pixabay old age

Life: rewind, fast forward, or play?

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.

This past week, I was entertained by a friend’s repost of a 2007 piece from Natural News entitled “Anti-aging Medicine,” which features this cartoon from creator Mike Adams:

Mike Adams Natural News

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.

pixabay grandpaWill 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?


  1. As I’m approaching 70 this year, I’ve done a LOT of serious thinking about my past, present and future. I’ve spent countless hours thinking about who I’ve been, who I’ve become and who I still hope to be. I’ve also lost a lot of friends in the last two years, which saddens me, but also propels me to want to be healthier, learn new things, practice better habits and live in a more natural state. I have come to realize that I am vain and I care about my appearance, my skin care, my clothing, etc. I do attribute caring about my appearance to the women in my family and especially my mom. Regardless of the task at hand (be it painting, gardening, cleaning or sewing – she was always put together, as were my grandmothers. My mom taught me the value of skin care and I am grateful. I dyed my hair for more years than I can remember and when I decided to just let the gray takeover, my hairdresser at the time and I argued for over a year about it. She lamented at how old I would look, that it wasn’t attractive, etc. I personally felt quite at ease about the prospect and finally put my foot down and never regretted it since. I will admit that I have “toyed” over the idea of having some purple strands over the last couple of years for fun but really haven’t wanted to dye it. Then when I was at Ulta yesterday I walked past a purple hair chalk and thought – oh what fun. I can just play with it and use it when I want and make it as deep as I care to – still chemicals, but not on a daily basis and just something for a bit of fun. Every other commercial and ad is for anti-aging products – yes, they intrigue me and I listen to a lot of them, but I have slowly and consistently found natural products to use and have been satisfied. I can’t rewind to where I’ve been, and I’ve realized I’m not meant to be there anymore. Grace is something that I have struggled with for many, many years in I think every form but I truly admire it in people and something I have yet to attain. So with me it’s about how aging affects me physically, mentally and in appearance, and being graceful about all of it, but still wanting to improve what I can but still believing I am still capable of making changes.

    1. Liza Baker

      Janice, I love this thoughtful response. You are a beautiful example of graceful aging—I had no idea you were approaching 70! And I love that you’re playing with purple. Do you know the purple and red hat societies for women?

  2. Marine Yanikian-Sutton

    I loved Deshun’s passion. I think passion like that is the best anti-aging medicine there is. I’m trying to hold tight to my passion these days and I’m aiming for more, regardless of what that more looks like.

    1. Liza Baker

      You have always lived with passion—and I look fwd to seeing what “more” looks like for you!

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