I recently attended an ANTI-aging conference in Denver dedicated to the concept of helping people deny the inevitable through any and every means possible…from perfectly sane approaches like optimal nutrition to less sane so-called cures for growing older, like ‘secretotropins’ meant to magically turn on growth hormone,* or hyperbaric oxygen chambers, and every sort of face fixer and filler in between. Stop the BS (bad science)…I want to get off! This idea of being against getting older is more than ridiculous…I mean it’s not like we have a choice in the matter – aging is inevitable. What is NOT inevitable is looking and feeling old before our time.
Hidden hormone imbalances at work behind the scenes can speed up the aging process, sabotaging our best efforts to maintain youthful energy and appearance. Our bodies are teeming with hormones from head to toe, so when they fall out of balance, we feel the effects all over – mentally, physically, emotionally. For example, did you know that there are more receptors for estrogen in facial skin than just about anywhere else on the body? So imbalances of estrogen are likely to show up first on our face in the form of fine lines, wrinkles, and crow’s feet. And what about acne when you’re a teen and now again at 40-something you’ve got breakouts… Tested your hormones lately? a surplus of androgens to estrogens and progesterone can trigger acne at any age. Speaking of androgens, testosterone and DHEA are the key building hormones for bone and muscle, so when these levels drop from high to low, we start to lose much more than our libido – think bone and muscle mass, firm skin, strength, and stamina. Now we get a backache just carrying a couple of grocery bags from the car to the house. Now our hair is thinning, that outer eyebrow gone, cracking, brittle nails, old looking hands…an under-active thyroid might well be the culprit, but who knew? Then there’s cortisol, the stress hormone that can sabotage sleep by disrupting the production of melatonin at night. Many studies have uncovered the relationship between stress hormones, lack of sleep and weight gain, but the impact of chronically high cortisol from too much stress, too much of the time, is a body burnout that can make us prematurely ill and aged before our time.
During the years I lived in London I happened upon a book that drew some hilarious comparisons between the ways Brits and Americans think…one that stuck with me was to whit that Americans seem to believe that death is optional “given their penchant for juicing copious amounts of carrots and running endless marathons.” (Well…she was writing in the late 70s, when the average European’s idea of exercise was a Sunday stroll along the promenade or lining up to watch Tour de France bikers pedal by)…sure much has changed…we’ve progressed from carrots to coconut water and Europeans boast fountain of youth luxury spas known to pump fetal cells from the likes of sheep into women’s faces (sidebar alert: my own mother actually had that done …an expense that set her back from experiencing life in its fullness for a short-lived fullness in her face).
However absurd, the death is optional concept has always stuck with me as an irony in practice, particularly in respect to the ANTI-aging movement. Is that what we’re striving for? Frozen in time with a frozen face?? Can we realistically expect to look and feel great for our age if instead of eating, exercising, and sleeping well, we overwork, overeat, overreact, and overdo it most days. All that “crazy busy” stuff – it takes its toll. We can’t expect to hate aging and find happiness in face fillers.
All the expensive luxury creams and moisturizers in the world (and by the way, many of these contain unregulated amounts of “endocrine disrupting” chemicals that in themselves can trigger imbalance) won’t solve an unaddressed hormone issue that’s undermining your best efforts to maintain youthful well being.
Dare I repeat myself: aging is NOT a Botox deficiency! No amount of lifting, filling or implanting (who wasn’t shocked at the sight of 81-year old Kim Novak’s once gorgeous face at the Oscars, distorted by plastic surgery gone terribly wrong!) can rescue us from unnecessary stress and other bad hormone habits that accelerate aging. Instead of being ANTI-aging, lets be FOR it. When you make the changes in your lifestyle that bring back inner balance, your outer vibrancy is restored, and it’s that reflected vitality that keeps us young, no matter our age. People will exclaim, “Wow you can’t be…40? 50? 60? really??” and you will smile inwardly and say to yourself…yes, really!