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Health and Beauty Tips
HEALTH AND BEAUTY TIPS:- . Apart from fair dealing for the purposes of study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part of this report may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher. This e-book is not intended for use as a source of medical advice. It has been written as a guide only, based on the author’s years of experience and observations. As with anything, you should conduct your own due diligence and seek medical advice from professional medical professionals wherever necessary. While every effort has been made to ensure all the material is correct, neither the publisher nor the author assume any liability for the use of or inability to use any or all of the information contained in this publication. It is a general guide only and each individual’s situation will be different. Spelling: Australian English spelling is used throughout this book. This differs from American English in words like colour, centre, neighbour, honours, minimise, moisturiser, generalised and many more. 3 TABLE OF CONTENTS Part I: Health and Beauty Tips Chapter 1: All over Skin Care Chapter 2: Look after your Feet Chapter 3: Eat a Healthy Diet and look after your Teeth Chapter 4: Exercise for the Body and Mind Chapter 5: A Good Night’s Sleep Chapter 6: Dress to Accentuate your Body Type, Skin and Hair Colour Part II: The Importance of a Healthy Mind and Body Chapter 7: A Positive Mental Attitude Chapter 8: Meditation for a Calm Mind Chapter 9: Keep Stress at Bay Chapter 10: Maintain an Active Mind Chapter 11: Social Networking4 Introduction: Thank you for buying this book. You will find within its pages details of how I have managed to look 10 years younger than my years without succumbing to cosmetic surgery, laser treatment, Botox injections or even a harsh peel to remove the outer layer of skin. The story of my life’s journey is intertwined in the following chapters with a host of useful information and health & beauty tips. I do hope my story will inspire you to embark on a new health and beauty regime which will enable you to look at least a decade younger when you reach my age. It really is bizarre that I look so much younger now because as a teenager I could pass for several years older than my years. This was useful at the time as I could buy a drink in a pub long before I turned 18. Even when I was as young as 12, I was taken for a few years older as you will see from the following incident which I recall with a wry smile. My sister and I were boarding a bus and she asked for “one and a half to town please” (she was 14 and I was 12). The bus driver asked “who’s the half?” with a smirk on his face and my sister pointed to me. He didn’t believe us and we both had to pay the full fare. As we’ve got older I’ve laughingly said to my sister (who was really thin at the time and I had a big bust) that if we’d said it the other way around, we may have got away with it! My sister is 17 months older than me, but says herself she looks 15 years older than me now. I was born in England of Irish descent and have a large extended family. Many of my relatives emigrated to America in the 1920’s and 30’s, so I have lots of cousins who I rarely see. In 1996 I was living in England as my dad was ill - he finally died in the August. The following month, mum and I traveled to Chicago to see dad’s sister and some other relatives. One particular cousin, who I had not seen for over 20 years, was about 59 at the time and I thought she looked about 45. I remember thinking: “Wow, I hope I have her genes”. I was 45 at the time and yes, almost 15 years later I know I have those genes. Of course, genes play a part in looking younger. For instance, having high cheek bones is a great asset as it stops your face ‘falling’ as your skin and muscles sag with age. Also, 5 being born with good bone structure and symmetry in your facial features are definite advantages. But even with the best genetic inheritance, you will not remain younger looking if you are careless with your skin care and neglect your health. There is, of course, more to looking younger than maintaining a youthful face and a welltoned body. To be healthy and happy (which is what most people seek) means being fulfilled on every level (body, mind and spirit). True contentment and long-lasting happiness, I believe, are the result of having a healthy body, a contented mind and a positive outlook – attributes that are very conducive to keeping a youthful appearance and outlook on life. I have always been a little envious of people who manage to earn a living doing something they really love. Others possess a passion that seems to absorb them completely. I was not so lucky on either score and spent many years searching for my true purpose. Only in the last couple of years have I realised that most of us are not born with a special purpose (for instance Churchill believed he was born to lead Britain in World War II) or a particular talent that shows in early life (Mozart’s musical genius for example). Most of us have to find our true niche in life through trial and error and that is exactly what I have done and I now impart to you in my personal journey.6 HEALTH AND BEAUTY TIPS PART I Chapter 1: All over Skin Care Skin is our largest organ – yes it is an organ - and because it covers all of our body, it is one of the most important organs. Skin acts as a barrier to bacteria that cause infection, as well as protecting us from excessive heat and cold. Hence, looking after your skin is vital to not only looking your best, but for the protection of your whole body. To begin this chapter on skin care, I will point out the dangers caused by ultraviolet light and why you should use a sunscreen every day to protect your skin against the sun’s harmful rays. The daily care of the face and neck, delicate eye area, décolletage area, hands, arms and legs will then be discussed. Sunscreen: I cannot emphasise enough the importance of sunscreen – it is literally a life saver. For those of us who live in sunny countries, like Australia, it is vital if you want your skin to maintain its youthful appearance. I particularly remember two girls I met in Bali in 1979. They were from Queensland and were just 17, but already had lines on their faces from sun damage. I enquired as to the time they spent in the sun and whether they used sunscreen. They said they spent a lot of time at the beach and didn’t use sunscreen as they preferred to have a great tan to attract the boys. Sometimes I wonder what these girls look like now, more than 30 years on. My philosophy is this: We are young for such a short time – about 20 years - say from age 15 to 35, followed by 50 or more years of being ‘older’. Therefore, protecting your skin when young to ensure it looks good for a lifetime is much more important than having a great tan for a few years to attract the boys! The ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ campaign, introduced into Australia about a decade ago, advised us to ‘slip on a shirt’, ‘slop on some sunscreen’ and ‘slap on a hat’ to protect against skin cancer, of which there is a very high incidence in Australia. This campaign seems to have 7 been successful as the incidence of melanoma (malignant skin cancer) has decreased in recent years, but the need to emphasise the importance of protecting the skin from our unforgiving sun is ongoing. One way to ensure you have protection, even in winter, is to choose a moisturiser and/or a foundation with an SPF (sun protection factor). These SPF’s start at about 6 and go up to 50+ in Australia. In case you are wondering what these sun protection factors mean, an SPF of 50+ means your skin will be protected from burning for 50 times longer than if you did not use a sunscreen. It is UV-B or ultraviolet radiation that causes sunburn. Obviously the hotter the weather, the higher SPF sunscreen is required. In Australian summers, if you intend being out of doors for any length of time, especially between 11 am and 3 pm, an SPF of 30 or above is needed. In the winter time or early or late in the day in summer, an SPF of 15 would be suitable if you don’t intend to be outdoors for long periods. At the beach, either sunbathing, swimming or both, please use the maximum strength sunscreen and apply 15-30 minutes before exposure and re-apply every 15-30 minutes if you are swimming, rubbing or wiping your skin. Otherwise, re-applying every 1- 2 hours should be sufficient. I have just discovered an Australian-made, relatively inexpensive moisturiser with an SPF of 30 which is only available in pharmacies. I decided not to provide specific brand names in this book, but you can enquire about Australian-made products at your local pharmacy. The key to keeping your skin soft and radiant is to practice what I term the 3-step regime - cleansing, toning and moisturising - twice a day, every day. If you are not already using this 3-step regime, I urge you to start now as this a vital step in helping your skin to maintain its youthful look and texture. Face and neck: Unlike other parts of your body, the face and neck are rarely protected from the elements and need to be treated with the utmost care. This can be accomplished very easily and quickly with a daily routine. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s and could afford it, I bought 8 the more expensive brands of cleansers, toners and moisturisers. Over the years I have found that less expensive products do just the same job. The key is to find products that suit your skin type and your pocket, so try a few brands. That is, if you have dry skin, use products specifically formulated for dry skin. If you have normal, combination or oily skin, the same applies. A few products have ‘suitable for all skin types’ on the label, but I prefer to use something for my particular skin type. Affordable products are available at your local pharmacy or supermarket, so try a few until you find ones you really like. Personally I do not like cleansers or moisturizers that are perfumed, but again it is your choice. Whatever products you choose though, do use them daily. The 3-Step Regime – Morning and Evening: Step 1 – Cleanse: I know people who still use soap and water to wash their faces, my sisters do, but I think soap is very drying to the skin. I use an ordinary cleanser for my whole face, but there are special eye make-up removers on the market if you wear a lot of eye make-up or waterproof mascara which is harder to remove. Using cotton wool or a pad with cleansing cream or lotion, use upward, circular strokes, going up the side of the nose and around the cheeks and the forehead, ensuring all make-up is removed. Alternatively, you can use facial wipes instead of a cleanser and toner. If you want to see the build-up of dirt and make-up still on your face in the morning, even after cleaning well the night before, look at the colour of the pad or wipe after use. A good tip when cleaning your neck is to use upward strokes and pull your chin up to make a ‘monkey’ mouth with your lips – a great way to use some of your facial muscles daily and keep the skin on the neck from sagging. Step 2 – Tone: Make sure you remove all the residue cleanser from your face and neck when you tone. A slight tingly feeling is fine, but I avoid toners that are too harsh and make my skin feel instantly dry and taut. I prefer toners without alcohol, but again, use whatever suits your skin type. I had quite oily skin as a young woman and had trouble with break-outs of acne. 9 This started when I was 18 and I had spots on and off (usually before a period) until menstruation ceased. I still have more oil in the T-zone (the forehead, noise and chin area) than most people my age and have found this an asset as my skin is not as dry. Acne is caused by an over-production of oil in the sebaceous glands and is a common problem for teenagers but can occur well into adulthood. Acne can be mild, moderate or severe and early treatment can prevent scarring, so see your GP initially as s/he can offer the latest treatments or refer you to a dermatologist if necessary. Pharmacists can also give sound advice on products specifically formulated to treat acne, but steer away from extremely harsh products that dry the skin excessively. Step 3 – Moisturise: Choosing a moisturiser is an ongoing task as our skin changes as we get older. I use one specially formulated for ‘mature skin’ that provides the extra moisture my skin requires. Again, use upward, circular strokes starting up towards your nose and outwards around the cheekbones, then on the forehead, neck and chest area. The only difference between your morning and evening regime is remembering to use sunscreen in the morning and at bedtime a specially formulated night cream which helps to replenish the moisture lost during the day while you sleep. I have been following this 3-step regime since I started work at age 15, although I could only afford to buy the cheapest products at that time. I must have learnt about skin care from ‘Dolly’ or some such teenage magazine as it wasn’t from mum or my older sister. Mum was a typical woman of her day – she washed her face with soap and water and used cold cream as a moisturiser. My older sister had, and still has, other priorities than her looks. My sisters and I are very different in looks and nature. I have always been a ‘girlie’ girl and remember when I was about 7 being fascinated by a young woman who passed by our house regularly. She was about 17 and wore high heels, nail polish and make-up and I wanted to grow up to be just like her.10 A few years ago I added a serum to my repertoire which I use after toning and before my moisturiser in the morning. The manufacturers recommend using it twice a day, but I find once a day is fine for me. As it says on the box, the serum “restores the skin’s structure as well as improving the appearance of deep lines and wrinkles”. And yes it does work! About five years ago I was living in England and saw a TV documentary hosted by a female doctor who decided to test the facial creams on the market to see if any of them really made a difference. She asked an independent scientist to test several leading brands and they found a serum that actually fulfilled the manufacturer’s claims. The following day this program made headline news in Britain and women flocked to buy the ‘Protect and Perfect’ beauty serum. Since that time, other companies have developed their own serums and there are a number to choose from. Exfoliation of the skin is extremely important and I use a gentle facial scrub 3-4 times a week in the shower. This removes the top layer of dead skin, leaving the face feeling soft and plump looking. I also use a face mask once a week which lifts out the impurities and improves the texture of the skin. Most of these face masks take about 10-15 minutes to go hard and are then washed off with warm water. I use a face cloth and rinse it out a few times to make sure the mask has been completely removed. Other face masks just feel warm and are left on for 5-10 minutes before washing off in warm water. The time you spend waiting for the face mask to work can be a great excuse to lie down, relax and gain 10-15 minutes to yourself. A good tip whilst relaxing is to place a slice of cucumber over each eye, especially good for tired eyes that need rejuvenating. No-one is exactly sure why cucumbers help to alleviate that puffiness around the eyes, but as cucumbers are 90% water, they hydrate the delicate skin around that area. The delicate eye area: The delicate eye area requires special products and must be treated gently. After toning, I apply a special eye cream and dab it on with my ring finger as it is much gentler than the forefinger. Dab it all around the area under each eye from the nose to the outer eye and up near the eyebrow in a circular, anti-clockwise motion. Do be gentle with the skin around your eyes as it is very delicate, so never rub cream in, always dab it on. At night I use a specially formulated night eye cream, again after toning. 11 The area around the eyes tends to hold fluid as you get older, especially in the morning, and is prone to dark circles and puffiness. I recently started using a product which contains caffeine, a ‘roll-on’ especially formulated for this problem. I dot the ‘roll on’ in 3-4 places under the eye area and use the ring finger to dab it in, again from near the nose right up to the corner of the eye and up near the eyebrow in a circular, anti-clockwise motion. I find it really helps to reduce the puffiness. Décolletage area: The décolletage is a French name for the area from the neck to the cleavage which is often exposed to the sun and, if not protected, will burn easily. This is an area that will show your age, so if you want to avoid that ‘crepey’, wrinkled look seen on many ‘sun worshipping’ women, use the 3-step regime followed by a sunscreen in the morning and your night cream before bed. I had been living in Australia for over 20 years when a beautician told me my décolletage area was sun damaged. I wish I had known about this sooner, but by following the above regime, I have, at least, saved myself from further sun damage. Hands, arms and legs: Hands are always visible to people and the telltale signs of age, such as liver spots and sun damage, are hard to disguise. I protect my hands and forearms with an SPF 15 on a daily basis, but use an SPF 30 or above in summer if I will be outdoors for any length of time. Also, remember to protect your right arm whilst driving in right hand drive cars (the opposite in left hand drives) by either wearing long sleeves and/or using a sunscreen as this arm gets a lot of exposure to the sun, even through the glass. Legs need a moisturiser too, especially after shaving, to keep the skin soft and smooth. I use cocoa butter on my arms and legs as it rubs in easily. Always rub cream into legs in an upward direction as this helps the blood return to the heart. Sun protection is also essential on arms and legs especially if sunbathing, gardening or just walking about in summer. I know a couple of people who have developed melanomas on their legs, one 12 on the thigh and one behind the knee. So, take care of your legs by using a sunscreen if you intend to be out in the sun for any length of time. Make-up: The use of make-up is a personal option. There are women who dislike it or simply do not need it. I was not that fortunate as I am very pale and look washed out without any makeup, though I use it sparingly. I have just discovered an Australian-made mineral make-up which I like. It doesn’t clog your pores or look too matted and it feels like I have no makeup on whilst covering any flaws. To apply, wait until your moisturiser is dry and use circular motions with a brush all over your face. It may take a few applications to get the desired coverage. Well-shaped and tidy eyebrows give shape and expression to the whole face, not just the eyes, so essential items in my make-up kit are tweezers and an eyebrow pencil. Having said that, I had my eyebrows tinted by a professional beautician recently and the effect is really good. Eyebrow hair goes grey and doesn’t grow back as thick as we age, so tinting can solve both problems. Eye-shadows give wonderful definition to the eyes, but make sure you blend the colours well. Choose a palette for your particular eye colour and, as you get older, it is better to leave the shiny, glittery ones alone and use matt eye-shadows instead. You can also exercise your facial muscles whilst applying make-up, especially mascara, by opening your eyes wide, stretching out the skin on your neck and making funny faces like a monkey. It all helps to keep the face and neck muscles toned and the skin taut. Remember to wash out your make-up brushes regularly in warm, soapy water, then rinse and spread them on a towel to dry. I do this perhaps once a month and wash my hairbrushes and combs at the same time. Also, exchange any powder puffs monthly (or wash them out) and buy a new mascara about every 3 months as old ones can carry bacteria.13 Chapter 2: Look After Your Feet Oh those poor overworked feet – how we neglect them when they have much to bear: carrying us around in all weathers, being squashed into tight, badly fitting shoes or misshapen from having to walk in high heels. Remember your feet swell during the day so if you need new shoes and wish to avoid buying shoes that are too small, go shopping later in the day when your feet are at their biggest. Feet need to be pampered regularly. At least once a week, soak your feet in warm water in a little bubble bath or mild soap and leave them for 15-20 minutes whilst you relax with a cup of tea or, even better, a glass of wine. Listen to soothing music and really relax – it’s great for the psyche as well as your feet. After soaking, use a pumice stone or dead skin remover to gently remove the build-up of skin on the heels and soles whilst the skin is soft. Done regularly, you will avoid that awful ‘cracked and dirty heel’ look, common in people who wear thongs. Don’t be too rough though, or you may end up with sore feet! Finally rub your feet with a lovely, fragranced foot balm which will keep the skin soft and supple as well as ensuring your feet feel refreshed. These foot balms can be found at your local pharmacist or on line. I recently found an Australian-made rosemary and citrus mint foot balm on the Net which I really like. Of course, for us girls, toenails need to be polished, especially in summer when wearing sandals. Before you apply the nail polish, toenails need to be filed and rubbed down with one of those buffer files that have four sections, two on each side of the file. These are inexpensive and can be purchased at most supermarkets in the beauty section or at a pharmacy. There are instructions on the packet which explain how to use them. The emery board is for filing the nails, the one numbered 1 is to remove the ridges and darker colour of the top layer of the nail. (Remember to use this file in one direction only). Next, turn the file over and use the one numbered 2, again in one direction only to further smooth out the nails. The last section, numbered 3, adds oil to the nail to give them a lovely shiny and healthy appearance. Next, paint on your favourite colour and finish with a hard, clear top coat and voila! Toenail polish should last for 2-3 weeks.14 Discoloured nails: Believe it or not, after all these years I’ve just discovered a simple remedy to improve the look of ‘discoloured’ finger nails and toenails. This discolouration can be the result of wearing nail polish for long periods, thus preventing air flow to the nails. The remedy is to mix sufficient lemon juice with a teaspoon of baking powder to make a paste, paint it on your nails and leave for 30 minutes. When you wash it off you should see an improvement in the colour of your nails. If your nails are very discoloured, you may have to re-apply the mixture regularly. Another tip is to try wearing a lighter shade of nail polish as this helps to prevent the discolouration.15 Chapter 3: Eat a Healthy Diet and look after your teeth Information about healthy eating and, in particular, how to lose weight, is available in magazines, books and on the Net, so I won’t even try to compete with all this data. I just want to share my experiences together with a few tips on healthy eating and losing weight naturally. I have read an enormous amount about healthy eating and dieting in the last 47 years as I was overweight at age 12. Mum took me to see a child specialist for my bad headaches, but the doctor took one look at me and said: “You’re too fat”, never mentioned my headaches, and put me on a diet straight away. Don’t forget this was in 1963 before it was in vogue to be “politically correct” about what you could say to people. But he was right, I was too fat. Over the next year I managed to lose 9 kg and was discharged at what the doctor felt was an acceptable weight for my height. I have struggled with my weight ever since as I like to eat and I’m not as active as I could be, but I fight against my tendency to gain weight and be a couch potato. That’s all I can do. I refuse to let myself go and just get bigger and bigger. I did suffer from bulimia once in the 1970’s, though I didn’t know it had a name at the time. I was only 20 and living in London in a tiny bedsit. When I moved there I was recovering from a broken heart and started what they now call ‘binge eating’ until I felt really sick. Luckily, after about six months, I managed to stop as I hated what I was doing. Eating disorders, bulimia and anorexia nervosa being only two of many, are very serious illnesses and should be dealt with by doctors or therapists specifically trained to help sufferers. If you feel you have an eating disorder, I urge you to get professional help. My advice on how to maintain a steady weight or lose a few kilos if you need to is: KEEP IT SIMPLE. I do not like the word diet as I immediately start to feel deprived when I need to lose weight. I also refuse to count calories or weigh food. What I do instead is buy healthy basic foods, which are listed below, and I eat cakes, biscuits, ice cream, chips etc in small quantities. I’m not a chocoholic myself, but I know a lot of people love their chocolate. Just limit it to 2-3 segments a day. This should not affect your weight 16 significantly. They do say dark chocolate, in particular, contains important antioxidants, which means you can indulge, sparingly, with the satisfaction that it is doing you good! It doesn’t matter how many meals you eat (3 or 6) or how often you eat (3 hourly or 6 hourly), you must eat just the right amount that your body needs to maintain your weight. Likewise, if you want to lose weight, you must eat less than your body needs – it’s as simple as that. There is no magic pill you can buy ‘over the counter’ that will melt away the fat. There are, however, drugs that can be prescribed by a doctor if you are seriously overweight. I am not competent to discuss this issue here, but please get advice from your GP if necessary. For those who are a little overweight, like me, if you eat more than you should one day, just cut down the next – that way you can control any weight gain. Similarly if you find you have put on a couple of kilos – say over Christmas, make sure you get it off before it becomes 3 or 4 kilos or worse! This routine has worked for me over many years. Here are my tips on healthy eating: • Fuel your body with proteins (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, tuna and legumes) and healthy carbohydrates (wholegrain breads, cereals, rice and pasta – not white as a lot of the goodness has been removed). These foods hasten the release of hormones which regulate your appetite and give you that feeling of fullness faster. Do not leave out healthy fats (full-fat yoghurt, milk, nuts, cheese, eggs and avocado). There is a lot of controversy about how much protein, carbohydrate and fat we need each day, but as I said – keep it simple. Eat food from each group daily and remember – we do need a little fat to help our digestion. • As the ads say – eat your 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Green leafy vegetables like broccoli and spinach are very important as they provide iron and lots of other minerals. Pumpkin, sweet potato and carrots provide beta carotene to the diet. Likewise, an apple a day is said to keep the doctor away and is very refreshing. Bananas are full of potassium and can be eaten as a snack or cut up on your breakfast cereal. I love ripe water melons, especially in the summer and mangos – messy to eat but delicious. I also love salad and my favourite salad 17 vegetables are tomatoes, capsicum and cucumber with rocket or mixed salad leaves. Sometimes I add low fat feta cheese and mango pieces - very refreshing and satisfying. A quick and easy meal for us is sweet potato cooked in its skin in the microwave, grilled chicken breast and our favourite salad – a healthy, inexpensive meal. We are lucky in Australia as we have lots of interesting fruit and vegetables to choose from all year round. • Do try to limit your consumption of processed foods as many contain unnatural additives. Frozen meals, processed cold meats, diet drinks and even some tinned foods contain additives and should be eaten sparingly in my opinion. Fresh food really is better for you. • The old saying: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper” has a lot of truth in it, though who feels like eating meat and 3 vegetables at 8 am in the morning? I do try to eat protein with breakfast though as my hunger pangs start after only 2 hours if I only have cereal (not the sugary ones of course). Eggs for breakfast are a great way to add protein and can be boiled, scrambled or made into an omelette quickly and easily. If you don’t eat eggs, you could have tuna or cheese on toast instead. • Lunch of course is usually a sandwich and that’s ok if you make your own and control the amount of butter/margarine and mayonnaise you use. A meat/cheese/tuna and salad sandwich on a whole-wheat or other grain bread or wrap is very healthy and satisfying and should stop you buying a burger and chips later in the afternoon out of sheer hunger. In my younger days I found I was always hungry about 4 pm. Then I discovered this was my low energy time (and it may be yours), so I started having a snack around 4 pm. This can be a banana, an apple and a few almonds or other nuts, or a healthy, low sugar muesli bar to keep me going until dinner time. Apples on their own may not satisfy your hunger, so add a handful of almonds, other raw nuts or a piece of cheese to make you feel more satisfied psychologically and physically.18 • Dinner is the main meal for most of us in the western world and after a day at work who doesn’t need a substantial meal? Lettuce leaves and a ‘mouse’ size piece of meat wouldn’t keep me out of the fridge, which is what some diets propose. Meat, chicken, fish (or other proteins for vegans) with salad or vegetables and a medium portion of potatoes, rice or pasta makes a more satisfying meal. I need something sweet after dinner and I’ve just discovered the reason why. According to a nutritionist, if we consume too much salt in our main meal, our bodies need potassium to balance out the salt, which results in a craving for sugar. One option is to reduce your salt intake and eat a potassium-rich fruit like bananas or apricots for dessert. But, if you do need something extra, sugar free jellies are virtually calorie free and taste great. One jelly lasts me 2-3 nights and I add a little low fat cream - a lovely, satisfying dessert. • Supper is important if you need it as going to bed on an empty stomach is not conducive to a good night’s rest. This may be the time when you eat a piece of fruit or have cheese and biscuits. Another favourite of mine is a small tub of probiotic yoghurt, which contains lactobacillus (literally ‘acid-loving milk-bacterium’) which ferments sugars into lactic acid and assists the digestion process. The live bacteria in yoghurt are thought to prevent certain infections and calm lactose intolerance, making it a valuable food to add to your list. Keep in mind though that this yoghurt is best eaten on an empty stomach to enable the lactobacillus to work, which is fine at 10 pm if dinner was at 6. Cereal can be very satisfying at supper time and the milk should help you sleep more soundly. Here are a few tips to help you stay slim: Focus on your food and enjoy the experience of eating. Watching TV or reading emails whilst you eat can lead to over-eating as you are eating absent-mindedly. It is better to sit down at the table for every meal, including snacks, and concentrate on the task at hand, eating. This helps you to feel more satisfied with your food. 19 Let hunger happen and don’t panic. A pang of hunger is not an emergency signal from the stomach - it’s a gentle reminder from the brain that it’s time to eat. For many years I had a deep-seated fear of hunger pangs and felt the need to eat straight away, now I know they mean my body has utilised its last meal. Cut your portions if you want to lose weight. I know someone who lost 20 kgs just by cutting her portions by half. This way she didn’t have to go without any of the foods she loved, she just ate a lot less. You could cut your portion by a quarter instead of a half if this feels too drastic. I like this idea and can see why it works. Indulge when you feel a craving, but don’t eat a whole bar of chocolate, a packet of biscuits or a large bag of chips. The secret is to indulge your craving a little at a time, learn restraint and be able to put the packet of chips or biscuit tin away from sight and focus on something else. Never easy, but learning restraint is a really beneficial lesson that should last a lifetime. Linger over meals and eat slowly, savouring every bite. I still eat too fast but I’m really trying to slow it down. A tip I use is to place the knife and fork down between bites and make myself chew each mouthful properly. It helps to engage in conversation between bites (like you do when having dinner in a restaurant). This will regulate the speed at which you eat. Taking Vitamins: Whether to take vitamins or not is another controversial subject and in the end it comes down to personal choice. I have been taking supplements for the last 20 years and believe my overall health has improved in that time. I take a multivitamin to ensure I have all the essential vitamins and minerals; fish oil, glucosamine and chondroitin for my joints and gingko biloba to assist with circulation, memory and concentration. 20 Look after your teeth: Many people my age have false teeth, including a few of my friends. My parents had to have dentures at around age 40, but they had an excuse as they grew up in Ireland in the 1920’s when trips to the dentist were few. Why do many people lose their teeth? My three male friends who have false teeth have admitted that they were too lazy or too mean to look after their teeth. One developed gum disease and has two plates which give him trouble periodically and are quite expensive; another decided to have all his teeth out at age 17 to save dental charges; and the third was too lazy to clean his teeth. I know there are people who are terrified of going to the dentist and a solution to this problem may be to consider having dental treatment under a general anaesthetic. Most of us were taught adequate oral hygiene by our parents. I just want to remind you that healthy gums and strong teeth are essential if you want to look younger than your years. Like other parts of our body, teeth have a genetic component and even with the best of care, those with a tooth deficiency or gum disease will need dentures. The rest of us just need to take care of our teeth and they will last for 70, 80 or even 90 years. Sugar is, of course, detrimental to teeth as it turns into acid and causes tooth decay. However, contrary to popular belief, it is not the amount of sugar ingested but the frequency of sugar ingestion that is the most important factor in this process. When the pH in the mouth initially decreases from the ingestion of sugars, the enamel is demineralised and left vulnerable for about 30 minutes. Eating a greater or lesser quantity of sugar in one sitting does not increase the time of demineralisation. This means that eating a greater quantity of sugar at one time in the day is less detrimental than eating small amounts at short intervals throughout the day. For example, in terms of oral health, it is better to eat a single dessert after dinner than to snack on a bag of lollies or candy throughout the day. Many of the foods and drinks we consume have a high acid content – such as oranges, grapefruit, honey, strawberry jam, fruit salad, rhubarb, tomatoes, fruit juices (even fresh orange juice), red wine, balsamic and vinegar dressing. This means that if you consume this food regularly your teeth are at greater risk of acid wear. Saliva is the body’s natural 21 defence against acid wear as it acts as a buffer and helps to neutralise the acid in the mouth. When we become dehydrated, our body’s natural acid wear defense is weakened. Despite all the hype given to us by toothpaste manufacturers, it seems that the actual toothpaste is not as important as brushing properly and flossing our teeth regularly. This means removing any food particles left between the teeth before they are turned into plaque by the ever-present bacteria in our mouths. If you can’t clean your teeth straight away, a good tip is to chew sugar-free gum. Here are a few tips on how to keep your own teeth into old age: – it really is the elixir of life. Brush you teeth twice a day, in the morning and before you go to bed -free gum after eating a snack Teeth whitening: I asked my dental hygienist recently if there was a way to whiten my teeth and she told me there are no commercial products on the market that can do the job. A procedure she recommended was to have a cast made of my teeth to be used with special bleach for an hour a day for 2 weeks. I was quoted $450 for the cast and bleach. The initial price is high because of the cost of making the cast. Later on you just buy the bleach and whiten your teeth at home as required. This is on my wish list for next year in readiness for my 60 th birthday celebrations.22 Chapter 4: Exercise for the body and mind Making exercise a part of your life is essential if you want to maintain optimum health and keep your weight steady. To make it fun, do something that you really enjoy – you’ll be more likely to do it regularly. You can play tennis, hockey or any other sport; go roller skating or dancing; run, swim, cycle or just walk. As long as you keep your body moving and heart rate up for at least 30 minutes a day, you can maintain a healthy body and weight. The 30 minutes of exercise can be done in one session or broken up into 3 x 10 minute sessions. You don’t have to join a gym (though they are great for keeping fit). Do whatever you enjoy but keep that body moving. Tricks to increase your energy output during the day are: • Get up from the computer every hour or two to stretch and walk around. • When in the office, walk to other departments instead of emailing. • Take the stairs instead of the lift, even for a few flights. • Have a brisk walk at lunch-time around the block or in the park if you can. • Get off the bus a stop or two earlier or park the car where you have to walk for 10 minutes. • If you are visiting a number of shops, leave the car in a central location and walk. Another way to increase your energy output when out walking is to change your pace often. That is: walk at your normal pace for half a minute, speed up to a quicker pace for another half a minute, then really speed up for about 15 seconds. Slow down to your normal pace to get your breath back for a few minutes and repeat the process again. You burn more calories doing this than keeping a regular pace for the whole walk. Even these small changes, if done every day, will really help to increase the energy your body uses and thus help you to maintain your weight, or even lose a little if need be. No-one was less physical than me when I was young and physical education was my least favourite subject at high school. For a start I was overweight and my arms were not strong enough to pull my body weight up the climbing rope and, as for vaulting over the horse, well I couldn’t even get off the ground. I have since sweated through aerobic 23 classes and pumped weights and happily danced the night away during my teens, but the main exercise for me has always been walking. It is such a fantastic aerobic exercise and I love the endorphin release after a long walk. The pace is important though, as you must be walking fast enough to increase your heart rate. Strolling or ambling around the shops is not enough. I have found my pace to be quick enough if I can walk and talk without getting out of breath though I am able to feel the increase in my heart rate. Walking alone is a great opportunity to enjoy the scenery and mull things over in your mind. Often a solution to a problem will present itself by the time you get home. On the other hand, walking with your husband/ partner/friend means you can enjoy quality time together as well as keeping fit. At the beginning of 2010, after having put on weight over Christmas, I joined a gym as I wanted to hasten my weight loss. Moreover I felt unfit and thought the discipline of attending the gym regularly would be beneficial. As I found out, it’s never too late to start getting fit and enjoy better health. I was pleasantly surprised to find people at the gym of all ages, from teenagers to senior citizens. My gym instructor set me a specific exercise program according to my age and fitness level. From January to August I went to the gym religiously and though I didn’t lose any weight in the first 3 months, I did look more toned and thus slimmer. I lost 6 kg on a low carbohydrate plan during May, which I am working hard to maintain. People still say to me, “haven’t you lost a lot of weight” and though I haven’t lost any more, I have continued to exercise at home, practice yoga and Pilates and walk daily. We all know that we should eat well and exercise for optimum health, but what are the scientific facts behind why having a stronger, leaner body is beneficial to our health. I found this study interesting and, though it was Australian research, I’m sure it is relevant to people in other countries. An Australian newspaper item entitled “Health alarm for baby boomers” caught my eye a few months ago. The article highlighted the health risks for ‘baby boomers’, which incidentally is people born between 1946 & 1965. It reported on the results of a study 24 carried out in Queensland which revealed that 44% of all Australians over 55 are considered to be at “extreme” risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 5 years. “Unless something is done soon there will be a whole generation of children without parents or grandparents” said the Vice President of Heart Support Australia. “It’s a big ask to get people to change their behaviour” he added, “because as individuals we tend to believe it is not going to happen to us”. The most common contributors to this risk include: physical inactivity, being overweight or obese and having high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol. Unfortunately, the facts are that more than half of all older Australians are affected by these factors. The main suggestion given to counteract this risk was to: ‘Get active!’ That is: join a gym, get a dog and walk, start dancing, play tennis, ride a bike – in fact, do whatever you enjoy doing but move that body and give it a fighting chance. Remember: Use it or lose it! Exercise not only keeps us fit, it improves our mood, wards off mild depression and helps us to stay positive and motivated. Cardiovascular is the best type of exercise for improving the mood as it increases the heart rate. A recommendation for those just starting out with exercise was to walk for 30 minutes 3 times a week and when that becomes too easy, step up the pace a bit and walk briskly for longer. The reason we do feel better doing exercise is this: exercise decreases stress hormones, like cortisone, and increases the body’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals called endorphins, which, when released, boost our mood and act as natural painkillers. During exercise the body releases adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine and these chemicals work together to make you feel better. It has been found that physically-active people recover more quickly from mild depression and physical activity is strongly correlated with sound mental health as people age. According to an article written by a Prof. McGovern, scientists have found that exercise generates new neurons in the brain through a process called neurogenesis. The new neurons are created in the hippocampus, the centre of learning and memory, though the exact mechanism behind this is still being explored. It is thought that at a cellular level, 25 the mild stress generated by exercise stimulates an influx of calcium which works to promote synaptic plasticity, which simply means having greater flexibility in our thought processes. In a comparison study between sedentary and active mice, scientists found that active mice regenerated more sciatic axons post-injury than sedentary mice. This reparative effect is particularly relevant to humans because, beginning at age 30, the brain starts to lose nerve tissue. More research is needed, but scientists believe that this could have a preventative and therapeutic effect on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, diseases which progress through the loss of neurons. Indeed, a correlation has already been demonstrated between lifestyle and Alzheimer’s disease. To summarise, I am re-listing examples mentioned at the beginning of this chapter of how to increase your energy output and burn more calories without too much effort. • Do cardiovascular exercise for half an hour a day to strengthen your heart muscles. • Instead of using lifts and escalators, climb the stairs. • Whilst watching TV or using the computer, get up more often, walk around and do simple exercises like stretching your arms, legs and feet. • Increase the amount of walking you do by leaving the car in one place and walking to different shops and/or get off the bus a couple of stops earlier and walk for 10 minutes. • Take up a hobby that involves movement to improve your memory & learning ability. This may help to prevent the onset of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Yoga: Yoga is a terrific all-round practice which keeps your body supple through stretching and assists the mind to remain peaceful and calm – a must in our super-charged society. There are many different types of yoga, but at the class I attend we practice Hatha yoga, the most popular form practiced in the West. During a class that spans an hour and a quarter, we go through three different practices: yoga nidra (relaxation/meditation), the asanas (or postures) and the pranayamas (breathing practices). All these practices are26 designed to assist us to become more aware of the connection between mind, body and spirit, which in turn helps us to meet situations that arise in life with more confidence. Our class has a 10.00 am start and we do our relaxation/meditation practice first. This, I am told, is because in the morning our thoughts are full of things we need to do, so in order for us to disconnect from all this activity in our heads, we do the relaxation part at the start of the class. On the other hand, in the evening, people are already winding down from the day, so the relaxation/meditation practice is at the end of the class. For the first 15-20 minutes of our yoga class, we practice yoga nidra, which helps us to achieve a very deep relaxed state. The instructor talks us through a journey which systematically guides our awareness through all the parts of the body. When we are sufficiently relaxed, the instructor asks us to think of a goal we want to achieve or a change we want to make in our lives. We repeat it to ourselves 3 times in a short, sharp sentence as this repetition, whilst in a deep state of relaxation, helps the subconscious to absorb and work on what we want – thus making achievement much more likely. An example of this could be: ‘I am achieving success in my new business’, or ‘I am feeling more confident every day’. It is best to use the present tense as this restates to your subconscious that what you want is already happening. The second part of the class is taken up doing the asanas or postures whilst being aware of the breath. These asanas help to heal the body by increasing flexibility, strengthening various muscles and toning and detoxifying many of the body systems, for example the digestive and menstrual systems. Practicing asanas can assist with stress-related problems, sciatica, back pain, asthma, rheumatism and arthritis. This is due to the different muscles in the body being stretched and toned whilst practicing yoga breathing. Although some magazine articles show pictures of yoga postures to try at home, I am reluctant to do this as it could cause harm to some people, especially if they are unfit or have back, neck or shoulder conditions. It is much better to join a class with a trained instructor where s/he will enquire about any health problems you may have and talk you 27 through the postures. My instructor also demonstrates easier options for the more difficult postures for us ‘not so supple’ people or those with back, neck or shoulder injuries. The last section of the class is used to practice pranayamas, breathing exercises and techniques. Prana is the vital energy in the body and the practice of pranayamas helps to calm the mind and the emotions and assists us to sharpen and focus our awareness. I started attending yoga classes in my twenties but found the postures difficult as I am not a very supple person. I wish I had persevered as I would now be reaping the benefits of a much more supple body. However, even after only two months of attending a class once a week, my flexibility has improved and I feel much better. Pilates: Another program for stretching the body is Pilates. I had read about its benefits for maintaining balance and keeping the body supple several years before I found a local instructor. The class I attend is ‘mat Pilates’ and we do floor exercises for about threequarters of an hour to stretch the legs, arms, shoulders and back plus work the buttocks, stomach and leg muscles. I find this class quite strenuous as we do a lot of repeats of each stretch, but every week I am improving my strength, flexibility and control and that’s really important for keeping the body well toned. Exercising regularly makes you feel better physically and psychologically and your clothes fit so much better, whatever size you are, when you have a well-toned body - a real boost to your self esteem and confidence. 28 Chapter 5: A Good Night’s Sleep Getting the right amount of sleep is vitally important for you physically and psychologically. Have a look at your complexion and eyes when you’re tired – you look and feel weary. Here are a few tips that I have adopted over the years to ensure I get a better night’s sleep: “An hour before midnight is better than two afterwards” and try to go to bed around 11 pm. I find that if I stay up too much longer, I wake up just as early and lose valuable sleep. darkened room, so make sure your curtains or blinds keep out any light, especially if you are trying to sleep during the day. They say a temperature of 15-20 degrees is ideal for sleeping as the body heats up during the night. My body doesn’t seem to heat up much though and in the winter I need lots of bedclothes as well as pajamas. So for all you cold frogs out there - make sure you wear socks, warm pajamas and adequate bed clothes when it’s cold. your laptop in bed until late in the evening is definitely not advisable if you have trouble going to sleep. These activities stimulate the brain, just when you need to be coaxing it into sleep mode. walk, do your gym work or play sport at least 3 hours before you go to bed to let your body relax and settle down for sleep. Having sufficient exercise during the day is really helpful though as it makes you feel tired and sleepy by bedtime. least 3 hours before bedtime to give your stomach time to digest the food as it takes a 29 fair amount of energy to process a large meal. Drinking warm milk at bedtime can help as milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts to melatonin and serotonin - neurotransmitters that help to induce sleep. Cereal and milk are not just breakfast foods, they also make a light and easy supper. tossed and turned looking at the clock every few minutes, worrying about all the things they have to do the next day? One suggestion is to get up and write a ‘to-do’ list of things you must get done the next day. Setting it down on paper can help your mind to relax. Another is to jot down all your worries and put them under your pillow. The theory is that your subconscious takes over the worries and you are able to sleep soundly. You may even find you wake up with solutions to your problems. It’s well worth a try! it is always listed as a way to induce sleep so it must help others. When I was younger and had a lot more to worry about, I did try relaxation techniques, whereby you tense and relax each muscle group at a time. This helps to take your mind off your worries and often you just fall asleep. Nowadays I tend to get up if I’ve been lying there for over an hour and feel wide awake. I watch TV, read a book or play cards until I feel sleepy again and when I go back to bed I often drop off within a few minutes.30 Chapter 6: Dress to Accentuate your Body Type, Skin and Hair Colour It is so easy these days to find clothes that are affordable and that suit your body type. The trick is to know your body type and what clothes suit you best. This is called body shape analysis and it teaches you how to dress to accentuate your most attractive features, whilst minimising your least attractive ones. There are specialists in this field in most cities and I believe it is well worth the expense to have a personal analysis. Many factors need to be taken into account and these specialists have the experience. Alternatively, there is information on this subject on the Net. Once you have your body type determined, you can buy clothes and accessories that flatter your particular body shape and avoid the pitfalls of wearing outfits that are, at the very least, unflattering. The initial outlay for a professional analysis will be more than recompensed in the years ahead as you will look more attractive and project a more confident persona. Another trick is to know what hues suit your skin tone, hair and eye colour. Although colour is only one facet of design, it is usually the colour that attracts us to clothing. As you become more aware of the colours that suit you, the days of buying on impulse will be over. A few years ago I attended a colour co-ordination course which I found fascinating and well worth the money. The facilitator of the course had only 20 items in her wardrobe and these included clothes for every occasion and season. She only bought clothes that fit with her colour scheme and matched up with her other clothes - which meant she never had items she couldn’t wear! The first step is to find out is what ‘season’ you are, colour-wise. This depends on your skin tone, hair and eye colour. A professional colour analysis would make a lovely gift from a loved one or you could treat yourself. Alternatively, look on the Net for more information. I am an ‘autumn’ person as I have reddish hair and green eyes. The benefits of knowing your particular body shape and your most flattering colours will be to have a co-ordinated wardrobe, money in the bank and, most importantly, you will look and feel your absolute best.31 The hairstyle you choose is an essential part of your overall look. My advice is to find a hairdresser who can cut well and one that is not afraid to tell you when your style is outdated. This is vitally important as if your hairstyle is unflattering and the colour dull, you will look older. Ask your hairdresser for advice on ways to brighten your hair and maintain a youthful hairstyle. Shampoos, conditioners and other hair products are also important. Professional hair products are only sold at hair salons and though they are initially more expensive, they are more concentrated so you use less. I know my hair is lovely and soft when I’ve been to the hairdressers. At home, it is best to use a shampoo and conditioner suitable for your hair, that is: dry, normal or oily. Products are also available for frizzy, damaged, curly, lifeless, thin and every other type of hair. If you colour or perm your hair, use products specially formulated to keep your hair in tiptop condition. Try to wash your hair every other day if you use lots of products (mousse, hairspray, wax etc) and if you wash your hair every day, make sure your shampoo is gentle or you may end up washing all the natural oils away. With the number of products on the market, finding a shampoo and conditioner you really like won’t be difficult and is well worth the effort. If you want your hair to look shiny and smooth, a good tip is to use apple cider vinegar for the last rinse. This is a real tonic for the hair and helps to remove product build-up. Just use one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a cup of warm water for your final rinse. To maintain a more youthful appearance, have your hair coloured to cover any grey, unless you have wonderfully textured silver hair that really suits you. Grey hair is associated with age in people’s minds and we form opinions about people in just 7 seconds. No disrespect to people who have chosen to go grey naturally - a few of my friends have made that choice. However, if you do decide to colour your hair, add some subtle highlights to lighten your face and add interest to your overall look. Solid colours, like black or dark brown, are not flattering as we get older. I have my hair coloured professionally every few months, but in-between my husband does my roots. In the past we have used a highlighting kit, available at pharmacies, which gives subtle highlights and has a small plastic brush for easy application.32 HEALTH AND BEAUTY TIPS PART II Chapter 7: A Positive Mental Attitude In Part I of this book, I discussed the more physical aspects of how to keep yourself looking and feeling younger. In Part II, I will deal with the psychological and mental aspects of keeping old age at bay. A PMA (positive mental attitude) is extremely important to a happier life. My husband is a natural positive thinker - I am not. I have had to consciously work at changing the way I think and it can be done. We’re all born with different personalities and into such diverse families that it’s hardly surprising we react differently to life’s ups and downs. On the whole, my mother and the rest of my family are negative thinkers and, although I was never totally pessimistic about life, I learnt early on about the pain of disappointment and chose to think the worst and be happy when it didn’t happen, rather than be disappointed. It seems that optimists suffer the same setbacks in life as pessimists do, but optimists seem to weather these setbacks better than pessimists. Why is this? I used to say to people: how can the way you think affect your life? I just couldn’t understand it at all. Now I understand why. As I said it’s not that optimists don’t suffer setbacks, it’s that they manage to bounce back better than pessimists. Whether it’s failing in business or being unsuccessful in obtaining a job they wanted, optimists look at where they went wrong and try twice as hard the next time, whereas pessimists seem to believe that life is against them anyway, so why bother. Pessimists are therefore more likely to stop trying altogether and become depressed. I have to admit I have been there myself. Persistence was not one of my strengths either, but comes naturally to my husband. Again, it seems that persistence wins through in the end and who are the people with persistence and resilience when it comes to failure? You guessed it - optimists! 33 Another trait optimists seem to possess naturally is problem solving skills. They actively enjoy finding solutions to difficult situations or problems and this means they are usually successful in the end, whereas pessimists more often stop trying. If you were not born an optimist – is there anything you can you do about it? A resounding yes! You can learn how be more positive and within a few weeks of practice (or months if your mind is really resistant to change), your predominant mind-set (literally the way you think) will become one with a more positive outlook. First of all you need to become aware of your negative thoughts and re-runs (going over and over things you’ve said or were said to you) and as soon as you notice what’s going on in your mind, you have to stop it straight away. We can’t stop negative thoughts coming into our minds (it’s human), but we don’t have to accommodate them and invite them to stay for dinner! Banish them as soon as you realise what’s happening. Just say STOP, and force yourself to think of other things. It will take time but it can be done with practice. After all, who are you hurting with your negativity? The answer is no-one but yourself. The other person doesn’t care if you’re having a miserable day, so don’t give in to negative thoughts – take charge of your mind – otherwise it will take charge of you. Another way to beat negativity is to maximise your successes and minimise your failures by dwelling on the positives, not the negatives. For example, give yourself a pat on the back when you achieve a great result and if things go wrong, don’t feel you’ve failed, see what lessons can be learnt from the situation and find another way to achieve your goal. The four basic types of thought, according to an article I read recently, are: positive, negative, mundane and wasteful. This may seem a simplistic classification, but the ability to discern and distinguish these four types of thought and be able to manage them can have a profound effect on your life. According to Coyote, the article’s author, thought is the energy of the soul transmitted through the mind, whether these thoughts are about you, about others, or about events or situations. If the thoughts are positive, it is positive energy that emanates outwards from the self and these positive ‘vibes’ will be picked up 34 by others, as well as by your own psyche. For example, if you are thinking positive thoughts about yourself like: “I am an honest and trustworthy person”, you transmit that feeling and image to others and reinforce it to yourself. Compare that thought with a negative thought such as: “Nothing ever works out for me” or “Nobody likes me” and straight away you feel tense and angry and/or depressed. Others will pick up on your feelings and unconsciously steer clear of you if they can. Mundane thoughts are just that – mundane. For example: “I must buy cat food today!” That thought may have positive or negative connotations, ie: visualising your lovely pet as you think of ‘buying cat food’ would be positive, whilst thinking: “I always have to buy the cat food” would be negative. But basically mundane thoughts are simply factual. Wasteful thoughts, on the other hand, are perhaps the most debilitating because they usually encompass worry or regret – the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if only’ thoughts that we all embark on at times. These wasteful thoughts consume our mental and emotional energy whilst giving us absolutely nothing in return. They ‘waste’ the energy of the soul and rob us of the vitality necessary for us to be happy and fulfilled. What can you do to STOP these wasteful and negative thoughts? Use Coyote’s simple remedy, easily remembered as S.O.S. The first S stands for stop! Stop the thought right there. The O stands for observe! Observe how such thoughts are affecting you. The last S stands for steer, switch or swerve! In other words, take charge of your thoughts – this is not as difficult as you think and will come much easier with practice. This is how to change your mindset if you are more negative than positive. Change one thing at a time and work at it day by day. Follow the steps above and you’ll be surprised how quickly it becomes part of your natural thinking. Changing bad habits is a similar process and this can be achieved in as little as three weeks – that is the amount of time it takes to change the thought patterns in your brain. Smokers, for instance (and I’ve been one) usually reach for a cigarette if they feel stressed or as soon as they’ve finished a meal. When you stop smoking you need to re-train your brain to break these connections and though it is hard at first, your brain will soon get the message and before you know it, you won’t even think about cigarettes. So, if you choose to be more positive today and35 banish negativity, you will notice a huge difference in your happiness and contentment levels. Another way to feel better about yourself is to keep control of your moods and be as consistent with people as you can. No-one likes a moody person who is friendly one day and bites your head off the next. Even if you are feeling a bit down, put a smile on your face and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your mood will change when the smiles you give out are returned. This is a hint on how to help your partner or children when they are feeling a bit low or inadequate. As they leave the house or get out of the car, tell them they are the greatest and that you love them. It will lift their spirits, boost their confidence and help them to enhance their achievements that day. The final tip in this section is: take responsibility and lead. People want to be led by a confident, successful person. When we attend seminars or other group activities, most of us tend to look around for someone else to speak up and voice what we are thinking. It’s very common to feel shy or intimidated in such situations, especially if you are new to the group. I have now learned to stand up and make my voice heard and it’s surprising how many people I see nodding their heads because they are in agreement. So next time you are in a group situation and have something to say - stand up to be counted and become a leader! In summary, to be an optimist you must believe in yourself and see more positive attributes than negative ones in yourself, the people around you and life in general. In other words, concentrate and be grateful for what you have and make sure you work hard towards the things that you know in your heart that you really want. If you truly believe in yourself and what you want is attainable, you cannot fail. I have the following above my desk to remind me every day to keep on changing: Remember, if you keep doing the same things as you have always done day after day, you will see the same results day after day. So if you want to see different results, change what you are doing! 36 Chapter 8: Meditation for a Calm Mind I started practicing meditation about 30 years ago and have found it very helpful, especially in stressful times. This is my favourite definition of meditation as it really describes what it is: Meditation is “a state where the mind remains alert whilst the body dances on the edge of sleep”. Therefore, the purpose of meditation is to induce a feeling of deep relaxation. Just to get a little technical for a moment, we operate on 4 levels of consciousness that use different brain waves. The conscious brain operates on the beta level, which has the highest frequency of cycles per second. During meditation we reach alpha, the 2nd highest state, where the brain operates at about half this level of activity. In this calm, meditative state, the conscious mind allows information from the subconscious to be acknowledged and accepted. Therefore whilst connecting to the subconscious during meditation, we can most easily change our core beliefs, improving our mental, spiritual and emotional health. At the 3 rd level of theta, a deeper meditative state, problem solving is at its best. Below this is the 4 th level of delta, which is only accessible in the deeper sleep states and by highly developed yogis. There are several techniques we can use to meditate. One is to sit with eyes closed and repeat a mantra, such as Om, whilst concentrating your awareness in the third eye area in the middle of the forehead. Seasoned meditators prefer this method and yogis can sit for many hours without moving a muscle. Another technique, often used in a class situation, such as a yoga class, is to be guided through a meditation whilst concentrating on the breath and relaxing each part of the body in turn. Research on the regular practice of meditation has found it to be a useful aid in reducing anxiety and stress, the reason being that during meditation the body and mind enter a deeper state of relaxation which helps to reduce the harmful effects of stress. A quick and easy way to relieve a stressful moment (such as before an exam or an interview) is to breathe in and hold it for a few seconds and then release the breath all in one. Repeat this 2 or 3 times to help calm your nerves. It works for me in very stressful situations.37 During meditation, the slower you breathe, the more you are able to slow down your exterior beta-based thoughts (the mumbo jumbo of uninvited ideas which clutter our brains). At first it can be difficult to stop these thoughts, but with practice it does get easier. To eventually reach that wonderful feeling of peace, the ‘nirvana’ that the great spiritual teachers talk about, is well worth the effort. If you want to practice meditation at home, set aside a regular time and have a place where you won’t be disturbed. First thing in the morning is recommended before drinking coffee or eating breakfast and again before the evening meal. If this is not possible, find a time when you have 15-20 minutes to yourself. Don’t try to meditate after a large meal though, as when your breathing slows down during meditation, so does your digestive system. Likewise, don’t meditate when you are hungry as this can be very distracting. To practice meditation, firstly make yourself as comfortable as possible. If you find sitting cross-legged is uncomfortable or impossible, use a straight backed chair to keep the back upright and put your feet flat on the floor. This way you are less likely to fall asleep. Your hands can be joined and placed on your lap or laid loosely on your thighs with the palms facing upwards. Do whatever is comfortable and feels right for you. The Practice of Meditation: Close your eyes and keep them closed throughout the practice. Become aware of your breathing, visualising each breath going in through your nose and out through your mouth. Slowly withdraw your awareness from the outer world. If you notice any noises or distractions, gently acknowledge them in your mind and bring your awareness back to your breathing. As you are breathing in - imagine a wonderful healing light entering your body through your feet and moving upwards along the back of your legs, up your spine and into your head and then down the front of your body and legs and out through your feet. Starting with your feet, ankles and legs – take a deep breathe in through your nose – hold it for a moment and release it slowly. Next, move your awareness to your torso, breathe 38 in – hold – exhale and feel the muscles relax and the tension ebb away. (Pause for a few seconds.) Now bring your attention to your head and shoulders as you breathe in – and as you breathe out slowly, feel the muscles relaxing. Finally, feel your arms, hands and wrists completely relax as you breathe in and out. (Pause for a few seconds.) Feeling very relaxed now and breathing at your own pace, visualise yourself on a lovely beach or in a forest or wherever you feel most comfortable and happy. Look up at the beautiful blue sky and feel the earth or the sand beneath your feet. Enjoy the warm sunshine and how the gentle breeze feels on your skin. Smell the sea air or the rich scent of the forest. Enjoy the stillness and the silence that slowly unfolds. Keep breathing normally for a little while, in through your nose and out through your mouth. (Pause for a few minutes.) Finally, it is time to bring your focus back into the room. Take a moment to slowly open your eyes and become aware of the people around you. Move your arms and your legs a little and gently bring yourself back to the here and now. It may take a few moments for you to feel fully alert as your body has been so totally relaxed. I hope you enjoyed the experience and that you will use this brief experience of meditation as a building block to creating a healthier and happier life for yourself. Meditation really can work wonders. 39 Chapter 9: Keep Stress at Bay Stress is rife in our society as our lives are a great deal more complicated than those of our forefathers. Technological advancements in the last 20 years have changed the way we live forever and though some of these have made our lives easier, others have made our daily lives more complex. Nowadays we are bombarded with a constant stream of messages and images of things we ‘must’ have to keep us and our families happy. To attain all these material things, we have to work a lot harder and spend more and more hours away from our home and families. We also have many more choices and decisions to make than our parents or grandparents. For example, shopping in the supermarket is stressful to me as I have to spend so much time reading labels, comparing prices and deciding which of the dozen or so varieties I have to choose from for every item on my list. No wonder we find shopping a very stressful task after a hard day at work. Nowadays women, in particular, have many more choices than our ancestors and more than half have added the role of employee to that of homemaker and mother. For some women, the decision to have a family can be life-changing in itself. Do I continue with a career, have a family or try to do both? If I opt to have children, do I go back to work after 3 months or stay at home and experience the unique milestones in my baby’s life? Grappling with such questions, for which there are no right answers, is often stressful. People are presenting to doctors in greater numbers hoping for a pill to cure their stress. We know this because tranquillisers are one of the most prescribed drugs in the western world. Not only do we live in a pill-popping world where we expect to experience no physical or emotional pain, we want the ‘instant gratification’ of having anything we desire even though we cannot afford it. Some young people get into horrendous debt to buy the big house, new furniture and an expensive car while both partners are working, but what happens if a pregnancy occurs or one of them loses their job – financial and probably person disaster. Male and female roles are no longer as defined as they were even 40 years ago and this can lead to enormous stress and strain on relationships. These are just some examples of situations that lead to enormous stress that, at times, can escalate into another problem common in our society - anxiety. 40 An anxiety disorder can be very debilitating and as a former sufferer, I hope that relating a few of my experiences will help the reader gain an insight into how anxiety can affect a person’s life and how to control it. Everyone feels anxious at times and this is perfectly normal. What is not normal, however, is feeling anxious all the time and that was my experience. Anxiety can be described as: “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by apprehension of danger or misfortune”. Just to put anxiety into perspective with other mental health problems, an anxiety disorder is regarded as a neurosis, whereas schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are psychoses. Therefore, whilst having an anxiety attack is a really terrifying experience, the sufferer does not lose contact with reality, hear voices or suffer from hallucinations or delusions of grandeur - just some of the symptoms of a psychotic episode. I suffered from what they termed ‘generalised anxiety’ and never felt relaxed. This, for me, was the most difficult aspect of the illness. Imagine always feeling on edge, tense and fearful, eventually it wears you down physically and emotionally. I was also continually tired, had difficulty concentrating and suffered from insomnia – symptoms which are not conducive to good health and feeling attractive. It wasn’t long before the anxiety manifested into panic attacks, the first occurring soon after my wedding day in 1980. A second panic attack in a large shopping centre meant I could not be around crowds of people and this was very debilitating Although I showed no outward signs of distress, internally I was in a terrible state. I decided against taking tranquillisers as I felt instinctively that masking the problem was not the answer. My recovery started when I found the courage to leave my abusive husband after less than 5 years of marriage. I knew I had to regain control of my mind and learnt how to stop the panic attacks by controlling my breathing. Eventually the attacks became less frequent and finally stopped. Living with and recovering from anxiety was hard at the time, but I feel it has made me stronger and more resilient to life’s challenges. I am sharing my experiences here in case anyone reading this book is suffering something similar. Anxiety can be an extremely frightening disorder, but it can be conquered and that knowledge alone should provide some comfort. Organisations that offer support in Australia are: Kids Help, Beyond Blue and Lifeline so please do not suffer in silence, ring and get help now.41 Chapter 10: Maintain An Active Mind Life is a continual learning curve and we are never too old to be trained in a new skill. It may take a little longer to absorb new information as adults, but it is well worth the effort. I am very proud of the older people in our community who have integrated computers, mobile phones and other technological equipment into their lives, not easy when you’ve lived so long without them. It is vitally important to keep on learning throughout life and I feel sad for those that say they hate books and avoid anything to do with study. Watching TV can be a useful medium for gaining knowledge of world events and other cultures as there are some great documentaries, but to become involved personally in new ventures is so much more satisfying. It seems that every town has day and evening classes covering a whole range of subjects and just by making the effort to get to the classes, a whole new world of people and possible friendships can open up, as well as learning about new subjects. If I was a young person now in 2010, my first priority would be to learn a trade or have a profession that would provide me with a decent living. I tell this to my nieces and nephews as even if a trade or profession does not last them a lifetime, it is something to fall back on in hard times. Many of us born in the 1950’s and 60’s did not have the opportunity to go to university or learn a trade and some of us have had to change direction in mid life as our jobs have become obsolete. This has meant a return to study as mature age students to gain more qualifications. This was my path and I loved my years at university although it was hard work at times. My reward for all this work was gaining my honours degree and then my graduate diploma. So, don’t let your age or fear of failure stop you from taking on tertiary studies or any other course you want to do. Having goals is another way to keep your mind active and helps to maintain your motivation levels whilst working towards your particular objectives. Tim and I have long term goals (5-10 years), medium term goals (2-4 years) and short term goals (1-2 years), which keep us feeling positive and motivated to achieve our ambitions. We review our goals every 12 months, usually as the New Year approaches. Recently we read through 42 our list of priorities for 2010 and found we had accomplished about half of our objectives, the other half had changed completely due to altered circumstances. These changes have produced unexpected opportunities resulting in us starting two new ventures which may alter the course of our destiny. We had to be open to change and move outside our comfort zones (never easy), but it is so exciting at the same time. I think it was John Lennon who said this and it’s so true: “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans” and I always try to keep this in mind. Even after retirement, there are things you can achieve. Last year I read a great book entitled ‘The Fountain of Age’ written by a famous American feminist and writer, Betty Friedan. The author spent more than 10 years studying the way people handled retirement from formal work at age 60 or 65 and found, to her surprise, a great many were using their time constructively and fighting the accepted view of what was acceptable for people of a certain age. I think she personally interviewed about a thousand people and found some had taken up old hobbies they had previously loved whilst others were doing voluntary work both locally and overseas. She found people who were heading in a completely new direction and studying for alternate careers well into their third age (60-90). I was very impressed by Friedan’s book and found it fascinating and so very timely – I was 58 at the time and approaching my own third age. I wanted to find a way to earn a living from something that engrossed me and where I could use my talents and work experience and I am happy to report that one of the new ventures we started this year has fulfilled that ambition. I do have new skills to learn and intend to continue stretching myself and stepping outside my comfort zone for many years to come. I will have successes and failures as we all do learning how to run a business for the first time, but I feel I have found my ‘fountain of age’ at last.43 Chapter 11: Social Networking The love and support of family and friends is extremely important for us humans, as we are fundamentally social beings and need to live in communion with other people. Research has proven the link between maintaining a close network of supportive people and living longer, healthier and happier lives. We all need friends we can talk to, laugh with and even cry with at times. To have love and a sense of belonging are basic human needs that no amount of materialism will satisfy. The need for social contact is embedded in our ‘old’ brains and is not even conscious, but it is as important as eating, drinking and having shelter to the human psyche. There are people who prefer their own company or to be around animals only, but they in the minority. The vast majority of us need to live interdependently within a social group, preferably in our own or a similar cultural setting. It doesn’t matter if the people you feel close to are not your family or cultural group. Few families have managed to stay in the one place these days. As long as you feel close to a few people who share your interests and values, you will feel a sense of belonging. These people may be fellow worshippers in your church, work colleagues, partners in sport, or neighbours. If you make the effort to really converse with people by sharing information about yourself, instead of just engaging in small talk, you will connect on a deeper level and be happier and healthier as a result. I am very fortunate as Tim is my friend as well as my husband. He knows everything about me and we talk to each other on a deep level about what we are thinking and feeling. This does not mean you cannot have your own private thoughts, of course you can, but if you share deep, personal thoughts with your partner, he or she does not have to second guess what you feel or need. My women friends are very important to me in other ways. Men rarely want to talk about the things us ‘girls’ chat about and that’s just as it should be. My friends and I are what I call a ‘mutual admiration society’. We give each other compliments and notice little things about each other, like a new hairstyle or new shoes and make a comment. We really listen to each other, talk things through, give advice if it’s asked for (and sometimes even if it isn’t), but the important thing is we care about each other and that is what is matters. 44 Don’t give compliments for the sake of it though, as any compliment or remark has to be sincere to be accepted. For example, if you think your friend looks well or they’re wearing a new outfit which is particularly flattering, tell them. There is no-one I can think of who doesn’t appreciate a compliment once in a while. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a loving family or friends and if human contact is lacking, you can always share your life with a pet. These lovable, occasionally annoying, additions to our household help us to be happier, healthier and fitter. There is plenty of positive research on the health-enhancing benefits of having a pet, usually cats and dogs, though people keep birds, reptiles and other mammals. (I know a man who keeps snakes and a woman who keeps a ferret, all in the house!) It has been found that blood pressure can be lowered whilst we are stroking or playing with our pets and people who have a pet to come home to following a heart attack lived longer and better quality lives. Dogs are very loyal to their owners, but I love cats despite the fact that as all cat lovers will know: ‘Dogs have owners, cats have staff’. Pets are particularly great company if you live alone. Coming home to a pet, instead of an empty house can really brighten your mood. I remember putting the key in my door, wet and cold (I was living in England at the time) to be greeted by my lovely cat Puss Puss. As soon as she heard the key in the door, she ran downstairs to greet me – what a wonderful feeling after a long day at work. Summary: To summarise, the preceding pages contain lots of hints about how I manage to look a lot younger than my years. There is no magic in this achievement as I was lucky enough to be born with good genes. I have, though, worked very hard for the last 45 years to maintain my good fortune in all the ways I have shared with you in this book. It is the day by day, week by week effort I have made to protect my skin, maintain an acceptable weight, exercise to keep my body and mind healthy and look after my psyche that are the reasons for my success. I do hope you find at least some of this information useful so you can do the same. 45 I will leave you with some instant confidence boosters that I have collected along the way as, no matter how positive we normally feel, we all have days when we feel flat, or down, or just plain sad. On these days we need to cheer ourselves up. Below are a few ideas that may help you to feel better. – go for a walk – there’s nothing like it to boost your energy and confidence. – it really does give you a boost. You may not feel like it, but a shower stimulates the oxygen moving around the body and will lift your spirits. particularly attractive or a favourite piece of jewelry or beautiful shoes. -loved handbag. cross the road; or offer to do a bit a shopping for an elderly neighbour; or buy a sandwich for a homeless person. Helping others takes your mind off your own troubles and puts them in perspective. Service to others is beneficial for all of us and as Mahatma Gandhi said: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. said about you in the past. We all tend to remember the painful remarks people have made to us, but try to forget those or learn from them if need be. It is more important to remember the positive things and the compliments people have given us over the years. Write them down in a small notebook and if you are feeling particularly low one day, read your list and it will make you smile and give you a much needed boost. It works, it really does. A lovely saying for you to remember and live by as I try to do: Live realistically Give generously Adapt willingly Trust fearlessly Rejoice daily
"Health and Beauty Tips"