My friend Ali has this fun running joke lately where she often comments that I look about the same age as I did when I was about 29, and how “I’m sure he’s not aged a bit since this photo.” Others look at current pictures of me and say, “So when are you going to turn 30 finally?” It’s not to say that I want the flattery to stop. Oh no! I love the compliments about how I don’t look my real age, after just turning 48! Yes, I’m 2 years to my AARP membership, but I’m totally embracing it. (AARP has cool discounts too, so I can’t wait!)
Some of my looking younger is pure luck, but there are some things I’ve done to maybe prolong some longevity over the years. While I’ve shared some things here and there, I thought I’d share more of the “list” of things I’ve done an what i currently do, to keep looking and feeling a little younger.
I do have to humbly say – tomorrow is never a guarantee, and I could see 500 facial wrinkles pop out the next time I look in the mirror. But, I ultimately think that youthful looks can fade ultimately. Real youth is an attitude you hold inside you!
So here goes. First the easy stuff – again, this is just what I have done, and it’s not meant to be a recommendation or prescription for anyone. Everyone must find what works for them.
1) I’ve never smoked or taken any illegal drugs. I don’t drink much alcohol either. I have maybe 1 beer every other week if I go out with friends.
2) Since I was a teenager, after getting a horrible sunburn with blisters on my back, I have religiously worn sunscreen – even if I’m just driving a car. Especially if I’m driving for a long period of time during the day when the sun’s out.
And stuff that I’ve done for quite a while now:
3) Since 1996, I’ve taken NO prescription antibiotics, and have treated any and all illnesses with Chinese herbs from my acupuncturist, or western herbs in high doses. Yes, you heard that! I’m lucky to have not had any major illnesses, but for the things I experienced continually up to my 20s – bronchitis, allergies, and potential strep infections – all have been treated herbally.
4) I have a continual herbal and supplement regimen that I’ve had going for YEARS, and sometimes it changes. A daily super-antioxidant (A, C, E, Selenium) in a high dose – 1000mg or more. I’ve added CoQ10 (at least 600 mg a day) and Vitamin D3 at 5000 IU while i’m losing weight. I add HIGH doses of garlic when I’m sick (at least 3,000 mg 3X a day until I’m symptom free)
5) I was a vegetarian for over 10 years from 2004 to 2015, and I still do not eat any red meat, and am “mostly” vegetarian, but eat salmon, other oily fish, and occasionally turkey and chicken (maybe 1-2x a week on the turkey and chicken)
6) Organic food as much as I can. Sometimes I have to budget and I don’t always stick to it, but I prefer it if I do any kind of dairy, eggs, or fruit.
7) Always having a challenging “sport” or activity. I actually started doing this at age 36 (11 years ago), and I’m more active now than I was in my 20s. I have gone from Softball to Bicycling to Yoga to Weight Lifting to Tennis now. I’ve added back yoga, and I know I’ll be adding weight training again as I lose more weight. My key though, is that I have to LOVE IT to an almost obsessive extent, where I challenge myself continually, have a lot of fun, and do it A LOT! Not because I have to, but because I want to and I love it! This is what’s often called as “intrinsic motivation” – when you do an activity or sport simply for the sake of doing it.
8) I’ve never broken a bone. Never had any surgeries. Have not spent an overnight in a hospital since I was 2 years old (pneumonia). Again, very lucky.
9) This one’s my opinion – Once I had the required vaccines for school growing up, I never had a single one ever again. I’m not opposed to vaccination, but maybe to OVER-vaccination and the potential harm of other chemicals inside vaccines now. If I ever HAVE to have one (for traveling to a country where it’s required for example), I’ll make sure that it’s free of aluminum or mercury. Maybe I’ll get it in Iowa, where the law states that I have to be given a mercury-free alternative if I request it. Just me.. others may or may not share my philosophy on this. It’s all good. This is just what I do.
10) Facial cleansing regimen. Since turning 40, I’ve used a moisturizing face wash product, and the L’Oreal men’s pro-retinol anti-wrinkle cream DAILY. That’s been easy and all I do with my face, but I’ve been doing it for 8 years now, and I KNOW it’s helped my skin tremendously.
11) Kombucha – that fizzy sweet and sour drink you can pick up at any natural food store. I drink a lot of it! I go in streaks but I sometimes make my own at home and drink that a lot. Google “Kombucha benefits” and you can find out about that.
12) Natural Hair and Body products – always. I’ve been doing this since 1996. I don’t buy the cheap stuff, but I try out other products. I’ve used Chaz Dean’s Wen on my hair and have loved it. I’m currently back to the Nature’s Gate simple herbal shampoo, and adding tea tree essential oil to it in the winter for dandruff control. I use this as body wash too, as it’s gentle and inexpensive. I may go back to Wen as well, as the Tea Tree Wen I can use both for hair and a facial cleanser in the shower. I’ll still do the anti-wrinkle cream for men after cleansing and I hope they NEVER get rid of that product.
13) I think because I’ve never been a parent and never had children, I’ve not known what it was to EXTREMELY WORRY in my life. I’ve spoken to other folks who look young for their age, and MANY of them are childless either by choice or circumstance, and attribute their youth to not ever having that kind of added stress of raising and being responsible for another life. Parents out there – what you do is HARD! You are to be commended and supported, always!
14) I’ve never stopped learning. Whether it’s getting 2 masters degrees, a massage therapy certification, other coaching certifications, learning new skills, etc., I believe that my love of learning and keeping my mind actively engaged, challenged, and inspired has an effect on my longevity.
15) Weight loss helps. The very low-carb plan works best for me, and when I lose the extra weight, my face thins and from the inside out it’s like everything gets better. My skin clears, everything’s regular, etc. Although I have definitely been a yo-yo dieter for so much of my life, and have been varying degrees of overweight for most of my adult life. Being 6’2” tall with a large frame size – I start looking younger and good for my frame size around the 230-240 pound range. 225-228 is my target goal. Earlier in adulthood, I’ve been lower than 225 and don’t like how skinny I appear at that weight. (In college I got down to 203 once and my advisor/music director called me into his office to tell me to GAIN SOME WEIGHT!)
16) Stress mitigation – and that doesn’t mean going out and having a beer or doing something reckless. Meditation, Yoga, Massage, Acupuncture, HOT TUBS, etc. These are my friends when I have higher stress. I have a go-to “OM Yoga in a box” Yoga program on CD that I’ve been using since 2004 – not always regularly, but never have I taken more than a 2 month break from doing some kind of yoga off and on, even if it was only the gentle stuff when I was at my heaviest (318 – ouch) or under my worst stresses.
17) Relationships – I don’t know if this one counts or not. I went through a divorce, and for a time I felt like it did take some years off my life, but now I’m gradually coming back and seeing the hope again toward living to be 100. I’m finding lots of ways to let happiness into my life while I’m single. Research does show that people who are married or in long term relationships are happier, have less stress, and have a longer life expectancy. But while there are many things I will go out and do to keep me young, I’m not quite ready to find my next spouse of 10 or more years. Not quite yet. LOL.
18) Gratitude – In the past couple of years, with jobs especially, I’ve made a point to have gratitude whenever I can. I tell myself in the shower, “I’m blessed with work.” or “I’m blessed to have this place to call home.” or “I’m grateful for friends and family who support me.” And I also start my day by putting out there to the Universe, God, however defined, “God, find ways for me to be a blessing back to others and to the world, because I’m very blessed.” I wake up and I’m energized when I leave home after this. It’s a great mindfulness shift I go through each morning while in the shower.
19) My overall desire to live to be 100. I’ve ALWAYS – as long as I can remember, even back to childhood – have had a deep desire and wish to live to be 100. My great grandfather lived to be 98, and my great grandmother lived to 97! I’ve read many books about people who lived to be 100 and what their lives are like. It’s so fascinating to me, to think of what it’s like to live for an entire century, not only as an accomplishment, but how that can shape one’s experience and how they look at life and cherish it. I’m a seeker in this life, I know, and I crave that kind of knowledge, wisdom, vision, and perspective. So.. I have to stay young right now.. that’s my only choice if I’ve set my eyes to 100. I have to do all I can to try to make sure I land there, and land there well!
Here’s to staying young and feeling young, no matter what age any of us are. We’re here in this world to experience all our years, and to be every age as we grow and change. That’s what I believe. Age is a number and youth is a choice and a mindset. And everything we create in this lifetime starts as just one single thought. Our thoughts change our perception, they change our experience, and research shows that our very thoughts can change our bodies. Staying young, to me, is believing I’m still young, and believing in my thoughts, followed by my choices to manifest those thoughts, so I can create youth. Then I just “discover” whatever follows after that.
I hope this helps someone who might be thinking about their own longevity. Again, this is my own approach, and I learn continually. What works for me might not work for another, and what’s been working for me, might not work after I’m 50 or 60, so I’ll change it up I’m sure.
Take care everyone!