Unveiling the Third Path: A Woman’s Guide to Aging with Grace and Vitality

I vividly remember sitting next to a psychotherapist during a business meeting. It was the year 2000 and we were deep in conversation about women and aging, and her words have stayed with me ever since: “Heather, in our culture, a woman’s power is in her youth and beauty.”

Back then, in my early thirties, I reveled in the idea of being young and in great shape. But with each passing birthday, I found myself wondering how much longer I could hold onto that coveted “youthful” label. I faced two choices: wage a relentless battle against aging with every product and technique available or embrace the inevitable and make the most of the time I had left.

However, as the years passed, I came upon a third path. It didn’t happen until my mid-forties, but it was there, waiting for me to notice. It was a simple truth, one I’d heard other women mention, but it didn’t quite resonate with me at first. Like any profound insight, it took time to permeate my psyche and become a part of my life.

The reality is, at every moment, we have the power to shape how we perceive ourselves and our world. If we absorb the anti-aging messages prevalent in our society, we will never reach that elusive goal. 

This “third way” that I’ve come to embrace is all about savoring life, living it to the fullest, and taking ownership of it. It encourages me to find opportunities for learning in every situation and to appreciate both myself and others, whether in moments of beauty or vulnerability.

women and aging
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva

My husband teases me that I’m in denial about getting older. Ten years ago, maybe. But today, I have very different conversations about women and aging. I’m very aware of my age and I know for sure that we have way more control than we’ve been taught to think. Not because of cosmetic efforts to look younger. But because our lifestyle has a tremendous impact on how well (or poorly) we age. From our sleep to what we eat, to how we move our bodies and our relationships, we are not doomed to simply our genetics and the idea that “this is just the way it is at this age.” When I take ownership of this truth, it changes what I do. 

I don’t walk this third path perfectly. And that’s totally okay. In my coaching work with numerous clients, I’ve witnessed how the all-or-nothing mindset often holds them back from experiencing the health, joy, and satisfaction they long for. It just struck me that the only way I could discover my own “third way” was to recover from my perfectionism. I don’t have a perfect body, my house isn’t always perfectly organized, and I don’t constantly experience a blissful connection with the Divine. But I’m becoming stronger and healthier, my surroundings are more peaceful, and I enjoy greater moments of calm.

Honestly, I don’t even know what “perfect” would look like, or if it truly exists. And if it does, I’m not sure it would be any better than the life I’m living at this very moment. Life, as it is, is a beautiful journey of growth, learning, and embracing my imperfect self.

Why is weight loss a dirty word?

Have you noticed the message that it’s not okay to want to lose weight? We went from fat shaming (which is NOT acceptable) to shaming those who want to lose weight? What on earth?!

I’m embarrassed to admit I was part of the problem.

I even told a potential client I wasn’t interested in helping her with a goal of slimming her belly, as though it wasn’t a worthy-enough ambition. Ugh!

There’s merit to the attitude of getting healthy to lose weight v. losing weight to get healthy. Constantly thinking about “good” foods and “bad” foods is unproductive; lamenting an increase in the scale works against you. 

We need to tune into our bodies. Appreciate them. Not pick them apart. 

want to lose weight

And do not think life will be better when you lose weight. Or worse, think that YOU will be better when you lose weight. You are worthy and amazing as you are now. 

But for someone to pretend that health is the only objective if it isn’t, is self-deception.  

And it’s harder to follow through consistently. Think about it. Half-heartedly pursuing health, pretending weight loss isn’t important, while wishing you could just fit into those slacks in the back of your closet…it’s an exhausting mental tug-of-war. 

That’s when I realized I needed to be honest with myself and help my clients do the same. 

It’s okay to want to look hot in a dress!

And feel confident taking pictures. 

And easily slide into that favorite pair of jeans.

No matter your age, if you want to lose weight, claim it. All of it. Imagine what’s possible for you and go for it. Full out. Improve your blood sugars; get off meds; be active with the grandkids; have a hot & steamy relationship with your sweetie; get back to hiking, kayaking, whatever you want to do. And have the body you want. 

I call it being a Healthy Hottie. 

What will you call it?

3 ways to manage overwhelm better than a glass of wine will

Up until a few years ago, I enjoyed a glass or two of wine most days. It wasn’t a problem per se, but then I looked at why I was drinking it.

For one thing, I genuinely enjoy wine and belong to wine clubs I like. And it’s fun drinking good wine with good friends. I also thought that it helped me relax and wind down after a hard day.

Some of those reasons I like, which is why I still drink wine. But the last one didn’t sit right with me. 

If I was honest, the need to relax or forget my day came from feeling overwhelmed with too much to do, or rehashing all of the things that went wrong that day which made me feel like I deserved a treat. I just wanted to escape for a while and not think about it all.

And I wasn’t getting sloshed or missing work. Plus, lots of people did it. Memes on social media indicated I wasn’t alone. What was the big deal? Well, the big deal was that I was using wine as a way to 

…manage overwhelm,

…make myself feel better after a bad day, and

…treat myself with something special.

It was a pattern I’d trained myself into so I knew I could train myself out of it. 

manage overwhelm
Photo by Terry Vlisidis on Unsplash

Here are three ways I learned to manage overwhelm without a glass of wine (or ice cream, or insert your “self-management style” here):

  1. I retrained my brain: feeling overwhelmed comes from thoughts like “I have too much to do” or “I don’t know how I can possibly get everything done.” I gradually learned to tell myself that I have plenty of time and energy to do the things I want to do. Now when that feeling comes up, I step back and notice it’s coming from a thought. I see if there’s any validity to it and if I need to delegate or take some action to lessen the load. Then I remind myself I’ve got it handled.
  2. I took time to recognize wins: at the end of the day our minds easily grab onto the bad parts, like the flat tire or oversleeping our alarm. I began consciously recognizing the positives, particularly those that were the result of my own efforts which allows me to feel successful. These don’t need to be big wins – notice that most of the “bad” stuff in our day is not monumental, either. Simple acknowledgement of the good helps to neutralize our tendency to go negative.
  3. I found real pleasure: My coach taught me that many of the things we enjoy are false pleasures. For me, enjoying Tolo Cabernet on Saturday night with friends is a genuine pleasure. But two glasses of wine on Tuesday night is not. Once I thought differently about my day and started exploring what treating myself really looked like, I found true enjoyment. And I realized that I deserve so much more than vegging out with wine to relax after a long day. 

The best part is feeling like I have the tools to relax and manage my mind around overwhelm without “needing” a glass of wine. 

The same is possible with anything else we misuse to distract ourselves from feeling bad or uncomfortable (like food, social media, Netflix). And once you learn to do it with one thing, you can do it with anything to create a healthy lifestyle that you absolutely love!

8 Quick & Easy Ways to Kickstart Feeling Better and Getting Fit.

Grab it for FREE now!