Healthy Body

Norma Kamali Has Decade-by-Decade Advice for Aging *Incredibly* Well

Norma Kamali

Photo: Stocksy/Viktor Solomin; Graphic: W+G Creative
Back when I turned 19, my mother told me, “Happy birthday, Norma! It’s all downhill from here.” At the time, I believed that she was right. But as more birthdays passed, and my life started to hum with new possibilities, I began to think differently. Not just in my 20s, but in the decades beyond, I found ways to feel energetic, fulfilled, creatively challenged, and healthy at every age.

Now, in my mid-70s, I’m working to challenge the devastating and unnecessary concept of “anti-aging.” My new book, I Am Invincible, sets out to interpret aging and longevity in a positive way. After all, the ability to reach your potential has no expiration date. My goal is to relax the pressure on aging, and instead, to present a different path: aging with power through sleep, diet, and exercise.

Whether you’re young, old, or somewhere in between, I invite you to consider a few provocative questions: What if life gets better with age? And if you felt confident that you would get better with age, how would you choose to live? Ahead, my advice for thriving and feeling relevant at every decade of your life.

Longevity tips for your 20s

Life is exciting right now—your career is taking off, your social circle is widening, and you’re figuring out who you are. Now is the time to establish healthy habits that will help you thrive in the decades to come. Setting up a regular exercise routine will keep your energy high, so if you don’t already have a regimen you love, experiment! Take a new type of class, join a local sports league, or find a fitness buddy—whatever inspires you to keep your body strong and healthy. Speaking of that, choosing healthy foods not only brings you immediate pleasure; it also helps you in the long run. Eat accordingly. (Personally, I thrive on a plant-based diet.)

Enjoy a late night here and there, but don’t make all-nighters a habit.

Finally, but perhaps most important of all: Many, many people in their 20s don’t think sleep is that important. But rest is imperative if you want to feel your best at work, in relationships, in everything. If you go out all weekend and skimp on ZZZ’s, you won’t be able to make up for it on Monday or Tuesday. You missed that sleep—it’s gone! By all means, enjoy a late night here and there, but don’t make all-nighters a habit.

Longevity tips for your 30s

As you enter your 30s, expectations tend to run high. You may be wondering if your career is on track, or if your love life is as satisfying as it could be. If things don’t look the way you imagined they would, it’s easy to feel like everyone else has their lives together. Guess what: They don’t. Nobody has it all together at 30. I promise you, life is not passing you by!

Nobody has it all together at 30.

This is why it’s so important to resist comparing yourself with other people. Instead, start interacting with them. Face to face. Skin touching skin. Especially after the past year of isolation, connecting closely with other human beings will reconnect you to the pleasures of togetherness and community. Look for nurturing relationships that involve good conversations, honesty, and acceptance. The same goes for your relationship with yourself. When you treat yourself with love and respect, you’ll draw more love and respect from others. If you internalize this belief in your 30s, it will serve you well for the years to come.

Longevity tips for your 40s

Your 40s are an excellent decade. Here’s why. By the time you’re in your forties, you know who you are and you’re making things happen. You have expertise, confidence, and some inner wisdom. (And you can monetize that, too!)

Your 40s are an excellent decade.

It’s also a time of change. At some point, you’ll be heading into perimenopause, with all of the physical and emotional shifts that come with that. Here, you’ll want to amp up your diet/exercise/sleep strategy. No matter how awful you feel or how hot your body is, exercise will improve your mood and physical state. You may need to change the type of workouts you do, but don’t stop moving! I also recommend that you stop drinking caffeine and alcohol. Both affect hormones, and you’re going through hormonal changes. Why compound something that’s already affecting how you feel?

Longevity tips for your 50s

In this decade, you may start to feel your age in unexpected ways. For instance, maybe you’ve successfully monetized your career skills, but some employers think your experience is too expensive. Or perhaps you and a partner have grown apart over the years. Instead of continuing old habits by default, use this opportunity to reflect on whether you still want the things you used to want. It could be time for a career change, or maybe you and your partner need to negotiate ways to make your relationship sing again.

This is the decade to re-evaluate and reinvent.

This is the decade to re-evaluate and reinvent. You’ve already achieved personal milestones—education, relationships, parenthood—so this is the time to explore who you are now. The process of change is rarely easy, especially if it’s long overdue. But by pursuing the life you want, you’ll create a future that looks like that.

Longevity tips for your 60s and beyond

The great thing about being in your 60s is that you’ve gained a good amount of wisdom. You have so much common sense (another name for life experience!) and your life’s purpose is very clear. That’s what you get to work on during this decade. It’s the real reason you are here.

Reject the false notion that aging means you’re no longer relevant.

In this decade, health issues arise more frequently. Some are genetic, and we can’t change what’s in our genes. Others, though, can be avoided or well-managed through diet, exercise, and sleep. (Sensing a pattern here?) I also encourage you to reject the false notion that aging means you’re no longer relevant, or that your best days are behind you. Be open to new ideas and possibilities. For instance, I never expected to meet my soulmate at 65, but I was in an open state of mind, and he was in that state of mind too. Everything fell into place.

I’m in my 70s now, and things feel like an evolution from how I felt in my 60s. I feel even better and more intense about life and my purpose. As for the 80s and beyond? Give me a few more years to get there, but I feel confident that they’ll be uniquely rewarding. And if you care for yourself beginning today—whatever your age!—yours will be, too.

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