Category Archives: Fitness

Play: It’s Not Just For Kids

Oops50:BarbaraWe usually associate play with children.

But why did we, the adults, stop playing?  What is at the heart of playing, and why is it good?  How can we do it more?
Most of us in the States grew up with the Puritan work ethic, which values hard work and frugality.  As Americans, we have a reputation for living to work.  Many of us are perfectionists and tend to deny ourselves permission to do something unless we can do it perfectly, or it’s “productive”.  We feel guilty if we’re just having fun.
Thanks to Stuart Brown, psychiatrist and founder of “The National Institute of Play,” there’s now ample scientific evidence showing the benefits of play in the animal kingdom.  A neurologist discovered humans develop more emotional maturity and better decision-making skills when they play more.
Brown says, “Play energizes us and enlivens us.  It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities.”
Play is pleasurable.  It’s purposeless and fun. When we’re truly playing, we lose all sense of time and enter that flow state. Our spirit will always urge us to play, as our spirit is always seeking the highest feeling of joy and aliveness.  It’s our mind that puts the brakes on: “Play is frivolous” “I don’t have time”…
So how do we get back to play?: There are five key ways:
1.    Get into your heart energy and let-go of play saboteurs that come from the mind.
2.    Remember back to when you were a kid having the most fun – what were you doing? How did you feel when you were playing? What would feel like fun now?
3.    Look at role models to inspire you. Movies like “Harold and Maude” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” are wonderful for inspiring play. The author SARK is another one.
4.    Give yourself permission. Let go of perfection and productivity and enjoy the process. Your only gauge should be how you’re feeling.
5.    Invite your friends to play.
Chew quietly your sweet sugarcane God-Love, and stay playfully childish. – Rumi

Why I Hate Trying to Lose Weight

Well, I’ve gained some of my weight back, and it’s really depressing.  It didn’t happen suddenly–just gradually, over time, as soon as the stress in my life rose to a fever pitch.  So, I’m back trying to get these pounds off, since I’m determined never to go back to where I was before!

But here’s what I hate about trying to lose weight:

1) It is boring to eat salad after salad after salad, day after day after day.

2) I don’t like feeling like I’m constantly waging a battle with myself.  On the one hand, there is my logical self that says, “You can do this!  You did it before.  It’s no big deal.  Just move away from that chocolate ice cream and see the results in the morning.”  On the other, there is my shoot-myself-in-the-foot, independent self that says, “Life is too short not to eat chocolate.  To hell with  Weight Watchers!  To hell with all those so-called experts.  You want to enjoy life!  Go on!  Eat it!”  It’s wearing to be in a constant state of unrest.  It makes me wish I were one of those skinny people who have either never had a weight problem and can eat whatever they feel like–or who simply have the ability to walk past, say, a piece of pecan pie sitting on the dining room table and keep going–people who are not constantly beckoned by food the way I am.

3) I hate exercise.  There, I’ve said it out loud.  I would almost rather go to the dentist than go to the gym and walk on a treadmill or do the elliptical.  Even when I add music or a good People magazine to the mix, it’s not enough to make it fun.  The only fun I’ve ever had exercising in my life has been when I didn’t think of it as exercising, such as when I was on the volleyball team in high school.

4) I hate the fact that here I am, at 59, still trying to lose 20 pounds.  Will I be doing this at 70?  At 80?

5) I hate how trying to lose weight makes me feel out of control with my life.

6) It’s so easy to put weight on and so hard to get it off!

This is clearly just a rant, so I’ll quit!  I’d love any thoughts from any of our readers on this horrible subject.


On Turning 59

I turned 59 today, and I have to say that, so far at least, this is a great age.  I like the ages with 9 at the end of them–and have for a while, at least since I turned 29.  These ages always remind me that I have one more year of being a certain decade, so I’m not really as old as I feared–at least not yet.  This is especially true for me, since I tend always to forget how old I am.  I’ve tried to blame this tendency on the fact that if you have a birthday in December, it’s hard to remember your accurate age at any point during the year–you’re always jumping forward in your mind to the next year or slouching back–but I really think it’s just because I’ve never–not since I first became an adult–been very good at feeling my age.

Age is something I associate with other people–not with myself.  I don’t know why this is true, but it hasn’t changed in any significant way over the course of my life.  I think in my mind I will always be about 35, the age where I first began to realize I was a grown-up.  That must be why when I hear something like a song from the Bee Gees or the Beatles or Sly and the Family Stone, one of those songs that transports me instantly back to the year when I first heard it (such as “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” or “I’ve Just Gotta Get a Message to You” or “Everyday People”)– it is not entirely inconceivable that I might feel like dancing in public without thinking first how ridiculous that could seem to those around me, especially my children.

In many ways, 59 feels like a reprieve.  I don’t have to adjust to the reality of turning 60, not just yet, since, for one more year, I’m still in my fifties.  As I said, the 9’s make me feel young.  And being 59 has its perks.  After all, if I weren’t 59 right now–but instead 25 or even 35–I would not have gotten to see the Beatles perform live in Baltimore on their first American tour.  I would not remember the first moon walk.  And I don’t think I would derive as much pleasure as I do from things like cell phones and text messaging–and even emails!

And, come to think of it, I don’t really think I’ll mind turning sixty.  I feel sixty already in lots of ways:  my elbow aches from “tennis elbow;” my left knee is arthritic; I have a head full of grey hair; I can’t remember a damn thing. Hell, I might as well be sixty years old!

On the other hand, it’s ridiculously hard to believe that I could possibly ever turn 60.  After all, I’m the baby in my family.  My 3 sisters may turn 60, but not moi!  Surely not!  So, I won’t think about it, at least not now.  Maybe I’ll think about it tomorrow–at Tara!

All these thoughts are here–or on the horizon.  But for now, say for the next 11 months, I’m going to enjoy being 59, without giving it a whole lot of thought, except maybe to ponder with my friends whether we will have to, at some point, rename our site “Oops60!”

Master Class Book Review and 1st Ever Oops50 Contest


I’ve got two things to tell you about – First, we’re having our first ever blog contest and because we’ve never done this before, (and in case we screw up) we’re offering two options to win a new book hot off the press.   Master Class: Living Longer, Stronger and Happier, by Peter Spiers is a book written especially for us baby boomers.   Master Class is a road map for active and creative retirement, and one day, I know I’ll be needing it because I will be officially retired.

First, I’ll tell you about the book, and then about the contest.

What makes this book interesting is that it is supported by scientific research in psychology and neuroscience (and we boomers love research).  Spiers is highly qualified to write this book with a long list of credentials starting with Harvard University, and currently Senior VP at Road Scholar, a non-profit dedicated to adult learning.

Have you figured out when you can retire?  A school teacher friend of mine was over last week and told me she could retire at 65, and that meant 5 more years.  She explained to me how much she loves teaching but is so burned out, she didn’t think she could do it for much longer.  Well, after looking at the age chart on the social security website, she found out, much to her horror, she can’t retire until 66.  How about you?  Retirement is going to be longer for us boomers than it was for our parents.  How long is it?  Well, that depends on you.  In fact, in 1985 there were only about 5500 centenarians in the U.S., but in 2010, that grew to 70,000.  And, by the year 2050 there will be about a million centenarians, and I hope I’m one of them.

To age well requires a plan, but not just any plan, a Master Plan.  We can’t just leave it to happenstance like our parents.  That master plan will help us achieve a rich, brain healthy, and active life.  Spier’s book outlines four requirements for positive aging:  Socializing, Thinking, Moving, and Creating.  For those of you who like systems and charts to track your progress, you will love this approach.  The goal is to generate 100 credits a week.  Here’s a brief shot at calculating points.

Activity Socializing Moving Creating Thinking
Learning an instrument 1 1 2 3
Bicycling with friends 2 3 0 1
Studying a foreign language 2 1 2 3

Too bad, I’m not retired, because I’m generating way more than 100 credits a week, but unlike hard cash or calories,  we can’t bank credits for our future.  I’d love for you to read the book yourself and tell us what you think.

So here’s the contest:  Since the publisher has graciously offered us two book give-aways for our Oops50 contest – we’re offering two ways to win a prize:

1)    Do you have a retirement plan?  Send us your retirement plan in 250 words or less, and we will post the winning entry and send you the book.

2)    Second option, have you written a poem or essay about ageing?  What about a painting or photograph with ageing as the theme?  If so, send it to us and we will post the winner on our blog.

Entry Deadline:  September 26, 2012.  Send all entries to:   Please link the contest to your Facebook page, send a tweet, and help us promote the contest.   Winners will be notified By Oct. 1 and prizes shipped directly by publisher.


Getting Back on Track: Boot Camp

I went back to the gym last week.  That’s after gaining back thirty of the ninety-five pounds I lost last year!  It was time.  You can only go for so long saying to yourself things like, “It’s a stressful time: I should eat.”  Or “I’m feeling really happy today: I should eat.” Or, “I have a wedding coming up where I’m going to eat anyway, so I might as well eat.”

So, I signed up for a two-week session at my local YWCA that has the lovely name of “Boot Camp.”  And,  for the past eight days (the camp goes for ten), I’ve been showing up at the Y and doing an intense combination of cardio, weights and just general misery (lunges, planks, etc.) that has made me feel completely exhausted and muscle-achy–but very proud of myself.  I’m feeling muscles I didn’t know existed!  I have more energy at work.  My outlook on life has improved.  I’m even feeling more hopeful about eventually getting back to where I was.  My friend Catherine, who is the Director of Programs at the Y, told me about the camp, so, all I can say is, “Thank you, C.P.!”

I would like to say that I’ve also seriously curtailed my eating this week—to really take advantage of all those burned calories—but I’m afraid I’ve just boosted my eating enough to make sure I don’t lose weight.  But that’s okay.  The main thing is that I bit the bullet; I took the bull by the horns; I put a stop to the downward slide I was on.  I haven’t lost weight this week, but I also haven’t gained.  And I’ve gotten back over the terrible hurdle that I always face: FEAR/DREAD OF EXERCISE.  So, there’s hope.


Here’s how I figure it:  at the end of these two weeks, my body will be in slightly better shape than it was two weeks ago, and I will have two important things to motivate me to keep exercising (and, eventually, perhaps, even to cut back on my eating):  1) I will not want the misery—and the cost—of Boot Camp to have been for naught; 2) my body will actually feel the need for exercise again—it will be in a groove and not want to get out of it.  Most of all, I hope I can remember not to be a perfectionist.  My plan at least, is to forgive myself if I don’t go to  the gym every day but reward myself for any exercise I can squeeze into my life.  I will say to myself things like, “Any day you go is progress!”  or “If you walk around the block right now in the hot sun, even though it’s not a ton of exercise, it’s better than sitting on the couch.”

We’ll see.  Before I get to that point, however, I’ve got two more days of boot camp to get through.  Wish me luck!