THE BLOG
06/10/2014 06:18 pm ET Updated Aug 10, 2014

The Importance of Staying Fit and Healthy, Thriving and Finding Balance at Age 50.

Mark Abbott

Yes, that's us in the picture. Look again. I just turned 50 years old. Debbie joins me at 50 in 10 short months.

By this age, we should be that typical, paunchy, middle-aged couple, looking haggard, falling apart, displaying signs of fatigue and complaining of a lack of sex drive. Even my welcome to AARP magazine (yes, we joined) reminds us that our symptoms and concerns entering the 50+ population will include aching joints, wrinkling skin, diminishing libido, reliance on prescription meds and not surprisingly, decreased energy and bouts of depression.

They're all wrong. Look at us. We're not special -- we've just made our health a priority. We've learned in our first 50 years that staying fit, eating healthy, getting more sleep, being connected to who we are and finding balance in our lives is critical to our success. As a result, we are thriving -- fit and lean, good energy, not fighting disease or depression and best of all, still having sex, great sex, often. Because we've paid attention to our health and well-being, we're more productive than ever. We've found no tradeoff between pursuing a healthy life and high performance at our chosen professions. Actually, we've come to recognize that our performance improves as our life attains more work-life balance. As an added benefit, our bodies and minds are positioned and strengthened for our next 50 years together, with the energy and stamina to meet whatever challenges life hands us.

Investing in healthy bodies contributes towards greater success while engaging in our pursuits and interests -- at work, with family, hobbies and passions. The older we get, it seems, the more we appreciate that advantage. We know that how old we feel and look are direct consequences of the lifestyle decisions we make every day -- either our good choices or our bad habits. We practice positive mindsets and meditation beliefs that keep us mentally strong. All the while supportive, reminding each other that commitment to wellness is necessary and invaluable to us both in the long run ahead.

Unfortunately, there is an overwhelming culture working against us today that defines success primarily through status and accomplishments, with not enough emphasis on personal health and well-being. Be assured of this -- either invest in your health today or you will be among the sick tomorrow, struggling with one or more "lifestyle" contributory illnesses. The numbers don't lie. The staggering epidemic of declining health is descending upon us now, and predicted to get exponentially worse over the next 30 years. It is real. It is sad. But fortunately, it is highly avoidable.

Recent studies confirm that declining health and wellness is not attributable to simply aging itself. Our bodies are created with amazing healing, restorative and regenerating capabilities. For the vast majority of people, the repair process is not keeping up with the damage process. We believe that it is vital to take action steps that allow our bodies to regenerate and heal every day and night, like it is supposed to. Problems arise, such as premature aging and catastrophic illness, when our bodies own healing abilities fight back, but can't keep pace with incoming toxins and deterioration from our everyday choices -- excessive alcohol, unhealthy processed foods and continual stress compounded by little to no sleep at night. If you are not purposely making your body stronger, then you are by default making your body weaker. There is no stasis in human biology.

So the question then becomes, is there a way to stave off harmful declines in your health, maintain peace of mind and avoid erosion of personal relationships? Yes. Start including your well-being in your definition of success. Commit now to being fit and healthy. There's nothing like the endorphins generated from being fit and balanced. The rush we experience from wellness beats money, power, drinks, drugs and almost everything else we know.

Sounds intimidating because fit and healthy haven't seemed attainable yet? Regardless of where you stand today with your busy life, your health, your weight, your job or your relationships, step back, look closely at your typical day and create a list of the harmful lifestyle habits and thought patterns you've established over the years. Recognize that chances are, your life has been on autopilot, with barely a thought given to your hour to hour lifestyle actions. Step out of that stress fueled zone, and commit to making healthful changes now. Start small, one change at a time and set yourself up for success.

If you choose to begin with diet, examine your habits: Do you eat out every day for lunch? Commit to packing healthier food options. Tell your coworkers what you'll be doing and why. Do you snack at your desk all day? Focus on more healthy fats and proteins in your meals. Snacking's distracting, a waste of time and it puts on the pounds. Excess weight correlates with poor health, so it needs to stop. If you choose to start with exercise, commit and schedule at least three convenient hours of exercising every week into your life. Over-connected, working all hours, beyond exhausted and stressed out at work? Set a time limit, then turn off your smart phone, shut down your laptop and go home. Get to bed early and make sleep a priority. Studies show we're more productive when we unplug than when we don't. We all know that, so take the actions steps to make it happen.

One of the biggest lessons we've learned? The responsibility for our health, our energy levels, our happiness and our passion; they're really in our own hands. We all hold that power.

So make the decision, like us, that remembering to take care of ourselves along the way will ensure we're able to live out our lives with the health and well-being to pursue anything and everything that interests us. Choose to thrive.

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