I’m very excited to introduce another guest to my series:
Amazing over 50’s
I’m inviting and featuring ‘Mid-lifers’ who are enjoying life over 50 and who are happy to shout out about great health, fitness, lifestyles, work or their achievements etc, but more importantly who are embracing this time of their lives with pride.
This month I’m so pleased to introduce Eugenie Verney as my fourth guest to this series.
Eugenie has a blog called Making Waves which, if you take a peek, you’ll soon realise that Eugenie is certainly a successful sixty something woman who, apart from her professionalism in her line of work, is a lady who loves a challenge in her chosen sports.
A Guest Post – The Amazing over 50’s
Hi Eugenie, welcome to my blog. Would you tell us a little about yourself and where you are from?
My day job is working with small businesses and entrepreneurs as an ethical marketing and PR consultant. What do I mean by that? Well, I’ll now only work with people who, like me, are not in business just to make money and acquire more stuff but want to work with customers they respect and who respect them.
I was born in London, grew up there, and am a journalist by training. I moved away from the big city when I was in my mid-20s, gradually gravitating further north and eventually spending 17 wonderful years on the edge of the North Sea in north-east Scotland. I’m now back in the south-east of England and while I miss Scotland — a lot, not least because my daughter lives there! — I am blessed to have a lot of amazing sports, leisure and arts facilities near where I live with my partner.
When I was growing up, I wasn’t at all sporty — in fact, I used to duck out of PE at school at every opportunity — but began running when I could see 30 looming on the horizon and I haven’t looked back. Running remains my first love — I’ve done four marathons and many, many shorter races, across all terrains — but I now have serious open water swimming and stand-up paddleboarding, (SUP) habits as well. (I also ski, when I get the chance.)
Competing in the second 2018 GP SUP series race at Cardiff International White Water, May 2018. I finished second over-60 woman in my race class.
How did you feel about heading into midlife and how do you feel about it now?
I’m not altogether sure when midlife began for me and I’m a little hazy about whether I’ve now transitioned on to the next phase — the rulebooks say I probably have, but I’ve never been that good at sticking to the rules…
In my heart, I’m still about 24, and in my head, around 35. I do genuinely sometimes forget which side of 60 I’m on and charge on as though my body were in complete sync with head and heart. It has various ways of politely, though temporarily, reining me back in!
A year or so out from 60, I decided to stop dyeing my hair and embrace the next decade au naturel. Had I known how liberating that simple choice would be, I’d have made it much sooner. I just wash and go, and I’m spared all the first world inconveniences that go with colouring your hair, like being on constant root patrol and having to spend time and money sat at the hairdresser’s every six weeks.
So how do I feel about where I am now? Mostly relaxed and very grateful. The menopause was a breeze for me: over superfast with few symptoms, and it left no legacy. I am immensely grateful for that, as I know how hard it can be for so many women, and I’m beyond grateful that — a slight arrhythmia apart — I’ve no significant health issues and no wheels have yet fallen off.
Swimming at Bray Lake in March 2018 when the water was 1.2C. We had to break the ice!
I love your outlook on life Eugenie! Can you tell us how you stay fit and healthy in this time of your life and tell us about/how you discovered the amazing sports you do?
I’ve been a vegetarian who very occasionally eats fish since my mid-20s. I’d never liked meat as a child and so it was almost like me finding my default position when I stopped eating it altogether. Given all the evidence we now have around the benefits of a plant-based diet, maybe this has contributed to me getting where I am pretty much unscathed.
Against that, I did drink a fair bit and smoke on and off for too many years so my halo is — how shall we say? — not entirely free of tarnish!
When it comes to staying active, I guess I tick a fair few boxes and exercise five or six days a week. In fact, I get quite twitchy if I can’t exercise for any reason as it’s exercise that takes me to my happy place.
But I do want to stress that I am nothing special: no magic genes, no brutal training regimes, no crazy goals. In fact, I mostly make it up as I go along!
As well as being a runner for 30-plus years, I now love my open water swimming — year-round. Yup, I’m one of those nutters who’ll take a dip in midwinter when it’s snowing and there’s ice to be broken! Nothing — truly nothing — compares with the cold water swimming experience and I can’t recommend giving it a go highly enough. I mostly swim without a wetsuit, but will sometimes don the neoprene if I’m training over longer distances when the water is below about 14C.
I got into open water swimming via triathlon — a common entry point — and celebrated my 60th birthday with a half-ironman race (1.9k swim, 90k cycle, 21.1k run). But I’ve pretty much parked my bike now after one too many close encounters with impatient drivers. My motto is ‘if it ain’t fun, don’t do it’, and cycling on the roads of south-east England is not fun.
One of my favourite swimming spots is Bray Lake, in Berkshire, and it was there that I was lured into trying stand-up paddleboarding in summer 2017. A taster session led to a two-hour course, which led to… Well, let’s just say I’m totally hooked. Paddleboarding is one of those sports that’s easy to do at a very basic level but also has multiple hidden layers of fine-tuned technique — layers I’m in the process of peeling back, one by one.
I think that’s what makes this new adventure so compelling: as a runner, I’m obviously going backwards — I can’t match the pace I had as a 35-year-old (despite what my head says!), and as a swimmer I’m just not prepared to the spend the hours ploughing up and down a pool needed to significantly improve my technique. But with SUP, all my benchmarks are new and the improvements I make mostly take place while paddling on a lake which has become pretty much my second home. So what’s not to like?
As an antidote to the full-on, outdoor exercise, I join a weekly yoga class which helps me decelerate a bit and re-set. The flow and fluidity and stillness – I usually do a Yin class – compliments the sheer physicality of the other stuff perfectly. Swimming, running and SUP are all repetitive forms of exercise and I find the variety and scope of movement in yoga helps me stay more flexible and less prone to niggles. Plus I emerge feeling 100% chilled!
My other key to staying in good shape is an amazing energy-based complementary therapy called Pranic Healing. While there are some similarities with Reiki and some with acupuncture, Pranic Healing is a complete well-being system with individual protocols that address a huge range of physical, emotional, and psychological conditions.
I’ve not taken a painkiller of any sort — other than the odd cold remedy — for coming up to four years, and that is the best testimony I can possibly offer. Not that I’d been a regular pill-popper before discovering this therapy, but the difference it’s made has been pretty profound and I’m super-grateful Pranic healing is now woven into my life.
Running the 2017 Ythan Challenge adventure race in Aberdeenshire, an event I co-founded in 2001.
I’ve lost track of the number of times — from my early 40s onwards — that people have, with no doubt the best of intentions, said to me: ‘Are you sure you should be doing that at your age?’ To which the answer has always been a resounding ‘yes’.
We are all of us — women especially — prone to buying into the idea that getting older is some sort of inevitable disability. So we are encouraged to ‘slow down’, to ‘take it easy’, to let go of the activities we used to enjoy because we’re led to believe we’re getting ‘past it’.
Simultaneously — and this really makes no sense to me — we’re also driven to do everything we can with surgery, make-up, diets, and so on to keep ‘looking young’.
But nothing can freeze us in time — we’re ageing from the day we’re born — and it seems to me that the best way to live life is to do just that: actively live it and don’t worry about what other people say, and don’t worry about pushing your own boundaries. That’s what they’re there for.
Sunrise run on the beach at Costa Calma, Fuerteventura, January 2018
Phew! If anyone is going to empower other ‘Mid Lifers’ Eugenie, it’s you!
Thank you so much for being such an inspiring guest on my series
‘Amazing Over 50’s’
If you’d like to connect with Eugenie, here are her links:
Eugenie’s Blog: Making Waves
Connect with Eugenie on Twitter
And on FaceBook
If you’re loving your ‘Mid Life’ and would like to be a guest in my ‘Amazing over 50’s’ series please contact me Here and help me ‘Shout Out for the over 50’s’ 🙂
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