“Standing on my own at that bar, I felt truly invisible for the first time in my life.”

My personal wake up moment about getting older was when I stood at a bar one evening and was completely ignored by the young barman.

It wasn’t until a young woman walked up that suddenly he was ready to pay attention to someone.

I discovered what it’s like to feel invisible for the first time in my life and asked myself, is this what getting old means?

I felt as though my age was deterring the interest, attention and respect of the bartender. In a moment like that, you can’t help feeling as though being ‘old’ doesn’t have too many upsides and it’s difficult to embrace the ageing process after such an experience.

I was brought up in the 1960s when life was changing radically and people accepted ageing as a normal process. My grandparents aged, they looked old as expected and lived and died ‘gracefully’.

This thinking no longer exists, the attitude is to live much longer, healthier lives while retaining your youth for as long as possible.

After my experience at the bar and how low it left me feeling, I knew I needed to change my outlook, not only for myself but for other women in my position.

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I’ve worked in the fitness and wellness industry for many years, so have always been aware of keeping in shape. But I realised then that we need to take a different approach that doesn’t just focus on maintaining a youthful appearance.

embracing-ageing
Fitness needed to trump the obsession with looking youthful. Image: Supplied.

I live on the very body-aware Northern Beaches of Sydney, where looking youthful often becomes an obsession for women past a certain age. I have so many female friend who feel the pressure to stay looking young and fear being left feeling irrelevant.

That's why pro-ageing, as opposed to anti-ageing, is my message.

We live in a time like never before. We get and depend on instant knowledge of who, what, where and how. I began to learn about the possibilities of increased longevity when I was in my twenties by taking vitamin supplements for more energy and better overall health. I had my first child at 25, which was considered normal back then.

When my second child was born, I was 37 with my second husband and I thought I was too old. Now 37 seems to be when women begin to consider having a child, which means more than ever women need to be healthy and energetic, as they might have young kids in their forties and teens in their fifties.

Exercise and retaining your health then becomes so much more than just appearing ‘youthful’. So much so, new research from Apia Insurance shows 94 per cent of women over 50 take personal measures to take control of how they age.

On the other hand, it also shows almost 80 per cent of Australians over 50 are maintaining a healthy lifestyle, exercising and have active social lives.

Image: Supplied.

We are living longer, healthier lives, travelling more, downsizing and focussing on a proactive, pro-ageing way of looking at life.

The women I know define themselves on looking and feeling fabulous, not just for themselves, but also for others so they can continue to be recognised as vibrant, purposeful women.

Ageing isn’t frightening, it’s empowering.

Growing older shouldn’t mean we have to accept everything that is typically associated with getting ‘old’. We're choosing proactivity over passiveness when it comes our ageing so we can enjoy the next chapter of their lives, rather than being invisible in the corner.

Jill is a motivational fitness instructor, wife and mum and even runs fitness classes including YogaPi, Fusion, BodyBarre and A45+ Fitness geared towards women within the 45-65 age bracket. You can find out more about Jill and her classes on the Body Balance website and Instagram.

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