What’s the secret to aging gracefully? This question is enthusiastically explored on talk shows, is the focus of countless ads and anti-aging products, and has been the subject of research for decades. Of course, there are the obvious factors—like maintaining a healthy body with diet and exercise. But what about keeping our spirits young and our minds fresh? Researchers have found that no psychological trait is as important to our health as the ability to cope with life’s inevitable ups and downs. The attitude and mindset we carry with us throughout our lives matters as much as, if not more than, daily concerns with food and fitness.
Although we can’t stop the clock, we can keep our spirits young with humour, gratitude and creativity. For our winter issue, Ageless Living brought together three incredible women who have managed to do just that, and asked them to share their experiences and insights on the process of aging with grace.
Jenny Dagg, 57
Mother, Grandmother, Doula
“I lost my son [in a work accident], and that was obviously life altering. I was sad and mad and all of those things, but I was able to move through it. What was left for me was a wisdom and knowing that I didn’t have before. The worst thing that could possibly happen to a woman happened, and I made it through and I was able to build on it, take that experience and use it to help others and give back. I needed to do something different, so I became a doula at age 52.
“Being a doula is mind altering, and it has taught me a lot of things. For women who are giving birth, it’s all about just being there in the moment. I’m not always completely present in my life, but that’s one place where I am completely present all of the time. Everything else has to fall aside and I am there for just that one purpose.
“I used to fear getting old and not being the best at something. But when the constant grasping of things goes away, you realize that it’s okay to be who you are, where you are, and to accept that there is more to me than the things I wanted to be or am great at.”
Jenny is a doula at Hey Baby Victoria.
Monique Salez, 43
Dancer, Teacher, Yogi
“Right now I feel physically super-strong, and I still feel super-vibrant and sexy, but I’m wise. I think there is a lot of negative language about age, but I don’t buy into that, and I think of myself as being on a challenging and beautiful journey.
“Somehow we’ve cloaked all of the changes women go through as being less normal than changes we experience when, say, we’re babies. We don’t value these changes. I relate changes like perimenopause and menopause to childbirth. Someone once said to me, ‘When you give birth, you cease being yourself and you become a force of nature,’ and I believe that’s true for women at any step of the journey. These are organic processes and we need to accept them, breathe them in, and notice the lessons and offerings they have to give us.
“I push myself, and I am stronger now than I was in my thirties. I use my body and feel my body and use my sexual being and warrior self. There is so much desexualisation around aging, but I think we should accept and embrace ourselves. I feel the power of my energy and my sensuality now more than ever, because I’m not self-conscious and I don’t care what other people think.”
Monique is the owner and artistic director of Raino Dance Studio, where she teaches Flamenco, Efunk, floor barre, Pilates and
Sandra Froher, 52
Fitness Trainer, Author, Model
“I look at my age more as energy. If I am healthy and vibrant and everything is in balance, I feel ageless.
“I think my body has given me so much opportunity and for so long. It has done everything that I’ve asked it to do; my whole life, I’ve put a lot of work in.
“I had a serious car accident in 2000, and doctors told me I wouldn’t be able to exercise or do much of anything. Having people tell me I couldn’t do something lit a fire in my spirit, and I came back and said, ‘You may be the expert, but I know my body and my mind.’ Then I went on a healing journey to get myself back and going, and I won five different fitness championships late in my forties. I can say that I am really proud of my body, but even more of my mind-body connection.
“When you’re in your twenties and thirties, your mind and body are in a completely different space. I think we need to be open to constantly relearn our bodies, relearn our minds, and find ways to balance our hormone levels. Really, the foundation of health and beauty and energy is proper nutrition and having some discipline.”
Sandra is co-founder of Muscle Lines personal training studio, an expert trainer, and author of Lean for Life. She is also a professional fitness and figure model.
Interviews by Angelina Amlani