You know when you are lying to yourself, right? It's something we all do on occasion -- for various reasons. But by the time you are 50, there are some lies you need to stop telling yourself because they could actually hurt you.
1. I just can't lose those last 10 pounds.
Let's put it this way: The final 10 are as hard to lose as the freshman 15 were, but if you put your mind to it, you can do this. And here's why you should: Your risk of health issues increases if you don't and if you are 50 or older. According to a study published in JAMA that followed 50,000 nurses over two years, women who gained 22 pounds or more following menopause had a significantly higher risk of developing breast cancer. Another study of 7,000 women aged 45 to 50 whose body mass index was 25 or more found that their risk of developing diabetes was greatly increased.
And yep, it's not your imagination: It's harder to lose weight as you grow older. After age 45, the average individual loses around 10 percent of their muscle mass per decade, according to the National Institutes of Health. This equates to losing about one-third to one-half a pound of muscle each year and gaining that much in body fat. Because muscle mass burns a lot of calories compared to fat, the total number of calories we need every day goes down, say our good friends at Weight Watchers. And anything more than that, you have the scale registering higher.
You need about 200 calories a day less in your 50s than you did in your 40s, according to WebMd. Experts in weight management for post-50s suggest ramping up the exercise rather than just cutting the calories.
2. Nobody cares what I look like anymore.
So the construction guys at the corner stare at your teenager's boobs and not yours. Surely you aren't missing that kind of attention! But here's the truth: Nobody ever really cares what any of us looks like, we just think they do. They are too busy worrying what other people think of them to really notice you. Still, we get it. We want to be seen as viable, strong, self-confident people who make a viable contribution to society -- not as a generation ready to be swept under the rug. So start with yourself. Look in a mirror and see who you are. Are you happy? Do you behave with kindness? Is your life interesting, rich and full?
As for the rest of it -- phooey. Dress for yourself, not others -- which frankly is how you should have been dressing in the decades leading up to this one. Everyone has their own style. Everyone knows what's important to them. We've entered the No Judgement Zone. Wear what you want, do what you want, live like you want. But don't say nobody cares about what you look like because one person should absolutely care what's in the package: You.
3. I'm going to work until I drop.
Only if you're lucky, friend, only if you're lucky.
Long-term unemployment among older workers has been a major concern since the recession, said the AARP Public Policy Institute. On average, 45 percent of job seekers age 55 and older have been looking for work "long term," which the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics defines as 27 or more weeks without work. The situation has gotten so bad that last year, Obama launched an initiative to encourage private and public companies to hire the long-term unemployed, noted AARP.
But the ability to find gainful employment aside, deep down, aren't you feeling a wee bit tired of working for the man anyway? It's been what -- 40 or so years of rising with the roosters, juggling work with raising kids, caring for elderly parents and living for the semi-annual trip to a tropical beach in the years you can afford it?
Most people who are planning to work past the traditional retirement age are doing so for one reason: They need the money. Do you really want to be the guy they carry out on a stretcher?
4. I don't have enough money to retire.
This, too, is a lie you tell yourself. There is one simple way to have enough money to retire and here it is: Find a way to be happy with what you have. Make peace with the fact that you can live on less and do it. Yes, your Social Security and pension and 401k combined will still all be less than what you earn on your job, but whether that's a problem depends on you.
5. I'm the only one who could do my job.
Sadly, one day you will learn this is not true. Saying this is a lie we tell ourselves to feel important. You can sell your business or leave your job and the world will not stop spinning. Saying this feeds our need to be important. Instead, try upping the value on what contributions you make to the world. And those generally don't come from your workplace.
Perhaps the antidote to telling ourselves lies are in the words of S.E. Hinton in The Outsiders: “I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me.”