A 50 Year Old’s Guide to “Agelessness”: 12 Steps to Stopping the Clock
Most people are shocked when I confess my age. To be honest, every time that number escapes my lips or comes to mind, it shocks me, too.
I certainly don't feel (or act 🤪) that age. I don't have any age-related aches or pains. I still like to (and CAN) do all the same things that I did when I was in my 20s and 30s… even more so now, because I'm in better shape than I was then.
So what's Victoria's Secret? (insert lame-joke eye roll here 🙄)
Beauty starts on the inside
The foods we eat, the quality of sleep we get, how much we move our body, and the chemicals that seep into our skin and lungs all play a part in how quickly we age, how well we feel, and even how happy we are.
There are no secrets here. Beauty and health are interrelated. The are a 360° proposition. Don’t know where to start? Here’s what I do:
1. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet made up of whole, organic foods with lots of veggies and healthy fats.
Here are my top eight anti--aging, beauty foods and beverages:
🐟 Wild Salmon. I eat salmon at least twice a week. It is one of the best food sources for Omega-3 fatty acids that fight inflammation on a cellular level, which can cause redness, wrinkles, and loss of firmness. Omega-3 fatty acids replenish the lipids in the skin, which help keep skin flexible, reduce moisture loss, and may even help with acne. Fish oils can also protect against the sun’s UV rays, which can lead to free-radical damage, skin aging, and the potential for skin cancer. Make sure to always choose wild salmon over farmed salmon, which have been found to have up to 10 times more contaminants (e.g., PCBs, dioxins, and chlorinated pesticides, not to mention antibiotics).
🌑 Blueberries are ranked number one in antioxidant activity when compared to other fresh fruits and vegetables. Their antioxidant, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory effects protect the body and skin from premature aging. I make sure to eat a handful every single day. In the summer, I buy a ton of them and freeze them.
💦 Kangen Water® You know the importance of drinking enough water. It keeps you hydrated from the inside out and helps keep skin healthy, soft, smooth, and glowing. Water plays a key role in maintaining skin’s elasticity and suppleness. But not all water is created equal. Tap water contains too many pollutants, plastic bottles leech BPA and other chemicals into bottled water, and filtered water sometimes removes all the essential minerals out of the water, increasing the acidity of the body. Furthermore, I have a really hard time drinking regular water, which is one of the reasons I bought a Kangen Water® machine. Kangen Water® is more hydrating to the body than just regular water; it is alkaline and can balance your body’s delicate pH; and one glass of Kangen Water® has more antioxidants than 5 cups of blueberries! Most importantly, there is a different taste to it which makes getting down my 6-8 glasses a day a breeze! LEARN MORE about this amazing water.
🦴 Bone Broth has minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and other nutrients that can keep skin vibrant. It is rich in collagen, which helps keep hair, skin, and nail healthy. It is highly anti-inflammatory, supports weight loss because it is high in protein, which helps the body feel fuller for longer, and can even reduce the appearance of cellulite. I make my own bone broth frequently (CLICK HERE to see my recipe), but supplement with Perfect Hydrolyzed Collagen every day.
🥕 Carrots. My daughter calls me Bugs Bunny because I am always snacking on carrots or drinking carrot juice (when I’m not too busy to make it). Carrots are a good source of beta-carotene, which is one of the most powerful antioxidants, and Vitamin C, which helps skin recover faster from external wounds and trauma. Beta-carotene in carrots also reduces skin inflammation, which speeds the healing process. antioxidants, which help your body fight free radicals, cell damage, and inflammation.
🍅 Cooked Tomatoes - provide the greatest amount of the anti-aging antioxidant, lycopene. Lycopene helps protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, macular degeneration, and even sunburn! I love to sautee cherry tomatoes with eggs in the morning or add them to the pan when I roast fish or chicken.
🥑 Avocados. I’m an avocado junkie. I try to eat one almost every day. Avocados are filled with biotin for beautiful hair and nails. Plus, vitamins B and E can protect hair strands from dryness and damage, control hair loss and repair scalp damage. Avocados also contain lutein, a carotenoid that promotes skin elasticity, while oleic acid and chlorophyll help to reduce redness and inflammation.
🌱 Green Tea is a great substitute for coffee with a generous dose of powerful beauty agents that can improve skin’s moisture, roughness, thickness and elasticity. Green tea contains powerful compounds called catechins that help protect your skin from the dangerous effects of the sun, helping you achieve a wrinkle free, smooth complexion. Additionally, green tea contains about eight times the polyphenols (i.e., powerful antioxidants that protect the body's tissues against oxidative stress) found in fruits and vegetables and it has been shown to reduce the risk of skin, lung, colon, breast, esophageal, and bladder cancers.
2. Supplement Wisely
While getting most of your nutrients from food is optimal, I believe that strategic supplementation is key to good health and beauty. I’ve spent a great deal of time researching supplements—what they do, who they’re right for, how they complement each other, and which brands are best (Not all supplements are created equal. Check out the brands I use and recommend to my clients.)—and I’ve put together a customized supplement regimen for everyone in my family. [Interested in getting your own customized regimen? Contact me!].
Here are my top five supplements for maintaining good health, fighting aging, and enhancing beauty:
1. Cod Liver Oil contains omega 3-fatty acids that may reduce chronic inflammation by suppressing the proteins that promote it. It also contains vitamins A and D, which are powerful antioxidants. They can reduce inflammation by binding and neutralizing harmful free radicals. It is excellent for hyperpigmentation, especially in the form of acne scarring and discoloration from repeated facial breakouts. It contains vitamin A, D, and omega-3 fatty acids, which is what helps with skin. I drink a teaspoon of Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil every single day and have been giving it to my daughter since she was two years old.
3. MSM is a miracle supplement. I take it daily and it makes my hair grow like crazy! It has powerful detoxifying and anti-inflammatory benefits, strengthens the skin's support matrix and helps combat the symptoms of conditions such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis. It visibly improves the condition of skin, hair and nails and is clinically proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
4. Vitamin C - antioxidants help protect cells from free radical damage, which is one of the best anti-aging methods and so it’s no surprise that high Vitamin C intake is associated with fewer wrinkles. Unfortunately, Vitamin C supplements are hard to absorb and about 70-80% ends up in the toilet, literally. I use LivOn Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C. Its innovative delivery makes it the most highly absorbable C on the market.
5. Vitamin D3 K2 - Vitamin D helps the body absorb and store the calcium we get from our food. This means that strong bones and beautiful teeth depend on Vitamin D.
3. Move your body as much as possible and lift weights, which is key not only for looking good but for bone health (especially for us, ladies). And no, lifting won’t make you huge. Building muscle is not easy and we simply don’t have the testosterone to build that kind of muscle mass.
4. Get at least 7 hours of quality sleep every night. This means prioritizing sleep over everything including that paper you have to write, the latest Game of Thrones episode, Candy Crush, and even working out. Lack of sleep messes with your hormones, raises cortisol levels, and impairs your judgement, which makes you more susceptible to binge-eating and junk food cravings.
If you’re not sleeping well, I assure you that it’s not an Ambien deficiency. Try supplementing with a transdermal magnesium supplement (oral magnesium is tough on the kidneys and very difficult for the body to absorb, so most of it gets flushed down the toilet.
5. Fast for 4-5 days several times a year
What? That's right! Fast, as in not eat.
Not only is fasting a highly effective weight loss tool (obviously!), but studies show that it can:
Increase mental clarity
Improve memory and mood
Ward off neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Produce a host of anti-aging benefits (e.g., rejuvenate skin, delay aging, and extend longevity)
Improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and
Stimulate autophagy, the body’s mechanism of breaking down and clearing out damaged cell parts., which helps heal the body and prevent disease, suppress tumors, and support immunity. Autophagy improves your cells and, therefore, your lifespan.
I know what you're thinking. “That's great and all, but fasting sucks!”
Yes, it does! And who has that kind of willpower?
In full disclosure, I haven't been able to last more than 24-36 hours on a water fast, but then I discovered the ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD), a five day meal plan developed by the brilliant Dr. Valter Longo PhD, one of the world’s leading longevity researchers.
Prolon FMD involves consuming small amounts of carefully selected and portioned food for five days to trick the body into thinking it’s fasting while you are still eating. It results in weight loss and has a regenerative effect on the body. It's super simple, painless, and makes me feel (and look) amazing! Read my blog, Diary of a Girl Who Are While Fasting, to find out about my first three experiences on ProLon and to find out more information about this amazing program.
6. Wear toxin-free sunscreen every day even when there’s no sun! But not just any sunscreen. SAFE sunscreen! The kind that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals like oxybenzone (among others) and do more harm than good. If you don’t know how to pick out a safer sunscreen, read my blog, The Not So Sunny Side of Sunscreen.
7. Use a line of high quality, non-toxic personal care and beauty products. This is a biggie! Why? Because this isn’t even on the radar for most of us. Even some of the most health-conscious people, who watch everything that goes in their mouth, don’t give a second thought to what they put on their skin.
However, what you put on your skin is just as important as what you put in your mouth. Harmful chemicals from the products you use daily (e.g., body lotion, shaving cream, sunscreen, skincare, and cosmetics) absorbs into your bloodstream and alters your body chemistry. And the biggest problem is that there is a serious lack of regulation in the personal care and beauty industry, so companies are able to use all types of dangerous chemicals in the products that we put on our and our kids skin every day!
But we no longer have to compromise our health for beauty or beauty for health. There are more and more safer options available every day.
And don’t fret. You don’t have to throw out and replace everything you own at once. As you finish your products, take care selecting the next one and make sure it is safer. If you’re not sure, check in with EWG.org, which has a vast database of personal care products and rates them for safety.
My personal favorite line is Beautycounter. They are leading the clean beauty movement and advocating for more regulation in the industry. They have a line of super high-performing products for women, men, kids and babies. And if you subscribe to my newsletter, I’ll send you a $15 Beautycounter Gift Certificate!
8. Ditch air fresheners and swap out toxic cleaning products for safer options. Protect your environment. Minimize the chemicals you use in your home. Follow my Clean Swap posts for ideas. I’ll be coming out with a Master Clean Swap List soon. Subscribe to my 360 Degrees of Wellness newsletter to be the first to get a copy!
9. Minimize alcohol, sugar, and simple carbohydrates, like pasta and bread. Drinking too much and eating too much sugar and processed carbohydrates (like pasta, bread, and baked goods) can lead to damage in your skin's collagen, which keeps your skin springy and resists wrinkles. Furthermore, when we eat sugar, it causes the level of glucose in the bloodstream to rise. As blood sugar goes up, the opportunity for sugars to bind with proteins increases, forming unwanted molecules in the process (a process called glycation). These molecules are called Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs), which can be likened to the rust in a car. Just like a car will develop corrosion if exposed to too much water and salt, our cells will experience a buildup of cellular debris in the form of AGEs if we overeat refined sugar. AGEs damage cellular machinery, inhibit the ability of cells to perform basic housekeeping functions and make them behave as if they were much older. AGEs are literally AGE-ing.
10. Maximize joy, positive thinking and your faith in a beautiful tomorrow. In other words, focus on being happy. You know the old adage, “happy girls are the prettiest,” well it’s true (true for men, too!). Find joy in everything you do, see, and hear, no matter how small. Relish the moment when your favorite song comes on the radio or when the warmth of the sun hits your face on a sunny day. It’s finding wonderment in the ordinary not waiting for big things to happen that leads to being more fulfilled and satisfied in life, as does the faith and hope that tomorrow will bring good things. It’s no wonder that optimists live longer lives. They usually look younger too!
11. Be grateful. Research suggests that gratitude not only makes us happier, but healthier too. Preliminary studies suggest that grateful people have fewer health problems, sleep better, and may even improve cardiovascular health.
Here are three ways you can practice more gratitude in your life.
Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you've received each day. Reflect on three to five things that went right during the day, no matter how big or seemingly insignificant (e.g., I didn’t get wet because I had an umbrella, my workout went particularly well, the veggies at lunch were delicious). As you record these, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.
Meditate or Pray. If you are religious, you can be grateful through prayer. If not, try mindful meditation, focusing on the positives in your day (e.g., a beautiful spring day, a kind word from someone, the smell of a beautiful flower you passed on the street). Don’t be so quick to dismiss it. Brain scans have shown that in comparing the brain scans of meditators to non-meditators of the same age, the brains of meditators looked 7.5 years younger on the average!
Thank someone. Whether you write a thank you note or thank someone face-to-face or even mentally, your expressing your appreciation of that person’s impact on your life nurtures your relationship. Once in a while, write one to yourself, or a part of yourself you may not appreciate as much. Find something positive about it and write it down.
12. Be mindful, be present, and accept yourself at every stage. Mindfulness and self-acceptance may be an important component to healthy aging. Focusing on the here and now and accepting yourself as you are in the moment (instead of lamenting the past or worrying about the future) leads to being in a better mood and having better health.
Let’s me honest, every one of us has that awful voice that keeps telling us we are not good enough, thin enough, successful enough, smart enough… and it goes on and on and on, but isn’t it time you fired that voice? What good does it do other than undermine your self-esteem, keep you from taking on new challenges, and keep you worried about what other people think?
Self acceptance means you give zero f*cks about what other people think, because you love, accept, and respect yourself regardless of your extra wide love handles, the stray hairs growing out of your moles, the lack of a college degree, your passionate pro- or anti- Trump stance, or your odd habit of grooming your cats… with your tongue.
According to Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, there are three ways to increase self-acceptance:
Self-regulation, which involves suppressing negative thoughts (e.g., self loathing) and refocusing on those aspects and characteristics of yourself that are positive and you like. It also involves reframing negative situations to see the “silver lining," so you see opportunities instead of obstacles (e.g., looking for ways in which negative criticism can help you grow constitutes reframing).
Self-awareness involves monitoring our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and actions. It’s important because having a better understanding of ourselves allows us to see our own uniqueness and empowers us to make changes. It allows us to build on our areas of strength as well as identify areas where we would like to make improvements.
Self-transcendence, which means relying less on external influences to define you and instead, seeking a connection with the world, but contributing to work, your family, or volunteering and helping others. If you find and authentic unity and connection with the world outside yourself, it will help you focus less on all the things you dislike about yourself.
I know what you’re thinking. Holy crap! How am I supposed to remember all that, much less put it into action! But don’t stress. Remember, 80% good all the time beats 100% perfect 20% off the time. This is not an all or nothing end game.
Start out with changing out one thing a week. It may not seem like a lot, but a few months down the road, you'll be surprised at how far you've come. And if you need some help, contact me. Behavior modification is my specialty. Just ask my clients.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Victoria Gregory is an Integrative Nutritionist and founder of NEWTRITION NEWYOU. Her focus—whether with private clients, readers of her blog, or her followers on social media— is whole body wellness, incorporating whole-food nutrition, supplementation, exercise, toxin-free living, and mindset coaching. Victoria’s personal mission is to help make the world a healthier place, one person at a time, and she has helped thousands of people find joy and self-love through better eating habits and mindfulness. Learn more about Victoria.