Here's the Thing About Getting Older

By , Shelli Mosteller
I don’t know why it feels like such an accomplishment to have stayed alive for half a century, but it does. It really, really does. Recently I hit that milestone 5-0 and with it came a lot of excitement and a lot of reflection. Honestly, it feels like a second adolescence, mercifully minus the angst and acne. Kids practically grown, years of wisdom under my belt, new stage of life—no wonder the people in the AARP commercials are always smiling.

First off, let me just say I don’t think 50 is old. I find age to be subjective. I know some 20-year-olds that act like they’re 85 and vice versa. Currently, I base any age-related issues on my dad. He’s 77 and just went back to grad school because, why not? It seemed like the right thing to do and there's always more to learn. He also walks a couple of miles a day and regularly does pushups. The lesson? Seventy-seven, not old. I watch him and follow his lead.

Much of how an individual handles aging seems to come down to attitude and priorities. As I neared the turning of another decade, I asked myself, “How do I want to age? Kicking and screaming? Gracefully? Call it quits and give up? Or do I try something else entirely?” I’ve seen people go kicking and screaming. It isn’t pretty. Grace has never been my strong suit, so I can’t see myself starting now. Quit and give up seems like a terrible option, which leaves me with something else entirely.

For now, my "something else" is working to embrace each stage as it comes, accept what I can and can’t do, and move on to trying new things. This positive, yet realistic attitude seems to work for my dad. It's been important to recognize that there really are some things I can’t do anymore. I have a wonky disc in my neck, so I have to be careful with exercise and my day-to-day activities. No running, heavy lifting or roller coasters for me anymore. But here's the thing: Who cares? I hate running and the last time my husband and I rode the tea cups at Disney World, we thought our heads were going to explode. So what if I can’t skydive and run marathons? Big deal. It's not the end of the world.

The key is embracing the other things that I can do, all those new things that I still have yet to try. For all we know, our next passion or new hobby could be hiding right in plain sight. Plus, experimenting with new activities or mastering a new skill is a wonderful way to feel young again. Lately, I've been taking online hula hoop classes. It's fun exercise and my head never feels like it's going to explode.

My priorities have shifted, as well. Fifteen to 20 years ago, my primary goal was to look good naked. I don’t know why this seemed so terribly important at the time, but it did. Thankfully, I don't put that kind of pressure on myself these days. My husband and I can’t see each other clearly unless we’re wearing our trifocals anyway, so it doesn’t matter as much. I know lots of women my age (and older) still look great in their original birthday suits. Some of them are competing as bodybuilders or running marathons. Good for them! Everyone’s priorities and goals are different, as they should be. Holding ourselves to other people's expectations is the quickest road to feelings of disappointment, frustration and failure.

For the moment, I’m more interested in challenging myself to grow creatively as an artist than worrying about what I see in the mirror. I work on building a life that is healthy for my mind, body and soul, which keeps me plenty busy. I’m guessing it can keep me occupied for the next 50 years, right?

How have your goals changed as you've gotten older?

About the Author

Shelli Mosteller (MOSTMOM1) has been a SparkPeople member since 2010 and currently resides in just outside of Cincinnati. On her journey to weight loss, she's experienced all the highs and lows, but always manages to find the silver lining. She loves interacting with the SparkPeople Community, which she finds is full of encouraging, motivating, positive people. Married with two young adult children plus Chubbs the Immortal Guinea Pig and Bubba the English Bulldog, Shelli also works full-time as a creative arts pastor for her church.

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FRAN0426 2/6/2019
Since having knee surgery, running is not an option for me any longer, but honestly it's ok, never loved running that much ever. I started taking to going to the the outdoor pool in the park we live in for seniors in Texas, and having a much fun time exercising. Report
BONNIE1552 2/6/2019
Age is just a number unless we let it be much more. Report
ANHELIC 1/24/2019
Thanks for the information. Report
RAZZOOZLE 12/18/2018
thank you Report
SUSANBEAMON 12/17/2018
Here's the thing about getting older; you are still every age you have ever been. Report
PACEKA1 12/13/2018
THANK YOU! I so needed to hear these words today. I've been struggling lately with going to the gym. The classes I've been taking are just not as enjoyable as they were a few months ago and they feel so much more difficult right now. I much prefer staying at home and doing some YouTube videos in my living room. Probably not as good of a workout but it's something! Yes my brain won't let me alone. It's time to re-think my objectives. I'm clearly the oldest person in so many of those classes - I think I'll just have to be satisfied with that! Report
1CRAZYDOG 12/13/2018
Well said! Report
MSROZZIE 12/12/2018
Good read. I focus on my health and growing older gracefully. WooHoo! Report
Love the blog! We just need to keep moving, and having enjoyable things going on - whatever that is for us. Report
BESSHAILE 12/12/2018
Honey - my 50's were the coolest funnest most wonderful decade ever. Now, more than half way through my 60's I'm still finding ways to be hot hot hot - just - you know age appropriate hot hot hot. LOL. It's all in how you embrace things. Report
TERRIC853 9/28/2018
Loved this article. Age is not "the end of the world." I just turned 65 and am still active and plan to be for years. Report
GETULLY 9/18/2018
age is just a number - until you can no longer do something that was routine earlier in your life Report
AKELAZ 9/9/2018
LOVE LOVE LOVE this blog. Badly needed a nudge to stop trying to be someone else and BE my 74-year-old self with enthusiasm, accepting my limits but always reaching just beyond them. So here's my nudge - thank you Shelli - you are a goddess. Report
JUDY19463 8/9/2018
Really enjoyed the blog. It is all so true. Life is full of changes, that what make it so great. Enjoy life. Report
It was around age 50 that I was at my highest weight, and then a great thing happened: I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes. I was referred to a great dietician who changed my perspective. Armed with new knowledge...and some focus... I lost weight, and have kept the pre-diabetes in control. After I retired some years later, I met a new Life Partner who loves exercise. That too has been a "Great Thing"! Despite arthritis hitting a number of joints now, I've done some incredible (for me) Bucket List items this past decade: a 75 mile canoe trip; hiking in the Grand Canyon; exploring Mayan ruins; a 33 mile backpack trip; a 300+ mile bicycle trip.... The most recent Bucket List item celebrated my 67th birthday with a hike to the top of Mt Lassen (10450ft). Never stop, keep exercising (listen to your physical therapist!!), eat as healthy as you can, and love your Life! Report
JEWELZEE- 7/16/2018
It's not so bad getting older. Report
FISHGUT3 7/1/2018
64, thanks Report
MOCKSPAR 6/10/2018
Words to live by! I'm 59, and have always considered myself to be in great shape. In the past 2 weeks, however, I've been diagnosed with pre-diabetes and had a cardiac catheterization :\ I will choose to focus, like your dad, on what I CAN do rather than what I can't! Report
DJ4HEALTH 6/4/2018
Thanks Report
THICK611 5/18/2018
OMG! This is one of the most honest and selflessly true articles I've read in a long time. Thank you. Report
CLEOALLEN 5/3/2018
At 68 I am still having new experiences and learning lots each day. Just sighed up to do phone calls for a charity and joined a hiking group. As long as I can breath, I can live. Report
MUSICNUT 4/21/2018
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
Thanks Report
ILOVEROSES 4/12/2018
Well said! Thanks Shelli. Report
AMOBRASIL83 4/10/2018
Thanks for your encouragement Shelli! Report
My goal is to get older. It beats the alternative. Report
DJ4HEALTH 3/28/2018
Thanks Report
ARTJAC 3/17/2018
GREAT Report
1DAY-ATA-TIME 3/16/2018
Well at 65, I'm not the athlete I was at 20 or 30 but I can still run with the big dogs!! Report
Gotta love what's inside! Report
MEROBERTS21 2/28/2018
Thanks for sharing! I turned 67 yesterday and I just keep moving right along...doing all I can to stay moving with ease through the rest of my life. No matter what that number may be. Report
DONN1ZYF 2/26/2018
Out standing attitude, I needed to read that as lately I have been quietly going thru a self-pity party. This jarred my perspective back to a reasonabe center. I have been focusing on all the things I used to take for granted but no longer can due to, let's call it mileage. Prob'ly missing out on pleasure for the things I can. Report
MIYAMO 2/26/2018
Great article. Report
I believe @Sparkpeople is getting better photos to illustrate the stories - the clothed real people, instead of "model" types wearing evocative clothing that make the rest of us feel badly... (especially when this article is looking ahead to the future when we all gotta keep on doing what we can to improve.). Report
I feel so much better when I am active.I am 73 . Report
I just stumbled across this article and needed to comment. Thank you for your words, Shelli! This article spoke to me and is very similar to my mind frame. I just turned 51 but feel mentally 30. I've a metal frame in my throat (4 level fusion) and a metal left ankle- but I'm determined to make 2018 my road back to fitness! I retire in 30 months and I want to be ready to take on the World doing everything! Keep on moving, Sister! Best wishes for a healthy, happier, prosperous 2018! Report
Thanks for sharing! Yes first reaching the big 5-0 sounds scary! But I also decided to enjoy it. I had a big party! Yes I can't run marathon any more and for me it was a sacrifice. But I found other things to do. I hike when RA allows me to, I play golf. Sometimes that golf is only 9 holes. But hey I am out there! And I focus on developing my skills to establish myself as a Consultant in the next 5 years Report
Really appreciated your perspective. When I was in my 50s I was astonished and thrilled to discover it was to be my best decade so far. So much personal growth - skills, abilities and greater freedom. Now that I'm well into my 60s, it's more of the same, although I've reached the stage of having to contend with aches & pains and limitations I didn't have before. I just think your article is so right on I wanted to say thank you! Report
Love the question at the end. At 60+ my goals are different. Thanks for sharing. Report
Well done! Just keep being an enviable version of whatever age you are, and that's the win. Report
Shelli is AWESOME!! Report
This is a great blog. I hope she does more. Report
68 year old belly dancer here. Great low impact exercise and great for my core. Still working full time. We got this. Report
I don't feel old in mind and spirt. I embrace my age. Report
I loved this article. Just do what you can and don't worry about what you can't do! Report
Yeah, you look great. I am just starting machine sewing and loving it and I've become a pretty, sexy dancer at 50, by dancing to hip hop, latin, and various styles off YouTube. Then in the summer, I dance at a concert in the park. However, I'm not an exotic dancer, and I dance for fun and exercise. I get compliments a lot. I've always been a good dancer, but I'm really breaking my dance records now at 50. And sewing has been a Godsend in my life. Report
AMEN, SISTER! I'm 63 and I hear you! I've been where you are now. I've noticed that I can't do what what I was able to do when I was younger but I'm working to embrace each stage as it comes, accept what I can and can’t do, and move on to trying new things. This positive, yet realistic attitude seems to work for me. It's been important to recognize that there really are some things I can’t do anymore. My back and hip hurts more often than it did so I have to be careful with exercise and my day-to-day activities. I don't run 5Ks anymore but I do 1.5 to 2 miles run/walk intervals. I still lift weights but not what I used to lift. That's fine. Like you, I’m more interested in challenging myself yet know my limits, building a life that is healthy for my mind, body and soul, which keeps me plenty busy. Everyone’s priorities and goals are different, as they should be. You're absolutely right about this: Holding ourselves to other people's expectations is the quickest road to feelings of disappointment, frustration and failure.

AWESOME Blog, Thanks! Report
Thank you so much for this article. Very inspiring! Report