A Better Looking Body At Any Age
As we age, our muscle structure and skin tone naturally break down. Additionally, our bone density starts to decline. In women this seems to be even more noticeable, as a female’s muscle structure is typically not as developed or resilient as a male’s. Beginning in our thirties, our cells actually start the deterioration process, in contrast to the renewal and regeneration process seen from our birth to our thirties. The back of our upper arms become looser, our mid sections hold onto to more excess weight and our bottoms begin a spread that is exacerbated by sitting on them for extended periods of time with insufficient exercise.
So how can we keep our bodies not only looking good at any age, but keep our muscles and bones strong and functioning like they were designed to do? Exercise, of course, is key, but nutrition, sleep and even our overall, sustained, general mood all play a critical role in the prevention of our ultimate deterioration.
In our thirties, we are right at the crux of completing our natural regeneration stage and moving into a state where our bodies truly begin to age and deteriorate. As horrible as that sounds, there are several things thirty year olds can do to get a jump on the process and prevent deterioration, while building a healthier, stronger base to carry us through to later decades.
In Our Thirties
In our thirties we actually start losing more bone mass than we produce. Without contrasting this, it could lead to osteoporosis, poor posture and eventually bones that break more easily than they should. First and foremost, contrary to popular belief of focusing on our muscle structure, our bones should be our top priority.
The best way to protect against bone deterioration and ensure that healthy, strong cells reproduce and continue to build is a two prong approach. When started in our thirties, it stands an excellent chance of carrying us with enough strength and support through the rest of our days. First, it critically matters what we are putting into the machine. During our thirties, when we are typically under a lot of stress from our careers and demands of children and home life, we need to focus on what we are eating. Walk into any grocery store and it becomes obvious that our society and food promotors are not focused on our well-being. The milk section and vegetable section of the store are always the furthest back, while the packaged foods and junk foods such as sodas, candy, processed foods and the like are right up front. This makes sense from a marketing prospective, since junk food is also more expensive.
What you put in your body on a regular basis is critically important. If you are consuming a lot of red meat, processed foods and only consuming fresh, raw, (or lightly cooked) vegetables and fruits once or twice a week, you are leading to problems as you age. In your thirties the focus should be on plenty of hormone-free dairy, or, if you are not a dairy fan, then making sure you are supplementing your bones with even more rich, deep in color, lightly cooked, fresh vegetables. These are critical to make up the difference.
Even if you are consuming a fair amount of dairy, your diet should also consist of as many fresh vegetables and fruits as you can possible consume each week. These foods will provide you with a required, critical source of a multitude of vitamins and minerals that will keep your bones strong and uncompromised, especially as your age progresses. To get enough and the right kind of protein, which our bodies also need to avoid degeneration, it’s important to consume lean, hormone and antibiotic free meat approximately three times a week, more if you are extremely active and demanding a lot of your body.
It’s important to remember that, unfortunately, in the U.S. today the majority of our meat is riddled and spoiled with high levels of hormones and antibiotics. The hormones are used to speed up the growth cycle of the animal, taking it from birth to slaughter in an unnaturally short amount of time. The antibiotics are added to ensure sick animals are well enough to walk to slaughter, a requirement by the FDA for slaughterhouses. Thus the cows, chickens and pigs we consume are regularly full of antibiotics that we in turn don’t realize we are consuming when we eat the final product.
How can these two additives cause us problems? The American Medical Association has done studies that have determined that our pre-teen girls are beginning their menstrual cycles a year earlier, every year, leading to the average age a young girl begins her cycle now to be at ten. They have determined that the cause of this is the great amount of hormones our children our consuming through our meat supply.
Antibiotics in our meat supply are also a major problem. The American Medical Association has also put out a statement saying that it is not “IF” we are going to have a pandemic virus sweep the country, it is “WHEN” this will happen. This is a result of the antibiotics in our meats. Because we are getting significant amounts of these antibiotics through our meat supply, we are slowly building up an immunity to the good antibiotics that would be necessary to slow down and ultimately stop a viral sweep. We are simply growing more and more immune to the antibiotics we will someday desperately need in order to consume meat from sick cows pumped full of enough antibiotics to enable them to stumble down a chute to slaughter.
So eating a regular diet of natural, hormone and antibiotic-free meats, plenty of fresh, pesticide free or thoroughly washed vegetables and fruits and consuming a regular amount of organic dairy products is the best defense we have against basic bone degeneration. Additionally, the less we consume hormone or antibiotic riddled, factory farm-produced meats, the less chance we will have of facing disease immune to antibiotics and compromising our natural hormonal systems. To take it even a step further, the altered foods we consume, from the hormones and antibiotics in our meats to the genetically modified foods that also infiltrate so much of our American diet, all put us at a higher exposure to cancer causing elements. Cancer is an epidemic in our country that most certainly prevents us from aging well.
In our thirties as well we tend to set life trends that carry us through our later decades. While aerobic activity may keep us slim and keep our fat to muscle ratio in balance, it is actually strength training that contributes most positively to our ongoing bone strength and general health. When humans were first developing on this earth, our life spans were much shorter, and many of us didn’t live past our thirties.
However, this had more to do with pre-eradication of many diseases, natural disasters and instability within communities, where a constant food supply was often compromised during long winters or during attacks by other tribes. One thing we had right back then was a daily, necessary supply of exercise. Typically the women gathered ground grown food while the men hunted. This actually took getting up off our bottoms and moving for a significant portion of the day. Times were tough. We built our own houses, had to regularly escape predators and travel great distances, often relocating over hundreds of miles, to follow the greatest supply of resources.
These days, it is entirely normal to spend the entire day sitting. While we are sitting, our muscles are deteriorating, our bones are weakening and our organs such as our heart and lungs are losing their elasticity. While going for a run or even getting to the gym a couple of times a week is a noble effort in today’s society and our over-extended, over-committed lives, it is still not ideal. Optimally we would exercise hard, both with aerobic activity and weight resistance, at the very least an hour a day. That is still a far cry from the activity we were originally designed for that would have included walking briskly, bending down and standing up repeatedly and even running as a woman gathering for her family, and either full out running or riding a horse as a man hunting for his.
Therefore in our thirties we absolutely must include daily exercise that incorporates both weight resistance as well as aerobic activity. This not only will keep us young, it will ensure that our systems function at their highest standard, from burning calories in an efficient manner to eliminating our waste efficiently and completely.
In Our Forties
As we approach and cruise through our forties, we face many of the same challenges we did in our thirties, such as maintaining and building new muscle mass as well as protecting bone deterioration. Additionally, we find our bodies start to breakdown in other ways. Our vision typically takes a turn for the worst right around forty and our weight becomes an ever increasing burden to keep under control. Our muscles go softer quicker than they did in our thirties, our hair starts turning gray and all those many laughs and frowns over the years begin to show as wrinkles on our faces.
Even more seriously, though, is the toll age takes on many of our critical organs. For instance, our heart becomes significantly more compromised as plaque from years of eating a diet too rich and high in fat. Plaque causes clots that weaken our arteries and veins, as age causes them to become more stiff and weak. High blood sugar, often brought on again by a diet too rich in sugars, processed foods and salt, causes our blood supply to become sticky. And as we naturally age, our metabolisms begin to slow, not only making it more inefficient to digest food and distribute calories in the healthiest way, but our slowing metabolisms naturally make us want to sit more and do less.
So what can we do during this critical time, which will essentially determine our health throughout the rest of our lives? Well, if we are lucky enough to be professional athletes or weekend warriors who train throughout the week to accomplish triathlons, or avid tennis players, many of these ailments of aging won’t be nearly the concern that they are for the average American, who finds squeezing in a couple of sessions walking the dog or a few, scattered trips to the gym during the week an accomplishment.
We can be religious about our exercise now, realizing that during our forties it is even more critical than it was in our thirties. Get a strong schedule established for our workouts, and learn to view these hours we spend every week exercising as a reward rather than a burden. Equally as important is monitoring our markers. While in our thirties, our bodies are in a stage that unless we are simply unlucky or flat out abusing our bodies, good health is the norm rather than the exception.
In our forties it’s important to recognize that we really are working to prevent the natural aging process. Regular, yearly checkups with our doctor, allowing them to keep an eye on our markers, specifically our cholesterol, blood pressure, fasting blood sugar and our triglycerides, will go a long way to preventing premature aging. Fortunately, as a society we have developed a plethora of medications designed to control these factors, which if left to drift out of normal ranges, can prematurely age us at a startling rate, not to mention threaten our lives. However, better than any drug is eating a healthy variety of the right foods and getting plenty of exercise.
Have you ever wondered why you were able to go out, stay out late all weekend in your twenties and thirties, only to discover that in your forties if you miss even a couple of hours of sleep it can wreck your entire next day? Our bodies become more sensitive to not only the amount of sleep we get in our forties, but also the quality. Making sure our sleep patterns are regular, uninterrupted and at a very minimum, seven hours a night, contributes significantly to our overall wellbeing and appearance.
As we age, and especially as we reach and proceed through our forties, our lives and the inevitable stressors that come with it seem to grow in importance, significance and especially the amount of stress they create for us. Apartment rentals become mortgage payments, car payments multiply, and children bring a whole, new, huge amount of responsibility to our lives.
Learning how to manage this stress, especially in our forties, goes a long way to helping us age gracefully. In fact, there seems to be two types of people in the world when it comes to handling stress. There are those that take everything that happens or could happen as a direct affront to their wellbeing, feeling constantly threatened and worried. Then there are those that many of us envy. They seem to just roll with the punches and not stress over the little things, even managing to handle the major stressors or mishaps in life with a certain grace and ease. While much of this is determined by personality type, it can also be consciously controlled by us. Learning to handle stress in a way that affects our health the least makes a significant impact on our overall health and aging process. Realizing that there are going to be negatives that we just have no control over, and being able to identify the things we can actually control, could be one of the most significant things we can do to slow our aging.
Our Fifties and Beyond
As we have seen, diet, exercise, sleep, monitoring our health closely and our attitudes all contribute to not only our physical appearance, but go a long way in preventing premature disease and ailments in general.
The last thing we can do to look our very best as we age is really quite simple. Stay out of the sun. While we all think we look better with a tan, and many of us even spend millions of dollars a year fake baking in highly dangerous tanning booths, the truth is that exposure to the very rays that make us think we look better, whether natural or man-made, are actually contributing to our premature aging. If you actually must darken your skin to feel like you look good, the least offensive are spray tans, although research is still not completely clear on what harm covering our biggest organ on our bodies, our skin, with chemicals actually does cause.
Although this all may seem daunting to stay on top of: exercise, diet, sleep, avoiding the many chemicals within our environment and even our attitudes, keep in mind that every bit of effort in each of these areas can only help delay the ultimate. Out of all three, it is our attitudes that have the biggest impact. Feeling young, thinking of ourselves as young, goes the longest way to actually making us look and feel young.
So if you are like the majority of us and are concerned about your aging, remember to keep in mind that every day is a precious gift, our health is an extremely valuable gift as well, something to be guarded and cherished, and to recognize that life is wrought with problems and disappointments, but we do have a choice how we react to them and let them affect us. By minimizing how hard we’re hit with the inevitable challenges of life, we will prolong not only our youthful appearance but also our overall good health.