30: CAREER, FAMILY, LOVE
Women in their 30s are able to have it all—an education, a satisfying career, travel adventures, long-term partnerships, and independence. They are hopeful and optimistic, and have more choices than their mothers did at the same age.
One of these choices includes waiting to get married and have children. The number of first-time moms in their 30s has more than tripled since 1975—which has both benefits and drawbacks. Benefits include financial stability (they worked hard in their 20s to get to this point), emotional maturity, relationship security, life experience, and higher levels of confidence and energy, all providing a great foundation for a family. The main drawback is an age-related decrease in fertility. Women over the age of 35 ovulate less frequently, making it harder to conceive than a 25-year-old. It’s estimated that one in six parents-to-be will have problems getting pregnant.
“There are a number of issues that can contribute to infertility and we need to evaluate all of them,” explains Dr. Nancy Kersey Cooley of Western ObGyn, fellow of American College of ObGyn, and associate clinical professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Western ObGyn has a dedicated infertility program to help couples realize their dreams of parenthood.
Not only is her biological clock ticking, a woman in her 30s will notice that her metabolism is slowing down—making it harder to burn off that pizza than it was a few years ago. A woman’s metabolism slows by about five percent each decade. If women don’t start exercising now, they’ll find it harder to maintain or lose weight as the years go by.
“We start losing one percent of our muscle every year in our thirties unless we do something to stop or reverse that loss,” explains Judy Beyers, owner of PowerSource Personal Training in Edina. “We need to work that muscle. The fountain of youth really is weight training.”
Weight training can also help build bone strength, a valuable tool in preventing osteoporosis down the road. “As women age—especially after menopause—we lose bone mass,” says Dr. Cooley.
To avoid this, a woman’s diet should include plenty of calcium, vitamin D to help bones maintain density, vitamin C to help absorb calcium, and iron to maintain tissues, bones, and teeth.
And while a 30-something woman is far from over-the-hill, she should be mindful of her skincare routine during this decade.
“The essential program for most skin types is using a C serum plus sunscreen in the morning, and using a retinoid cream at night,” says Dr. Jaime Davis, founder and medical director, Uptown Dermatology and SkinSpa. “And never use a tanning bed, or if you do, stop immediately. Skin cancer is a concern for all ages, but especially for those who have ever used tanning beds.”
Emily, 32, Marketing Project Coordinator
What do you notice now that you didn’t in the past? My metabolism has slowed down. I used to be able to just do a few sit-ups to shape up my abs, but that doesn’t cut it now, especially after having a baby. I have wrinkles at the corners of my eyes, and one gray hair. (I pull out that one hair, but it insists on growing back!)
Do you take vitamins? I take prenatal vitamins and Align probiotics.
Do you have a special skincare routine? I use Burt’s Bees face wash and an herbal night repair moisturizer. In the morning, I use bar soap and a moisturizer with sunscreen.
What’s your typical fitness routine? I try to exercise at least four days a week. Right now I am doing the Couch to 5K running program and the Jillian Michaels DVD.
What do you enjoy most about this stage of your life? I really enjoy being a mom. I hadn’t planned to wait until my 30s to start a family, but looking back, I’m glad I did. I feel like I am more mentally equipped to deal with the insane responsibility of raising a child now that I am more mature. Also, my husband and I both have stable jobs, which makes the cost of the whole baby thing much easier to bear.
What is the most challenging? Lack of sleep!
What advice would you give the 20-year-old you used to be? RELAX! I have always been a worrier, and if I could go back I would tell myself to enjoy being young, thin, and having the time to sleep in.
40: SUCCESS, FITNESS, FRIENDS
Many women in their 40s consider this decade the best years of their life as they hit their stride with work and family. Women in this age group, though, have to be careful not to overextend themselves, which could lead to stress-related problems such as depression, high blood pressure, and heart disease. These multi-tasking powerhouses have a lot going on —a career, growing kids, aging parents —now is the time to be sure to get enough rest, exercise, and eat well, as well as keep up with a supportive social network.
Weight control during this decade also becomes more of an issue. Women are no longer building bone mass—they’re slowly losing it—and metabolism is steadily decreasing so it’s harder to keep the weight off. A low-fat diet, weight-bearing exercise, and physical activity can help (it’s never too late to start!)
“Exercise is extremely beneficial at any age; however, it is crucial to continue or begin exercise as we approach our 40s and the decades beyond, because that is when physical strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance begin declining,” explains Chris Hesse-Withbroe, owner of Tenacity Fitness and Endurance in Oakdale. “Additionally, exercise is essential for preventing disease and decreasing the moribidity and mortality associated with heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer, and stroke.”
Women in this age group should also schedule annual mammograms and Pap smears (sometimes sooner, depending on family history). Ridgeview Medical Center’s advanced imaging technology at Two Twelve Medical Center in Chaska and Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia provides patients shorter scan times, higher-quality scans and quick turnaround on reports—all things that matter when you need a CT, MRI, screening mammography, or ultrasound.
Mammograms should be high on the list of priorities for women in their 40s, as should birth control. Women over 40 have the highest rate of unintended pregnancies next only to teenagers, yet nearly 25 percent opt out of birth control altogether. “Luckily there are many fantastic options for pregnancy prevention,” says Dr. Cooley of Western Ob/Gyn.
An anti-aging skincare routine should include sun protection, retinol products to stimulate cell turnover, the use of antioxidants, and regular exfoliation, says Dr. Barry LaBine , a board-certified dermatologist with Lakewood Dermatology and Refine Dermatique in Sartell.
Those with healthier lifestyles will notice less dramatic changes during this decade, so 40-something women should continue to maintain a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, minimize stress, exercise at least three times a week, and get enough rest.
Mary, 41, Freelance Graphic Designer
What do you notice now that you didn’t in the past? Definitely aging skin and feeling tired if I don’t take care of myself. I used to be able to get by on very little sleep, but I can’t do that anymore.
Do you take vitamins? I take a multivitamin. I figure it can’t hurt!
Do you have a special skincare routine? Sunscreen, and products with antioxidants and retinol.
What’s your typical fitness routine? Lots of yoga—I started in my late 20s and realize how important it is to keep up a practice as I get older. I love the focus it places on breathing, flexibility, strength, and body awareness—as well as stress reduction. I know I will be able to continue to do yoga in some form my whole life. I also run and do cardio classes at LifeTime Fitness. Working out has become about maintaining rather than improving. I’m trying to view exercise as a tool to prevent disease in my later years.
What do you enjoy most about this stage of your life? I love being a mom and really being able to enjoy my three kids (10, 8, and 7) now that we’re out of the busy baby and toddler stages! And I don’t get worked up about the small things.
What is the most challenging? Juggling work and family life. I’m not sure that ever gets easier.
What advice would you give the 20-year-old you used to be? Please don’t take for granted your youth and your health!
50: PASSION, PLANNING, FUTURE
Women in their 50s are the healthiest, wealthiest, most active and most influential generation of women in history. They are in the prime of their lives. Women in their 50s have spent much of their adult lives taking care of others, now it’s their turn to shine. They deserve to be pampered; they deserve to be celebrated.
C. Suzanne Bates and Jean Ketcham, co-founders of Aging But Dangerous.com—an organization that inspires and empowers women over 50—are encouraging women to unleash their power. “We want to start a revolution!,” says Ketcham. “Our goal is to stir our members into taking action and fulfill their long-suppressed dreams.” Members have gone skydiving, modeled in fashion shows, traveled to Florida, and converged on a tattoo parlor. There are more than 1,000 members in seven countries, meeting once a month for fun, socializing, education, and support. “We support women in reducing their ‘but,’” Bates explains. “Between 45 and 50, many women’s “buts” start to grow. By the time they’re into their 50s, the “big but” syndrome has a firm grasp on their lives. ‘I would love to travel ‘but’ …, I would take an exercise class ‘but’…, I’ve always wanted red hair ‘but’ … Aging But Dangerous.com is changing the way women over 50 are perceived by changing the way they perceive themselves.”
An active social life can keep women in their 50s feeling youthful, as can exercise. Exercise can regulate cholesterol, control weight, strengthen bones, lower cancer risk, ease depression, and minimize the unpleasant symptoms of “The Big M”—menopause—which can hit as early as 40 and as late as 60, but happens most often around the age of 51. Women in this age group have the time to exercise, and the support of their families behind them.
“I’m coaching a 57-year-old and a 62-year-old to run their very first full marathon this year,” says Chris Hesse-Withbroe of Tenacity Fitness. “These women have sacrificed for years while raising their children—cheering at their sporting events or musical recitals—and now they are excited that their kids and grandkids are going to be ringing cowbells for them along the marathon course. These women are setting a fabulous example of goal-setting, hard training and accomplishing goals for the younger generations of their families!”
Women who are “Fifty and Fabulous (and Fun, and Feisty!)” can take care of their skin by hydrating regularly (think green tea, coffee, or naturally-flavored seltzer water with orange or lemon slices or eating foods rich in Vitamin C), using a daily moisturizer with a high SPF, and talking to their dermatologist about treatment options for sun damage or deep lines and wrinkles. There are many ways to look as good as you feel. Do what it takes to radiate confidence. You deserve it.
Karen, 52, Professional Fundraising Auctioneer
What do you notice now that you didn’t in the past? I have become more thankful and grateful for the challenges and struggles in life. I learned things in adversity that I would never have without hardships.
Do you take vitamins? I take natural supplements on a consistent basis, up to three times a day.
Do you have a special skincare routine? I drink a gallon of water daily, and four times a year I get a micropeel to exfoliate my skin.
Do you have a regular fitness and health routine? After the birth of my last child, 26 years ago, I tipped the scale at 212 pounds. I managed to drop 75 pounds and keep it off by a routine of walking one hour and 15 minutes a day, and lifting light weights three times a week. I have tried yoga and pilates, but staying still is not one of my virtues. I must keep moving.
What do you enjoy most about this stage of your life? The joy of knowing that I am making a difference. When you realize that you have lived, loved and matter, this is the most precious gift you can give to yourself and the world.
What is the most challenging? Being in a performance career, I must always be positive, upbeat, and energetic. Some days this is challenging.
What advice would you give the 20-year-old you used to be? Whenever you make a mistake or get knocked down by life, don’t look back at it too long. Mistakes are life’s way of teaching you.
60: RETIREMENT, TRAVEL, SOCIAL LIFE
People today are living longer than in any other time in history. There is better healthcare treatment and prevention, better medical technology, better research. Not only is it possible to increase the number of years you live, it is equally possible to be more productive and energetic across these years.
Gone are the images of retirees sitting idly in their rocking chairs on the front porch, watching the world go by. Today’s retirees are active participants in their lives, benefiting from good nutrition and exercise (while keeping heart disease, osteoporosis, and some types of cancer at bay), taking classes, learning new hobbies, traveling, volunteering, spending time with their friends and family (chasing after the grandkids), and doing the activities they love. This generation is “younger in spirit” than their mother’s generation, and more likely to push stereotypes and boundaries.
According to the Stella Silver Survey, “86 percent of women over 60 are happy with their lives.”
That 86 percent is most likely exercising to ward off weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, or dementia; getting enough beauty sleep; visiting the dentist on a regular basis (dental health is closely linked with overall health, and gum disease—which becomes more common as you age—has been associated with a higher risk of heart disease); eating healthy; and constantly switching things up in the style and fashion departments (the bigget mistake can be when a woman is stagnant in these departments. Evolve with the times!)
And some day, when these smart, hardworking, dedicated women are ready to move out of their homes, communities like Crest View Senior Communities—a faith-based not-for-profit organization— can provide senior housing and skilled care services. Crest View has five buildings in Columbia Heights (four on campus and another just a mile away), and are currently developing a senior community in Blaine. You choose how you live and change it as you desire (you can add meal preparation, housekeeping and linen service, personal care assistance, underground parking, a roommate, an escort to the mall, etc. at any time). Crest View Senior Community locations are close to shopping, churches, medical services and more.
“There’s a tremendous sense of community and family at Crest View,” says Shirley Barnes, CEO. “We like to say that we create new memories with people. We believe it is a privilege to serve older adults and we are blessed to serve people in our ministry.”
According to a new study by British and U.S. researchers, if people are still physically fit at age 70, they are on average as happy and mentally healthy as a 20-year old. Many consider retirement the happiest years of their life.
Mary, 62, Childcare Provider
What do you worry about? I worry about the future of our children and grandchildren. I worry about whether education these days will be good enough and accessible enough for everyone and whether it will prepare them for a successful and fulfilling future. I worry about my retirement, that Social Security and Medicare won’t be around when I need it.
Do you have a special skincare routine? My skincare routine includes good cleansing and moisturizing, and being somewhat mindful of the sun.
Do you have a special fitness and health routine? I try to eat well. My main fitness routine is keeping up with the infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in my life. If I have any energy after that, I like to walk.
What do you enjoy most about this stage of your life? My family. I love seeing what awesome adults my children have become, what good choices they have made, and what terrific parents they are. I love having my husband healthy and by my side. I really value the good friendships I’ve made over the years.
What is the most challenging? Health issues and body limitations (arthritis, I’m talking to you!).
What advice would you give the 20-year-old you used to be? Be mindful of how important your family and friends are—and nurture those relationships. Realize that material things will not bring you happiness. And most importantly, don’t sweat the small stuff.
Age Well by Eating Healthy
• Eat breakfast every day. People who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat later in the day. Breakfast also gives you energy and clarity.
• Choose whole grains more often. Try whole wheat breads and pastas, oatmeal, brown rice, or bulgur.
• Select a mix of colorful vegetables each day. Different colored vegetables provide different nutrients. Choose dark, leafy greens such as kale, collards, and mustard greens, and reds and oranges such as carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, and tomatoes.
• Choose fresh or canned fruit more often than fruit juice. Fruit juice has little or no fiber.
• Use fats and oils sparingly. Olive, canola, and peanut oils, avocados, nuts and nut butters, olives, and fish provide heart-healthy fat as well as vitamins and minerals.
• Eat sweets sparingly. Limit foods and beverages that are high in added sugars.
• Eat three meals every day instead of skipping meals or eating snacks in place of nutritious meals.
• Have low-fat, low-sugar snacks on hand at home, at work, or on-the-go. This will help curb your hunger and prevent you from overeating.
When you can’t measure your food, here are some ways to help estimate serving sizes:
1/2 cup of rice or pasta = size of an ice cream scoop
1 cup of salad greens = size of a baseball
1/2 cup of chopped fruit or vegetables = size of a lightbulb
1 ounce of cheese = size of a pair of dice or size of your thumb
3 ounces of meat or fish = size of a deck of playing cards
2 tablespoons peanut butter = size of a ping pong ball
Servings and serving sizes are from the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Department of Health and Human Services Food Guide Pyramid
Courtesy of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Aging But Dangerous
Crest View Senior Communities
Judy Beyers’ PowerSource
Nokomis Square Cooperative
| Ridgeview Medical Center
Tenacity Fitness & Endurance
Uptown Dermatology & SkinSpa