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 52-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, thirty-five 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 38 eight 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 97 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. Coming up soon, habits that will keep you joyful and brimming with passion and a sense of purpose!
Take it one day at a time … for life.