Aging well may seem simple given the global investment in turn-back-the-clock technologies. But in her new book, Counterclockwise: My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate, and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-Aging, author Lauren Kessler immerses herself in the $88 billion-dollar anti-aging business, finding that not every magic supplement, skin treatment, or diet fad passes the test.
The book raises another important question: How far would you go to look younger?
Short of going under the knife to undergo plastic surgery, Kessler used herself as the guinea pig to explore the Wild, Wild West of anti-aging. Hypnosis? Pregnancy hormone supplements? Muscle biopsy? Yep, she tried them out. Using experts and science to guide her journey to turn back the clock, Kessler uses her personal anti-aging experience—often laugh-out-loud funny and always personable and practical—to share success stories (and raise red flags) in the always-evolving world of anti-aging.
Rodale News recently caught up with Kessler to talk about turning back the clock.
Rodale News: Now that you've explored the Wild, Wild West of anti-aging in Counterclockwise, what are some of your big takeaways? What's more important to you now: Looking younger, feeling younger, or a combination of both?
Lauren Kessler: The single biggest take-away way for me was discovering that your chronological age—the age on your birth certificate—is not your real age—the age that matters, the biological age of your body. We are NOT our birth dates! We are as old (or young) as our hearts, lungs, arteries, muscles, brain—which led to my just-as-momentous take-away #2: The best and most credible science suggests that our biological age may be as much as 70 percent within our control (30 percent being genetic). This is such empowering news. This is jump-up-and-down news. We should all be celebrating in the streets!
Truthfully, I don’t think I, or any of us, need to choose between looking younger and feeling younger—and by "feeling" I mean being biologically younger inside. When you are physically fit, when you eat well and have meaningful work and nurturing relationships and a curious, flexible resilient attitude toward life, you become younger inside. You feel younger, and that shows on your face and your body, in your posture, in how you move. Feeling younger and looking younger are part of the same process.
LK: I felt I had to begin my turn-back-the-clock journey with outward appearance simply because that seems to be the default in our culture, so I was curious, deeply curious, about what the procedures and treatments and Botox-like products or fillers could do. But mostly what I took away from that experience was the idea of masquerade…people masquerading as younger than they were. Often people who choose plastic surgery as a path to youthfulness aren't working on turning back the biological clock in any meaningful way; they are just putting a young mask on an aging body. That said, there is some evidence that when you look in the mirror and see someone who looks younger, that can create a chain of positive "events" inside the body, like lowering your blood pressure and reducing stress hormones.
But I was all about de-aging the body from the inside out—so of course I had to focus on mitochondria, those little furnaces inside our cells that produce energy (and, in doing so, like any power plant, cause pollution). I wanted lots of hearty, efficient, energy-producing mitochondria that did not produce too much of a free-radical mess (the "pollution"). It seemed to me, based on all the research I was reading and the experts I was talking to, that Mighty Mitochondria were one of the keys to enduring high-level wellness. As physical exercise is one of the best ways to supercharge mitochondria, it was an easy decision to focus there….although hardly easy to accomplish.
Published on: July 11, 2013
Updated on: July 12, 2013