“Are you kidding me? How is is possible you’re old enough to be a grandmother?” she sputtered.
I giggled, “Well, I started young,” I replied.
I’d just shared that my daughter would deliver my first grandson next month. I paused before delivering my piece de resistance. “But, she was smarter than I was. She’s 31.”
My new friend sputtered over her coffee again.
“What’s your secret?” she demanded.
That question used to flummox me. What secret? Do I have some sort of special elixir of youth? Of course not!
But, then again—on second thought, maybe I do.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m no Dorian Gray or Benjamin Button. I peer in the mirror at my newest grey hairs and wrinkles as often as the next person. I certainly notice the signs of my physical body moving through the years.
But it’s true. People constantly mistake me for someone much younger than 53, and remark on my youthful appearance. And it’s been happening much more frequently since I’ve been here in Mexico.
So – what are these secret strategies?
Well, most of them have nothing to do with creams and potions and special vitamins, or even super foods, special exercise programs or any other conventional ‘Anti-Aging’ wisdom. In fact, inspired by Dr. Christiane Northrup, I’ve decided to ditch the term ‘anti-aging’ completely – in favor of Ageless.
Because pretending we’re ‘younger’ doesn’t bring the feel good. But embodying Ageless, ah, THAT is a totally different feeling!
There’s so, so much to this Ageless thing. Trust me – it IS so totally possible to feel and look ‘younger’ without buying into our culture’s notion that once you hit 40 or 50 it’s all downhill after that!
Some of you may consider 53 to be a ‘baby’, while others might still be far from the half century mark. The fact remains that biologically speaking I have likely lived well over half this lifetime. And from a purely biological perspective, yes—my physical form has begun to show signs of entropy and deterioration.
Common ‘knowledge’ or ‘wisdom’ would say this is just a natural and inevitable occurrence. And that is what I believed too—until recently.
Now I’ve begun to wonder how much of this ‘natural’ deterioration is physical law, and how much is due to what I believed would happen.
But that’s a whole ‘nother topic – worthy of another blog post—or several. Suffice it to say for now that cutting edge science is proving that thoughts and beliefs can affect health and aging as much or more so than genetics.
Dr. Christiane Northrup breaks some of this down for us in her awesome new book, Goddesses Never Age (more later on my upcoming coaching group exploring the concepts presented in this book.) And Bruce Lipton’s The Biology of Belief. But, I digress, back to the point of today’s post. Let’s dive into some of my personal ‘secret’ strategies.
1. Love your life!
When I sat down and thought about what could this ‘secret’ be that gets people exclaiming about how young I look, I realized that the absolute #1 secret is that I love and enjoy my life!
Evidence extraordinaire is in the fact that I seem to have magically grown younger while here in Mexico, where I’m loving my life more than ever. The last time I received so many compliments on my youthful good looks was when I was traveling through Bali and Thailand a few years ago—fulfilling a long-held dream and loving every minute of it.
But Sarah, you might object, that might be easy for you—but what if I have a life that sucks?
Well, think about this: If I asked you to look in the mirror while you were uttering those words, guess what you’d see?
Even before I gathered my courage and took my leap off the high dive into the life I knew was waiting for me, I made it a point to notice what there was to love. And there was plenty!
No matter how crappy your job is, no matter how dissatisfied you are with your spouse or your family situation, no matter how much you wish you could live in a different house—I challenge you to sit down right now and list three things you can love about your life exactly the way it is right now. (Super bonus points if you get excited and list more than three!)
I’m telling you—when you begin to focus on the stuff that you love, it’s like an alchemy happens. Suddenly you start seeing more and more that is exhilarating and lovable.
Now, holding that ‘love list’ in your mind, check out your face in the mirror.
See what I mean?
2. Do an Acceptance Dance.
A couple of days ago I got up and got ready to utter some positive and loving words to myself as I looked into my own eyes in the bathroom mirror (a somewhat new practice for me that is changing my life!). But, I was brought up short by the sight of a bright red dot on the top of my nose.
What?!! A zit? Front and center on my face?! WTF? I’m too old for this.
Reflexively I began to mentally lament my ill fortune while scolding myself for my lack of proper makeup and/or knowledge for covering up this unsightly blemish.
Whooops! Luckily this litany did not last long. I caught myself quick…. and I remembered the power of Acceptance.
It seems so counterintuitive, yet when we can fully accept what is present we become open to solutions.
I know, I know, we’re taught that we have to despise something before we can change it, that will give us the energy and the willpower to make it different. But think about it: When you make a change from that place of hating what is and feeling like you HAVE to fix it, has the change been long-lasting? How about your last diet?
OK, I know this example of a zit is a bit shallow. Yet, here’s truth: Whether it’s something as shallow as a zit or a new wrinkle, or as life-shaking as a scary diagnosis or that unwanted announcement from your spouse, resistance will just compound the pain.
Not only does acceptance give us a more peaceful power to create change, when we get to that place, our cortisol levels lower and our bodies naturally relax. An elixir of youth right there!
3. Party like it’s 1999.
No, this isn’t about turning the clock back to the age you were at the end of the last century. Nor is it particularly a tribute to Prince – he was cool, but I’m just lifting the phrase from him because I like it.
This is about celebration! Leaning into what you love and doing more of it. I happen to like parties, and I make it a point to enjoy them as often as possible (but not too often or I get exhausted!) What is it that makes you feel vibrant and alive?
If you love people and parties, make plenty of room for that in your life. If you love connecting deeply one-on-one, make sure you are getting a chance to do that several times a week.
Of course we all have many things that light us up. I also love walking outside, playing with plants, and viewing sunsets and moonrises. I notice that the more I give myself the luxury of enjoying those things, the more revitalized (and young) I feel.
Treat your life like a fun party, whatever that means to you.
4. Water Water Water
This is usually my go-to quick answer when asked about my ‘secret.’ I fully believe that my addiction to plain, clear water has made a huge difference in the smoothness and tone of my skin, as well as the fluidity in my joints and flexibility.
I always keep a large full glass by my side while working, and when I leave the house I fill up a water bottle . Sure, it’s an inconvenience (lugging around the bottle, frequently searching for restrooms), but for me it’s a worthwhile tradeoff.
I look and feel better when I’m hydrated. Period.
How much? There are so many different formulas, some are based on body weight. My rule of thumb is to drink MORE than you think you want. And a minimum of two litres a day.
(Oh, and if you’re subscribing to the above ‘party’ tip—be sure to add in extra water if those ‘other’ drinks are involved!)
5. Take a Nap
As I discussed in Just Go To Bed! 16 Tips & Tricks to Get More Sleep, inadequate rest affects a lot more in the vanity department than bags under your eyes. Lack of sleep can actually cause you to hold onto excess weight and mess with your hormones big time, causing all sorts of physical signs of aging.
And there’s more to it than that.
Many of us busy, giving women have a tendency to put our own needs last. We will trick ourselves into believing we’re not actually tired—because there’s so darn much to do! And yet, treating yourself kindly enough to acknowledge what you’re REALLY feeling physically (i.e. exhausted) and allowing yourself to rest in response sends a powerful message to your brain that you are worthy of respect.
And when you FEEL worthy and cared for, your body will respond in the opposite of the stress mode. What’s called the ‘parasympathetic nervous system’ is activated, sending beneficial hormones coursing through your body, resulting in—you guessed it—looking and feeling better than ever.
Some of my friends and clients tell me, “I just can’t do naps.” If this is you, I invite you to re-examine that story. Try the 10-minute Power “Nap”, an incredibly beneficial practice even if you don’t fall asleep. A 10-minute break from the hustle of the day, even if it’s just spent sitting and breathing, will bring you some of the same benefits of actual rest.
These are just the first few things that popped into my mind as I contemplated my “Secret.” I’ve got about half a dozen more to share in the next post. Update: That post is up! Read it here. My point is to move beyond the natural lotions and potions to enhance our youthful good looks. Now, I’m not knocking them—I love my personal favorites. But the real secret to their efficacy is when it makes you feel delicious to use them.
And…This discussion is open! Let’s hear your ideas in the comments.