'20 Years Younger': Bob Greene's Advice for Living Well, Eating Healthy and Looking Great As You Age

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Some people have gotten the message that the life you lead can indeed turn back the clock. But I feel others have misinterpreted the message to mean that they should zealously pursue any program that promises everlasting youth. Extreme exercise regimens, severely restrictive diets, unproven hormonal therapies, cosmetic surgery makeovers -- they may all seem like quick and effective ways to return the body to its youthful self, but more often than not they're counterproductive. What we're offering you in this book instead are natural, research-based strategies for getting your body (and mind) in top form and even lowering your physiological age. The goal isn't to help you turn yourself back into a teenager but rather to help you lead your longest, fullest, and healthiest life. Stay strong, energetic, mentally sharp, and confident, and your age will not define -- or debilitate -- you. Instead it will be incidental; something noted on your driver's license but not indicative of your health or capabilities.

I'm in my fifties now and I've always prided myself in trying to live a healthy life. Some of those habits, as it turns out, have helped me when it comes to aging. I've been extremely conscientious about exercise, of course, and I'd give myself a pretty good grade in healthy eating, getting enough sleep, and controlling stress, too. The one area where I wish I'd been more diligent is in caring for my skin. It's long been my Achilles' heel. Like so many people, I grew up before the widespread use of sunscreen. Nobody had heard of SPF back then, and while we knew that getting sunburn hurt, we hadn't been clued in to the dangers of sun exposure. I've always had rather fair skin, and when a friend of mine in my elementary school suggested I get a tan, I began to feel self-conscious about how pale I was -- an insecurity that lingered well into early adulthood. I never was that successful at getting a tan (I always burned instead), but that doesn't mean I didn't try.

A number of years ago Oprah and I were training for a race when, probably annoyed at me for urging her to "push harder," she turned to me and said, "I've never met anyone so together. Is there anything you struggle with?" "Well, I don't tan very well," I replied, giving an honest answer. Oprah burst out laughing. I know she thought I was kidding, but I was genuinely insecure about my fair skin!

As I gathered information for this book and went looking for an expert to contribute a chapter on skin care, I thought I might be able to use myself as a guinea pig. By now I was regretting every unprotected minute I'd spent in the sun, and I needed some help in rejuvenating my skin. My plan was to interview several top-echelon dermatologists, try their products and advice, and see how well they -- and I -- fared.

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