A few months ago I embarked on an adventure to focus attention on getting myself into fabulous shape and looking great, just in time for my 40th birthday. I lost a few pounds, and plateaued on that, but I gained a much clearer understanding of what it means to be healthy and look great at any age.
I quietly watched other friends and acquaintances and their efforts and actions towards feeling better about themselves and I came to the conclusion that I needed to shift (but not lower) my expectations even more than I had originally thought. For example, I have been regularly eating a wonderful variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with other healthy choices. I enjoy moderate exercise and because business is beginning to pick up I just don’t have the time to work out the way I did last summer when I was able to spend hours a day at the local fitness center where I worked part time. I made up my mind that I can sustain my healthy eating and moderate exercise habit. I already knew and needed to be reminded that I am absolutely not willing to give up cookies for the rest of my life and thanks to a foot injury during workout boot camp I learned that crazified workouts are just not an option. I have a few friends who are petrified of getting older and how vowed to fight it at any cost. One of them has achieved a significant weight loss through an excessive obsession with gym workouts. She was never fat, and now she just looks thinner. She looks sturdier but she doesn’t look happier or more delicious. Similarly, a woman who works at the weight loss doctor’s office told me that she follows the terribly restrictive diet they recommend all week and only eats what she wants once a week. She is skinny as a rail and looks like a miserable human being to me. Her cheeks are sunken in and drab and she doesn’t smile very much. If I ate like that I wouldn’t smile either! Neither of these women look vibrant, enthusiastic, or content, which are all very important components to my idea of fabulous. Meanwhile, the changes I have made get me lots of positive compliments from strangers and friends. Lately, I have been hearing lots of comments about looking “glowy, peaceful, happy, sexy, like a newlywed”…and I like this. Conclusion: be healthy, and don’t worry because 5-10 lbs is not all that important at all.
Although eating cleaner (fresher, less processed) diet has not really resulted in fat loss for me this time around, it has led to a definite clearing of my skin. I have much smoother, clearer, softer, and more even-toned skin all over. I don’t wear foundation regularly and recently I stopped using face powder on a regular basis as well because I have no bumps to cover up. The sparkly bronzer I love is now just a little too much for me now because my color is great and I just don’t need that pick-me-up anymore.
As the weather finally warmed, I had to buy new clothes. I had all wool pants and fall tops in the closet. This time I really paid attention to creating a style, being comfortable but not opting for the commonplace. I rediscovered my favorite clothing store, which by the way, I never would have shopped at age 20 because it’s just too darned expensive. So the truth is, it is so much more exclusive (unique) than Gap or Target. You’ll think I shopped at a little standalone boutique somewhere. The clothes I am finding are not the typical cookie-cutter crap that you see worn on MTV. I buy items that have flattering cuts that don’t attempt to hide me, but just look great. I’m not keeping up with the teeny-bopper trends like those aging “Sex in the City” types. Oh yes, and I wear dresses! After all these years. I love the carefree no-fuss style that is not frumpy-hippie but sophisticated and versatile because it reveals a different kind of beauty that satisfies me.
What else have I been doing? You would never believe how simple. I just made a conscious effort at putting myself out there and being comfortable with it, in very simple ways. When I get a manicure, I just have the high-shine buff instead of nail polish. I took my sister Kelley’s advice on natural hair care and leaning more towards the clean, slightly tousled look for my locs. I relax in my backyard hammock whenever I get a chance. I enjoy wine and cheese in moderation. I flirt with my husband in public.
Many of these things I have done before. The truth is that you don’t just do a bunch of stuff and then one day be fabulous and have a “reveal” episode like in “Extreme Makeover”. You do things and constantly refine and shift them as needed, not with the corporate-inspired trends and continue to get better and better with time.