I have been thinking about writing this blog post for over a year…. ever since my last birthday. At the end of this month, I will turn 61, and for the first time in my life, I am aware that acknowledging my age is uncomfortable. Of course, intellectually, I understand that it is accurate, but emotionally, that number just doesn’t feel right.
After much thought, I realized that my issue with owning my age comes from a cultural perception that is ingrained in me. Just because we have accumulated more years and more life experience does not mean that we must feel old.
The truth is that I do not feel any different in my body than I did 20 years ago…or maybe I feel even better today. I am certainly lighter, more agile, have at least as much (and maybe more!) energy than I did back then, and I live without physical restrictions. My temperament is way more even now, which makes my day to day life so much easier. In fact I really think I am in better shape now than ever before.
Last month when my annual physical test results returned from the lab, my physician had them run for a second time to be sure the information was accurate. My inflammation markers continue to drop, meaning there is less inflammation in my body than there was even a year ago. We know that inflammation is at the heart of all disease, which means that reducing inflammation reduces the risk of developing disease and aging. This improvement in my blood work is a direct result of the changes in my lifestyle over the last ten years…meaning the way that I now nourish my body and mind with food, movement, intellectual curiosity, love and pleasure. After going back to school, studying and identifying what I could do differently, I began the changes that led to this moment.
No matter what chronological age you are today, I want you to feel healthy, energized and unencumbered by your age… and I have a few simple tips to help you get or stay there:
1. Stay hydrated! I know you’ve probably heard this a million times, but do you take the time to check how much good clean water you drink EVERY DAY? If not, this is an easy way to reduce the inflammation in your body, keep your skin vibrant, your brain clear, and your body regular. Remember to drink 50% of your body weight in ounces of water every day. And yes, eating fresh fruits and vegetables that have high water content is also helpful!
2. Get moving… every day. The longer you are on the earth, the greater the effect of gravity. Moving more will help keep your muscles, ligaments and bones strong and keep your body agile and in balance. Take a walk, get up from the chair and move around, stretch your arms over your head, whatever works in your life to keep you active. Even if you go to the gym or do regular exercise, you still need to move throughout the day. Set a timer, if that helps, so that you move even for 5 minutes every hour. Your body will thank you.
3. Do something pleasurable every day. Treat yourself the way you would a special guest or a loved one. That might mean going for a walk, or reading a good book on a hammock, taking a swim or making a beautiful meal… just for you! Find a few moments to treat yourself kindly and be sure to take the time to notice how it makes you feel. Be grateful for your moments of joy and pleasure and it will become contagious. I promise.
As I sit outside today writing to you, my sweet pup Hugo at my side, there is a beautiful breeze, the sky is bright blue and there are butterflies all over my flowers in a nearby pot. I choose this time and place to write today for the pure joy it gives me. This is my treat, writing to you and breathing in the crisp, clean summer air while drinking in all the beauty that surrounds me (even if I still have a sink full of dishes and a pile of laundry waiting for me 🙂 ).
I am indeed grateful to be able to share this moment with you and to be able to embrace my age. And in case you are wondering, I fully intend to celebrate well!
Now I would love to hear from you. Have you experienced any of these feelings? What are your thoughts? If any of this resonates with you, please let me know in the comment section below.
Here’s to celebrating life,
P.S. Yesterday, as I began to write this post, I received an e-mail from Christiane Northrup, M.D. with a series of videos talking about this very topic, and I felt sure that it was not a coincidence. You can watch them here and see what you think.