The Benjamin Button lifestyle: six secrets to aging in reverse

Someone mentioned to one of my kids the other day that it looked like I was aging in reverse. The comment was whispered at a rooftop party where I was dancing, enjoying the sunset over the city, and munching on sprouted popcorn, drizzled with LOADS of organic butter. We were celebrating my daughter’s friend’s birthday and I must say that, that evening, I was definitely feeling like I was her age rather than my own!

Rooftop vibes with my daughter and I flanking the birthday girl.

Rooftop vibes with my daughter and I flanking the birthday girl.

Truth be told, most days are like this for me. I feel like I have boundless energy, like nothing is impossible and that my body can do whatever I ask of it. I do feel very Benjamin Button-esque.

If I could bottle up the “Benjamin Button” diet/lifestyle and sell it on the street corner, perhaps I could make a mint. But I’d just rather everyone be living their best life, so I’m not asking for a dime. Instead I’ll tell you the six secrets for reversing age-related decline (or at least not going down without a fight)! These are principles I incorporate daily (or at least weekly). If you do the same, you, too, can be younger than your chronological years.

1. Eat real fats. Yup, saturated fats like coconut oil, butter, tallow and lard actually improve brain function. Our brains are 60% fat, so I suggest we prime the fat pump. Nobody (no matter what their age) wants to be scratching their head, trying to remember where they put their keys or the name of the person they were just introduced to. I eat butter, coconut oil, and animal fats every day.

2. Move. It’s common knowledge that we lose muscle mass as we age. When we challenge our bodies through hobbies like kayaking or tennis, or resistance training in a gym and the like, we can fight the loss. Weight-bearing exercise improves bone density & strength-training builds muscles back up. I teach group fitness classes 2-3 times per week w/ cardio and strength-training components. When I’m not in class, I take short runs, do pull ups and push-ups every day.

3. Get out in the sun. The sun gives our mitochondria energy (the tiny motors in our cells) & powers up our longevity telomeres. I’ve always been energetic, but now I feel fresher than ever thanks to my habit of catching the sunlight w/in 45 minutes of sunrise. I spend at least 15 minutes looking in the direction of the sun (there are receptors in my eyes that are like mini solar panels for my body) and it powers me up. I have more definition and strength and energy than ever before. I run to a nearby park to catch the sunrise every day.

Catching the sunrise in the morning with my dog is a happy habit!

Catching the sunrise in the morning with my dog is a happy habit!

4. Sleep. This is the time your body and brain “take out the trash.” Mental energy is restored when we sleep sufficiently. Those who do not get enough not only suffer mentally from brain fog and fatigue, but they struggle with weight gain and hormonal imbalance. I used to blow off this part of wellness. Now I honor it, as I do, my food and fitness regimen and the benefit is immeasurable (in my appearance as well—there’s truth to the phrase “getting my beauty sleep”). I’m committed to getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night.

5. Reduce stress. Marie Kondo has it right. But don’t just look at possessions and question how much joy they bring. Look at your schedule. Drop the extra baggage. Or at least set it aside for a bit. Lately, I’ve taken hikes, stepped outside for lunch, taken time to chat with a neighbor, and, yes, joined a rooftop party, even though my to-do list had very few check marks on it. So don’t just wait till the end of the day to relax (or collapse into bed). Be proactive and take mini-breaks &/or exercise the “no” muscle so that you can lead a more balanced/relaxed lifestyle. I take daily mental health breaks because my life and health depend on it.

6. Eat more seafood. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is critical to healthy brain function. DHA is an Omega-3 fatty acid found in cold-water oily fish (like salmon, herring, sardines, and makerel) and in seaweed. Upping your levels of DHA can combat depression, age-related cognitive decline, and heart disease. I have seafood at least once or twice a week, since learning of the importance of DHA.

Sushi and sashimi are favorites!

Sushi and sashimi are favorites!

There were other comments at the party, too, about my appearing like my daughter’s sister. While it is flattering to hear these words, the best part of this lifestyle is the FEELING. Do you want to live at 100%? Do you want optimal energy and strength? Try a couple of my secrets. Find a friend who’s willing to give these a try as well, so you can have a partner in crime as you reverse your chronological age. It has been proven that healthy living really can turn our biological clocks back, measurably lengthening our telomeres (the cell “caps” that wear away with age). So join me in turning things around and making the Benjamin Button lifestyle a thing!

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Hilda Labrada Gore is a certified health coach and fitness professional. She is the host and producer of the Wise Traditions podcast, on behalf of the Weston A. Price Foundation. She is a podcast coach, as well, and the author of “Podcasting Made Simple.” She is also the DC Metro Regional Director for Body & Soul Fitness. She and her husband live in DC with their children and cat and dog. Hilda has energy to spare thanks to her ancestral health practices and her love for liverwurst.