Start by recognizing that fearing or denying your aging process is pointless (you'll age anyway!) and ultimately self-defeating. Step out of this cycle and take an honest look at your body and soul.
Step 1: Know Your Preconceptions
What's your image of a 50-year-old woman? Sixty? Seventy? Eighty? Ninety? Where do these preconceptions come from? What are your greatest fears about your own aging process? Remember to explore these whether they seem rational or not.
Step 2: Do a Reality Check
Think about people you know who are older than you who you love to be around. What is it that draws you to them? Do you know anyone in their eighties or nineties who is vital and sharp and filled with joy?
Step 3: Visualize Your Future
Imagine you have a magic wand and can age in the healthiest, happiest way. Close your eyes and imagine yourself at age 90, vital and glowing -- someone others love to be around. What does it feel like? In your mind's eye, imagine what you look like. Imagine how you feel. Imagine what it's like to be the oldest person in the room, joyous and engaged in the most interesting of conversations with the "young" people (who might be 7 or 70). Just give yourself permission to imprint this possibility as reality.
Step 4: Make a List
Now think about how many years there are between you and 90. Reflect for a moment on how much you ask of your body, and how far you still have to go. Think about what changes you could make in your life that would better support your body as it ages -- and that would make you as healthy and happy as you can be. A healthier diet? An exercise routine? Marriage counseling? Make a list of these changes. When it feels complete, put your pen down.
Step 5: Start Now
Look at the list and choose one thing you'd like to work on. Maybe you start walking with a friend after work or going to the farmers' market for fresh vegetables. Think of a baby step that will start you in this direction and do it.
Text by Dr. Tracy Gaudet