If I could take a picture of myself and send it back through time to my teenage self…
My teenager self’s jaw would have dropped.
The first thing she would have noticed is that I’m a dead ringer for my father. When I have my hair pulled back in a baseball cap and I’m not wearing makeup and I’ve got a Carhartt jacket on, I’ve seen my reflection accidentally and done a doubletake. It’s spooky. 😉
The second thing she would have noticed is that I have the body she wanted.
She didn’t like her body. She didn’t like the acne. She didn’t like her permed hair. She wasn’t allowed to wear makeup, she didn’t know how to tweeze her eyebrows, and her baby fat wasn’t going to go away until her mid-30s. (Good thing she didn’t know that back then!)
So when I say I know a little bit about anti-aging, I’m coming from the perspective that I’m happy with how I look for my age, and I’ve done the research to understand what I did right and what I could be doing better.
And that’s what I want to share with you today:
3 surprising anti-aging recommendations that certainly turned my life around… and might just turn around yours.
Anti-Aging Lesson #1.
Let Your Health Problems Be Your Guide
This may sound kind of crazy to you—surely, if you want to stay youthful, you want to look at health and not disease!
But our health problems are like an arrow pointing us in the direction we need to go.
If you have a health condition—and about 29% of American women do—learn everything you can about what has predisposed you to it. Don’t just take the pills and get on with life. Get curious about why this particular condition is being expressed in your body.
Once upon a time, we used to say “genetics” and be done with it. But now we know that most conditions are not genetic as much as they are epigenetic.
Even though our genes are set in stone, they can be turned on or off. Genes come with extra instructions determining how they’ll be read and expressed. And that’s where environmental factors come in.
As Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes for Health, famously said:
Genes load the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger.”
By environment, we’re talking about your prenatal environment, how you grew up, where you live, socioeconomic status, how much social support you have… a whole host of things.
When you start digging into the environmental influences on your health, you start learning things about yourself you never knew.
I’m STILL learning things about myself. My health went when I was 25. I thought my life was over. I couldn’t see how I was going to live like that for the rest of my life.
Of course, here I am! 🙂 I figured it out. I learned to work around it. And now, with the perspective of time, I can see that my health problems were a gift—albeit an unwelcome one.
I wouldn’t be as healthy as I am today if I hadn’t been stopped in my tracks at such a young age. I was forced to confront my mortality and realize just how fragile my body was. I learned that I had to take good care of myself. I couldn’t get away with beating up my body and expecting it to keep going.
When your health is fragile, you see cause and effect really clearly.
You stay up too late; you feel miserable. You have too much sugar; you feel miserable. You don’t get outside and move your body; you feel miserable!
So pay attention to what your health issues are telling you. Chances are, they’re telling you exactly what you need to do.
Anti-Aging Lesson #2.
Take Fresh Air Every Day
Our modern lives are lived indoors, which is one reason we’re so prone to disease. Indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air. Fluorescent lights are aging.
Wherever possible, get outside and get as much fresh air as you can.
Getting 20 minutes of sunlight in the morning primes your body to burn fuel all day long.
That morning outdoor light is so important that, if you can do nothing else, go for a short walk every morning. Just 15 or 20 minutes, walking around your neighborhood, walking from the bus to work, whatever is most convenient for you. It will change your life.
Once you get over the discomfort of waking up a bit earlier and forcing yourself outside, you can find you never want to give it up.
A quick walk gives you the opportunity to stretch your legs, breathe in some cold air, and get real sunlight in your eyes, even if it’s weak sunlight. It will wake you up. It will loosen your body. It will reset your mind.
Now, this isn’t a workout. You shouldn’t be sweating or breathing hard! It’s just a sun bath.
Being outside gives you energy. I find it’s better than caffeine for a boost when you’re feeling a bit drowsy. People tend to work out harder when they’re running outside versus on a treadmill. Being outdoors is better for your mental health, too. It clears your head in a way that’s impossible in a noisy, busy gym setting.
If you want to really boost that outdoor time, get off the sidewalk into a natural environment. Being in nature exposes you to microbes that can support your microbiome. Sit out in your lawn or dig in a garden or walk in some trees.
That outdoor time makes you more attractive, too. 😉
You can tell when someone likes being outside. Even if they work in offices all day and just get out on weekends, they have a healthy glow.
I must add, though, that women who’ve spent a lot of time outside (like me) tend to end up with a lot of wrinkles around their eyes if they’re not careful with sunscreen!
Anti-Aging Lesson #3.
Don’t Waste Life on Inferior Pleasures
This is one of my most important life principles, and it brings me so much joy. I’ll never give it up.
Show yourself every day in every way you’re worthy of the good stuff.
If you’re going to treat yourself with chocolate, buy the best stuff.
If you’re going to put Parmesan on your pasta, don’t grab the jar of Kraft. Grab a block of Parmesan and grate it.
If you’re going to put spread on your toast, don’t grab the margarine. Grab the best-quality butter you can afford—grass-fed, if you can find it.
If you’re going to put cream in your coffee, don’t stir in the powdered stuff or grab a carton of non-dairy creamer. Pour in real cream. (Real cream is lower in carbs than half-and-half, which can make it a better option if you’re doing keto.)
Ask yourself, “Would the French eat this?” 😉 If the answer is no, don’t eat it!
This sounds indulgent, but it’s not.
It’s a principle designed to guide you away from cheap filler food and towards the very best quality REAL foods that fuel you as nature intended.
You think you’re doing something good for yourself by grabbing the nonfat sugarfree version… never realizing that you’re exposing your body to artificial sweeteners, which are bad news, and missing out on healthy fats that help you feel full for longer.
You think you’re doing something good by grabbing a snack bar rather than having lunch early… but you don’t realize that those hunger pangs were your body’s way of asking for the nutrients it needs, and a snack bar just doesn’t cut it.
You think you’re doing good by eating something tasteless rather than the real foods you crave… never realizing that your body doesn’t absorb tasteless foods as well as it absorbs foods that give you pleasure and make you feel satiated.
Food is psychological. When we don’t nourish ourselves, we don’t feel nourished, and we don’t look nourished.
I gave up starving myself about 15 years ago, and it was the best decision I ever made. My poor body—when I think of everything I put it through, it’s amazing it’s lasted this long!
Listen to Your Body—It’s Smarter Than You Realize
If there’s one thread that ties all of these lessons together, it’s that your body knows what’s good for it.
It’s always telling you what it likes and what it doesn’t like.
But chances are, you’ve spent a lifetime overriding your body’s signals.
You’ve gotten mad at your body for telling you it’s hungry, or it doesn’t want to sit anymore, or it has no more energy.
Your body isn’t a car that you can drive until it’s out of gas and abandon alongside the road.
If you don’t listen to those signals, your body will turn up the volume until you get sick or come down with health issues.
It will keep telling you what it needs until you finally get the hint.
Your body needs fuel. It needs rest. It needs love. It needs safety.
It’s REALLY needy, and that’s OKAY.
I hope you give your body everything it needs today.