How you look and feel in your fifties is usually the result of how you’ve been treating yourself since you were a young girl. I´ve committed my fair share of sins such as sunbathing without sunscreen (blisters on my shoulders and a peeled nose were to be expected every single summer as a kid), indulging in too much Happy Hour and extreme dieting, which led to an eating disorder I battled for years.
But, looking at my 54-year old self in the mirror today – age-related fine lines, wrinkles and gray hairs aside – I also see the results of good habits I picked up early in life. Fortunately they´re simple things that any young woman can do to reach midlife in half decent shape. If you’re 15, 20, 30 … don´t let anyone tell you it´s too early to start taking care of yourself. It´s never too soon! If you do as I say and as I did, one day, when you blow out your own 50 candles, you´ll thank me for this post!
Here are my 7 things you can do starting in your teens, to look and feel fabulous when you reach fifty.
1.- Moisturize your skin after every single shower or bath.
When you´re 50 and you´ve been using body lotion or baby oil on your skin after every.single.shower, well that´s a lot of body lotion, baby oil … and showers. It works. Your skin IS smoother than that of somebody who didn´t make applying body lotion a priority. Don´t let anyone tell you otherwise. What kind of lotion, you ask? A simple moisturizer you can afford and that makes you feel special when slathering it on.
2.- Wash and hydrate your face morning and night.
Again, do this every single morning and every single night without fail. Even if you get home at dawn after a night of dancing. Even if you don´t feel like it. Even if you are sick with a cold or just gave birth to a baby. Been there, done that all. And yes, I´ve been washing my face and moisturizing at least twice a day, every.single.day, since I was 13. Use something affordable and for the age and condition of the skin you´re in.
3.- Wear foundation or tinted moisturizer, even to the gym.
Makeup protects your complexion from the environment. I never leave the house without at least a BB or CC Cream. I started this habit at 15, almost forty years ago. And, boy am I glad I did. Even when my skin is starting to show – gasp! – age spots, I like to see it glow with the help of a well-blended foundation that matches and enhances the tone of my skin. The secret is for it to look natural, not mask-like.
Also Read: Lifelong Tips to Feel Happy in Midlife
4.- Get regular facials and massages.
I was treated to my first facial and full body massage at 19. It was a birthday present from a woman 30 years my elder with perfect skin. In Europe women get facials monthly and, over time, it makes a difference. If you can´t afford to do it professionally, learn to give yourself a facial at home. A massage helps you destress but also honor your body the way it´s meant to be honored and taken care of. It´s not a luxury. Even if you can only massage your feet at night, do it. Better than naught.
5.- Exercise at least half an hour three times a week.
This may not sound like much, but considering that I took up running and yoga at 12 (I know, I was a bit freakish already) and that I´ve swam, danced, practiced yoga, hiked, rock-climbed, walked, pushed strollers, lifted weights, stretched, played racquet-ball – that is, done some form of exercise for an average of three times a week for over 40 years, not counting the sports I did at school as a kid – that pretty much means I´ve exercised regularly my whole life. If you get into the habit of practicing a sport from an early age, your body will beg you to keep it up – it will start hurting, aching, gaining weight, if you stop. Start young. Start now.
6.- Don’t go on crazy diets.
As a recovering bulimic, I know first-hand the potential hazards of any unnatural and extreme diet. It´s ok to eat a few potato chips. It´s not healthy to have them as your main diet staple. Eat three to five times a day in moderation, stop eating before you´re full and enjoy a bit of everything. Life is short. Don´t deprive yourself. Enjoy the pleasures of the Mediterranean diet. My abuelita is a good healthy 101 thanks to that, I´m sure.
7.- Sleep as much as you need to.
Yeah, yeah, the early bird gets the worm and all that. Well, I don´t like worms and I can´t stomach getting up early. Of course if you´re a night owl like me and you have a day job or kids in school as I do, then you´re going to have to find a way to haul yourself out of bed early. But don´t cheat yourself out of sleep. I need eight or nine hours of shuteye to function the next day. You may only need six. Whatever it is, pay attention to your body. By the time you´re fifty, often the solution for looking wide-eyed and refreshed doesn´t come in a jar … It´s the result of a good night´s sleep. Do whatever it takes (within reason) to get it!
These habits won´t make you look 30 at 50, but they will make you look and feel splendorous at midlife. The best possible you, physically and mentally.
Take it one day at a time … for life.