Today, I’m recovering from a weekend at Coachella. Yes, this 56-year old mom of two spent the weekend at a music festival in the desert surrounded by festival fashionistas, a lot of twenty somethings partaking in extracurricular activities, and bands I’d never heard of (and some I didn’t think I would hear from again!).
I attend a lot of conferences and nutrition talks but I experienced first hand this weekend that age is just a number, feeling younger and aging well is a choice that we have a majority say in. It was worth every second of a bloated Axl Rose to spend time with my daughters and add a new experience to the books.
Along with new appreciations for alternative music, in my Coachella aftermath, I’m feeling inclined to share my personal philosophies on longevity and aging well. There’s nothing like being surrounded by 100,000 quarter-lifers to make you wax poetic about the joys of longevity 😉
1. You’ve come a long way baby
If you were born in 1900, you had a high likelihood of passing away before your 50th birthday. Meaning, it’s very likely I would never had experienced a weekend like this, at my age, had I been born a hundred or so years ago. This dramatic increase is one of mankind’s greatest achievements. The trend is continuing now, with fewer deaths at older and older ages, but the bottom line is there is a limit on how long we can physically live. Focusing on our “Health Span” as opposed to our “Life Span” is the best way to maximize the gift that science has given us.
2. How you are going to age is YOUR decision
Age and dietary choices go hand in hand, what you eat is critical to preventing chronic illness and disease, but overall the “centenarian consciousness” is most important. It turns out my decision to put myself in the dessert and have a great time was adding years to my life 😉 Research shows that savoring life, pursuing passions, creating new rituals and committing to social activities, and engaging in pleasurable activities are the common denominators of centenarians.
3. “Getting older increases your value and competence”
According to Dr. Christiane Northrop, our culture is ageist, “It tells us that our best years are behind us — but as we get older we can draw from the past. We can teach mindfulness, and we have a backlog of sometimes decades of information.” Dr. Northrop says that it’s important to learn that the best is ahead, to stop our ageist thoughts and work toward making ourselves healthier. As I danced with my girls and grooved with the music this week, I felt nothing but bliss and gratefulness for the life path that led me to that moment. In living in these moments of joy, I embraced every bit of life that led me to this place and it felt amazing!
4. Embrace information, health no-no’s, and wellness technology…most of the time.
Cold cuts are off limits, hotdogs are carcinogenic, margarine is out and butter is in. Sitting all day and sedentary lifestyles are as dangerous as smoking. The Fitbit/Jawbone/Microsoft Band/Mio…these are the new go-to accessories. American centenarians are plugged into popular culture and they take information and apply it…most of the time! It was pretty amazing to see a younger generation embracing wellness and technology, there definitely weren’t green juice stands or anyone rocking a Fitbit when I attended my first music festival, I had no idea that I was walking 18,000 steps per day back then! The key to longevity is balance and consistency and embracing the new.
5. Never take life sitting down, literally and metaphorically.
In addition to diet, the importance of fitness and functional fitness cannot be overstated. Move to the music, dance every time you have the chance, break up your sedentary days with walks, find a way to get your move on everyday. It will also help to add in weight and interval training as well as flexibility training like yoga. Never let age dictate your physical capabilities as long as you can help it.
And…if you’re looking to find that nutritional balance that lends itself to a long “Health Span”, I’m your girl. Apparently, I’m also your girl if you want to go check out a new band and have a good time!