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In August of 2013 I turned 40. I remember looking in the mirror the day of my birthday and thought “really, I’m turning 40!” My 20th birthday came and went quietly and for my 30th birthday I was glad I made it to my thirties. However, turning 40 was different, not necessarily in a bad way, but in a way where it’s a reality check and forces you to take stock of your life to see how far you’ve come and how far you still need to go.

One of the things you do focus on is your appearance, especially if you’re a woman. I was looking in that mirror noticing a couple more wrinkles, the skin feeling a little looser and maybe some extra lines on the forehead. I’ve never said that I would not consider Botox or collagen, but I wasn’t running out to get it done. So, I had a blast celebrating my 40th birthday and life went on.

Shortly thereafter whenever I was out for various social or business events, some how the topic switched to age and as soon as I mentioned my age, everyone always had the same reaction, “You’re 40?!?!” I proudly said yes every time.

I realize women naturally have more pressure to look youthful no matter what their age. Just look around us, we are not only bombarded by all kinds of advertising for makeup, skincare, dermatological procedures and plastic surgery, but every magazine cover, editorial spread and clothing ad, particularly Victoria’s Secret, screams that we are not doing enough to stay youthful, slim and beautiful.

Here’s the thing, we are all smart enough to know that all that marketing and advertising is created by people that give us their vision of how society ought to look and live their lives. We know it’s not realistic, we know it’s hurtful to some and we know it’s just to push product.

I will say this, and I have spoken about this in a couple of other posts, but the day Alyssa Milano launched her Teen Steam workout video in 1988, I was hooked. I must have done that video three, maybe four times a week. In school, up until I went to college I always took dance classes and when I started college, that’s when I started going to the gym on a regular basis. OK, I realize at the time I was modeling and it was part of my job to “look” at certain way. However, I haven’t modeled since I was 27 and I’m 41 now, and I have never stopped working out.

I know we all have busy lives and sometimes squeezing in a workout is difficult, but it needs to be part of your lifestyle, just like enjoying a good meal or a glass of wine. It will also keep you healthy and youthful. It is more about the benefits for your heart, muscles, skin and hair, than looking slim. So go for a run, do some yoga, take fifteen minutes for a high, intensity interval training session, take a pilates class or just spend some time at the gym. If you want to age well, you must exercise.

With exercise comes eating right. I grew up in a household that had very strict eating habits. My sister is epileptic so my mother was very careful about what foods we had the house. She gave me my first taste of eating clean and organic and I have pretty much followed that style of eating most of my life. Do I have some cheat days or cheat meals? You better believe it! Maybe once or twice a week, but that’s it.

You see, it’s very simple, having a fast-food burger may taste good, but it does nothing for your body, skin, hair, or overall health, so why am I going to consume it on a regular basis. On the other hand, an organic kale salad with a bunch of organic fruit, nuts, avocado, goat cheese does wonders for you! I probably consume more avocados and nuts in my diet than most people think is normal and I only cook with organic coconut oil and grass fed butter, olive oil is always consumed in it’s purest state in a salad as part of the dressing or pouring over my Eggplant Parmesan or my husband Todd’s risotto. The next meal you have ask yourself, what am I going to benefit from this meal? Are these foods going to promote aging well or just make me sick? It’s an important choice you make everyday, three or more times a day, make the choice wisely.

Now, as a woman I do love my beauty products. I practically grew up in the industry as I started modeling when I was fifteen and from there I became a makeup artist, then got involved with some of those same companies doing sales, marketing, education, etc. Funny enough, I don’t wear a lot of makeup on a daily basis and I stay away from the majority of those commercial skincare, hair care and body care products. All of my beauty products are from Whole Foods, because I know that the ingredients these companies use are not going to harm me. Some of the brands I use are Acure Organics, Derma E, Alaffia, Mineral Fusion and the like.

There is no such thing as an anti-aging miracle in a bottle, there just isn’t. The commercial products for anti-aging are full of chemicals and the products from Whole Foods will certainly help by having great quality anti-oxidant ingredients, but it’s not a natural form of Botox, nor a face lift in a jar. Also the more you are exfoliating, scrubbing, and over-washing your skin, the more you are stressing it out, drying it out and causing breakouts and more lines and wrinkles to form. You obviously need to find the right products that work for your skin type, but you just need to stick with the basics to feel and look youthful. I don’t care what any dermatologist tells you, at the end of the day your skin looks healthy because of both the products you use and the food you eat. To say that food doesn’t affect the quality of your skin is a lie. It matters and it matters a whole lot. The same goes for your hair. The more you wash it, dye it, straighten it and use chemical products on it, the more damage you’re doing. I wash my hair once a week, that’s it! OK, maybe twice a week if I’ve done a hot yoga class or an intense workout, but even on my workout days, I don’t wash it, it’s not necessary.

I know we are all desperate to find the fountain of youth, but it doesn’t exist. I wanted to share some of the things I do on a daily basis, which I feel has helped me to age more gracefully. Let’s not forget about the quality of sleep and having a positive attitude, as those are part of the equation too.

For more info on the effects of exercise and aging, read Exercise to Age Well, Whatever Your Age

For more info on the effects of a positive attitude and aging, read Positive Thinking for Healthy Aging

For more info on the effects of healthy fats and aging, read Good Fats for Successful Aging

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