daria howell
shadow

A Day in the Life of an Ageless Beauty

1

“If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be” – Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou lived an extraordinary life and is someone I would consider an ageless beauty.  She was beautiful inside and out and didn’t accept the established ways of viewing things.

I don’t know what her self-care routine consisted of, but I propose that we adopt her belief about our ability to be amazing.

 And that we ditch what our culture regards as normal aging (read: disability, decline and dysfunction) and shoot for amazing, attractive, and admirable instead.

What might a day in the life of an ageless beauty look like?

 Here are some extraordinary self-care tips you can begin incorporating:

  • First thing when you wake up, think of 5 things you’re grateful for.2
  • Take a few minutes as you get out of bed to stretch in every direction and be sure to move your body in unaccustomed ways to loosen and lubricate all your connective tissue.
  • Have a cup of warm lemon or apple cider vinegar water to help counter acidity.
  • Use a tongue scraper before you brush your teeth.
  • Spend a few minutes in meditation – sitting or walking is fine.
  • To keep strong metabolism and good lungpower, perform up to 15 minutes of high-intensity intervals or a similar program.
  • End your workout with a few yoga poses. Or even just one.
  • On alternate days practice yoga instead of cardio.
  • Choose to incorporate vegetables at every meal: greens in your smoothies or omelets, salads, soups, stir fries.  Think of eating the rainbow of colors. There are so many interesting ways to prepare vegetables!
  • Get outside for at least 30 minutes every day to assist your circadian clock.
  • Take slow, deep breaths whenever you think about it throughout the day.
  • If something triggers your fight or flight system, pause to feel the sensations in your body and treat them with gentleness.
  • Spend time relaxing with people you love.
  • Find something to do that brings you joy.
  • And finally, make some herbal tea and…

“Drink your tea slowly, and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

3

You don’t have to be “normal” by our culture’s standards of aging.  Trust that you can be an amazing ageless beauty. Believe it, act on it, and you will see it.

Do You Treat Yourself With Kindness?

fruitsThere’s a whole set of people who believe that if you eat healthfully all the time and exercise, it’s because you’re slightly narcissistic or you do it because you have a need to lose weight or have some particular health challenge. To them, treating yourself with kindness means indulging in whatever sugary, deep-fried or salty comfort food is at hand while relaxing in front of the TV.

Another set, of which I am a member, believes that you choose to eat healthfully (almost) all the time and exercise because it’s the only way to live a long, luscious, lovely life pursuing your dreams and desires. To this set, treating yourself with kindness means taking exquisite care of the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual body and using time and resources to share a greater purpose with the world. We all have a choice.

My top picks for treating myself kindly?

beau• I prepare most of my own meals from scratch, using fresh, organic ingredients and including lots of veggies.
• I do some type of movement every day. It doesn’t always have to be an intense cardio workout to show your body love.
• I shun violent forms of entertainment and avoid listening to the news.
• I take time to connect with my emotions rather than shutting them down.
• I include some time for spiritual practice every day, be it meditation, gratitude practice, visualizations, or inspirational reading.

Being kind to yourself may not always be the easiest choice, but in nurturing your body and spirit in healthful ways, you will put yourself on the path to ageless beauty.

Those Eeeeekk! Moments

1Maybe you’ve had an eeeeeeekk! moment or two yourself lately and can identify with this. I was at an event recently – actually one of those fairly “Portlandia” style ones – called “Paint Nite” where the participants come together to get their “art” on by imbibing lots of palliative liquids while producing a painting as they follow the instructions of the local artist who’s leading the show.

Sounds like fun, right?  I was there at the invitation of a friend of mine, and since it had been a long time since I painted anything, I thought it could be good for me.  Besides, I would have a chance to listen in on what was on women’s minds.

Sure enough, the woman across from me – as soon as she heard what I was up to these days – confided that she had one of those eeeeekk! moments recently when her little dog was in her lap and she decided to take a photo.  She turned the camera to focus on the two of them and was suddenly aghast – whose neck was that?!

She then went into a spin considering her options, which in her mind were plastic surgery here (too expensive and the downtime would be ugly) and plastic surgery in Thailand (which would be cheaper and she’d be away from everybody during the recovery). She also regaled me with stories of peels she had, which took her out of commission for a week or so at a time.

3I’d like to propose another option. How about becoming aware of the habits and choices we make that contribute to unhealthy aging and old-before-your-time skin and then choosing differently?

These are the most common hijackers of healthy radiance:

• Dis-stress
• An unhealthy diet
• Lack of appropriate exercise
• Prescriptions meds
• Exposure to toxins and pollutants
• Nutrient deficiencies

Want to get the most bang for your buck beauty-wise? Make sure you engage in regular – let me repeat – regular exercise! I just read a somewhat shocking figure in the current AARP magazine (April/May 2014) that JAMA Internal Medicine reported that only 35 percent of boomers exercise regularly and more than half have no routine at all.

joggingThat’s sad because exercise is one of the best ways to manage cortisol levels and to tone, not just our muscles, but also our skin.  Exercise triggers the production of one of the most important antioxidants in the body – glutathione – which slows down the aging process and helps ward off wrinkles and sagging.  Exercise boosts the natural production of collagen, which improves skin thickness.  Resistance training in particular helps build up muscles to create lifted, taut-looking skin.

Here’s something to be cautious of:  not all exercise is created equal.  Excessive cardio is not recommended!  Too much spinning or aerobics causes an overproduction of cortisol – your stress hormone – which is exactly what you don’t want for your skin or your waistline.