Have you ever noticed how when you’re paying attention, you see “coincidences” everywhere?
Last week, I had two acquaintances, both of whom have colored their hair for years, start conversations about how they were considering letting their hair go gray. It is a momentous, agonizing decision for them. Full disclosure: I went gray at 35 and never even considered coloring—maybe because I’m too cheap and too busy to invest the time and money in it but also because I couldn’t imagine exposing myself to the chemicals involved since I was still having and nursing my kids at that age.
Yes, I know that there are less synthetic options now, but by the time those came on the market, I was pretty convinced that dying my hair would be a form of denial, and honestly, I’ve never bemoaned any “glory days” since every decade has brought me more joy than the previous one.
Twenty-five? No thanks, there’s not enough money to pay me to go back there.
The tone of the article is a bit strident and self-congratulatory, but the point is made:
[S]ome practitioners in the anti-aging world promise to take a typical consumer full of toxic chemicals and suffering from nutritional deficiencies, then jolt them back into a state of youthful vigor through hormone injections and high-dose vitamins. In my opinion, that approach not very useful because it fails to address the lifestyle decisions by the consumer, and it’s the lifestyle … that ultimately determines how old or young you look and feel.
I especially like the author’s term for our standard contemporary lifestyle as an “aging acceleration” program.
This past week I also received the first issue of Mindful magazine—thanks for the birthday subscription, J+J!—and in it is an opinion piece titled, “Anti-Aging? No Thanks.”
In it, Elaine Smookler writes, much less stridently and much more to my taste—i.e., snarkily:
So, a few bucks and a little extra work can keep me young forever? Sounds like a beautiful fantasy! Oh right, that’s because it is one.
And that is probably the best articulation of how I feel about the “anti-aging” industry that now booms around us: pills, supplements, creams, devices, procedures….
As I was doing a lunch and learn workshop for a company in Ohio recently I was reminded as well of a line about how our diet contributes to (or detracts from) our aging process: the longer the shelf life of a food, the shorter your lifespan if you eat it. The long shelf-life foods are the highly processed ones you find in the center aisles of the grocery, and they normally contain a wide range of artificial, highly processed ingredients.
Will eating whole foods and regular physical activity keep you from aging? No, but the idea that aging is a natural process and not one to be feared but rather embraced makes the concept of being older exciting rather than terrifying, and this mind flip makes all the difference.
When I look around at the older generation (haha—oh wait, that’s me now, too!) and consider which individuals I think the most beautiful, it’s pretty telling that they are not the ones who have spent thousands of dollars on these fairly quick fixes—they’re the ones who have simply taken care to eat well and exercise regularly and take time to cultivate their inner lives as well, doing “mindfulness reps” at their inner gym.
Need some inspiration? Check out Daphne Selfe, the world’s oldest model, and Wang Deshun, China’s “sexy grandpa,” who has even been covered in GQ. Granted, there is some airbrushing involved in the fashion industry, but I suspect their philosophy on life and health probably got them as far as their good genes. There are plenty of models and celebrities who subscribe to (or even promote) the anti-aging industry…and don’t look as good as these octogenarians.
Drop a note in the comments and let me know what you think and how you feel about aging: what are the advantages and disadvantages to living in fast forward, rewind, or play?