Aging With Grace / by Anne Kreamer

FIGURING OUT THE CHALLENGE of aging with grace is a tricky business. If you had to bet who was happier with their body, a 40-year-old woman or a 50-year-old woman, which would you guess? Most of us would immediately assume the 40-year-old. And we'd be wrong. How we handle aging with grace is different for each of us. But some information I picked up from a book called The 100 Simple Secrets of The Best Half of Life, What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It gave me new insight into how I could think about the aging process

What appealed to me about the book was the notion that I could use objective scientific data to help me improve the quality of my life and handle aging with grace.

One chapter in particular resonated with me. According to a 2000 study, People become about 1 percent more likely to hold a positive image of their bodies with each year of age after forty.

I know this is true. After years of highlighting my hair, when I turned 40 I was so uncomfortable about being old I dyed my hair jet black. God, what a disaster!

Aging with grace was the last thing on my mind. What I didn't have the perspective to know at 40 was that our fifth decade is unquestionably the toughest to get through with any sense of physical self-esteem. Everything begins to sag and lose its vibrancy

Our 40s are the official no-man's-land of age, neither old nor young. It's confusing: should we cling to trying to look like we're still in our 30s or should we give it up, join our elders and embrace the challenge of aging with grace

I think why we get comfortable with aging that we become happier with our body image as we get older. We discover that it's not all or nothing. At 50 we know we're actually more than half way through the game and that pretty much no matter what we do, we look our age (even if we're lucky and we look like a good 47)

Other stuff, like staying alive, begins to matter much more than whether our bodies are hot.

There's a middle way. Like most things, it's not a black and white choice. We can do the things that matter for our health, such as exercising more, stopping smoking, or reducing our caffeine intake, and manage the things we do for pure vanity.