Let’s Talk About Getting Old

I was recently invited by Pfizer to New York City for a one day blogger summit to talk about their Get Old initiative and I want to share some of those conversations with you. Fascinating. Thought-provoking. Inspiring. First a few photos so you can see it wasn’t all work!

As an aside, for as long as I’ve been blogging this is my first photo gallery. I must be on an adventurous streak because I’ve been learning all sort of new tricks with technology lately…

Anyway, I really appreciated this Summit and Pfizer for inviting me – it was just a small group of bloggers so we were able to have true discussions and get to hear different perspectives. I was impressed with the Pfizer personnel we met – they all seemed to embrace Pfizer’s mission and were clearly committed to their work. We heard from EVP Sally Susman who explained the Get Old initiative as Pfizer wanting to engage people in a conversation. In creating that community, Pfizer is recognizing that today’s modern medicines may help cure or control ailments, but there’s another important element to living healthy lives and that is connecting with each other. Traditional advertising is not a conversation.

I was also impressed with my fellow bloggers – we covered a variety of niches and came from a variety of background. I’ll be sharing more about them in the future. Interestingly, we were all women and we did have a little discussion about where are the male bloggers…

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Our first speaker was Anti-Aging Expert, Nutritionist and model, Maye Musk. Maye is in her sixties, has been modelling since her mid-teens and is as busy these days as ever.  I don’t know about you but whenever I hear a nutritionist speak I end up thinking how is that she can resist the chocolate and find the time to exercise and I can’t or don’t have the willpower?

It was refreshing to hear Maye talk about her own challenges with trigger foods like chocolate and cookies. Her recommendation is to know your trigger foods, your trigger habits and practice not succumbing to them. Also know your hunger/energy patterns – if you always feel low in the middle of the afternoon and need a snack, then eat a smaller lunch so you’re not overdoing the calories.

Maye isn’t one of those people who has always been able to eat what they want – she’s been overweight before, lost forty pounds (I think she said) and works hard to maintain her weight. Her other message is that as you get older you do have to periodically re-evaluate your eating and exercise habits – our bodies change and it’s easy for those extra pounds to slowly accumulate.

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Co-host of ABC’s The Chew, Carla Hall was our next expert and for this session we went to meet her at The Kitchen. Carla cooked lunch for us which was a delicious roasted squash salad with caramelized nuts followed by cod baked in a packet with tomatoes. (OK … I know I’m not doing justice to the descriptions … I write about divorce not food!).

As Carla showed us how to prepare the meal, she chatted about her own life (married at 42, now 47 no children, met husband on match.com, is a step mom) and her challenges with balancing her work schedule and home life. She was very open and authentic and I appreciated her sharing how her friends thought she’d never get married, how she enlisted their help in screening matches and how she just wasn’t ready for a committed relationship before she met her husband.

I had an epiphany moment while listening to Carla. I have always enjoyed cooking in the past but my pleasure has come from seeing other people enjoy the food I’ve made. If it’s just me then I rarely grab the recipe book and look for something interesting to make. Cereal and milk or a sandwich will do just fine. I also never want to spend the time preparing a meal for just myself- there’s never enough hours in the day so why spend some of that cooking for me?

My aha moment was, why not spend that time? I no longer feel guilty about wanting to be content, I no longer feel that wanting to be happy is selfish, I do want to be healthy and I have been making the time to exercise more regularly. So can I give myself permission to spend time preparing healthy food for myself and enjoy doing so? I think I can …

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Our final guest speaker of the day was Amanda Steinberg of the DailyWorth, a blog about everything money. Now that’s a very broad topic so since we were talking about aging we limited the scope to talk about retirement. By sharing with us her own projected savings needs to be able to retire at 65, Amanda quickly demonstrated that that is not a realistic goal for herself or for many of us today.

The solution lies not in shifting the retirement age but rather in a radical rethinking about retirement and what it means. The reality is that the retirement age of 65 was set with the creation of the social security system and at that time not many people could expect to live beyond 65. These days many of us are looking at a life expectancy well into our eighties, nineties and even hundreds.

For some, that prospect means expecting to work past 65 in some capacity or another and besides the financial gain, there is evidence that work helps to keep us mentally alert. It also means re-evaluating current lifestyles, and setting savings priorities. For some, that means major shifts in perspectives and priorities. For example, most financial experts now agree that it is more important for you to save for your retirement than your kid’s college education.

Almost everyone ends up with less money after divorce and many of the women I’ve spoken to share how they’ve downsized not just their home but also their lifestyle and interestingly, many have said that they do just fine with fewer material possessions which is very consistent with Amanda’s message. If you’re looking for resources on money management and adjusting your lifestyle, take a look at the DailyWorth.

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By the end of the day, my head was spinning. What was clear to me is that our society is in the midst of massive cultural change. Many of the accepted norms and standards of older generations are being challenged and changed and we’re Not Done Yet. It could be as big as the Hippie Movement of the 60′s but it’s hard to see it when you’re in the thick of it. Bloggers are playing a key role in it – no longer does print and broadcast media have a lock on what’s being published. We all have a voice and a chance to be heard.

What say you?

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Pfizer invited me to attend their Live Well. Get Old. Blogger Summit on October 19, 2012. Pfizer paid for my airfare, hotel, meals and transportation during my stay and provided me with a basket of Pfizer consumer health products, a book from one of the speakers and a mat used in our yoga session. I was not asked to write or talk about the event. Opinions are my own.

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  • http://twitter.com/ndynotdoneyet ndy® Not Done Yet

    Sounds like an enriching experience – thanks for such a well written and informative review!