As the "old" saying goes, with age comes wisdom! Here are some of my strategies for feeling more youthful than ever, now that I'm in my fifties!
1. Sleep - 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night (90% of the time).
Lack of sleep is the overall biggest ager for all of your cells. It's like a cell scrambler, it disturbs the natural resetting and rebooting of your entire system. When we don't get good sleep it shows on the outside too. We're cranky, less patient, unmotivated and hangrier! Hunger hormones become out of wack, so we have less control over how much and how often we eat. This usually leads to unwanted weight gain. Or makes it more difficult to lose weight. The number one thing we can do for ourselves is avoid those extra pounds and ensure we're at a healthy weight. And let's be honest, lack of good sleep makes us tired and less likely to want to do good things for ourselves like exercise. It's a domino effect. Most troubling is that consistent lack of sufficient sleep generates major inflammation which can lead to heart disease, cancer and even Alzheimer's. Those are some scary scenarios. It's ideal to avoid screen time (sorry Netflix) two hours before bed! Reading is an excellent alternative (and sedative) and is a great way to enhance your brain power. Smart is sexy.
2: Sun Protection
The number one cause of aging skin is the sun. I always wear a hat and 50+ UV protection, especially on my face, neck, chest and arms. However, I'm from the islands and love a bit of bronze. My "tanned" look is from creams such as Jergens Natural Glow which I swear by. And they don't sponsor me (but should!). I put it on most days after my shower. It goes on smoothly and doesn't streak. It's also a moisturizer. Only on my body tho. For my face I use a BB Cream from IT Cosmetics that is 50+. It's the only "foundation" I use. Best ever!
3. Water - loads (half your weight in ozs is a general guideline).
My friends will tell you that I'm always going to the bathroom. Yes it's a pain, but it's a natural consequence of drinking loads of water which is crazy important. I drink tons to keep my skin hydrated and to purge my body of toxins and since I'm always exercising it's an easy habit to remember. If I'm even slightly dehydrated I feel like I'm not on. It impairs my performance mentally and physically, and I can see it outwardly. My skin is more prone to dryness and wrinkles. Plain water is always the best bet. I avoid juices, sodas and diet drinks as much as possible. Coffee (no sugar but cream is fine) and tea are okay, but not substitutes. My dentist warned me that tea will stain your teeth more than almost any other fluid, so beware of that, as stained teeth most definitely make you look older. You might consider bleaching your teeth if they are already discolored - it will take years off!
4. Nutrition (Intermittent Fasting (IF), good fats, protein, vegetables, limited carbs, limited sugar and alcohol.
IF has been shown to jack up Human Growth Hormone (the elixir of youth) and improve your immune system, plus it has many other benefits including fat loss, lean muscle preservation, increased collagen and higher libido (oh yes!). And sex isn't just good for your relationship! It improves circulation, produces happy hormones and makes you glow! IF is so easy - just eat in an eight hour window that works for you and then don't eat anything else for 16 hours. It's important that when you do break your fast, you choose wisely. Nourish your body and mind with quality protein, a mixture a all three types of fat and a plateful of vegetables. Your skin will radiate from all of the anti-oxidants; hair and nails will be healthier and you will be less likely to get sick. Processed carbohydrates and sugars, especially alcohol, contain empty calories. Although they are fun to consume sometimes, they can lead to collagen breakdown, weight gain, damaged cells, bad habits and overall premature aging. Consider them toxic and it will be easier to consume less and less often. Uuuhum.
5. Exercise - at least four times/week.
The type of exercise you do is important. Think short, intense cardio and heavy-ish lifting to maintain or increase muscle. A warning. Long bouts of endurance exercise may be detrimental. Muscle is often cannibalized at the expense of energy - take a look at long distance runners and you decide. PLUS quick bouts of intense exercise (HIIT) are easier to fit into a busy schedule! They have BIG POSITIVE impact on muscle preservation, through the release of Human Growth Hormone, essentially the hormone of youth. Heavy lifting is complemented by HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), and will keep you lean, strong and younger looking. Be sure to include some flexibility exercises, yoga is phenomenal, to keep you balanced and limber. Yoga is also amazing for posture - nothing makes you look older than bad posture. So stand tall! A quick shout-out to meditation, which is often a part of yoga practice. Meditation has been proven to minimize stress and anxiety (aging), reduce depression (aging), and keep you mindful and grateful, and in the present (anti-aging).
6. Find activities/interests that bring you joy and do them as much as possible.
Play! Think dancing, something creative like art, writing, singing, music or maybe rediscovering a sport you loved as a child (TENNIS for me). Doing something you love and are passionate about makes life worth living! If it makes you happy, you'll smile more, and feel and look younger. And most of all REMEMBER that it's not selfish! When you fill your cup with joy it spills over into the lives of those you touch. It makes our world a better, more joyful place!
Hope you enjoyed this article, please send me your comments and any other tips you use to keep yourself thriving and youthful!