I know women and I know what they want and need, having been close to thousands of sisters — talking, listening and reflecting with them over the last two decades. One of the best parts of working with so many women is the opportunity to witness the differences and uniqueness of all of us. What a privilege!
In spite of our individualities, we all face many of the same challenges. After all, each of us is a combination of bones, flesh, hormones, signaling molecules, digestive enzymes, and more. And we have physical, professional, and emotional needs that must be met, many of which we often put ahead of our own wellbeing. You know how it goes … "I don’t have time for exercise!" or "I’m a lousy cook so why bother making healthy food for myself?"
In my book, 10 Years Younger in 10 Weeks, I share how to transform your life through food, exercise and mindfulness with no-nonsense advice offering a clear roadmap. The path to wellness may not be an easy one, depending upon where you start, but it can be life-changing and invigorating!
Here are 10 things from my book that I tell every woman on the search for a happier, more youthful, vital life.
1. Cut out sugar.
If you have the desire to get old in a hurry, sugar is your answer. From white sugar, brown sugar, and raw sugar to glucose and dextrose, this inflammatory ingredient with many names will put your blood sugar on a roller coaster, leaving you tired, confused, and overweight. It’s also the enemy of collagen, contributing to tired, saggy, more wrinkled skin. Cut refined sugar from your diet and you'll feel a noticeable difference on the inside and the outside.
2. Eat chocolate everyday.
Yes, you read that right! You know the level of happiness when your mind is clear and your body fantastic? That is the power of chocolate. Choose a dark chocolate anywhere from 85% cocoa to raw and enjoy 25 grams daily (the equivalent of about two small squares of chocolate), reaping the happiness benefits of polyphenol and other super ingredients.
Raw cacao beans are also a great way to reap the benefits of chocolate. Sprinkle crushed beans on your natural yogurt or skyr (a fantastic dairy treat from my homeland of Iceland!), or blend it into a smoothie.
3. Don't exercise too much.
We all know that exercise is great. It strengthens our bodies and our minds, getting us closer to youthfulness. The body is designed to be in motion, jumping, climbing, running, swimming, dancing and stretching into all kinds of poses. But what many people don't know about exercise is that sometimes less is more.
Even 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week will give you noticeable benefits, and when it comes to lifting heavy loads, short bursts of activity are more effective and lead to fewer injuries. Too much prolonged exercise can produce oxidative stress that produces inflammation — a no-no for turning back the clock.
4. Get plenty of “sexercise.”
Sure, running, jumping, swimming and stretching are all essential to looking and feeling younger, but one of the most natural ways to achieve a more youthful glow is through the workout you get in the bedroom.
The combination of touch, passion, deep breath, movement and connective feelings with yourself and/or your partner, release signaling molecules, nitric oxide, and endorphins that brighten skin and relax the mind.
5. Clear negative thoughts.
Those negative thoughts and affirmations you make throughout the day about yourself, your work, or those around you are food for your body and mind. These powerful messages will be read and registered in the brain and you’ll see their effects every time you look in the mirror. Turning thoughts to a more positive, optimistic tone can take some practice, so while you’re learning, fake it until you make it!
6. Don't be afraid of the sun.
Coming form a country where the sun shines all day and all night during the summer and only shows herself two hours a day during winter, my relation is a special one. Many people are afraid of the sun today, and with good reason. The risks of skin cancer and aging are real and should be taken seriously. The sun is your friend, but she must be respected!
The thinning ozone layer has made us more vulnerable, and the lack of antioxidants from greens and vegetables, good fats, and healthy proteins puts us even more at risk. The fact is, along with a good sunscreen, you can eat your way to defense from the inside out, so you can be able to safely enjoy the sun and all of her benefits.
7. Eat your way to harmonious hormones.
The word “hormones” often conjures up visions of PMS or menopause, but the truth is, there are dozens of hormones playing vital roles in our everyday lives and they affect the way we look and feel. Hormones affect weight, digestion, growth, pregnancy, bones, energy and so much more. Imagine them as instruments in a symphony orchestra, each tuned to play the same piece of music. If one or two instruments aren’t tuned you suddenly have a lousy performance. The key to maximizing your hormone activity is balance.
Start with eating more of the good fats from fatty fish and quality vegetable oils, cruciferous vegetables such as kale and broccoli, and lignans from flax and sesame seeds. If needed, consider adding quality supplements for hormone balance such as magnesium citrate, green tea, sage tea, and licorice root.
8. Drop the fat-free lifestyle and do as we Icelandic people do: fill your fridge with healthy organic vegetable oils, nuts and fatty fish.
You’ll reap the time-stopping benefits in several fabulous ways, including a healthy production of hormones, a superb metabolism, a loving heart, flexible joints, well-functioning mucous membranes (hello sexercise!), and a superb immune defense.
9. Eat lots of protein. It's a beauty food!
In Europe, I’m known as the “smoothie queen” as every day of my life starts with a protein-rich breakfast shake, which controls my blood sugar level and weight, and increases my energy and muscle mass. It's tasty, homemade, and nutritionally balanced, and by making it myself I'm practicing self-love. (See below for one of my favorite recipes!)
Another vital benefit of protein is its ability to fight mental plagues that make us feel old, like depression and mood swings. Add organic eggs, chicken, almonds, tofu, chia seeds and goat cheese to your diet throughout the rest of the day and feel your energy levels rise.
10. Smile at the world.
If you want more joy in your life that shines through your face and skin, smile at the people you meet in the street, the woman sitting beside you on the bus, or standing next to you in line at the airport. Take it a step further and add more spontaneous laughter to your day … and if nothing is funny, make it up!
RECIPE: Enjoy this smoothie in the morning!
Thorbjörg’s Sexy Morning Smoothie