At middle age, it seems that our bodies have priorities other than building bigger muscles and looking like a 20-year old! And, let’s not talk about the demands of our day-to-day lives that leave little time for anything like exercise.

Getting older is an inevitable part of life, yet most of us avoid thinking about it because we get scared. You probably imagine getting different illnesses, becoming frail and being unable to do the things you want to. It can feel like a loss of freedom. No wonder we all seek ways to remain as youthful as we can for as long as we can.

But what if we could change our perspective, just a little? What if there are some things we can do in our early years to ensure we don’t live out this unwelcoming nightmare?

Well to start with, let’s wipe the slate clean with some good old fashioned NLP (neurolinguistic programming)! Don’t worry, this is a harmless yet incredibly powerful way of changing how we feel about something.

Close your eyes (read this first then do it, or get your son or daughter to read it for you!), and imagine you’re well over 50. How do you feel? What do you look like? What kinds of things are you doing? It may feel a little unpleasant, but we’re about to change that so hang in there. Notice what emotions may be coming up for you. Perhaps fear? Worry? Anxiety?

You may have a movie going on in your mind so first of all, freeze the movie at a point where it feels the worst, for example, being bed ridden and ill. Now turn that picture in your mind into black and white. If you’re seeing the image through your own eyes, step out so that you’re watching yourself in the movie (a technique called dissociation, in case you were curious!). Next, shrink the picture in your mind so that it becomes the size of a dot.

Open your eyes and notice how you feel? Do you still feel those fearful and anxious feelings?

Chances are that you don’t because you stopped that awful feeling, full surround sound, vivid technicolour movie in your mind! But that’s not the end of it. We want to replace those negative feelings with ones of positivity and enthusiasm so that you feel inspired to do the things that are good for you, like creating and sticking to that great fitness routine, or making a change to your diet!

Think about why you want to be fit after 50. Do you want to be able to climb a flight of stairs without fighting for breath? Do you want to be strong so you can play with your grand children? Do you want to be mobile so you can go on family outings? Connecting with your “why” is the first step to making the necessary changes.

Start imagining how your life would be after 50 if you were taking care of yourself now. Again, feel free to close your eyes and really imagine what that would look and feel like. Put yourself in the picture and then look at the scenario through your own eyes. Make it full colour and hear the sounds of those around you, for example, laughter as you play with your grand children! What does all that feel like? Freedom? Fun? Happiness? Success?

Now what ideas come to your mind? Do you feel excited about taking that walk? Do you feel motivated to look into that meditation class? Observe what comes up for you. And most importantly, have fun! You’re more likely to stick to a new routine if you enjoy it!