How to age gracefully | Sunday Observer

How to age gracefully

28 February, 2021

When I was 20, I lived with my grandmother in a tiny apartment on the west side of Manhattan while attending college. One time my great-aunt came to visit. After greetings and a hug, she commented on how plump and firm my skin looked. My grandmother’s response was matter-of-fact, “Everyone’s skin looks like that at 20.” My great-aunt barely paid attention. She was wrapped up in her thoughts, a look of longing in her eyes, as she pressed back on her cheek and stared into a mirror. My grandmother shook her head and turned to me, “Before you know it, you’ll be in our shoes. Listen to what I’m telling you now. There’s nothing wrong with aging. Accept it and keep going.”

That made me realize that there are two types of women, the ones who age gracefully and the ones who waste their time mourning the loss of their youth.

I didn’t want to be the second kind. That look of longing I had seen in my great-aunt’s eyes seemed sad and depressing. I wanted to be the type of woman that looks good and kicks ass forever. I longed to be elegant and sophisticated as I aged, like Helen Mirren, Salma Hayek, Michelle Yeoh, or Angela Bassett. These ladies exude real confidence — the kind you acquire with age and experience.

So, I worked towards this. As the saying goes, “You don’t prepare for war in time of war.” Habits you form before you get older will go a long way to ensuring you have a healthier and longer life. I’ve always kept this in mind and based my life choices on this belief.

Now I’m in my 50s. My friends are all moaning about their lost elasticity and waistline or their joint pain and blood pressure. But, me? I’m feeling good. And, according to my husband and several men on the street, I look good too.

Mindset, Prevention, and Healthy Lifestyle:

1. Mindset:

Be accepting of the inevitable. You will age. You can’t stop this, so stop trying to pretend it’s not happening.

Hey, it’s better than the alternative. Also, stop leaving it for tomorrow. Start dealing with it now. You’re already aging, and what you’re doing to your body now will affect it soon enough.

2. Prevent instead of lament:

Look at your older family members to get an idea of how to prepare for your aging. If your mother, father, grandparent, aunt, or uncle suffer from something, there’s a chance you will too. So keep that in mind when you’re ordering that burger with the large fries.

Or decide to put off working out till you’re older because you think you have time. Also, pay extra attention to your teeth and feet. I think these are two things we don’t pay enough attention to throughout our lives. You don’t want to be in your 60s and be in pain every time you take a step or chew your food.

3. Healthy lifestyle:

There’s no way around it. It would be best if you cultivated healthy habits early in life. That means eating more fruit and vegetables and cutting way back on the processed stuff. Drink lots of water. If you smoke, quit, or better yet, don’t start. Floss and brush your teeth. (No one seems to floss anymore.)

Wear sneakers or comfortable shoes. Keep alcohol to a minimum. Get up off the couch and move. Work out consistently throughout your life. What you put in your body and how you treat it matters. Take care of yourself.

And, finally, even though the earlier you start, the better, it’s never too late. Contrary to popular belief, our metabolism does not slow down as we get older, and it’s not all downhill after 30.

What does happen is that we become less active and more complacent. So, don’t let that happen. Stay active. Swap out the processed foods for fresh.

Take off the heels and luxuriate in a nice pair of sneakers. Pour yourself a glass of water and quit smoking. And the next time you look at yourself in the mirror, don’t long for the wrinkle-less firm skin of your youth.

Appreciate the experience and wisdom etched in your face and enjoy the beauty in that. Oh! And don’t forget to floss!