The world is fascinated with aging: Everyone is either trying to fight the natural, normal aging process by spending billions on creams, pills, surgery, and makeup, or we believe that illness, aches, pains, weight gain, and changes in our appearance are just inevitable aspects of aging, and we sit back and do nothing as these problems grow.
The latter is what I did throughout my 40s. A demanding job and back-to-back family crises led me to take refuge in comfort food, quit the gym, isolate a lot, and generally stop taking care of myself. I was 40 pounds overweight, was always plagued by an ache somewhere, felt tired all the time, and was stressed and depressed. But I thought this was normal.
One day, I woke up and decided I'd had enough, that it was time for a new life.
I made self-care a priority and incorporated small, gradual healthy changes into my everyday life. I lost 35 pounds, my pain disappeared, and today, I’m happier than ever and I feel like the Energizer Bunny.
After rebooting my body and working as a health coach, I’ve come to realized there are five simple things I need to do each day to stay feeling young, vibrant, and energetic and looking my best. Here are the things that work for me; I hope they can keep you feeling the same way:
1. I eat well.
Even though I consider myself a healthy eater, I continually find ways to tweak my diet to prevent age-related weight gain and even shed those middle-aged pounds. The key is finding a healthy way of eating that works for me all the time, whether I’m busy, traveling, or spending the holidays with family.
First and foremost, I don’t skip meals. I try to prepare most meals at home, and I make sure to eat antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Including lots of vitamins C, E, and A, and minerals like zinc and selenium in my diet keeps my skin looker younger by building collagen and staving off premature sagging and wrinkles. I also feed my skin essential fatty acids via salmon, nuts, and seeds to stay plump and youthful.
Eating well not only helps keep those extra pounds off, but it also alleviates achy muscles, tendons, and joints that come from carrying extra weight and getting older.
2. I exercise.
Another way I prevent age-related weight gain is by cranking up my slowing metabolism through exercise. Weight-bearing exercises like strength training and yoga build a more muscular body that requires more energy. And cardio — walking, running, or swimming — burns more calories than being at rest.
Exercise also improves circulation, a crucial component of healthy skin. Plus, regular movement builds sturdier bones, which can fend off sprains and breaks, a common pitfall of aging.
3. I drink at least 70 ounces of water a day.
Staying hydrated is perhaps the simplest — but most powerful — thing you can do to fight aging skin. Water allows the smooth flow of nutrients into the cells and keeps them plump and full, meaning your skin will look firmer and clearer. Lack of hydration will cause your skin to be dry, tight, flaky, less resilient, and more prone to wrinkling.
Water also boosts energy levels, so if you’re feeling slow in the afternoon, drink a large glass of water and see how you feel after 20 minutes. In my experience, a big glass of water will perk me up without needing to resort to caffeine.
4. I manage stress.
Middle-aged weight gain is often the result of stress eating. But stress can also appear on our faces in the form of frown and worry lines. Learning and practicing stress management techniques like meditation and breathing helps. But what works even better is reducing stress, which is why I continue to avoid unhealthy relationships, say no when I’m overwhelmed, and ask for help when I need it.
5. I sleep soundly.
Perhaps the most important thing we can do to keep our bodies and skin young is something we don’t even need to be awake for!
Remember your mom talking about beauty sleep? Well, she was right! Getting enough sleep is necessary for the repair and growth process of every tissue in our bodies, especially our skin. We all need seven to nine hours of restful sleep for our bodies to complete these essential processes, so I limit my caffeine intake, keep my bedroom quiet, dark, and clutter-free, and get to bed at a decent (and consistent) hour to let nature do its work.
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