(by the way, if you get the reference from this blog title, bless you, we’re probably of the same pop-culture generation)
I interrupt this regularly scheduled #AskAmanda blog spot with a not-so-riveting revelation:
In just a couple of weeks’ time, I’ll be turning 34.
34 is not an exciting birthday, it’s not the type of birthday you make lists for (“30 Things to Do by Age 30”) or feign dread about (“OMG 40! Over the hill!”) or even anticipate with anything more than a mild sense of whimsy (“My 21st is gonna RAGEEEEE”). It’s sort of one of those birthdays that gets lumped in with all the other ones from 31 onwards, and maybe gets marked with a few spirited beverages with friends or a nice dinner out.
That said, I was reading an article about how to age gracefully today, and in that article, it said that the official age category of being considered “young” is 1-49, which gives me a solid 15 more years of scientific youth.
Whew. I’ll take it where I can get it, surely.
But of course, in the same article, it noted some of the inevitabilities of physiological aging, such as bone degeneration (yep, a little every year after age 30 for women), muscle loss (3-5% per decade after 30), running speed decline (up to 20% between ages 20-59), and the biggie, of course – the end of “biologically optimal childbearing” kicking in at a the ripe ol’ age of 35.
Sigh. One more year, and even my poor neglected uterus can’t keep up.
Perhaps some (or all?) of this started weighing on me more heavily the past year, particularly as I was going through a rough patch personally over the past eight months. Every time I looked in the mirror I felt old, slow, lethargic, a little less vibrant, a little less confident. I didn’t like this feeling, so I sat down to make a list of all the things I wanted to do differently in the coming year – since, as I tell my clients, you are your own problem, so you must be your own solution.
The first thing I wanted to address was my mental game. As I’ve aged (and moved beyond my many, MANY years of formal education), I feel like my brain fires a bit more slowly, I can’t find the words I’m always looking for, and I’m a bit less clever. I recommitted to keeping this blog alive on the regular (you’re welcome), as well as reading at least one book per month, and I signed up to advance my nutrition coaching career by going through the (quite comprehensive!) Precision Nutrition curriculum.
I’ve also downloaded the app Buddhify and tried to complete at least one meditation every other day, ranging on every topic from “calm” to “sleep” to “focus.” I’m actually not too much of a stress case despite my insane schedule, but I definitely lack mindfulness, and it is something I definitely need to work on – especially when it leads to easy mistakes at work or temper tantrums in my personal life.
The second focus is of course, outward appearance. Decades of being an “expressively” emotional person means I have some impressively deep wrinkles on my face, so I finally bit the bullet and went for Botox, which I’d been talking about doing since I was 30. Believe it or not, the whole experience was easy-breezy, especially considering they’re putting needles directly into your face without painkillers. I noticed major results (around the eyes and forehead, in case you’re wondering where) immediately and short of wearing an I ❤ BOTOX t-shirt, I am a total convert and devotee. #faceneedlesforever
I’ve also committed to getting regular facials (kind of a cheat since I really started doing this when I moved to Singapore in 2015), actually caring about how my nails look (you know, throwing some non-chipped color on there once in a while), and taking care of my skin and hair – including, believe it or not, not only regular haircuts (!) but my first round of eyelash extensions which, I must say, were absolutely spectacular and gave me a near-Botox-level feeling of addiction after the first treatment.
The day after the extensions I decided to double down and even go for my first LED lamp tooth whitening treatment, which despite the sensitivity factor (I have sensitive teeth and gums even without putting chemicals all over them), gave me back the sparkling-pearly teeth I remember having before rampant coffee addiction took over my life.
And now for the third prong in the self-improvement game – emotional wellness. I noticed that I feel better when I am more connected to family and friends, even during uber-busy times at work, and that when I don’t have these relationships thriving, I feel exhausted and empty no matter how well I’m doing with my career. The demands of opening and operating a small business have definitely taken their toll over the first half of this year, but I’m not letting it get me down – I’m recommitting to my closest and most important relationships no matter what this year.
I’m going to Skype with my parents once per week. I’m going to remember to send postcards to my niece when I travel. I’m going to cook dinner for my partner once per week, and go out of my way to make him feel special. I’m going to keep my (pen-to-paper) journal updated. I’m going to say YES to friends and NO to clients when the latter start to drain my energy with unreasonable demands. And I’m going to rediscover my yoga practice – yes, the one I actually had for so many years – at least once per week.
There are some things in life that are non-negotiable when it comes to maintaining health and happiness, and in my (impending) 34th year, I’m focusing on exactly what makes life worth living – no more working toward other peoples’ priorities at the expense of my own health and sanity. As the poet Robert Frost once said, “Time and tide wait for no man, but time always stands still for a woman of thirty.”
As for me, you read it here first: I’m going to use every bit of the next 365 days to its fullest.
What are your best habits for staying well as you age? What keeps you going each day?