The health and beauty habits we had during our 20s and 30s were fairly simple. We just had to do the basics - wear sunscreen, exercise, and eat healthy foods. During that period of our lives, our bodies were resilient. We could stay up late, have the occasional unhealthy meal, and skip a couple of days at the gym without a problem.
However, by the time we hit our 40s, our bodies begin to change. Since turning 40, my body parts - my breasts, my bottom, and that unfortunate part underneath my arms - want to connect with the floor. Not only that, my stomach is sensitive, I can't stay up past 10 p.m., and if I don't exercise regularly, again, the whole operation starts inching closer to the floor.
Now all that sounds grim, but being in your 40s is great - really! Women in their 40s are confident. We've been living in our bodies for four decades, so we finally know how they work. We know how much sleep we require, and what our partner needs to do so that we can have an orgasm. We've figured out the best kind of exercise for our body type, and which styles look better and worse on us.
But keeping ourselves healthy and beautiful post-40 takes work. And I'm not talking about the kind of work involved in trying to be 22 when you are 42. That's silly. I'm talking about the work it takes to be beautiful and healthy at your specific age and in your particular body. So here are some tips to keep your post-40 body at its most lovely.
Take Your Vitamins: That sounds boring, doesn't it? But taking vitamins after 40 is the difference between having healthy looking skin and glossy hair, and having sallow skin and hair that is a dry mess. I take a multi-vitamin and fish oil tablets daily. If I miss a day, my skin, hair and nails show it. So take your vitamins - just like when you were a kid!
Exercise Daily: When we were younger, our bodies didn't show the effects of a couple of days of missed exercise. However, when we are in our 40s, working out is critical. Your body quickly loses its agility if you don't exercise it daily. Moreover, foot problems and back aches easily can creep in without notice. Consistent exercise is your insurance policy against those aches and pains. The good news is that exercise doesn't have to be inconvenient. You don't have to spend 2 hours a day (time you don't have) at an expensive gym (spending money you don't have). I have a busy lifestyle, so my yoga mat and collapsible exercise bike allow me to get in some exercise every day. Finding an exercise regime that you can do consistently is the best gift that you can give yourself.
Adjust Your Wardrobe: Somewhere between a muumuu and a mini-skirt with stilettos is the right way to dress after 40. And within that space, there is a lot of room for personal style. The temptation after 40 is to try to wear 20-something clothing. However, just because they sell your size in a tank top or bikini, doesn't mean that it looks good. This is the time in your life when more is more. More fabric is more beautiful. You want your clothes to cover up your imperfections, and accent your assets. And you want to buy clothing that fits well - anything too big or too small doesn't work after age 22. The way you dress should be about looking beautiful, which is not the same as looking young.
Adjust Your Hairstyle: I love the variety of women's hairstyles, and I don't think there's such a thing as the perfect haircut. However, there are some hairstyles that go out the window in your 40s. Hair pulled back tightly in a bun or ponytail serves no one after 45. Trust me, I feel the loss. That Evita hairdo was my go-to style for years when I wanted to do something simple, yet elegant with my hair. However, once you get above a certain age, your hair should soften your face. Straightened blunt cuts are likewise problematic. They drag down your features, when you need a lift! The easiest approach is to go for face framing layers (with or without bangs) at any length that makes you happy.
Don't Go Dark on Hair Color: Our hair color needs to be lighter as we get older because our skin tone can't handle anything too dark. I speak from experience. Last year, I asked my colorist to dye my hair to its natural color. She looked at my roots and did exactly what I asked - she dyed it black. Unfortunately, the hair color that God gave me no longer suits my face. I looked like Morticia Addams. It was not good. Once we are over 40, we need a lighter hair color that makes our skin look healthy.
Take Care of Your Feet and Back: Our feet and back do big jobs for us. They support our weight and make walking easier or harder, depending on their condition. For those of us who don't live in warm climates, we tend to neglect our feet during the winter months because they aren't visible. However, caring for your feet all year round, including regular pedicures, at home or at the salon, is important to keeping your feet healthy. And our back health is critical. I've thrown out my back multiple times by carelessly lifting heavy items. Back injuries do not heal quickly, especially as we age. Make sure to stretch your back daily, sleep on a firm bed, and take care when lifting either children or furniture. Your back will thank you.
Sleep!: The concept of "beauty sleep" always sounded silly to me ... until I hit 40. Gone are the days when I can stay up until 2 a.m., and still look great the next day. These days, if I stay up until 2 a.m., the next morning, I look like I am 90. After 40, sleep makes a big difference in one's appearance. Even after a quick 10-minute nap, I look refreshed and about 5 years younger. So make your sleep a priority.
Yes, taking care of our post-40 bodies is work. As my 80-year-old mother likes to tell me, "Taking care of my body is a full-time job!" Well, it may not be that bad in our 40s, but caring for our bodies as we get older requires some effort. However, looking and feeling great will be the payback for a job well done.