Ageing gracefully

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Audrey Hepburn is my ageing guru. This is a woman who is the queen of graceful ageing. Although, she was a smoker, which thankfully I am not. For me, Audrey is the epitome of grace and feminity. I have always set out with the aim to look after myself. I never took drugs, other than panadol for a headache, which thankfully isn’t often. I don’t like putting foreign substances in my body. When I had my caesarian, my Obstetrician had to cajole me to take the morphine so my milk would come in. He knew I was looking forward to breastfeeding and so I eventually relented.  I rarely went out and binged with alcohol. I wish I could say I never had, although, I can literally count how many times I overdid it with alcohol on one hand … okay, maybe two! I have a two glass limit.

I read an article very early in my teens that alcohol ages. I took note. Actually, I also recall reading in Dolly Magazine, which was the teenage girl’s bible of its day when I was growing up, that smoking created a “cats bum” mouth. That image was enough to avoid smoking for life. “Avoid” is the operative word here because I do need to confess that up until me reading about how smoking ages you, I did use to succumb to peer-pressure smoking. I was your typical Catholic Private schoolgirl who stereotypical use to sneak one with my girlfriends and think life was an adventure and that it was cool. I use to think I was so sophisticated. You really are so delusional when you are young and inexperienced!

Thankfully, my obsession with ageing and how to prevent it ensured that I didn’t indulge this unhealthy habit regularly nor for very long and, early in my 20s, I gave those disgusting things away for good. Besides, I loved wearing perfume. I use to save up all my dollars to buy the expensive brands to found it so contradictory when I would end up smelling like an ashtray. Eau de smoke anyone? For my entire life, so far I have always been very mindful of getting old and how to slow it down and in the hope of preventing it. One can dream you know! I was alert to and focused on anything that would help to slow the ageing process. I still am. I cannot recall exactly when this journey towards a fountain of youth started but I know it was in my early teens and it has continued to be a focal point of my life for decades now.

From my early teens, I have developed a strict and regular morning and night cleansing and moisturising routine, I use sunscreen daily (imperative under an Australian Sky) and indulge in weekly facials. When I was 13, I actually had two Avon runs so I could earn the money to buy my skin care products. It has paid off. At my age, my skin is in good shape today as a result. I am also very fortunate that my Mediterranean complexion has been bestowed upon me from my Italian mother whose own skin was more peaches and cream than olive. I learnt very early on that my health and fitness was paramount for a longer and youthful life. I did not want to succumb to the massive weight gain that I heard would occur when you become menopausal. I did not want to be old and unable to move due to joint and ligament pain. I felt that if my outside was in great shape and uber healthy then I did not have to spend loads of money on designer clothing and makeup. Who needed flash on the outside when you glowed from within. I am truly blessed because I love being fit. I love running. I love yoga. I love being healthy and strong and glowing. I have always prided myself on looking after the temple that is my body. I have always hoped that if I was kind to my body it would repay me in kind as I get older. So far so good. I have always felt that I was doing okay, in fact, better than most.

As we know we cannot stop ageing completely. I look in the mirror and know that the 20-year old I was is long gone as is the woman in her 30s who could carry a child and still be energetic 24/7. The photos in my apartment remind me of this on a daily basis. I certainly do not want to be that woman who is desperately clinging onto her youthful appearance. I am, however, working very hard to hang onto my fitness, flexibility and stamina. This is the one thing you can slow right down and control. As I start my fifth decade, which also brings massive changes in what my body is going through, I have this renewed commitment and determination that my health and fitness is paramount. I know that how I look on the outside will be a positive testament to this.

I am not a rich woman, nor do I live the life of a celebrity who can acquire amazing treatments at a drop of a hat to look fabulous. I do not look like Nicole Kidman who was born 6 months after me. I do tell myself that it is all photoshopped! Is that bad? But I do look at women like Susan Sarandon, or Diane Keaton, or Helen Mirren and feel that I can still look just as fine when I eventually step into the next decade and beyond with commitment to my health and fitness. The following is a collection of all the things I feel are essential to slow the ageing train down and to live a healthier and vibrant life. I will be continuing to focus on the following 20 things and will report back to you in 12 weeks to reinforce the importance of implementing these life changes … so regardless of how old you are, give it a try too:

  1. Get enough sleep regularly
  2. Drink plenty of water – make water your main drink
  3. Reduce foods with refined sugar … better still limit sugar from your diet – aim for 6gms per day (that’s a teaspoon)
  4. Avoid foods with trans fats
  5. Eat a wholesome and varied diet with lots of vegetables, fruit and protein – even good fats such as avocado, sardines and nuts
  6. Exercise daily – anything from a 30-minute walk with the dog to a 5km run/HITT training if you can manage it. I mix it up, runs with HITT training with spin classes
  7. Do Yoga at least once a week but more is better – I aim at doing yoga twice a week
  8. Stretch often
  9. Meditate at least 10 minutes daily – this one is new to me, and I am working on making this regularly
  10. Reduce Stress
  11. Limit coffee ( I only have 1, sometimes 2 a day and never after 2 pm – a rule which I am currently breaking, as it is 3 pm and I having one as I write this blog in a cafe)
  12. Drink herb teas often
  13. Drink alcohol 1-2 times per week and limit this to 1-2 servings each time.
  14. Cleanse and moisturise day and night and use the correct products for your skin type
  15. Limit foundation – I don’t wear it at all as it cakes into my fine lines – a BB cream with a primer is sufficient.
  16. Wear sunscreen on your face, neck, chest, arms and hands
  17. Have a remedial massage often
  18. Go to the dentist regularly – that reminds me!!
  19. Immerse yourself in knowledge and be curious and read often so you may  continue to learn
  20. and finally, laugh often !!

Why this post? In 9 days I will be attending my 35-year reunion with girls I went to school with when we were 16? The majority of us should have turned 50 by now. I wonder how I will be looked upon. I am confident that life has been good to me because I have enjoyed every experience – good and sad. That my happy smile is one that is filled with gratitude to the good life I have lived so far. This is the one thing that I am truly hoping will shine the brightest. Along with the lines that also define a life filled with laughter and joy. This is truly the greatest gift to ageing gracefully. And so I will continue to live a Hepburn life in a Hilton world and appreciate all it has to offer.

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