Stop talking about feeling old — it will make it worse!

I just had a big birthday. I’m not going to lie. I’ve been moaning about it — not because I’m worried I look older or act older. I just have noticed (and most likely this has to do with the awful crud that’s going around this cold/flu season) that I need more rest between my workouts, I have more aches and pains than I used to, and sometimes I just don’t feel very peppy. I just feel, for lack of a better word, older.

I mean, I still can bang out 15 weighted burpees no problem and my personal workout program has been described as “brutal,” but it feels way more brutal than it used to.

And then this morning I saw this study from the Journal of Eating Disorders – I’m not just fat, I’m old: has the study of body image overlooked “old talk”? — and I decided to shut up about feeling, um, not as young as I once did.

It seems that all our lives, we women talk about feeling “fat.” And then as we age we talk about feeling “old” — both types of talk are seen as evidence of body dissatisfaction, according to the researchers. From the study itself: “Research indicates that body dissatisfaction is correlated with and often predictive of both physical and mental health problems.”

Ick! Who wants THAT?

I’ve been thinking lately — as I listen to clients and same-aged friends, and sometimes even myself — that part of being a woman is to mentally beat on oneself for not measuring up to the thin/young ideal. We need to stop that, because it’s making our feelings about our bodies worse. The more we talk to ourselves about it, the more we buy into those negative feelings.

This is the first real study into “old” talk, as researchers had previously focused on what they called “fat” talk. This study, conducted by researchers from Trinity University and University of the West of England, surveyed nearly 1,000 women ranging in age from 18 to 87.

They found that while both types of negative talk (about being fat or old) occurred throughout women’s lives, not surprisingly, “fat talk” appeared to be a younger woman’s topic and became less frequent with age, while “old talk” increased.

According to this study, “‘old’ talk was significantly correlated with body image disturbance and eating disorder pathology.”

My takeaway: Aging is part of life, if we’re lucky. There’s nothing we can do about it. Things change, things fall away, and that’s the natural order of life. I’m thinking there are lots of lessons ahead, and let’s vow to learn them with grace, yes?

Of course, we’ll be learning these lessons while still — when our body wants to — running laps (either mentally or physically) around the whippersnappers, right? ;-)

Wendy Watkins

About Wendy Watkins

Wendy Watkins is a Brewer-based personal trainer and author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Losing 20 Pounds in 2 Months. Visit her website at wendyfitness.com.