I have a vivid memory of our now-grown son running up to me after his first day of kindergarten, beaming as he shared his important news: “Guess what, Mom? Hard work pays off!”
Here’s a fact baby boomers need to know if you want to stay sexy through these next decades: It takes a lot of work. Couch potatoes aren’t sexy, pretty much, and the time-worn phrase use it or lose it applies, too.
So here we go – what does the hard work consist of, and how do we keep it going?
1) Move your body
The direct payoff of aerobic exercise and strength training for our sex lives is well documented. We’ll look better, feel better, have more muscle tone, develop more stamina, have better orgasms…the list goes on. If you’re not used to moving, you can start small – and it never pays to set expectations too high, in the beginning. That’s a set-up for failure and disappointment. Find something that works for you (we like Xbox 360 Kinect Dance Central and Extreme Makeover, as well as dance classes), something you like, something you can see yourself maintaining over the long haul, and above all, just start. Any day you do something is a day you’re not a couch potato. At our house? Forty minutes a day, almost every day. Hard work.
2) Eat well
Yes, to stay sexy, we have to be careful about what we eat. Pay attention to what foods – and how much – you need for a healthy, balanced lifestyle, as opposed to a quick-fix diet. Because my husband is a cardiac patient, we’ve developed a repertoire of delicious, satisfying heart-healthy main meals from which we rarely stray. Whole grains instead of refined flours. Fruits for dessert instead rich baked goods. A baked apple, with cinnamon, four or five pecans, and just the tiniest touch of butter, instead of apple pie, and pour a little 1%, almond, or soy milk over it instead of ice cream or whipped cream. There are lots of resources out on the web (see item #4 below) to help with staying both delicious and healthy in our eating habits. Yes, this takes discipline.
3) Be sexual every day
With your partner, if you have one, but fly solo if you’re alone. Guys may adapt to this more easily than women, since guys typically have an average of eleven daily erections during waking hours. But many sources recommend an orgasm a day for overall health, and even short of orgasm, keeping that cock or pussy active and well-rehearsed will pay off in greater sexual stamina, increased ability to achieve and maintain arousal, increased comfort with penetration and overall ability to enjoy sex.
Kegels are a good place to start, for both men and women. Exercises that help sustain blood flow for the penis, and toys or play that keeps a vagina stretched and ready to receive are additional options.
And if you have a partner, sharing a little TLC, cock-training, cuddle time, adult film watching or reading out loud from your favorite erotic romance can keep those endorphins flowing and improve your overall connectedness and well being, even if it doesn’t always lead to intercourse or orgasm.
4) Exercise your Brain
We all know that the brain is the most important sex organ – to establish and maintain arousal as our bodies change, we’ll want to keep our brains as primed as possible! I’m not just talking crossword puzzles and Sudoku here (though I do lots of both). Keep learning things, keep finding new and stimulating topics that spark your interest. One of our favorite coffee hangouts has the motto “life is short – stay awake for it.” Works for us!
5) Learn how to talk to yourself
It’s all about motivation – we all have those days when we just don’t feel like putting in the hard work. It’s okay to skip a day once in a while, but it’s crucial to pick it back up once we’ve taken that break and keep it going. Learn what your prime motivating factors are and practice using them: what threat or reward is most likely to get you up off that couch and following your regimen again? I have several – here are a couple of them. It took me years to get rid of those love handles that used to hang over the waistband of my jeans, and I don’t want them back. Yes, that’s vanity – whatever works! I also have the specter of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease hanging over me on both sides of my gene pool, and there are certainly mornings where that fear alone drives me to get back at it. When the going gets tough, know what kind of pep talk to give yourself.
6) Build a support network and use it
Keeping up with all these practices is very hard work. Sometimes self-talk alone still isn’t enough to keep us going or to re-start the engines. We need buddies – cheerleaders, even, who can encourage us, teach us, and light the way. People in your support network don’t have to be privy to your deepest sexual secrets – they might not even know staying sexy is an important goal for you. But maintaining sexual health is so integrally connected to all other aspects of a healthy lifestyle that anything your friends can contribute to keeping you on track will spill over into the rest of it. Cheerleaders, workout buddies, mentors, fellow travelers – we all feel better and live better when we’re connected to others in these ways.
Share what you’re learning
For my husband and me, writing this column and writing our erotic romance novels have both contributed beyond measure to keeping us vibrant, healthy, excited and sexy. For one thing, hardly a day goes by that we’re not talking or learning about something sexual. What works for you? What have we left out that you would never do without? How do you re-boot yourself when it starts to feel too hard? We’d love to include reader comments and ideas in future columns, so drop us a comment or an email.
Have fun – and Stay Sexy!