“How old is your mother? She looks so young.”

I had asked my daughter about the “reviews” she had gotten on the photo of my mother-of-the-bride dress from the friends of her future mother-in-law. Did it really matter? No. I love my dress and feel great in it. But since I’m not the biggest fashionista I secretly wanted to hear from women who were far more style-centric than me.

Well, they gave the dress a big thumbs up (no I’m not going to show you a picture of it here…sorry…you’ll have to wait for that), but my daughter did say that these women were not the first to ask about my age—apparently my daughter is frequently asked that when people look at photos of us. Yes, I will acknowledge that my head swelled a little on hearing it.

Do I have any secrets to share? Sure. None of it will likely be shocking to you, but I think that’s true about so many things in life. We all have the answers to what is right, but we look for shortcuts. Want to lose weight? Eat less. Want to avoid heart disease and diabetes? Eat more plant foods and less processed foods. Want to have a better relationship with your kids and/or spouse? Take the time to really pay attention to them and let them know they’re appreciated. Want to succeed at work? Care enough to do a good job…even if it requires some extra effort.

So what are my secrets to looking young? I do happen to have good genes, since my grandmothers each lived into their mid 90s, and my mother is going strong at nearly 89 and her sister is 96 and sharp as a tack. But I honestly don’t think that’s the secret. There are other things I also inherited from those who came before me…

Be active: First and foremost, I move…every day. Whether it’s 35-60 minutes of exercise, dog walk in the park or vacuuming the house my body is treated to physical activity regularly and frequently. The activity sends oxygen throughout my body helping to feed and detoxify it. It’s not about exercise per se…it’s about being in action and living an active vs. sedentary life. Sedentary things rot. Moving things grow.

When my grandmother was in her 90s living at a nursing home, she had to wear a special ID bracelet because she had a reputation as being a wanderer, liking to leave the premises to go for a walk.

Can Do Attitude: I pride myself on generally being a “yes” when asked to try or do something—unless it’s some slimy food. Then I’m a little squeamish. But in the broader picture of life, “yes” feels so much better when “no.” And, more importantly “yes” is far more empowering than “no” or “I can’t” or “They won’t allow it” or any other version of victim. I don’t live in victim. I don’t passively watch and complain about things that don’t make sense in the world. If I’m not satisfied I do what I can to change the circumstances, either by changing the situation or removing myself from it.

Not only does this allow me to continually improve my life and the lives of those around me, it is also a youthful point of view. Young people are all about change. Old people are all about routine. Routine has its place, but not when it is used as an excuse to avoid living a vibrant life of opportunity.

Purpose: It’s well chronicled that those without a purpose in life are sicker and die sooner. So having a reason to arise each day keeps us younger. It doesn’t matter how big or small, having a reason to get up each morning and engage in life is vital to remaining young. This is actually a fascinating time in my own life with regard to life’s purpose. I have spent nearly 40 years committed to the family business and mission at Bottom Line. Now with the sale of the business, I am crafting my next stage purpose…for the next six months it’s all about focusing on supporting some family events (including my daughter’s wedding as mentioned above). But at the same time, I am researching and dreaming about what will happen next. I have a list of ideas all of which fit with my personal mission statement of helping people to fulfill their dreams. Never is there a day when I awake and have nothing to do and no reason to get up.

Touch/Hug: It feels good and fuels your body with the hormone of connection oxytocin. You know that youthful glow of new love? That’s oxytocin at work. And, Oxytocin was shown in a 2014 study at UC Berkeley to help repair “old tired” muscles in mice.

Laugh: Frowns cause wrinkles. Laughter causes delight. Delighted people look, feel and act younger. They have an energy of attractiveness.

Make Healthy Choices…almost all of the time: Yes, of course eating healthy is vital not so much because you look younger, but because it gives you more energy to stay engaged in life and pursue the activities that you enjoy that I mentioned above. With healthy eating also comes less sickness of all kinds.

One note: Just because you generally eat healthy, doesn’t mean you can’t also have those treats of whatever your guilty pleasure is—ice cream, salty snacks, alcohol. Sometimes. I had a conversation today with a friend about the menu for my daughter’s bridal shower. She teased me because of the healthy salad and lean protein items that are the core of the menu…and the limited bar. Then again, the mini desert “shots” include chocolate cheesecake, berry cheesecake and key lime pie. Living your life deprived is stressful—consciously choosing to eat healthy and then also allowing yourself treats is empowering and enjoyable. Happy people look and feel younger.

Hair and Skin: No I haven’t and don’t intend to have plastic surgery but I will readily admit to coloring my hair. I know the trend today is natural and silver can be beautiful. I started dying my hair almost 25 years ago and have never regretted it. I simply feel prettier and more confident with non-grey hair.

As for skin, having suffered terribly from acne and “backne” during my teens and 20s I learned early on that investing in quality skin care was well worth the effort. I won’t endorse one brand over another, because there are many good ones free from carcinogenic ingredients and right for your skin type. In addition to a gentle cleanser, good eye cream, serum and moisturizer…don’t forget your neck and chest. Most women my age are starting to look like turkeys ready for Thanksgiving dinner, but thankfully Trang, the wonderful lady at the cosmetics counter taught me early on that neck and chest cream was vital. She was right.

Dress Your Age: A lot of women, in particular, think that just because they can fit in youthful looking clothes that they should wear them. No. Then you just look like an old person trying to look like a teen. I have always dressed with a simple, fairly classic style. Simple lines, simple colors and classic styles always look good.

Now put a smile on your face, make your plan for the day and go out and do it!!

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