Have you looked in the mirror lately? Okay, that’s rude, but I recently did this after a long business trip with a never-ending meeting. In the glaring light of a hotel room my reflection definitely got my attention. Not in a good way. You may have heard me scream. Have you done that?
Here are some of the ways to revitalize and reverse your appearance age. I think of appearance age as the reflection in the mirror and it has nothing to do with what your driver’s license says.
*Drink as if your life and loveliness depends on it. Because it does. If you consume sodas and frothy coffees with the stuff that they sell in kiosks at the airport or mall, don’t expect to look or feel youthful. Ditto with the ads for beer and alcohol. No one really believes that if you’re drinking a few bottles of beer you’re going to look like you stepped out of the pages of Elle or Vogue. Choose the healthiest and freshest foods, especially lean protein sources, and drinks. That might mean investing in a juicing machine or learning to switch to water or a sports drink. Check the studies that show drinking more than one or two diet soda each day can have a negative effect on body weight. Yes, that shocked me, too.
*Lavish yourself with time, at least once a week. When was the last time you spent an afternoon alone, reading, pondering or napping? If you cannot remember, then you’re way past due and there’s every reason in the world that clerk and cashiers will ask if you want help to your car with the packages.
*Discover the beauty secrets from nature and other cultures. Have you noticed, for instance, how Asian women have lovely skin and seem to be forever youthful? Why? They rarely bake, broil or baste in the sun like some of us do. They also use wonderful beauty treatments to revitalize and cleanse their skin. For instance, after one of “those” days I was staying at the Claremont Resort and Spa in Berkeley, California. Rather than bucking up and putting on a happy face, I sampled a treatment called the “Japanese Journey.” This is a nutrient-rich seaweed bath, followed by a wasabi and green tea scrub. What happens is that your skin becomes silky smooth. This is followed by a shiatsu pressure point massage that alleviates stress and is said to harmonize your energy flow. Don’t know if my energy flow was in harmony but I felt like a woman half my age.
*Check out the organic and natural beauty selections. There are products on the market for scrubs and facials made with healthy ingredients. Follow the directions. If the product says not to use it on your face, heed this warning. There’s a good reason for it. Check out the facial, masks and scrub recipe online. Before you attempt the homemade solutions, be sure to always test out a sampling of the treatment on a small spot inside of your forearm or on your belly. I’ve heard some friends tell me that they never knew they were allergic to such-and-such until they made a body scrub from it, only to have a rash the next day.
*Get flexible, lithe and nimble. Have you noticed, with a frown perhaps, how young people seem to look energized as they walk or rush around? Have you noticed how old folks mutter when the raise from a chair or push a shopping cart to the car? The difference is flexibility and muscle strength. The major muscles of the body, in the legs and buttocks, support the bounce in your step. Walking is the “Fountain of Youth.” Begin today, without any special equipment. As you finish reading this column, put down the newspaper and take a walk. Tuck your tummy, hold your head high, square your shoulders and swing your arms. It helps if you smile, even if you don’t feel in the mood.
*Pick at food like a kid. I’m not suggesting that you swap your eating habits for that of your teenage son or daughter. Rather, reduce the portions of food you eat to that of a youngster. Leave food on your plate. Be picky. Yes, that IS how kids eat. Be sure to eat only the best quality fruit and vegetables; kids wouldn’t touch a dented orange or a lack-luster apple, so why should you?
*Laugh at yourself. Have you noticed how kids and younger people seem to be having a great time with everything? That’s a habit we need to cultivate. You may need to stop reading the newspaper and skip straight to the comics. Or even reduce your association with those in your life who are constantly annoyed. You may want to become a Pollyanna and think happy thoughts.
What will these tips do for you? I cannot guarantee that when you’re buying the next bottle of chardonnay the clerk will check your ID, but I can promise you’ll like how you look as you gaze into a mirror. And that’s what it takes to stay fit for life.
Sheila Cluff, fitness expert, television celebrity and owner of The Oaks at Ojai, is the author of Take 5: How You Can Benefit from Just Five Minutes of Daily Exercise and The Ultimate Recipe for Fitness by Sheila and Eleanor Brown. Visit Sheila’s Spa on the Internet and see all that’s happening at the resort: The Oaks at Ojai www.oaksspa.com.
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