Sarah and Andrea, both 46, had been best friends since junior high. Most of their lives had moved in lockstep: cheerleaders in high school, members of the same college sorority, then marrying the campus hot-catch twin brothers, Zach and Tanner. Each of their two children was born within months of each other and, for 10 years after, Sarah, Andrea and their families happily lived down the street from one another.
Then, in their early 30s, the mill where Tanner worked closed down and he and Andrea moved states away. Now, the best friends and their husband-brothers only saw each other only holidays. Sadly, the gap between the two women was visibly more than geographic: At 46, fit and vibrant Sarah could easily pass for mid to late-30s. Andrea, increasingly overweight with dull, dry complexion, looked mid-50s on a good day.
What is Sarah’s secret? Just importantly, what caused Andrea to age so rapidly? The following five factors are lessons every woman can use.
1. Hormone Level Decline
Hormone production declines naturally with age. The faster the decline, the more rapidly you age. But women today have safe, natural options for boosting lagging hormone levels to promote optimal aging.
When Sarah was in her 30s and first experienced stubborn belly fat, increased fatigue and loss of libido—symptoms indicating that her hormones might be getting out-of-whack—she immediately found a doctor trained to analyze her individual hormone profile and who prescribe a personalized prescription of natural, bioidentical hormones. This put her back in balance and committed to a lifestyle, including diet and exercise, to support long-term hormone balance.
Andrea had a complete hysterectomy at 35. Her body went into sudden shock without any of the sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) previously produced by her ovaries, but she determined to tough it out and did nothing.
Chronic stress lasting for three months or more upsets the production of the adrenal hormones, specifically cortisol. The adage that “stress will kill you” is no joke and, at a cellular level, stress accelerates aging.
Sarah has loved her husband, kids and work as a graphic artist. Zach was a super business man and parent-partner. Andrea’s stress level had long been seismic: Tanner drank, fooled around and gambled. She scrimped and lied to cover up.
Sarah ate a modified-version of the Mediterranean Diet, rich with belly blaster foods, all clinically proven to support lifetime hormone balance. Andrea ate mostly fast foods—and lots of it fried. Processed foods not only add pounds around your mid-section, but they also elevate unnatural estrogen levels turbocharging aging from the inside out.
Sarah adhered to her grandmother’s advice that eight hours of beauty rest was non-negotiable. Andrea sat up most nights until after midnight, watching Lifetime channel re-runs and eating chips with dip. Less than eight hours of sleep upsets the hormone ghrelin and leptin, further sabotaging your waistline and face.
Exercise decreases unhealthy estrogen levels and also cancels out the stress hormone called cortisol. Sarah regarded the world as her exercise playground. She ran, took Zumba and, inspired by her daughters, was an expert at roller blading and paddleboarding.
Andrea’s exercise routine consisted of folding clothes and walking back and forth to the refrigerator when she thought no one was looking.
Genie James is an Author, Speaker, Business Owner and Liftoff Activist for women and girls. As a trailblazer in natural women’s health, personalized medicine and relationship-centered care, Genie first turned the traditional medical community on its ear with Making Managed Care Work and Winning in the Women’s Healthcare Marketplace. She is the co-author of From Belly Fat to Belly Flat and From Hormone Hell to Hormone Well, with her husband C.W. Randolph, Jr., M.D., R.Ph. Genie’s fifth book, In the Mood Again, offers hope and solutions for the over 40 million American women and men living in low-sex, no-sex relationships. THE FOUNTAIN OF TRUTH! Outsmart Hype, False Hope and Heredity to Recalibrate How You Age is a recommended toolbox that every woman will need to navigate healthily and happily through the decades. Learn more at GenieJames.com