Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Long and Rambly Post with Completely Random and Non-Scientifically Proven Tips on How to Stay a Spring Chicken, Inside and Outside.

Last Thursday was my birthday. As I have already mentioned, I LOVE birthdays! And, no, I won't fall into a deep depression despite the fact that I am now 43. Oh, an unmarried and childless 43 to be exact. So what? No reason to kill myself, nor hide in a corner and mope. Unlike many other women, I am definitely a late bloomer and am liking myself more the older I get, both inside and outside.
I definitely don't live under the delusion that I could be mistaken for a student (unless by an old granny with impaired vision or a seriously drunk person of any age) or might have to show my ID to get into clubs, but I am genuinely content to be in pretty good shape for my age and know that I definitely look on the younger side of the spectrum despite the odd wrinkle and cellulite bump. Part of this is genetics, but part of this is something I/you have under control and can influence. Here's what I personally believe keeps you young at heart and in appearance:

Move your ass. I am not a sporty person AT ALL. At PE at school I was so clumsy and untalented (all my classmates can certify that!) that I mainly got good marks for making an effort and not skipping classes, which my teacher parents would never allow me to do. I do, however, love being on the move and really enjoy open-air activities such as winter sports (skiing and ice-skating are my favourites). I love swimming and try to do it regularly. I also try to walk as much as I can. I recommend you skip that last subway stop and walk to work (unless you really are in a hurry)! For some strange reason I actually like walking up stairs and the fact that my office is on the 4th floor is a welcome mini-exercise and circulation boost each morning.

Make an effort and emphasise your assets.
Don't leave the house looking like a scarecrow, you will end up feeling like one and be treated like one. Me, I love putting on make-up and putting together outfits. I feel good and ready for the day if I make a bit of an effort and that's what I do every day. I firmly believe that looking your best whatever you're up to is a favour you are doing yourself above all. Yes, it also helps to prepare you for an unexpected encounter with your ex or whoever else you would like to impress, but that's a secondary benefit. Hopefully, you know what are your best features. If not, ask your best friend or partner and they should give you an honest answer. Emphasise those assets, be it long, shiny hair, beautiful eyes or a slim waist and remind yourself that hardly anybody is perfect in every respect and there are so many women out there who envy at least part of you.

Slap it on!
Make-up for purely "decorative" purposes is one thing and unlike me, you might be so beautiful you don't need it at all. Creams/lotions, etc. as protection are another. Again, genetic disposition plays a big role whether you get premature wrinkles or hyper-pigmentation, but it is definitely a good idea to start thinking about SPF and anti-aging creams before it is too late, i.e. you see the first signs. There is only so much foundation can over... It is also a good idea to shun the sun as we all know that (drugs, alcohol, or nicotine aside) nothing ages you as much as exposure to the sun. Yes, your skin needs vitamin D, but it doesn't need wrinkles or skin cancer. And don't forget your neck and hands, either ;-)

Listen to your cravings and stop the guilt-trips.
Sometimes, wisdom comes with age. Until I was in my early twenties, I used to always put sugar into my tea and coffee because, well, that's what everybody (apart from my Mum) seemed to do. Once I happened to catch a quote by some doctor on TV who said that people aren't aware that sugar is a spice like salt and pepper and they should pay attention to the quantities. It really made me think and I skipped sugar from hot beverages ever since, not missing it at all. I went to school with a bunch of girls who had anorectic and/or bulimic tendencies even before these were a known phenomenon and there was a lot of pressure if you were chubby like I was. I constantly felt I was over-indulging and in the need to count calories. The fact that my best friend was always skinny didn't help to boost my confidence. There was a lot of binge-eating with the associated guilt.
Now, I eat what I feel like eating and this happens to be healthy things in moderate portions most of the time. Then I turn into a beast if you put salt & vinegar crisps in front of me... I usually crave a chocolate fix and an espresso after lunch, but I won't stuff my face with a whole chocolate bar. If I did, it would be o.k., though, as I know I don't feel like a chocolate orgy every day so it all evens out. From March to September, when the ice-cream parlours are open in Vienna, I have ice-cream almost every single day, enjoying every scoop of it.
As you can see, I am by no means a beacon of healthy eating plus I know I should eat about 5 times more slowly as I do (blink and you miss the food that was on my plate a second ago), but I try to eat what I actually crave and enjoy and remind myself to stop and think if I really feel like eating something or it is just out of boredom/social obligation. It is o.k. if you don't order a dessert just because everybody else does, even at a business dinner. 

Weight is just a number. As are clothes labels. I was a fat child and chubby teenager (of slim parents) and thus I got so used to thinking of myself as "the fat one" in any group that when I wasn't fat any more it literally took me months to get used to that fact. It wasn't until I was in my mid-twenties that I stopped thinking about food obsessively and miraculously all that "baby fat" dropped off then. Ever since I have fluctuated between 2 dress sizes and been more or less the same weight, plus or minus 5 kgs. Not that I weigh myself more than twice a year on average.  I also have stopped caring what the label in my clothes says. Most of the time I am a European 36/38, but I would also try something on if the label read 54. I don't care. I am happy with my body shape and don't mind if some designer decides I fall into the "elephant" category. People who judge others based on how fat or slim they are or feel superior if they are slimmer are insecure themselves, trust me.

Be Kind and generous. To others and to yourself.
It really is true that pet-owners start to look like their animals after years in each other's company and old couples begin to look alike. Similarly, a grumpy or depressed atmosphere in the place where you live can rub off. Just look at (old) people in public transport in Vienna and you know what I am talking about. There are lines in my face, oh, yes, but they are not frown or anger lines. They are from laughing, mostly. To me, personally, bitterness and envy are are the worst you can do to yourself besides jealousy and none of them make you any prettier. I know, I know, it's hard to control these emotions, but try to counteract them at least by being kind and generous to the people around you without expecting anything in return. There's nothing more gratifying than making somebody else happy now and again. Don't forget yourself, too, though. Treat yourself and spoil yourself, regardless of the zeros in your pay-check. Enjoying food without guilt, see above, is a good start.

Forgive or forget
I have spent a lot of time thinking about this topic as 2014 was definitely the year of shall I put idiots complicated characters and crying over them. Deep down I knew of course that the rude and insulting behaviour of somebody with more issues than Vogue should not bring me down and I could always walk away, but, hey, I'm better at the theory than practice part of adult behaviour and thus I had my share of "learning the hard way". Again. New year, new start and there only two ways of dealing with disappointment, be the other party a friend, colleague or lover: if you still value the person and want to have them in your life, forgive and move on and don't bring up their "offence" every time you meet them. If you don't want to have them in your life for whatever reason, move on. If not, bitterness>wrinkles, see above.

Don't give a sh**
With this I don't mean behaving as if you were alone on this planet, quite the contrary. I mean stop being so self-conscious and a slave to what others tell you. Wear bright red even if it is not in fashion this season, wear your granny's fur jacket if it suits you (the poor mink won't come alive if it stays in the wardrobe), jump up and down in the club and embarrass your friends. Nobody gets hurt, nobody dies from seeing a mildly embarrassing performance.

Don't wait for tomorrow
Now that I am - eeeeeeeek - officially "middle-aged", whether I like it or feel like that, or not, and have had friends and relatives die young or have something unexpected happen to them that prevents them from ever ticking off all those items on their bucket list, I am a firmer believer than before that you should not wait for tomorrow to do what you want to do. Unhappy in your job? Change it! Unhappy in your relationship? Change it! Bored? Do something. Myself, I am starting by taking 3 months off work, something that I am really looking forward to and that puts a happy smile on my face every time I think about it.

What are your secrets to staying a spring chicken?


Anonymous alcessa said...

First of all, happy birthday!

I can only confirm your statement that happiness comes with age - if we had time machines, I'd sure as heck travel back to tell my younger self not to worry too much.

But then, there's nothing wrong in enjoying your 30ies and 40ies, right? :-)

There are a few things that put the spring in my chic- errr you know:

Workout (some light muscle training) and Movement (just like you, I love walking and stairs, but I have never learnt to ski or skate and wouldn't want to start now - I do a great amount of hiking in Schwarzwald and Pfälzer Wald, though)

Vegetables and water (my middle-age drug is called Volvic - I adore it for no discernible reason)

Anti-ageing creams and laughter wrinkles :-) I don't do make up though, because it doesn't feel well on my skin and because I don't feel the need to yet (lazy?)

Laughing a LOT. Like: A LOT.
And a lot of sleep: 8 hours a night are a must.

Just like you, I believe in living this life because it can be over soon or bad things can happen. This simply means I am aware how much I enjoy things most days and allow myself some extras occasionally (like a yak cardigan from hessnatur :-)

I am also very much able to enjoy other people's happiness and satisfaction, like yours. Here's to more of it! :-)

2/04/2015 09:54:00 AM  

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