Thursday, December 20, 2012

Want to Look and Feel Younger? Bust These 4 Myths

Getting older? It's inevitable (but it sure beats the alternative). Looking and feeling older? Now that's optional. You can choose to be energetic, trim, and vital--at any age.

There's a lot of misinformation out there, though. Let's explore some common myths about aging and its relationship to mindset, fitness, and nutrition. Once you see through these fallacies, you're ready to take action. Kick unpleasant thoughts about getting older to the ground!

Myth 1: It's too late.
With each passing birthday, you feel left behind by all the beautiful models and style makers--and, even worse, by some of your friends and family. Lines or wrinkles are creeping in. Your body doesn't look the way it did before. You feel depressed or even hopeless.

Your Myth Buster: Be proactive.
No, you can't change your chronological age. But there's no reason that number should keep you from taking hold of opportunities to look and feel fabulous.

It's never too late to improve how your body and mind respond to the aging process. The key is starting today. I hear what you're thinking: "Today? But you just said it's never too late, Roberta." True--but the longer you wait, the bigger, harder task it is to institute damage control. The time to take back control of how you feel is now.

Myth 2: It's too hard.
Maybe you heard about your colleague doing a juice fast and sweating in hot yoga, and it sure sounded unappealing. Try it yourself? That'll never happen, you thought. So why bother to start a fitness routine, at your age, in the first place?

Your Myth Buster: Stop right where you are!
... and that's exactly where you start. Maybe less extreme measures--strolls around the block and staying away from vending machines, for example--are more your speed.

You don't have to do what your colleague did to move in the right direction. Identify something you can do 90-100% of the time, and you'll be the proud owner of a new plan. It's that simple! Incorporate just a few healthful ideas into your life, then practice until they're as habitual as brushing your teeth. For starters, cut out sugary sodas and mindless snacking in front of the TV, then add more water and an apple. Done.

Myth 3: It's too expensive.
Your last trip to the supermarket confirmed that those organic eggs cost a lot. Not worth it, you're thinking. All that organic and fancy health food is just too pricey.

Your Myth Buster: Be discriminating.
Okay, not everyone can afford to go 100% organic. Just choose organic when you can. Organically raised food contains far fewer added hormones and chemicals. And there's a long-run benefit, too: A lower toxic load now can mean you age less dramatically both now and later. Things to consider as you decide where to spend your organic dollar:

- Some foods, like bananas, are okay to eat even when they are grown with chemicals because you remove the impurities by taking off the skin. But if you're going to eat the entire item, including the skin (apples, greens, etc.), it's best to avoid toxins by choosing organic.

- Check online for a list of the "dirty dozen," the twelve fruits and vegetables that are most likely to be loaded with pesticides and other toxins. If you can't afford to buy the organic version of these foods, skip them in favor of safer items...

-... such as the "clean 15." These foods, even when grown conventionally, do not carry alarming toxin levels. The Clean 15 is a flavorful list--onions, mushrooms, kiwis, and pineapple are just a few. Mmm!

Myth 4: The higher the goal, the better.
You got excited and decided to take on something that sounded just right for you and then--crash! You were just too tired to follow through.

Your Myth Buster: Take smaller bites.
Chances are, if you think you "should" be able to handle it but lack energy to act, you are starting too big. Taking on too much, too fast is a recipe for worry and stress--two major factors that speed up the aging process.

My advice when I hear this scenario from patients in my wellness center and coaching practice: Don't give up; just downshift. If you can't exercise four times a week, go for two instead. It's okay to go slower and steadier. After all, didn't the tortoise win in the end?

Now that you've pummeled these myths, what's your next step to staying (or becoming!) vital at every age? Identify one or two things you can do beginning today--and then do them. Take control. You're only as old as you feel, so make it your business to feel good.

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