When the 10s unit of your age goes up one digit, you stop and pay attention. 10s…almost an adult! 20s…party time! 30s…oh, so mature. 40s…wise and not-too-old yet. 50s…distinguished. 60s…been there, done that, and going to do some more. 70s…this could be a good thing / could be a bad thing. 80s…look at me, I’m 80! 90s…I need an award or something. 100s…would you like to know my secrets?
I love to read Vogue magazine and I subscribe to it even, but I absolutely can’t stand their articles on “beauty,” because they’re always about how to mask your age with lasers, chemical-based potions, and other invasive – albeit high-tech – procedures. Can’t a woman (or man) age naturally anymore?
I never in my life worried about my skin (except in the 80s when “everyone” was tan and I was – at the most – slightly less white in the summer) until recently when I had to face the fact that I had wrinkles. My face was looking my age. So I did what any other sane person would do and go to my hippy-cosmetics store (everything there is so natural you could eat it, I think), and buy a $400 face cream.
The good news is that I think it’s working. But in the meantime I have some other (mostly free / affordable) snippets of wisdom for maintaining fresh-ish skin as you age.
These I hope you already know: drink more water and less alcohol / caffeine / junk beverages. Alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and those god-awful sugary drinks dehydrate you. Dehydrated skin is dry, wrinkled skin.
Same goes for smoking. More smoke –> more wrinkles.
Other foods that are super-hydrating for your skin: vegetables. Vegetables literally make you more beautiful. There’s a phytonutrient in vegetables called astaxanthin that has been found to make your skin more resistant to sun-damage and aging. Also, chlorophyll literally helps regenerate your skin cells.
Exercise. An essential part of staying young (physically and mentally) is with regular exercise and movement. Exercise improves circulation; and circulation to your skin is what keeps the cells turning over and staying fresh. Studies show that exercisers over age 40 have skin with elasticity that resembles those in their 20s and 30s. Other studies have found a link between regular exercise and the lengthening of the telomeres, the part of your chromosomes that control aging. Aging occurs as your telomeres shorten. Plus, the endorphin release of exercise reduces stress and we all know that stress will age you.
Relax your eyes. Have you ever looked in a mirror when you’re pissed off at someone? That line people get between their eyebrows is from being chronically pissed off.
There’s a time to be angry and a time to just let it go. Learn the difference and when you’re not pissed off, practice letting your eyeballs just hang out in their sockets. Don’t try to strain your eyes too hard to see something or understand someone. Just let them hang out. Trust me; it’s easier said than done.
When you’re walking and sitting, make sure your neck is in a straight line with your spine. From there, your eyes should be perfectly positioned to look straight ahead and shouldn’t need to strain too hard.
Sleep. They don’t call it beauty rest for nothing.
Quality skin care products. Read your labels! Don’t use anything on your skin that you can’t pronounce or that is based in alcohol. All those toxins and alcohol dry your skin up. Dry = wrinkles. Unfortunately, this also means you can’t buy like 90% of the beauty products on the market because they’re all full of alcohol and other crap ingredients. I’ve found a few brands at the health food stores that are good and I also like W3LL cosmetics for their makeup as well as cleaners and moisturizers. Yes, it’s pricey, but there are less expensive options out there too; you just have to look.
Last but certainly not least: facial acupuncture! This is how the illustrious empresses and concubines of ancient China kept their beauty. No, not “Pearl Cream” with “special Oriental ingredients.”
Facial acupuncture consists of several super-tiny needles, like the smallest needles we have, going into the upper most layer of skin.
This resurfaces the skin cells via collagen release, which is a process that slows down as we age. Instantly you see brighter, softer, and more toned skin. It’s really quite amazing. You look more relaxed and awake. And all so very natural. You will not look like you had a facelift, but rather like a spa vacation! See typical results below:
If you’ve ever eaten at a Chinese restaurant, you’re probably at least a little familiar with the Chinese zodiac.
On your placemat you see the 12 animals with years written underneath. What a great conversation starter that is. “What is your year / animal?”
But what trips people up is the actual start date of the Chinese new year. It’s not the same day every year because it is a LUNAR (moon-based) calendar. The new year starts on the new moon in Aquarius (some time between January 20 – February 18) every year. So if you were born in the beginning of January like me, your Chinese astrology sign is actually for the year before. For example, if a baby was born this year on January 1st, they are not the Rooster, they are the Monkey year. My mom thought for years I was a Snake, but I had to inform her that I am a Dragon! How dare you insult the mighty Dragon! I’m only kidding.
Here’s another fun part: if you want to find out how old someone is, just ask their Chinese sign, then, according to one of my teachers, Richard Teh-Fu Tan, “count their wrinkles.” The Chinese zodiac repeats itself every 12 years. Am I 28, 40 or 52? Easy to tell, most of the time.
2017 (starting on January 27th) is the Fire Rooster year.
The “Fire” part is called the “stem” and the Rooster – associated with yin metal – is one of the “branches.” There are 10 stems (yin and yang of each of the 5 elements) and 12 branches (the 12 animals), so 120 possible combinations. Every 120 years, the cycle repeats.
Yin metal – the element of the Rooster – is symbolic of the Lungs (the yin metal organ system), the emotion of sadness, the direction of the west, and the season of autumn.
What does all that mean?
This year, if you tend to have lung problems which may include, but is not limited to: allergies, asthma, skin rashes, coughs, colds, flu, bronchitis, COPD, or dry skin, you need to be extra careful of your health because in a fire year, your “metal” organ systems are more vulnerable.
Fire – the stem of the year – has an antagonistic relationship to metal – the branch of the year.
So pay extra caution to your lung and respiratory system. Also use caution when traveling as metal also rules airplanes, ships, and automobiles.
The combination of metal and fire is the same as last year, so this year has a prediction of similar “fortune” for each person as the year before, 2016.
This year is the yin fire, or “ding,” year. Last year was the yang fire, “bing,” year. Whereas yang fire is more confident, yin fire is more calculated and reserved. Both fire types are, well, fun. Fire years are fun years, generally, although with the conflict of metal, it tends to be more of an “interesting” time than a fun time. But you may notice more parties, more fashion, and more joking around. People may like to make bold moves and travel more. People in fire years tend to spend more money. The entertainment industry is strong in fire years.
The rooster, whose natural element is yin metal, is known for its accuracy which may show in how they dress (very clean and neat), how they present themselves at work (very organized and productive), as well as in their pride of achievement. After all, this is the rooster, and they need to strut around!
My absolute favorite moments in my practice are when patients tell me they’re off their prescription medications.
Pain relievers? Nah…don’t need them anymore; I feel great! Thyroid medication? Nope…all my blood work has been great! Diuretics for hypertension? I threw them out because they were making my blood pressure too low!
But, please – there is a procedure for this.
Don’t just stop taking prescription medication; you have to go through these steps first.
WORK WITH A NATURAL PRACTITIONER TO GET HEALTHY
It doesn’t matter who you chose to work with – a chiropractor, naturopath, nutritionist, or acupuncturist – you should work with someone who can help you get the results you are looking for. You need someone who can help you get to the root of the health problem you’ve been having. You can try doing this on your own, but you will get there much faster with some objective, expert help.
Allopathic MDs can prevent you from dying, but they (in general) don’t do much to actually get your body healthy. It’s just not what they have in their tool box of treatments. Natural practitioners (like acupuncturists, chiropractors, naturopaths, nutritionist, etc.) specialize in health and wellness and can help you get to a point where you are healthy enough that you don’t need the prescription.
Once you start feeling better (and you’re still on your prescription, of course, because you’re following the rules), then you can
TELL YOUR DOCTOR YOUR PLANS
Tell the doctor who prescribed the medication in the first place that your plans are to get off the medication(s). Tell them exactly what you have done so far to make healthy changes and that you’re feeling better or noticing positive improvements. Then ask them “Exactly how do I get off (this or that prescription)?”
This way they can tell you if there are any possible complications for doing so (as there can be with anti-depressants) and maybe give you other recommendations, such as what to track on your own, red light warning signs of when to call them, and how is the best way to wean off if it’s a medication that you should not quit “cold turkey.”
BE OPEN TO CHANGING PLAN A
If you’re working with a natural doctor and the results are just not happening it may be time to try something (or someone) new. If you’ve been changing only your exercise routine to lose weight, and that’s not giving you the results you want, try a new nutrition program. If you’ve been trying nutrition alone, and still the results are not there, maybe add in some acupuncture. There are hundreds of different options and you may need to try a few of them to see what works for you and for your unique situation.
Plus, everyone has a slightly different take on things: different training, different perspectives and different areas of expertise. Don’t be discouraged and head straight back to the prescriptions; just try plan B.
TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
Let’s say you’re working with me on your thyroid. I still would encourage you to go to your regular MD for blood work so we can track our progress. If the blood work shows improvement, hey, let’s celebrate! Even if you’re not 100% “cured,” even slow progress is a step in the right direction, so we know to keep at it. If there’s no changes, or if things are worse, we have to change our treatment protocols.
If you’re tracking your blood pressure, invest in a good quality blood pressure cuff to keep at home and check daily at first, and then weekly as you’re improving over time. If you’re diabetic and weaning off insulin, you need to check your blood sugar levels every morning and your A1C through blood work every few months, according to your MD’s recommendations.
Oh, and just so you know, if you ever ask me, “Nicole, should I stop taking my (prescription name)?” My go-to response will be: “By law I can’t recommend anything regarding a prescription drug. I can’t tell you to take it and I can’t tell you not to take it.” But I can help you devise a plan for getting off of it. And I will always offer my personal opinion about it!
You go with the flow. That’s the point. If something is too difficult, you don’t go that way. You choose the path of least resistance.
Does that mean you don’t try anything new?
Does that mean you give up on challenges?
Does that mean if you’re scared to do something you don’t do it?
It means if you are constantly at arms, you are constantly battling a situation or a person, you just drop it.
EXAMPLES: you’re walking into the wind, and then dust starts to blow into your face, and you have to walk somewhere because you told so-and-so that you would, and the whole thing is just really sucking. You’re uncomfortable; you can’t even see what’s in front of your face. You’d rather just not. But you told so-and-so that you would! Well, tell them that you can’t anymore.
Or you’re talking to someone and they want to argue with you. Everything you say, they have a counter-point. So you argue back. They argue harder. So you try to agree with them, just to keep the peace. They still argue! Just drop it: tell them, “I guess I can see your point.” Even if you don’t! Just let go.
Let go when it’s time to let go. If every sign in the Universe is saying, “This is not the way to go,” don’t fight the feeling.
There are different paths of behavior, paths of industry, paths of mood, paths of people, and you can decide for yourself which one is best suited for you at any particular time.
Nothing is ever constant, and what path is good for you one day may change the next day. Learn to go with the flow. Don’t fight the flow. Unless you really like being miserable. If you’re addicted to complaining, this will be difficult.
It is good to work hard, and to challenge yourself. The difference between a good challenge and something that is wrong is subtle. Sometimes we don’t recognize it at first.
Like you’re trying to open a door and it doesn’t open. So you try harder. It still doesn’t open. You kick it as you try to open it, and it still doesn’t open.
So you can cry, berate yourself, look for pity, etc. Or you can find another door.
It goes the other way, too. Let’s say someone says to you, “You should try acupuncture.” And you think, “yeah, that sounds cool,” but never act on it. Then, you meet an acupuncturist who says, “Wow -you would really benefit from some acupuncture.” And you say, “hmmm…someone else told me that, too.” Many people would then make an effort to try this new thing. Is it just coincidence or is the Universe sending a signal to you? Only the individual can decide.
Do you believe in coincidences?
- Have you ever experienced a strong desire to continue on a path that was leading nowhere, only to eventually decide to quit and try something else?
- Have you ever heard of something from several different sources until you finally decided to try it for yourself?
- Please let me know in the comments below.
If you’re like most people and your New Year’s resolution is to “lose weight,” I implore you with one slight change. Because, really, how exactly does one just “lose weight?”
There’s no weight loss knob to turn on at night (“Excuse me, sweetie, I’m just going to lose a little weight and I’ll be right to bed.”) and there is no magic weight loss pill to take (and lord knows they’ve tried).
Your subconscious mind can only take action on positives.
In other words, if I told you to NOT think of a blue goat, what do you instantly think of?
Remember do NOT think of a blue goat. Got it?
Your subconscious – where all your actions take root and gain momentum – has no idea what “NO” and “DON’T” mean.
So you go to work and there’s doughnuts in the break room. “DON’T eat them!” you tell your subconscious mind. “Ha!” says your conscious mind. “Doughnuts are there and I will eat them.”
The same situations happen when you make carb-leaden foods for your kids that they only eat a few bites of. “Well, normally those foods are not on my diet, but since they’re just sitting here getting ‘wasted,’ … don’t mind if I do!”
OR how about when you’re at a party. “Would you like to have another drink?” “Heck, yeah, I want to have another drink!” Why the heck not?!
You haven’t given yourself a reason to make healthy choices. All you know is what you don’t want.
So…this ever-elusive “weight loss” never really takes shape, so to say.
When you tell your body or your subconscious to “lose weight,” all this does is stress YOU out.
If you “need to lose weight,” the go-to response is to deprive yourself.
Deprivation never works. No-body wants to feel deprived.
After doing that for a while, you splurge. Then you feel bad, and the cycle goes on and on.
Here’s what I’m proposing to do instead:
Tell yourself that you’re only going to put things into your body that are good for her / him.
This will work because it will withstand each possible paradigm of diet sabotage.
For example, the doughnuts in the office: “No, thanks. I already had a healthy breakfast, and I’m just not hungry right now. (and even if I was hungry, I’d find something other than doughtnuts!)”
Another example is when you’re out drinking. “Do I want another drink? hmmm…well, I’m having a lot of fun, but I don’t think having another drink will necessarily enhance the amount of fun I’m having, so I’m going to pass. But I’ll take a water!”
Your kids left-overs? “This is not the quality of food I’m wanting for my body, so I’m just going to trash these (or save in the fridge for them for later), and make myself a nice cup of soup.”
Now what about the small, occasional indulgence?
A glass of wine or some dark chocolate? YES! By all means, if that’s what your body wants to feel good, then I think some quality indulgences in reasonable amounts is perfectly healthy. I also think we all have an inner voice that tells us when it’s too much. We just need to listen.
What is good for you?
- Quality foods / drinks
- The right quantity of food / drink
- The right quantity and quality at the right time; as in – when you’re actually hungry.
Just ask yourself: “Is this good for me right now, or is it harmful?” No-body really knows better than your own.
So, enjoy, and don’t judge. What’s good for you one day is not good for someone else, and vice versa.
Happy New Year!