Thursday, September 29, 2011


I'm 40 years old today. Happy Birthday to me!

But before we start freaking out about how high that number actually is, I want to say I'm okay with it.

Turning 40 had me wondering why this number is so hard for some people to reach with all the midlife crises and what not. Personally, I am happy that I've come this far, because quite frankly, the alternative sucks.

There's been those fickle moments too. Giving the mirror more time than it deserves, studying the extra lines accumulated over the years. Wrinkles I'm proud of. Part of all the 40 thoughts has been, what does 40 look like these days? Because when I was 20, 40 sure looked old. Women acted mature, had grey hair, wrinkles, wore plaid suits and stockings. (And perms, but that might have just been an 80s thing.)

I don't think I look like that type of 40 year old, I definitely don't think I act 40 (definitely less mature than what I think I should be). But then on other days, I feel every bit my age. Recently, I discovered my health age (28 years old), and I did a little happy dance because it sounds more like how I feel.

And then I got thinking about that question: how old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?I think I'd agree with my health age. Mostly. (But loved being 26 - the age of the photo above.)

Sipping drinks from the fountain of youth was such a trivial thing in my younger days, but now I see how serious this beauty business is. No-one living in Hollywood or in the Good Looks Business look older than 30, and it turns out squillions* of dollars are spent attempting to turn back the clock. Plus, when you realise how young 40 is, you realised you want to have another 40. And then some more.

So I want to share some tips for living to 100. Nothing magical, just common sense really. But something I read a while back**, that has stuck in my head (and in my blog draft posts). Lucky you, because it's the best gift I can give you too!
  1. DON'T RETIRE. Evidence shows that in societies where people stop working abruptly, the incidence of obesity and chronic desease skyrockets after retirement. The alternative? Stay active, grow a vegetable farm, volunteer in your local museum, church or retirement village.
  2. FLOSS. EVERY DAY. This keeps your arteries healthy apparently. All stemming from  the reduction of gum disease causing bacteria thought to enter the bloodstream and trigger inflamation of the arteries (the major risk for heart disease). Who knew? Plus, you get to look after your teeth which will need to be extra healthy for all those extra years you plan to live.
  3. MOVE. Exercise is the only real fountain of youth that exists. Like the oil change in your car - you don't have to do it, but your car runs better with it. Plus we all know that exercise improves your mood, mental acuity, balance, muscle mass, and bones. All this with your very first session!
  4. EAT A FIBRE RICH BREAKFAST. Not only eating breakfast, but a good one helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day. It also reduces diabetes which is an age accelerator.
  5. GET SIX HOURS OF SLEEP. Instead of skimping on less sleep to add more hours to your day, sleep more to get more years out of your life. Those who reach 100 made sleep a top priority in their lives!
  6. CONSUME WHOLE FOODS, NOT SUPPLEMENTS. Strong evidence suggests that people who have high blood levels of certain nutrients age much better and have a slower rate of cognitive decline. There is not one shred of evidence to suggest that of this happens through supplements!
  7. BE LESS NEUROTIC. Rolling with the punches is going to make you live longer. Less internalising and more focusing on the good stuff! Hanging around positive people sure helps too.
  8. BE A CREATURE OF HABIT. Strict routines are good for us - yay! Same activities, waking and getting up at the same time... it all helps. As we get older we bounce back less from a late night which weakens the immune system leaving you more susceptible to flu viruses or bacterial infections.
  9. LIVE LIKE A SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST. Members of this denomination live on average ten years longer than the average [American] person. One of the basic tenants of the religion is that it's important to cherish the body that's on loan from God, which means no smoking, alcohol, or overindulging in sweet treats. Followers typically stick to a vegetarian diet based on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts, and get plenty of exercise. They stop work one day a week, and they're also very focused on family and community.
  10. STAY CONNECTED. Having regular contact with friends and loved ones is key to avoiding depression, which can lead to premature death. Some psychologists even think that one of the benefits elderly folks get from exercise is the strong social interactions that come from walking with a buddy or taking an group exercise class.
There you have it: the not-so-secret ways to live longer.

Have you hit a big number recently? Has it scared you, or have you taken it in your stride? How do you live your life? A minute at a time, or carefully so as to make the moments count for the long haul?

* this isn't an exact amount. More like a guestimation.
** This article was found in the U.S. News & World Report, October 2009. And I've worded it the way I'd say it. (Plus it's a much shorter!) But if you want the whole article, you can google it, or if you request it, I have a scanned copy to email you.