keep everything straight. That’s why I came up with this list. These apps are guaranteed to make your life simpler. Don’t believe me? Check them out for yourself!

To Avoid Traffic

wazeWaze

Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Other Waze users share real-time traffic and road information to make everyone’s drive better. Getting alerts on traffic is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this app. Waze can also tell you if there is debris in the road, how bad that accident ahead really is, if there is a cop hiding out around the corner, and so much more. Ultimately, Waze makes it possible to outsmart traffic, together.

To Get (and Stay) Fit

FitnessBuilder.PNGFitnessBuilder

The free version of this app offers plenty for anyone looking to start a fitness routine. At the free level you have access to 16 different multi-week fitness plans, 200 videos and pictures explaining how to do different exercises, and over 400 individual workouts. You also have the ability to pick your specific workout goal, your current fitness level, and specify which equipment you have available to make sure that your workouts are perfect for you. If you choose to pay for the Plus membership ($6.99/month or $59.99/year), you have access to over 1,000 different workouts, over 7,000 videos and pictures, and 22 different fitness plans. You also gain the ability to ask a trainer questions about your workout and create your own exercises. Regardless of the option that works for you, you have the ability to track and log all of your workouts, record your body measurements, and chart your progress.

c25kC25K

C25K literally stands for “Couch to 5K” and I feel that title says it all. If you want to train for a 5K or even just learn how to become a runner, this app is for you. This app is an 8-week program where you schedule 3 times a week to go running. Each session includes a warm-up and a cool-down and lasts less than 45 minutes. C25K has you start slow by alternating walking for 90 seconds and then jogging for 60 seconds. As the weeks progress, you begin running more and more. It also gives you the ability to have music play through the app so that you can listen to your music and the cues to start walking or jogging at the same time. The best part, it’s all free!

To Be Productive

any.do.PNGany.do

This app syncs your personal tasks, work projects, and shared lists so you have a clear path moving forward. With any.do you can create the most comprehensive to do lists you have ever made. You can separate your tasks into sections like work, school, or home. Then within those sections you can break down tasks by day and even have sub-tasks for each of your tasks. You can also create team tasks. For example, if you are working on a group project at work you can create a team of your co-workers where everyone can see, edit, and add to the list. And the teams aren’t limited to your work life. Make a team of two with you and your spouse. Need your spouse to pick up groceries on their way home? Just send them a group list with what you need. These are just some of the features that set any.do apart from it’s competiton. Check it out for yourself to see what else you can accomplish.

To Find the Best Deals

retailmenotTo Find Coupons: RetailMeNot

RetailMeNot has just about every online and in-store coupon at your fingertips. When you are out shopping, just pull up this app while you are in the checkout line and by the time you reach the cashier you can have a 25% off coupon in your hand. This app also can notify you of nearby sales and deals as you drive around town and give you access to discounted gift cards. If you’re always looking for a deal, this app is for you.

key-ringTo Declutter Your Key Ring: Key Ring

Between the loyalty cards on your key ring and the loyalty cards in your wallet how many do you have? Chances are, you have enough that you feel like you are always searching for the right on. Well this app was created to solve that problem, as well as help clean out your wallet and key ring. You can scan any of your loyalty cards into this app and then those cards will be available through the app! No more carrying around endless loyalty cards or searching for the right one. But that isn’t all Key Ring can do. You can also scan the weekly ads from the stores where you have loyalty cards and make shopping lists based on what you find.

SnipSnap.PNGTo Never Forget a Physical Coupon Again: SnipSnap

If you are anything like me, you have a pile of coupons sitting at home and that pile stays there until you’re at the store and find yourself thinking, “I had a coupon for that!”. SnipSnap was created to fix that problem. When you get a coupon, just scan it into the app and then it will be waiting on your phone when you’re ready for it. The other awesome feature of this app is that you can snap a picture of an item you want to purchase and SnipSnap will search for deals on that item! If you’re bad at couponing, this app can change your life.

To Find Books to Read (& To Find Time to Read Them)

goodreads.PNGGoodreads

If you are a reading enthusiast, this app is for you. Goodreads is the world’s largest social network for readers. You can find thousands of book reviews by Goodreads members, keep a virtual bookshelf of what you’ve read, and build your to-read list as you discover great books on the app. This app makes it possible for you to search, rate, and review virtually any book. It also has a handy barcode scanner where you can scan your books onto your virtual bookshelf and scan books into your “to read” list.

audibleAudible

This is the app for someone who enjoys reading but can’t seem to find the time to actually read. Audible is the worlds largest provider of premium audiobooks, with over 150 thousand titles to choose from. The best part is that, because it’s an app, you can listen to your books anywhere and anytime. Plus, right now you can get your first audiobook free when you sign up.

To Become a Master Budgeter

mintMint

Mint is a money manager, personal finance tracker, and budgeter all rolled into one. First it puts all of your financial information into one location so you can see the big picture. It also has budgeting tools, free credit score tools, alerts and advice based on your spending habits, automatic categorization (so you know exactly how much you spend where), and investment tracking (so you can compare your portfolio compared to the market and more). Mint knows that putting all of your financial information can be scary so it takes your security very seriously. Beyond it’s own security measures, it also is analyzed and certified by multiple third party security providers.

To Sleep Well

sleep-cycleSleep Cycle

Everyone knows that getting a good nights sleep is important, but how many of us actually get the sleep we need? That’s where Sleep Cycle comes in. Set your phone next to you while you sleep and this app will measure just how much sleep you’re really getting. It tracks your sleep cycle so that you know how much of your night is spent in a deep sleep versus a light sleep. While tracking your sleep is interesting, the coolest feature of this app is it’s alarm clock. You can set an alarm and sleep cycle will wake you up when you are naturally sleeping the lightest. This makes it easier for you to get up and get going while feeling refreshed.

To Wake Up On Time

Morning Routine.PNGMorning Routine (Android)

This is an app that I use religiously – and not just to wake up in the morning. If you are someone that absolutely hates getting out of bed in the morning, this app is perfect. You can set a series of alarms to get you up and moving. The alarm slowly gets louder to gently nudge you awake (plus you can pick whichever alarm you wish), but that’s just the beginning. To turn off your alarm you can choose to either push a button, scan a barcode, scan a specific barcode, or any combination of those options. For example, I start with pushing a button. Ten minutes later I have to scan a barcode in the bathroom. This way I can force myself to actually start my day. The best part (or the worst part depending on your opinion) is that you cannot turn off the alarm until you scan the correct barcode. You also can make the alarm a series of tasks so you don’t just wake up, you actually go through your entire morning routine.

walk-upWalk Up (iPhone)

Walk Up is the closest option to Morning Routine that I could find for iPhones. Unlike Morning Routine, it doesn’t have you scan specific items. Instead, you have to walk a certain distance to turn off the alarm (you can pick anywhere between 10 and 100 steps). The alarms tend to be more urgent and dramatic than Morning Routine, simply to help force you up quickly. There are also themes, “doomsday” countdowns, and the “evil mode” where you can’t snooze the alarm. If you need to get up and get up fast – this is your answer.

To Get Your Groove On

iheartradioiHeartRadio

iHeartRadio is another app that I use regularly. Not only can you listen to your favorite radio stations anywhere, but you can also pick out playlists based on specific artists, listen to podcasts, and pick playlists based on your current activities (work, cleaning the house, exercising, etc.). iHearRadio also keeps track of your favorite stations and recent stations so you never forget what you’ve been listening to. As an added bonus, it also has alarm clocks and sleep timers that you can have open to a specific station.

To Send & Receive Payments

Venmo.PNGVenmo

In a world where physical dollar bills are becoming more and more obsolete, Venmo has created a way to exchange money as easily as handing someone cash. With a Venmo account you can transfer money from your bank account to your friend’s account with a click of a button. Do you owe someone money for coffee? No problem, just send it to them with Venmo. Never worry about running to an ATM again.

To Get Rid of Unwanted Junk Mail

paperkarma.PNGPaperKarma

This app is the high-tech answer to your low-tech problems. You know the junk mail that  plagues your actual mailbox? PaperKarma is the answer to your woes. When you receive junk mail, simply snap a picture of it and submit it on PaperKarma. The app will then contact the organization sending the junk mail and get you removed from their list. Ultimately, PaperKarma is the end of your junk mail as you know it!

To Know Who’s Calling

truecallerTruecaller

With landlines disappearing and cellphones taking over, telemarketers are calling cellphones more and more. That is where Truecaller comes in. By installing this app, you can know exactly who is calling you, regardless of if they are in your contacts. You will not only see the name of who is calling you, but also a picture of them. With Truecaller you can also block spam callers and telemarketers, search for someone who isn’t in your contacts, see when your friends are free to talk, and back trace phone numbers from anywhere.

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What it REALLY Means to Dress Your Age

woman-1535584_1280Dress your age. It’s a phrase that I’m sure you’ve heard before. Either you are saying that someone else should really dress their age, or people are saying it about you. When you go online, there are countless articles about “dressing your age”. Bazaar says, “the older you get, the less you can do prim, girlish, preppy, and cute.” According to the Huffington Post, “You never show your arms when you’re over a certain age and you don’t wear shorts”. Even GQ Magazine suggests that once you hit your 50s you should be buying loafers, knitwear, blazers, ties, and thickening shampoo!

Can I say yikes? There seem to be more and more rules as you keep aging about what you can and cannot wear. Often the advice comes from good intentions. These articles are meant to help you look your best, but using age as the standard for when you can and cannot wear certain types of clothing is ridiculous.

Why is it that when you hit the age of 40 you magically are no longer allowed to wear jeans with holes or skinny jeans or leggings? Why do people think that once you are in your 50s you can no longer wear sleeveless shirts or shorts? There is no reason that this fashion advice should be tied to your age at all. So what should this advice be tied to? Well, let me tell you.

This advice should be tied to your health. And I don’t mean specific aspects of your health like just your fitness level, I mean your health overall. For example, a 45-year-old woman who goes to the gym three times a week, avoids eating unhealthy foods, and has a clean bill of health from her doctor should feel free to wear a completely different wardrobe than a 45-year-old woman who hasn’t exercised in years, eats junk food in lieu of healthier options, and was just diagnosed with diabetes. How you treat your body matters and shows! There is absolutely zero reason these two women should have similar wardrobes simply because they are both 45.

So don’t “dress your age“, dress your lifestyle!

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Midlife Exercise – Is it Important?

Workout

Many people have the viewpoint that once you hit “midlife” working out and staying fit is no longer important or a priority. Of course, they have their excuses:

  • “I’ve had two kids and your body never really comes back from that”

  • “No matter how much I exercise, I’ll never look as good as I did when I was young”

  • (and my favorite) “My life is way too busy right now, I simply don’t have time”

Do any of these excuses sound familiar? Well, I’m here to tell you that exercise IS important, even if you are “too busy”. Studies suggest that even if you’ve never been one to spend time exercising, being or becoming fit in midlife can completely re-shape your aging process. People who don’t bother with fitness in midlife are more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s (among other diseases). This doesn’t mean that if you exercise, you won’t get these diseases later on. However, those who exercise tend to have these diseases for maybe the last five years of life while those who don’t exercise tend to have their diseases for the last 10 to 20 years of their life!

I don’t know about you, but I would rather be healthy until the age of 80 instead of being chronically ill at the age of 65.

So what do we do about this? We get fit! Here are some tips for getting started:

  1. Realize that you don’t have to work out constantly. You need only 2.5 hours a week of moderate activity or 1.25 hours a week of vigorous activity. That means that you only have to exercise moderately for 22 minutes a day or exercise vigorously for 11 minutes a day! Where did your excuse about being too busy just go? And here are some bonus tips:

    • When you work out, make sure that you exercise for at least 10 minutes at a time (so you can increase your heart rate).

    • Also, exercise first thing in the morning. By the end of the day it is much easier to say you don’t have the time or are too tired from your busy day. First thing in the morning, you don’t have any excuses yet.

  2. What does “moderately” and “vigorously” really mean?

    • Here are some exercises that fall under “moderate” exercise: dancing, bicycling (less than 10 mph), brisk walking, tennis, and even gardening!

    • Here are some exercises that fall under “vigorous” exercise: jogging or running, swimming laps, jumping rope, bicycling (more than 10 mph), and hiking uphill.

  3. Use it or lose it! Make sure you spend a least two days a week working on strengthening your muscles! This can help you gain strength, minimize joint pain, and boost your mood!

So how about you? Can you find 11 to 22 minutes at the start of your day to improve your health for the rest of your life?

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Sources:
Eight Secrets of Boomers who Exercise Regularly
Getting Fit, Staying Fit During Middle Age
The Benefits of Middle-Age Fitness

Why being “Old” is the BEST

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Earlier this week, I stumbled across an amazing video and message.

Our society shuns the idea of aging. No one wants to get old, and the negative connotations surrounding that word are seemingly endless.

Old.

Elderly, senior, infirm, broken, bygone, outdated, inactive, past your prime, senile, decrepit, not long for this world, aged, gray, impaired, grizzled – and those are just some of the synonyms that pop up when searching the word “old”!

No wonder there is such a negative connotation surrounding aging. No one wants to be any of those things!

Recently though, there have been movements to change that mindset. Most recently is the video and article created by Allure Magazine. Titled “How to Age Gracefully”, this article is exactly what our society needs to hear. The women in the video re-define “old”. Here are just some words they use to describe themselves.

Beautiful, competitive, recognized, fascinating, blessed, truthful, healthy, wise, peaceful, empowered.

Now, these words are quite different from the “synonyms” for the word “old”. Maybe it’s time to change the definition. Maybe it’s time to prove that being “old” is an AMAZING thing!

See the video here!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsBs63E4Txw]

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You Won’t Believe This New Retirement Craze!

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Call it what you like – phased retirement, gradual retirement, or flexible retirement – but this craze is only just beginning!

In one of my previous posts I talked about the trend of staying in the workforce longer (Read it here). Basically, I explain that the historical concepts of retirement are becoming more and more out of date. The most obvious reason is the fact that, in the past few generations, the average life expectancy has increased by almost 30 years!

With people living longer, healthier lives, it’s no wonder why they are choosing to stay in the workforce longer. Since we are living longer, the money we save for retirement has to last longer. This causes two effects. One, we need to save more money. Two, we need to work longer. Usually, our solution includes a mixture of those two options.

This is what leads us to the new craze in retirement.

Phased Retirement as I call it (although you may call it whatever you wish), is how the world is evolving to change the historical concept of retirement to meet the needs of this age.

Let me walk you through this relatively new concept that is changing how people, companies, and our government is thinking about retirement.

There is currently a process that people go through when they choose traditional retirement, or “cliff retirement”.

For about 3 years before retiring, you are extremely excited about the concept (especially if your current job is stressful). The first year of retirement is extremely stressful. Once you make the plunge you realize that your new schedule lacks in some key areas. Your built in social network from your job is now gone, your previous identity tied to your career is also gone, not to mention that you often feel as if your new life lacks structure and purpose.

However, the next few years of retirement get better. You find yourself in the “honeymoon phase” of retirement when you find new activities and social groups to become a part of. After the honeymoon phase wears off, you will begin feeling like your routine is boring. Finally, after your discontent wears off, you become content with your retired life.

If this doesn’t sound ideal to you, you’re not alone!

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This is why phased retirement is becoming so popular. Very few people want to sit around and watch TV all day after they retire, it’s partially what is pushing so many people to continue working long after the standard retirement age.

Phased retirement gives you the ability to relieve some of the financial burden of retirement, reduce the stress of retirement, enhance your personal fulfillment, and keep ties with your social network through your job, while still giving you time for retirement activities like traveling and spending time with family. Ultimately, phased retirement gives you the time you need to prepare for retirement both financially and emotionally.

At this point you might be thinking, “this is sounding like a great idea, but how do I even start?” Well that’s the thing. While phased retirement also helps employers combat the shortage of employees once boomers start to retire and while the IRS is considering regulations to establish guidelines for creating and administering phased retirement programs, only 6% of companies currently have formal phased retirement systems in place.

However, don’t fear, because I have some tips and tricks for negotiating a phased retirement with your company regardless of if they have any systems in place.

Phased Retirement Helps Your Company

By phasing out of your company, you are giving your supervisor plenty of time to find needed replacements. You are also helping your company cut costs while keeping your unique knowledge at their disposal. Here are a few tips for negotiating a new phased retirement schedule with your supervisor:

  1. Offer to work during busy times for your company or when the workload is heavy. Depending on your job, this might be seasonal, during peak hours each day, or on certain days of the week.

  2. Offer to mentor younger employees. The last thing your company wants is to lose all of the knowledge you have gained over the years working for them. By mentoring a younger employee (potentially to take your place) your company can be ensured that your eventual retirement will be a smooth transition.

Before Talking to Your Supervisor, Research These Things!

Don’t run into your supervisor’s office before doing your research. Look into the topics below so that you can come up with a solidified plan before reaching out to your supervisor.

  1. Watch out for pension/retirement fund problems. Make sure that decreasing your salary won’t adversely effect your pension. If your pension is based on your income over your last five years of work, cutting your salary isn’t the best idea. If this is how your pension is set up, consider “retiring” from your current job on schedule and picking up a new part-time job to transition into retirement.

  2. Check the minimum requirements for full health coverage for your company. If you are under the age of 65 (aka, you don’t qualify for medicare) you want to make sure that you will still be working enough hours to receive your full benefits.

  3. Look into Social Security withholdings. This is the most complicated step, but don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. First of all, it is important for you to know that you can work and still receive Social Security benefits! That being said, if you are making “too much” for your age bracket things can get a bit more complicated. Before getting into the details, let me give you one extra tip. You will need to know your “full retirement age” according to the Social Security Administration. Click here to calculate your “full retirement age” now. Now that you know your “full retirement age” look below to see where you might fall when you retire and how to best utilize your Social Security Benefits:

    • If you are shifting to phased retirement between the ages of 62 and your “full retirement age”: you can earn $15,720 in 2016 without being penalized. If you are making more than that, it isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm. For each dollar you make above that maximum, Social Security will withhold 50 cents.

    • Once you reach your “full retirement age”: you can earn up to $37,680 per year. If you are making more than that, your penalty goes down to 33 cents for each extra dollar earned.

    • Once you are above your “full retirement age”: you can earn as much as you like with no more penalties or withholding’s.

Now, here is the really good news. If you fall into one of the situations where part of your income is being withheld by the Social Security Administration, you will get it back once you are above your “full retirement age”! Once you reach that age, your social security check will be recalculated to give you credit for all of the previously withheld payments! (If you have any more questions about how your Social Security is effected when you start to retire, their website is full of useful information!)

Now that you have done your research, you are ready to talk to your supervisor.

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  1. Choose your responsibilities carefully. Make sure that you aren’t just “giving up” the responsibilities that you don’t enjoy. Think about which of your responsibilities are the most important for the company. Also, which responsibilities currently need to be required during times when your new schedule might not have you at the company. Set up a schedule to slowly start giving up responsibilities (starting with the ones that require the least extra training for whoever takes those responsibilities over). This is made easier if you are mentoring your eventual replacement.

  2. Settle on fair pay. Keep in mind that you are working less. You might have to give up some of your full-time perks as well as some of your income. Don’t be shocked if you’re asked to give up your parking spot right in front. Remember that you are trading your extra income and perks for more personal time to do what you enjoy. Think about what perks are the most important to you as well as how much you should be compensated for your new schedule.

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Now you are ready to start your phased retirement journey! The only thing left to do is decide how to enjoy your extra time off!

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Sources:
The United States Social Security Administration
WKOW 27: “Gradual Retirement” Growing Across Wisconsin
The Gazette: The “New Retirement” and Why to Try It
U.S. News Money: How to Retire Gradually
AARP: Phased Retirement and Flexible Retirement Arrangements