The phrase Forever Young embodies an aspirational desire to retain the vigor, vitality, and youthful spirit throughout life. While the sentiment behind this phrase may bring up memories of the Bob Dylan song, it resonates with the wish for sustained energy, health, and vitality. However, the literal interpretation of eternal youth is, unfortunately, not feasible. Aging is an inevitable natural process that brings about physiological changes in the body over time. I wrote the following thoughts in my book Women at Halftime:
Are those deepening crow’s feet spreading? Are those actually permanent bags beneath our eyes? Several splashes of cold water cannot rinse away the creases around our moths that have deepened from smile lines to fissures. We lift sagging cheeks to produce a momentary youthful expression. But wasn’t it just yesterday that we were nominated for college homecoming queen?
Cells age, tissues change, and bodily functions gradually decline with advancing age. Thus, the notion of preserving physical youth indefinitely is not realistic and we are all on the same train eventually facing the same end here on earth. However, while immortality or stopping the aging process is scientifically unattainable, there are ways we can enhance our well-being and maintain a youthful disposition. Adopting healthy lifestyle practices, such as regular exercise, nutritious eating habits, stress management, and sufficient sleep, can contribute to overall vitality and longevity. These practices may not halt the aging process but can positively impact health, delay age-related issues, and improve the quality of life as we age. I will share a couple of my regular routines throughout this article.
Look for Inspiration in Others
Grandma Moses, whose real name was Anna Mary Robertson Moses, began her prolific painting career at the age of 78, demonstrating that it's never too late to start something new. Despite starting late and lacking formal training, she persevered and honed her artistic skills through dedication and practice. Her passion for painting landscapes and rural scenes from her memories of rural life resonated with viewers, showcasing her deep connection to her surroundings. Her vibrant, nostalgic artwork captured the essence of Americana, and her enthusiasm for painting remained undiminished until her passing at the age of 101.
Peggy Rowe, a best-selling author known for her wit and humor, achieved a remarkable milestone in her life by securing her first book deal at the age of 80. Before this accomplishment, Rowe encountered numerous rejections in her pursuit of becoming a published author but she persisted with resilience and dedication. Rowe's journey serves as an inspiring testament to the idea that age is no barrier to achieving one's dreams, demonstrating that determination and passion can lead to incredible success, even in the later chapters of life. There is power in perseverance and unwavering commitment to one's aspirations. Also, the practice of writing every day is keeping her young at heart as she continues to look for the funny in the world around her.
Bryan Johnson, a wealthy entrepreneur based in Venice, California is 45 years old. He is so enamored with the idea of being young again that he will be spending over two million dollars this year on a host of medical interventions, tests and pills. I have news for him. Even though he may extend his life slightly and be in better shape, we all face the same end. He is enjoying this process and it sounds like it’s become somewhat of a game, which he’s able to play as he’s fairly wealthy. For all the rest of us, to be forever young may not be possible in the physical sense but maintaining a youthful outlook and vitality can be supported by a healthy lifestyle including: physical activity, healthy nutrition, mindfulness and stress management, continual learning, and social connections.
Regular Physical Activity
Engaging in regular exercise or physical activity promotes overall health, boosts energy levels, maintains muscle strength, and supports cardiovascular health. Incorporating activities like walking, jogging, yoga, or strength training can contribute to sustained vitality. With the addition of resistance bands and chair yoga, there is no excuse for not keeping active, even while traveling.
The most important principle here is to keep moving at any age. Something my husband and I have added into our routine is stretching, which I felt like I would fail fast at as I’ve never been able to even touch my toes. However, I’ve found that stretching promotes flexibility, mobility, and overall well-being. It can improve posture, reduce muscle tension, alleviate stiffness and provide balance. My routine is to work out early every morning. I get it done. It is a part of my routine.
Embracing a balanced and nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats provides essential nutrients for optimal bodily function. Whether following a vegan, gluten-free, renal diet or intermittent fasting, a well-balanced diet supports energy levels, strengthens the immune system, and contributes to overall well-being. Get our FREE Goal Setting Worksheets!
I personally mostly follow a Mediterranean diet with the emphasis on heart-healthy fats like olive oil and nuts with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish. I absolutely love grilled vegetables and cook them often on an iron pan in the oven with a little olive oil and salt. Everyone is different in what their system needs. I have found my body especially needs fibrous vegetables. Of course, dark-chocolate acai berries are one of my favorite treats and I can’t help but add those in from time to time! The important takeaway from this is that what we eat is important to our overall health as it influences our cholesterol levels, heart health, inflammation and even mental health.
Mindfulness and Stress Management
Stress is called the silent killer. A 2021 study (2021 study) from Autonomic Neuroscience states that physical and mental stressors can lead to sudden cardiac death (SCD) Prioritizing mental health through mindfulness practices, meditation, or stress-relief techniques helps manage stress levels. Reduced stress supports emotional well-being and may positively impact physical health.
I speak often of a growth mindset, contrasted with a fixed mindset. A growth mindset embraces challenges, persists in the face of setbacks, sees failures as opportunities for growth, and believes that potential is not fixed but can be expanded through hard work and learning. A fixed mindset believes that abilities and intelligence are static and cannot be significantly changed. Fear, anxiety and a victim attitude are characteristics of a fixed mindset. The goal is to develop and maintain a growth mindset. Walking my little dog Amelia gives me plenty of time to think and take a break.
Continual Learning and Curiosity
A lifelong and continual learning mindset is a growth mindset. Being open to new experiences, and nurturing curiosity stimulate the mind, keeping it active and engaged. How long has it been since any of us has taken the time to pursue a new hobby? Probably much too long. Life is busy and time is short when building our careers and raising a family. I just read a fascinating book on beekeeping and even though I am not considering taking up this hobby, it was a fascinating escape in learning what is involved. Reading is one way to enter into another world.
Engaging in hobbies, learning new skills, or exploring novel interests contributes to our mental agility and a sense of youthfulness. Be curious about how things work, how they grow and on a personal level, what inspires other people. That quest makes us more interesting as well as adds interest and vibrancy to our lives.
Social Connections and Relationships
Cultivating meaningful social connections and maintaining relationships with family, friends, or communities can contribute to emotional well-being. Emotionally, this can become more difficult when others around us become ill or even pass away. I still remember when my mother-in-law commented that her friends were all dying, but that didn’t stop her from meeting new people when she started attending a local church. The people in that church loved my mother-in-law and watched out for my father-in-law when he tended to wander off as his Dementia developed.
Social engagement supports mental stimulation, provides emotional support, and fosters a sense of belonging, all of which contribute to a youthful outlook on life. It takes effort to keep and develop relationships. A very popular option for many is moving into a community that holds events and provides places to get together including clubhouses and even Pickleball courts. Those are wonderful places to meet people and there are many who choose this option sooner than later to enjoy these perks. Even though I spend a lot of time working, I contact friends for walks and getting together. Spending time with others usually doesn’t just happen. Many times we have to initiate it.
While achieving eternal youth remains an unrealistic concept, embracing a proactive and holistic approach to wellness, incorporating healthy habits, and nurturing a youthful mindset can significantly enhance our overall well-being and vitality in navigating the journey of aging. Adopting these principles can contribute to a holistic approach to maintaining vitality, wellness, and a "forever young" mindset as the years fly by.
So keep exercising, eat healthy, adopt a growth mindset with a lifelong learning attitude and develop friends and relationships that are fun and keep you moving forward. Most of all, enjoy every minute because life is too short not to!
Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy - Until You're 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D.: practical advice, exercise routines, and lifestyle changes to promote vitality and health
Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity by Peter Attia MD (Author), Bill Gifford: what to do and more to help you learn how to think about long-term health, in order to create the best plan for you as an individual.
Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor Garcia & Francesc Miralles: Find your ikigai (pronounced ee-key-guy) to live longer and bring more meaning and joy to all your days.
Adopting healthy lifestyle practices, such as regular exercise, nutritious eating habits, stress management, and sufficient sleep, can contribute to overall vitality and longevity.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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