Let's see how many people this next sentence resonates with:
“I'm ___ years old now, there's no way I can _______”.
Of course, everything is easier in your youth! Your cells are continually replacing themselves, development is at its peak, your fear of hurting yourself or having a major injury that could put you out of work isn't even on your radar when you're young! But this doesn't mean that change is impossible when you are older.
In fact, last winter, my adopted seven-year-old golden retriever learned to sit.
Trying to change a behaviour, especially when it is health-related — such as starting an exercise program, eating better or quitting smoking — is still possible!
Let's talk about a model of change. Called the Transtheoretical model, it is great for explaining the stages of change in health-related behaviours. It involves Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, Maintenance and Termination.
Pre-contemplation is the part where you are not ready to think about the idea of making a change. In fact, you are probably not aware that a change is required. Perhaps you are overweight but don't realize that it's a health risk, or your back is slightly painful, but the pain doesn't stop you from doing anything.
Contemplation is the part where you have realized that there is a problem. For instance, you have a bit of a nagging feeling in your neck, or you notice it's not as easy to reach things higher up, but aren't really sure what you are going to do about it.
Preparation is getting ready to make a change: you know your diet isn't what it should be so you've purchased a journal to track your food intake and exercise output, or you've made an appointment with your chiropractor.
Action. This is my favourite because this is where I can help you. This is working with me to make sure your knee stops aching as you are climbing stairs. I'll help you with the acute symptoms, and teach you how to keep them away and prevent them from coming back.
Maintenance is where you now have a home exercise program to keep your ankle sturdy and prevent another sprain. Your elbow pain is resolving and you are working on exercises at home.
Termination applies to health behaviours that have now become part of your lifestyle. There is no temptation to smoke again, there is no temptation to be inactive or overeat. This is where change is no longer necessary because the behaviour is no longer a problem for you.
I've found that most people get stuck in the contemplation stage, and age is often used as an excuse to prevent action.
So maybe it's not as easy as it is for a 14-year-old, but that doesn't mean it's not possible! If you give it a try, I think you will discover how easy it is to make those changes and how little time it takes (relatively) before it becomes a habit and you are in the termination stage.
Don't use age an excuse to suffer or keep you from living the life you want!