Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! I’m not 40 anymore.

While the first day of this month has nothing to do with the international word for distress, (most likely it is derived from the french pronunciation for “come help me”) it couldn’t be more apropos for the way I am feeling today. Later this month, I will officially be over 40 years old. I’m fine with the number, but not o.k. with the lethargy, lines and limitations it seems to bring with it.

I just took a yoga class and miraculously, I survived. When I could catch my breath enough to look through my shaking hands in down dog, I could see most everyone in the class was about my age. And these people were looking good. Middle age is not what it used to be. On the one hand, it is slightly annoying 40 is the new 30. It puts a lot of pressure on us. Fifty years ago, a 40 year old could let herself go. She could throw on a housedress, head out to the bake sale with a Tab in one hand, a cigarette in the other, and it was completely respectable. Now, 40 is the perfect age to start a family, a new career or a new lifestyle. My kids would probably be mortified if I were the only mom at pick up in curlers and a cloud of Marlboro spoke, so I guess I have to go with the masses and figure out how to fight the clock.

What are the best ways to stay young … inside and out? (That is, without involving a plastic surgeon.)

– Sunscreen every day, don’t forget your hands and neck.
– In terms of wrinkles, retinol containing products are the only ones with science backing up their effectiveness.
– Exercise regularly
– Floss and see your dentist regularly
– Eat more fiber and increase your intake of anti-oxidants, by increasing fruits and vegetables
– Manage your stress
– Quit smoking (hopefully in 2014, this is an easy one for most of us)

There you have it. Seven steps to living a healthier, younger life. Why does it seem so simple when I’m writing it, and so hard when I’m living it? Life is busy and it gets in the way. But always remember, a little something is better than nothing at all. When you fall off the horse, jump back on. These little steps may not help you win a triathlon, but they will help you live better and stronger.

AND … smile often and have some fun. Even if you get laugh lines, you will still look younger and more attractive. I once had someone tell me they looked young because their mother taught them how to not smile with their eyes. To hell with that. Smile with your whole face, laugh with your whole body and play with your whole spirit.

“You’re never too old to play. You’re only too old for low rise jeans.”

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