I never saw it coming.
I was at the park with my daughter after school. She sat on the bench, waiting for me to finish tightening her roller skates. A few of her friends wandered over to watch.
As I helped my daughter stand up, one of the girls asked me, “Are you her sister?”
Before I could say, “Why yes, I am her sister,” my daughter burst out laughing. She laughed and laughed until she almost toppled over on her skates.
But nothing could dim the grin on my face.
It’s such a cliché. “Mother Gets Mistaken for Daughter’s Sister.” Even if it isn’t true, it feels good.
I know, in my heart of hearts, that ALL adults look the same to a kid. I know that every single year I’ve lived is etched on my face. The gods of makeup are good to me. They give me eyebrows and full lips.
At the same time, I have actually been mistaken for a woman a decade younger. By grown men, no less. Part of me suspects they were trying to flatter me, but another part of me recognizes they’d be horrified if they knew the truth. I’m a middle-aged woman. There’s no denying it.
If I’d have cared more about preserving a youthful appearance when I was younger, I’d have worn a lot more sunscreen and stayed out of the sun. I wouldn’t have picked my zits. I’d have bought better moisturizer.
But now I’m stuck with sun spots and crow’s feet and one big indentation that runs straight across my brow.
Yet I don’t look half-bad for a woman my age. I’ve focused on keeping my body limber, even if my skincare has been lax. And that takes work.
I’ve been dedicated to the same 3-part anti-aging regimen since I turned 40. Every day, I do 3 things. And if I skip just one of them, MAN I can feel it. My body needs this routine to feel normal, now that I’m at an age where arthritis and cold weather make a difference.
So now I’m letting you steal my secrets. All they’ll require from you is 20 minutes 3 times a day. They may not erase that forehead line or make sun spots fade away, but they might help you fool a bunch of kids.
Anti-Aging Secret #1:
Every morning, when I wake up, I do 20 minutes of yoga.
Now before you imagine me in yoga pants and a sports bra, doing warrior pose on a $100 yoga mat, stop right there.
I go to my living room—or back porch, if it’s a nice day. And I do the same yoga routine I’ve been doing since I was pregnant with my daughter.
(When someone asks, “What kind of yoga do you do?” they’re not expecting to hear you answer, “Prenatal yoga.” So please keep this a secret between you and me.)
I am a big fan of prenatal yoga for the non-pregnant. It’s great for those of us with wonky knees. It’s made for women with big bellies. And it’s gentle and easy enough to do at 6:30am.
It doesn’t have to be yoga. Any stretching routine would probably have the same effect. Go for tai chi, if you really want to get fancy. Just do something every morning when you wake up to get those joints warmed up.
You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to your mood and mobility. Morning yoga staves off the stiffness of having to sit at work. It’s amazing how much easier it is to focus when your body isn’t tense and tight.
Anti-Aging Secret #2:
Every afternoon, right when I start flagging at work, I go for a 20-minute run.
Now before you imagine me in zippy running tights and sparkling white tennis shoes, bounding up a mountain trail with wildflowers on either side, stop right there.
I am the slowest runner alive. I feel quite proud of my snail’s pace. I may be slow, but at least I’m running.
I had knee surgery in my twenties, so I have to be careful. I avoid running on pavement. I prefer gentle slopes to steep hills. I have two pairs of running shoes that I swap on and off, and I’ve recently started wearing compression socks along with my knee braces.
I cannot miss my daily run. Really. My body doesn’t work properly without it. It works all the aches and pains right out. It helps me recharge from a midafternoon slump. It gets me outdoors for my daily dose of vitamin D. I can’t imagine life without it.
Anti-Aging Secret #3:
I never used to be a bath person. I never had the time.
But once I became a mother, bathing my daughter became part of my daily routine. I started to think of baths differently—not as a treat to indulge in on occasion, but as an everyday thing.
And if I made her a bath, why not make me a bath?
Now you couldn’t tear me away from the bathtub. I have a bath after dinner, just about the time when I’m starting to get stiff again. I add a healthy helping of Epsom salts and a handful of baking soda, maybe some essential oils. It’s wonderful to lie in the bathtub and read.
Yes, I sometimes feel guilty about taking 20 minutes for “me time” in the evenings. But I get over it. I’m a better parent when I have a little time for myself.
And that’s it. The three things I do each day to keep my body working and my mood on an even keel.
If yoga, running, and baths aren’t your boat, then here’s a simplified routine.
- Morning: Stretch muscles for 20 min
- Afternoon: Work out muscles for 20 min
- Evening: Relax muscles for 20 min
Just one hour a day to feel looser, more limber, and more relaxed. Give it a try and tell us how you got on in the comments!