Yesterday, I celebrated my 47th birthday! So often I'm asked how I stay looking young and healthy as I reach towards 50 with no chronic health issues at all and looking like my daughter's sister instead of her mother. Above aesthetics, it's such a blessing to make it to beyond what could very well be the middle of my life, if I'm comparing myself to the elder women in my family. Living well in to the late 80s and mid-90s is common practice for us and I'd love to break the record as the longest living person in my family lineage! Who wouldn't, right? I keep that wish in mind daily as I care for myself. But it was the question that I often get about looking younger than I am and remaining in optimal health that made me take time to reflect on my normal practices, routines, diet and mindset. These are my tried and true activities that I always come back to even if I fall off track for a while.
My Eating/Drinking Habits that Helps Me Stay Young and Healthy:
Getting My Fruits & Veggies: The main way I ensure I've had my fill of fruit and veggies is by drinking them. I make fresh smoothies several times a week with either an almond milk base or an orange juice base with bananas, berries, kale or baby spinach, ginger, peaches, kiwi or mango. And I often serve a salad with dinner as well.
Balanced Diet: I'm a pescatarian so I mainly eat seafoods, grains, fruit and veggies. But I do cheat by eating turkey from time to time (no other poultry) due to my doctor's suggestion because I need the tryptophan that turkey produces. Generally, I consume a well-rounded diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. I refrain from white starchy foods like white bread, white pasta and white rice. I sub them out for whole grain or veggie pasta, multigrain breads, and couscous, quinoa or brown rice. I even use a gluten-free flour like chickpea flour and almond flour to avoid the extra bulkiness gluten packs on to our bodies. I snack on berries and nuts throughout the day and try to avoid junk food, although I do have a weakness for popcorn and chips so I go for baked chips and I pop my own corn. LOL I cook almost daily. I don't eat processed/pre-cooked frozen packaged meals because they're heavy in sodium and low in nutrients. Also, I rarely use sugar, preferring to sweeten with honey as needed. Lastly, I take a daily women's multi-vitamin.
Stay Hydrated: I drink an adequate amount of water each day and at night I keep water on my nightstand to sip on. I'm pretty certain, although I'm no doctor, that lack of water would lead to dry, wrinkled skin and I'm not interested in that! Plus, beyond the beauty benefits, we need water to support our body's functions like digestion, breathing, and waste elimination. Beyond plain water, I usually start each day off with green tea naturally flavored with a slice of lemon, a chunk of gingerroot, and honey.
Avoid Smoking and Excessive Alcohol: Both smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can accelerate aging and harm your health. I don't smoke, and I only drink casually in moderation, not to get drunk.
My Body Routine that Helps Me Stay Young and Healthy:
Regular Health Check-ups: I visit my healthcare providers for regular check-ups and screenings to detect and address any health issues early. Mammograms, pap-smears, blood test, dental cleanings...the whole kit and kaboodle are a regular part of my life.
Maintain a Healthy Weight: I aim for a weight that is appropriate for my body type and age but I don't get obsessed with the number on the scale. It's more important to me that my clothes fit nicely than the number on the tags. I get on the scale weekly to be sure my weight hasn't increased beyond a normal pound or two fluctuation and that's it. Obesity can lead to various health problems like heart failure so never fear knowing what you weigh but trying to be the same weight you were in high school is just impractical for most people. Striving to looking good at any healthy weight is a much worthier aspiration.
Regular Exercise: I engage in regular physical activity, such as Pilates, yoga, and strength training by toning with weights as well as cardio like jogging and kickboxing 3-5 times a week. I aim for a minimum of 20 mins each session. I'll probably never have a 6-pack with such short workouts but I maintain a healthy heart rate, low blood pressure, and I still look cute in a mini skirt so it works for me!
Get Enough Sleep: It's important to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to allow your body to rest, repair, and rejuvenate. This is a non-negotiable for me. I must get 8 hours to function at peak productivity the next day. I don't have a tv in our bedroom. No distractions. I'm serious about my shut-eye. Speaking of eyes...
Eye Health: This is still a work-in-progress for me. I've always had 20/20 vision but needed glasses to reduce eye strain at the computer and reading. Unfortunately, I was lackadaisical with that approach and now I need glasses all of the time. Although my long-sightedness remains great, my short-sighted vision is trash now, thanks to not wearing my glasses when looking at my phone and staring at computer screens. So please learn from my mistake. Reduce excessive screen time from electronic devices to reduce eye strain.
Practice Good Posture: Maintaining proper posture reduces the risk of musculoskeletal problems and improves overall body alignment plus it makes you look taller and thinner, as well.
Easy posture hack: Imagine you have a ponytail or bun at the crown of your head and a string from the ceiling is wrapped around it, pulling your head straight up and out from your shoulders. Do this while walking or sitting for great posture!
My Skincare Routine that Keeps My Face Looking Young and Healthy:
Nighttime Routine: The first thing I do at night is wipe my face and neck off using a "wet one" soaked in witch hazel. Then I cleanse using an electric exfoliating brush. Right now I love this cleanser with kale and other good stuff in it because it leaves my oily skin feeling super clean without feeling stripped. Then I spritz my face and neck with rosewater before apply an organic face serum. Once that's soaked in for a minute, I add on my night cream moisturizer. For the first time ever, I bought an eye cream yesterday at TJ Maxx so that's a brand new addition to the routine that I do after the serum and before the moisturizer but honestly, I've gone 47 years without an eye cream so I don't think I need it. I'm just trying to ward off fine lines before they start, I guess.
Homemade Facials: Once a month, I have a facial at home but it's really just my night routine with the addition of a few extra steps. First, I pre-cleanse with the wipe and witch hazel as usual but then I exfoliate using a good facial scrub. Next, I make an herbal steam bath for my face using whatever loose herbs I feel I need i.e.: peppermint if my skin has been oilier than usual to control breakouts or a floral blend to soothe irritations and tighten the pores. After the steaming comes a mask. I apply a clay mask if the purpose is to handle excess oil or a honey mask with fresh lemon juice if I aim to soften and moisturize. Afterwards, I do my rosewater spritz and continue through my normal nighttime routine.
My Relationships with Others:
Social Connections: Maintaining strong social ties and engage in meaningful relationships with friends, family, and community makes my heart happy. My homies are my everything! I've had the same best friends since grammar school and I have gathered a great group of friends over the years that I hold very close to my heart. Our relationships are drama-free, uplifting, and a joy in my life.
Family Life: I'm surrounded by love with 2 adorable children, a devoted husband, amazing siblings and a close relationship with my mother. I'm close with my cousins, aunts and uncles as well. We are a tight knit family that gets together for reunions and holidays and family celebrations often.
Community Involvement: In recent years, I've served 3 years as a Girls Scout Troop Leader. I've run an after-school fashion design program in my community and I am currently an Arts Commissioner in my city. Being involved in the community and helping to forge connections between neighbors and community leaders is vital to the overall health of a community and therefore I make it a priority to be involved.
Mental & Spiritual Connection:
Mental Stimulation: Keep your mind active and sharp by reading, learning new skills, solving puzzles, or engaging in cognitive activities is KEY. I'm always in a new book. Audible, the audiobook service, makes it easy when sitting still long enough to read just isn't an option. And you often find me online in a virtual class or workshop learning new cooking techniques or how to master Procreate on my iPad at Skillshare, my favorite learning platform. I love to learn new things and advance in my capabilities. Use my Skillshare link to get a month free access plus a $50 gift card if you decide to become a member!
Manage Stress: Stress management is a primary tool in my life. Simply put, I don't work with clients who are negatively stressful. I don't take or remain at career opportunities that are negatively stressful. I do expect work to provide a certain level of stress due to time-constraints, personalities to manage, heavy workload, etc. but I draw the line at accepting mean behavior, a lack of respect for my time, and anything that makes me feel unwelcomed and unappreciated. And beyond choosing work and relationships that honor me, I practice stress-reducing techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and hobbies that bring me joy like gardening.
Prayer: Every day when I go to bed and each morning when I wake, I communicate with The Creator. I am grateful to see each new day. I ask for wisdom, protection, guidance, strength and I ask to be used as a vessel to share God's love and grace with all I come into contact with. I ask for forgiveness of my sins and shortcomings and I am thankful for my blessings. This one act alone brings me peace immeasurable.
Create: I embrace new experiences and remain curious about the world around me by remaining creative and enjoying the arts. If I'm not making something new or exploring an art exhibit, I become pretty irritable after a while. I need to create like we all need to breath. Remaining creative has absolutely contributed to a more fulfilled life for me.
Schedule Time-off: I'm a firm believer in the phrase "me time." I schedule breaks like I schedule meetings. Running myself into the ground benefits no one. Please know that your employer will have an ad running for your replacement before you are even laid to rest if you work yourself to death. You better put your own longevity FIRST!
Laugh and Have Fun: Incorporate laughter and fun into your life, as it can contribute to reduced stress and a positive outlook. To this day, my bestie and I can be reminded of something we did or witnessed in junior high and will fall to the floor laughing until we're shedding tears! Don't be afraid to be silly. It'll keep you younger longer, I'm sure of it.
Remember that these are the practices that work for me. Every individual is different, and it's essential to personalize these practices to suit your own specific needs and preferences. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your own lifestyle or diet, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions. But please stay cognizant of the fact that you only have one life, one body and one mind so treat them like the precious entities that they are! Love on yourself, limit harmful/stressful experiences, continue to learn and grow and you too will age like fine wine. (There are affiliate links in this post that will pay me a commission if you make a purchase but do not affect your purchase price.)