There was a time in my life when I viewed my wrinkles and graying hair as embarrassing signs of aging, a flawed depiction that society often perpetuates. It was a journey of self-discovery and unlearning these misconceptions that helped me realize the beauty that comes with aging and every gray hair, wrinkle, and year is a testament to our resilience, wisdom, and beauty.
Today, I’m eager to share with you all what I’ve learned about aging gracefully, challenging societal norms, and debunking myths about aging. Together, we’ll be embracing the aging process as a natural part of our existence, rather than a dreaded inevitability.
As we navigate through this journey to redefine aging, we will delve deeper into the importance of health habits and self-care as they play a crucial role in aging gracefully. We’ll explore the significance of nutritional choices, regular exercise, and quality sleep and how these can influence our aging process.
Our conversation will not just revolve around the physical aspects of aging, but also the societal and cultural implications that often cloud our perception of growing old. Let’s challenge the narrative around aging, shift our perspectives, and celebrate every bit of our journey – every wrinkle, every gray hair, and every year.
Unlearning societal norms and internalized beliefs, embracing aging, nurturing health habits, and debunking myths about aging.
Fueling with nutritious food, exercising, quality sleep, and understanding cultural influences on aging is key to aging gracefully.
Craft a roadmap to age gracefully, challenge societal norms, take care of health, and make sustainable choices.
Have you ever looked in the mirror and felt that you looked old? That aging is a bad thing. Or have you caught yourself admiring your own maturity and strength? Only to then be reminded by a media image or an offhand comment by someone you know that youth is often seen as the ideal.
In today’s episode, we’re going to pull back the curtain on these cultural norms and perceptions about aging. We’re going to talk about why it’s absolutely possible and even beautiful to age gracefully, whatever that means.
We’ll discuss the real factors that contribute to aging, the ones you can control and how to manage them effectively. We’re going to dive into a subject that is rarely talk about but affects all of us. The societal norms, and the often unconscious internalization of aging and ageism.
I’ll even share a bit of my own journey of unlearning these internalized beliefs and reinventing my identity as a woman at this stage of my life.
So, if you’ve ever felt boxed in by societal expectations about aging, this episode is for you. Together, we’re going to redefine what it means to age and embark on a journey to embrace every wrinkle, every gray hair, every year as a testament to our resilience, wisdom, and beauty.
Let’s not just age gracefully, but let’s do it powerfully. Let’s get started.
You are listening to the done with dieting podcast. The podcast for women who are experiencing perimenopause and menopause symptoms and want to feel better – like they did before their body started changing.
I am your host, Elizabeth Sherman, Master Certified health, and life coach for women in menopause and peri menopause. I’ve helped thousands of women manage their symptoms, get off the diet roller coaster, and change their relationship with food, exercise, and stop fighting with their bodies. And I do it through a feminist lens – which means exploring how we are socialized as young women has a huge impact on our current relationship with food & exercise, our bodies, health, and ourselves.
What’s different about this podcast is that we’re exploring your health from all sides, not just food and exercise. We also address the mindset shifts that will make you happier and lead to better health.
My goal in this podcast is to illustrate that the reason diets don’t work long term is because your health doesn’t exist in a silo. Your health and your weight are a symptom of the OTHER parts of your life and how you show up. I want to help you to feel good and live the life you desire from a 360 degree approach: body, mind, and soul.
Welcome. Let’s get started.
Hey everyone, welcome to episode number 140 of the Done With Dieting podcast. I am your host, Elizabeth Sherman, and I am so excited to have you with me today. Now, before we get started, I need to let you know that I’m hosting a live class on September 20th, which is tomorrow. So, time is of the essence.
If you haven’t signed up for this yet, we are going to be talking about how you can get your health habits on track now that we are out of summer and we are all ready to get ourselves back to business. Maybe you felt like summer got a bit away from you and now you’re ready as the weather gets cooler to start being more active and gaining some traction in your health habits.
In the next few months before any other interruptions happen to your schedule. So, if this is you, head over to the show notes and get signed up for that because that link will be in the show notes.
Okay. Today, we are going to dive into a topic that I hold near and dear to my heart, and that I believe will resonate with you as well. We’re talking about aging. Now, if that word makes you feel a little bit uncomfortable or even anxious, you are certainly not alone.
Our culture has a complicated relationship with aging, don’t you think? We often associate it with loss. Loss of youth, loss of beauty. Loss of relevance, but what if we could flip the script and start viewing aging as a process of gaining. Gaining wisdom, gaining resilience, gaining a richer understanding of who we are, and of independence.
The theme of today’s episode is how to reverse the aging process. A journey of health habits and self-care. We’re going to be exploring the factors that influence how we age, and not just biologically, but mentally, emotionally, and socially, too.
And don’t worry, we’re not going to dive into fad diets, or magic potions, or outrageously expensive skincare routines. No, we’re focusing on the things that we can control and have a real substantive impact on our wellbeing.
And let’s be clear from the get-go, we’re not just talking about appearing younger. This is about feeling better, having more energy, being more comfortable in our skin, and moving through the world with a little bit more pep and vitality.
By nurturing our health habits and prioritizing self-care, we can profoundly influence our experience of aging. We can cultivate a lifestyle that leaves us feeling vibrant, resilient, and fulfilled no matter how many candles are on our birthday cake.
So, whether you’re comfortable in your middle age approaching it or reflecting back on it, this episode is for you. Because it’s never too late or too early to start living with more grace, vitality, and joy. And protect our health through adopting better habits.
Let’s begin by talking about some of the myths and misconceptions about aging that society tends to perpetuate. And there are a lot of them, aren’t there? We see them in movies, TV shows, advertising, all of these messages, suggesting that aging is something to be feared, something that we should try to avoid at all costs.
But one of the biggest myths and perhaps the most damaging is the idea that aging is inherently a bad thing. That it’s a process of decline, that it’s about losing things. Again, our looks, our worth, especially for women in midlife. And so, let me tell you, this myth is not only damaging, but it’s also just plain wrong.
Aging is not inherently bad. It’s not a disease to be cured or a condition to be managed. It’s a natural, just normal part of our life. It’s about evolution, transformation, and growth. It’s about gaining wisdom and resilience and embracing who we are and celebrating our journey.
Now, I want to share something personal with you. I am right there in the trenches with you on this journey. I’m not standing on some high hill like proclaiming these truths while being immune to these societal pressures myself. Oh, no. I have struggled with this too. And just like many of you, I felt that little jolt of pleasure when someone tells me that I look young for my age. I get it a lot.
I’ve caught myself feeling a little bit of a boost when someone says, really? You’re 54?? You look great for your age. It’s nice to hear, right? It feels good. But then, I started asking myself, why? Why do these compliments make me feel good? Why is it that you look young is considered a compliment in the first place?
And I realized that I have internalized some of that cultural ageism myself. I’ve been on a journey consciously working to dismantle this internal ageism in myself. And it’s not always easy. These messages that we’ve received our entire lives are deeply ingrained in us and unlearning them takes awareness and it takes time.
But every single day, I remind myself of the truth that I am not less valuable or less beautiful because I am aging. On the contrary, I am more myself than I have ever been. I am growing into my skin and that is something to celebrate.
So, as we embark on this show today, remember, you are not alone. And the fact that you’re here, that you’re listening, shows that you are already taking steps to challenge these myths and embrace a more empowering, positive perspective on aging.
So, next, let’s dive into the factors that influence how we age, and more importantly, the ones that we have control over. First up, let’s talk about stress. We’ve all felt stress, right? That pressure in our chest when we have too much on our plate or when we’re facing a difficult situation.
Stress is a normal part of life and in small doses it can actually be beneficial. It can help us meet deadlines or boost our performance in challenging situations. But here’s the thing, chronic stress, the kind of stress that’s constantly present day in and day out. It can take a serious toll on our bodies and our minds. And yes, it can also speed up the aging process.
When we’re stressed, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. Now, cortisol isn’t a bad guy. In fact, it’s essential for many bodily functions. But when we’re constantly stressed, our cortisol levels can remain high for too long. This can lead to various health issues like heart disease, sleep problems, and can also take a toll on our appearance.
Studies have shown that high levels of stress can lead to premature aging of ourselves. It can result in premature wrinkles, gray hair, and even hair loss. So, what can we do about it? Well, one, we can manage our stress effectively.
One of the best ways is through self-care. Which is something that we’re going to talk a little bit more about in the next point but for now, let’s focus on a few simple techniques that can help us to manage our stress.
The first one is deep breathing. Of course, this is a simple, yet powerful technique that can help to calm your mind and body. Whenever you feel stressed, take a moment, and just focus on your breathing. Deep breath in, hold it for a few seconds, and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat this a few times. It only takes three times, and you’ll feel your stress levels decrease.
Number two is exercise. So, regular physical activity can help to lower your stress levels. It doesn’t have to be anything intense, even a short walk around the block can certainly help.
Number three is mindfulness and meditation. Now, these practices can help you to stay focused on the present moment, which can reduce stress and anxiety. There are plenty of apps and online resources available to help you get started in this area.
And then, number four is creating healthy boundaries. It’s important to set boundaries in all aspects of your life, and this can mean saying no when you need to. Taking time for yourself and making sure that you’re not taking on too much.
It’s not about eliminating stress completely. I mean, that’s not even possible. It’s about managing so that it doesn’t control our lives and our health. And when we do that, we’re taking a big step towards aging gracefully.
Now, moving on to another crucial aspect of aging gracefully is self-care and rest. When I say self-care, I don’t just mean bubble baths and spa days. Although, those can be just completely fantastic. Self-care is about acknowledging your needs and taking steps to meet them. It’s about being as kind to yourself as you would be to anyone else.
Now, why is self-care so vital when it comes to aging? Well, when we take the time to care for ourselves, we’re prioritizing ourselves. This not only boosts our mental and emotional health, but it can also have physical benefits like improved immune function and reduced stress levels. Which as we just talked about, play a huge role in how we age.
And let’s not forget about rest in our fast-paced, always connected society. It can be a challenge to take a break. We often equate busyness with productivity and rest with laziness. But that’s a misconception that we totally need to debunk. Rest is not a luxury. It’s actually a necessity for not only our health, but our mental state as well.
When we rest, we allow our bodies to repair and recover. And this is when our cells regenerate, our body’s process toxins, and our minds consolidate memories. It’s also when our bodies produce most of our growth hormones, which play a vital role in maintaining youthful skin and muscle mass.
So, what are some self-care practices that promote rest? One is scheduling regular downtime. Setting aside time each day for relaxation. It can be reading a book, it can be listening to music, meditating, or just sitting quietly with your thoughts.
Another is planning out leisure activities. Engaging in activities that you enjoy and that help you to relax. This could be gardening, painting, hiking, or any other hobby that actually brings you joy that you like doing.
I would also suggest that you create a digital detox. So, this is one of the most important things. Consider taking regular breaks from your digital devices. The constant influx of information can be mentally exhausting, and the blue light emitted by your screens can interfere with your sleep. This is something that I am terrible about.
But the next one, quality of sleep, make sure that you’re getting enough sleep. Now, most adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Make sure your sleep environment is as comfortable as possible and try to keep a consistent sleep schedule.
And then, finally number five is practicing mindfulness. So, paying attention to your body. Paying attention to your body’s signals. If you’re feeling tired, take a break. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to breathe and refocus. Or maybe write out a list of everything that you need to do and separate it out.
There’s no one size fits all approach to self-care. It’s about finding out what works best for you and making it a non-negotiable part of your routine. After all, you are worth it, and by taking care of ourselves, we’re supporting our bodies and our minds as we age.
The next piece that influences our age is nutrition. So, you know the old saying that you are what you eat, right? Well, it’s not in entirely wrong. Our bodies are constantly regenerating and the building blocks for those new cells come from the food that we eat. If we’re fueling our bodies with nutrient dense foods, we’re giving ourselves the best possible materials for that regeneration process.
And let’s not forget about hydration. Our bodies are over 60% water, after all. Water is crucial for almost every bodily function from digestion and absorption of nutrients to skin hydration and elasticity. So, dehydration can lead to a myriad of health issues and speed up the aging process. So, ensure that you’re drinking enough water throughout the day.
Now, when it comes to a balanced diet, what does that actually mean? A balanced diet is one that gives your body the nutrients it needs to function correctly. This means consuming a variety of foods from all the different food groups. Fruits and vegetables, grains, starches, proteins, fats, and all the foods.
But here’s the deal. When I say balanced, I don’t mean that you have to meticulously measure and portion every single meal, right? It’s about making sure that you’re getting a good mix of nutrients over the course of your day or your week.
And so, this brings me to another important point, which is avoiding overly processed foods. Now, I get it. In our busy lives, it can be tempting to reach for the convenience of ready-made meals. But these often contain high levels of sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, not to mention all the additives and preservatives. Over time, these can lead to inflammation, weight gain, and accelerated aging.
Now, I don’t want you to be afraid of these things. But use them in a pinch and just observe, how much am I getting on a weekly basis. So, what’s the alternative? Well, it’s about going back to the basics. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats. These foods are not only more nutritious, but also more satisfying.
And guess, what? They can be just as convenient with a little bit of planning and preparation. it’s not about being perfect, it’s about making small, sustainable choices that add up over time. In the end, it’s about feeding your body with respect, because it’s the only one that we’ve got, and it deserves the best fuel that we can give it.
All right, next up is physical activity. And physical activities role in maintaining our health and youthfulness. So, you knew that we couldn’t talk about anti-aging without bringing up exercise, right? Exercise is a kind of magical elixir, that when you think about it, it’s one of those things that benefits us on so many levels.
It keeps our heart healthy, helps us to manage our weight, increases our strength, improves our mood, and so much more. But did you know that regular physical activity can also help you to age more gracefully? Yes, that’s right. Exercise not only makes us feel good, but also look good too.
Now, you might be asking, how does this all work? Well, exercise promotes good circulation, which keeps your skin healthy and vibrant. It can also help to boost your metabolism, which tends to slow down as we age. More importantly, it helps to maintain muscle mass and bone density. Two things that we tend to lose as we age.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking. I don’t have time for exercise or the energy. But here is the deal. Exercise doesn’t have to mean spending hours at the gym or running marathons. It’s about finding activities that you enjoy that can sustain long-term and every little bit counts.
So, I’ll share my own life as an example. I love walking. It’s something that I do daily. I love it because I can do it anytime, anywhere and it doesn’t require any special equipment. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to clear my mind and reduce my stress.
Exercise is like a gift that we give our bodies. It’s a way of telling our bodies, hey, I care about you. And I want you to be strong and healthy and vibrant for as long as possible. And studies have shown that once we become more physically active, we actually start to like our bodies more.
And so now let’s get onto the last, but certainly not least crucial factor for helping our aging, which is sleep. That sweet restorative oasis that we often overlook or compromise. It’s time to rethink that. Sleep is not a luxury. It is a necessity, especially when it comes to aging, and wanting to age well.
During sleep, our bodies get busy with some pretty important maintenance work. Think of it like your body’s overnight beauty team. As we snooze, our cells regenerate. Our brain clears out toxins, and our body goes into repair mode. It’s like a nightly tune up for your body and mind.
Lack of quality sleep can actually lead to a host of problems. Poor sleep can actually affect our mood, our energy levels, and our brain function. But did you also know that it has an impact on your appearance?
Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to dull skin, fine lines, and dark circles under your eyes. Yes, beauty sleep is a real thing. Sleep deprivation can also speed up the aging process on a cellular level.
Research has shown that poor sleep quality can affect the length of our telomeres, those protective caps at the end of our chromosomes that shorten as we age.
So, what does good sleep hygiene look like? It means setting a regular sleep schedule. Creating a restful environment and establishing a relaxing pre sleep routine. Also, it’s important to be mindful of what we eat and drink close to bedtime and limit exposure to screens. Which emit that blue light that can interfere with our natural sleep rhythms.
In my own life, I’ve made sleep a priority, even with a busy schedule. I try to get a minimum of seven and a half hours of sleep each night. And I’ve noticed a huge difference in how I feel, how I look, how I function, how I think, all of it. For me, it all starts with sleep.
I know in our fast-paced world, getting adequate sleep can sometimes feel like a challenge. But good sleep is not a luxury. It’s an essential part of self-care. So, you want to treat yourself to some quality sleep. Your body and skin will totally thank you for it.
So, next, let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Our culture. The way that we perceive aging isn’t just a personal thing. It’s heavily influenced by societal norms and values. In fact, many of the negative associations we have about aging aren’t our own. They’re unconsciously internalized through a process of socialization.
Let’s break it down into some of the ways that we’ve been socialized to see aging as a negative process. First, consider media representation. Older individuals are often underrepresented or stereotyped in TV shows, movies, and advertising.
The media often depicts aging in a negative light. Focusing on physical decline, illness, and dependency rather than the wisdom, resilience, and fulfillment that can accompany later life. This lack of positive representation can affect how we view our own aging process.
Next, let’s talk about beauty standards. Our society idolizes youth, equating it with beauty. This is reinforced by industries like cosmetics and plastic surgery, which often promote anti-aging products and procedures. Such standards can send a damaging message that beauty and value decrease as age increases.
And then, of course, there’s ageism in the workplace. Bias against older employees is prevalent, especially in industries related to technology and innovation. This can perpetuate the idea that older adults are less capable, adaptable, or efficient, and it impacts our self-perception as we age.
Aging is often medicalized by our healthcare system. Treating aging as a disease to be cured or prevented rather than a natural, inevitable life process can influence our fear and perception of getting older.
Now, here’s the thing. We can’t ignore the cult of youth that our society adheres to. Society tends to value and idealize the energy, vitality, and potential associated with youth. Often, devaluing the experience, wisdom and stability that often comes with age.
The language that we use can also reflect societal attitudes. Phrases like over the hill or having a senior moment. Imply that aging is a downward slope or associated with cognitive decline.
Invisibility of older adults is another big issue. When older adults are not visible in various aspects of public life, it leads to a lack of role models that could counter negative stereotypes about aging.
In many modern societies, there’s a lack of intergenerational interaction. Younger and older generations often live and work separately. Leading to a lack of understanding and empathy and the propagation of stereotypes. The fear of death and illness is also associated with aging. Topics, which are generally feared or avoided in many cultures.
And lastly, our personal negative experiences with older relatives or negative portrayals of aging within one’s family can also influence our perception of aging as a process to be feared or avoided.
So, we have all of these societal and cultural factors coming into play, shaping our view of aging. But these are not absolute truths. They’re constructs and we have the power to question and change them.
So, where does that leave us? We’ve unpacked the social constructs and internalized beliefs surrounding aging. We’ve talked about the impact of our lifestyle choices and our health and wellbeing as we age, but how do we change those deeply ingrained views and habits? This is where coaching can really make a difference.
Coaching offers a space to explore your beliefs about aging and redefine them. It’s an opportunity to work on those negative internalized narratives and replace them with positive, empowering ones. It’s a space where you get to focus on your health, manage your stress, and cultivate good nutrition, and physical activity, and sleep habits.
In essence, it’s a space to reclaim your power over your own aging process. The beautiful thing is that you are not alone on this journey. Remember, I’m right here with you doing the work as well. Right?
Yes, society is filled with ageism, but it doesn’t have to define our experience. It doesn’t mean that we won’t be able to find a job or that our lives are over. We still have a lot of life left in us. And we are capable of incredible things.
I want you to hold on to this. You are never behind. No matter where you are in this journey, it’s the perfect place for you to be. This journey isn’t about reaching a destination, but it’s about the growth and learning that happens along the way. It’s about reinventing our identity and embracing each new stage of our lives.
My own journey is a testament to this. Like you, I’m also navigating this process of aging and self-discovery. I don’t have it all figured out, but that’s the beauty of all of it. With each passing day, I’m learning, I’m growing, and I’m embracing the privilege of getting older. And together, we can redefine what aging looks like and how we experience it.
In the end, our age is just a number. It doesn’t define us. We define ourselves. And together, we can shape the narrative of aging in a positive and empowering way.
As we wrap up today’s episode, I want to take a moment to reflect. Aging is a natural, inevitable part of life. But that doesn’t mean that we are at its mercy. In fact, we hold an incredible amount of power. We can actively shape our own aging process by managing our stress levels, by prioritizing self-care and rest, and by fueling our bodies with nutritious foods. And by making physical activity and quality sleep, non-negotiable parts of our daily routines.
Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to age. Each of us is on our own unique journey. As we navigate the complexities of aging in a society that often equates youth with beauty and relevance, it’s crucial that we support each other. Let’s shatter those stereotypes. Let’s redefine what it means to age. Let’s embrace the wisdom, the resilience, and the fulfillment that comes with each new year.
So, I want to hear from you, how are you redefining your own aging process? What have been your struggles and victories? I want you to share your stories on social media with me and use the hashtag, #agegracefully.
Let’s start a conversation that shifts the narrative around aging from one of dread to one of celebration. And if you’re feeling stuck, if you need some guidance or support, remember that I am here for you. I invite you to book a consult call with me, and how to do that is go to elizabethsherman.com/consult and let’s work together to craft a roadmap that empowers you to age gracefully and fully embrace this beautiful journey of life.
As always, thank you so much for joining me today. Continue to celebrate your age, value your wisdom, and take care of your health. we are all in this together. Keep challenging those societal norms, continue reinventing your identity, and never forget that aging is a gift.
That’s all I have for you today. Have an amazing day, everyone. I’ll talk to you next time. Bye-bye.
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