On July 17, I’ll be 41 years old. Yet I still get carded for alcohol purchases, get mistaken as a student when I’m in the vicinity of a college campus, and regularly get called a MILF. I’ll not tell you what that means, but trust me, when you hear it from someone who is literally half your age you take it as a compliment. I often get asked if I’m a vampire or voodoo priestess too. Or at least folks ask me WTF I do to keep myself looking about 28. All the photos you see are untouched and only edited for size.
I don’t say all this to brag, but to share with you what I do to keep myself looking and feeling young. Not gonna lie, in my line of work, my looks definitely help open a lot of doors for me. But the truth is, I’m just average. All I do is dress up the bare bones with a little wallpaper and carpet. But my efforts to be my best self isn’t just about looks–it’s about my determination to stave of three diseases and/or chronic conditions that run strong in my family: diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, obesity and stroke. My mother was diagnosed with diabetes at age 45 and at 73, she has suffered a multitude of problems associated with overweight (5’4; 175 pounds with most of the weight resting along her middle). This visceral fat did tremendous damage…including contributing to her hormone-resistant breast cancer, now in remission thank God. But even with all the admonishment from doctors and family, she only complied with curbing her eating until she would literally go insane with over-dosing on insulin to make up for her overindulgence eating sweet potato pie or coconut cake. And even after everything, she still refuses to exercise regularly. I look at my mother and all the limits she has imposed upon herself because of her health choices and I’m committed to do the opposite. Of course it’s not guarantee I would ever get sick, but I sure will reduce my risk by learning from my mother what NOT to do.
This is definitely a journey and I’ll probably incorporate and eliminate minor things, but these major themes have worked for me for the past decade, and I’d like to share them with you.
This may sound cliche, but you really are what you eat. Your entire body is permeable to the environment in one way or another, and we’re exposed to toxins just walking around and breathing. But every bite that you consume has a direct effect on you body in some way, good or bad. The majority of your diet should be plant based, organic and pesticide free. There’s volumes of data to support this, so no arguments! If money is an issue, buy in-season produce from your local farmer’s market, or better yet, grow your own.
I’m going to be honest. I don’t really like to eat cups and cups of veggies at a sitting, so I mixed up a day’s worth of greens and maybe a carrot, some fruit, protein powder, a collagen supplement, with water and ice and mix until silky smooth with my beloved Vitamix. Vitamix is by far the most superior blender–you can pulverize a whole apple or grind almonds to dust–and will last two decades or more. I also take two hair vitamins to keep my hair thick and healthy from the inside out: Viviscal and Reservage Keratin Booster. And when I say “greens” be sure it’s a variety of them, not just kale because you’ve heard something good about it. Your body needs variety: mix in spinach, chard, kale, salad greens, broccoli leaves, cabbage, collards and mustard greens (If you dare. Mustard greens in a smoothie are just too gross to me. Opt to steam or sauté) And don’t forget to incorporate other beneficial veggies like tomatoes, squashes, and even herbs. For a complete list I highly recommend visiting a site called, World’s Healthiest Foods.
I’m also a paleo person, so I eat a lot of fish, lean meats and nuts as my source of protein. If you’re interested in how the diet works, I recommend Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle. It’s not just a cookbook. It gives pretty comprehensive information about how to tailor your eating habits and what foods are the most beneficial for your needs.
Treat Your Skin to the Best Products You Can Afford
I’m not shy about telling you that I’m will to drop the dollars for good skin products–most of which I’ve shared with you. But if I could only use one thing on my face, it would be sunscreen. Trust me ladies, you do NOT want to go cheap on the single most important thing to keep your skin free from wrinkles and sagging as long as possible My three favorites are: IS CLINICAL Innovative Skincare Extreme Protect for serious all day protection, COOLA for a light veil, and one that I’ve recently discovered, MD Complete Youthful Skin Sun Shield.
Yes I know there’s a variety of ways to stay fit–from running, to weight lifting, to pilates, to hiking–but yoga is the only exercise that has been scientifically proven to improve anxiety and depression, ease arthritis, help you develop and maintain muscle among many others.
Give Up ALL Processed Foods
Yes I said it. If it’s an ingredient not found in nature it’s suspect. Processed foods are often loaded with fat, sugar and salt, plus other goop cultivated in a food lab. That also goes for diet soda, which might literally be liquid poison. One key element to give up is white sugar. It literally ages you. Sugar crystals in your bloodstream damages organs and is toxic if your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to process it. What’s more, sharp increases in blood sugar is linked to obesity.
Giving up white sugar doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat anything sweet. I use honey, maple syrup, stevia and monk fruit powder such as Nectresse to sweeten my food. And the upside of giving up the white stuff is that real sugar found in nature satisfies, and with time, sugary desserts made with with sugar will often seem too sweet. To jumpstart your no-sugar journey, I’ve heard a lot of good things about The Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery Program.
Eliminate Toxic People from Your Life
Just like with my gardening, I have to do occasional weeding of things that pop up and suck the life out of the good things I’m trying to cultivate. You have to do the same with people. Eliminate folks who are perpetually negative or are always in some crisis or another. People like that are emotional vampires who suck your mental energy and keep you preoccupied and distracted from meeting more positive people. Such people are taxing to your mental and physical well being.
Connect with Something Higher and to People Whom You Love and Who Love You Back
I am not a regular church goer, much to my mother’s chagrin. But I do believe in God. He/She/It is a source of comfort for me, and I can see the touch of something larger than myself all around me. God is in that perfect heirloom tomato growing bigger every day. God is is the eyes of my children. I believe he was the catalyst for how I met my husband. For me, a life without tapping into a spiritual source is a life without hope. Find yours.
Take time to nurture relationships with people who truly love you and have been loyal to you. Instead of focusing on the drama-filled friend who makes you feel like popping butter popcorn more often than you want to admit, give more time to more centered and positive people. As you are the food you eat, so are you too the people to whom you associate.