38 years and 21 days old

Less than a week to go before my 20-year high school reunion. 20 years ago I was 18…HOLY SH*T, I’m 38! Yes, I know we established this on day one of the blog. But, I forget sometimes…then BOOM! Certain things (like shopping for training bras with my daughter, discovering new grays every couple weeks, and most definitely, a 20-year high school reunion in the works) remind me that Forever 21 is just a name of a store and not a wish-come-true.

I know, I look waaaay too young to have graduated two decades ago (oh, go on…no really, please…go on). Nonetheless, it’s time to prep. And by “prep”, I mean quickly shed 4th of July weekend’s beer and BBQ bloat and excess poundage from subsequent PMS-induced chips and double chocolate chip cookie binges. And let me tell you, it doesn’t matter that the chips are baked wannabe Funyons (“O’s” as they are called) from Trader Joe’s or that the cookies are gluten-free. Inhaling a whole bag of chips then topping off with 3 cookies (while laying in bed, no less) is never a good idea. But as I’ve also established from day one, my decisions haven’t always been the most brilliant.

Before I go into my foolproof plan to get back on the health track for the millionth time and into my reunion dress, let me give you all the excuses, I mean, reasons why staying in tip-top shape is more challenging these days. My life coach always reminds me “Everything happens FOR us, not to us.” I’m pretty sure this statement does NOT apply to the not-so-fun changes that happen to our 30-something-year-old bodies:

  1. Slower metabolism
  2. Duller skin and development of fine wrinkles
  3. Muscle tone and bone loss
  4. Hormonal changes — Allow me to expand on this sensitive topic: By age 35, fertility drops and early perimenopause (think worse premenstrual syndrome, irregular periods, vaginal dryness, etc.) kicks in. What’s this “peri” menopause crap? As if menopause isn’t torture enough. And wha, wha, what about fertility? Hey, love stork, my aging eggs beg for you to drop me a baby daddy ASAP. Preferably one with a high count of exceptionally motile sperm. Thanks.

As Shape magazine so crassly puts it, “Your 30s are a time when reality can truly bite: Your youth is officially over…” (http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/normal-9-surprising-age-related-changes/slide/9). Well, bite this, Shape…in reality, my youth may be over, my bodily functions are slowing down, and my moods are getting more unpredictable even for my psychic, but this is nothing I can’t handle. I’ve got this.

So, here’s my foolproof plan to lessen the bloat, stay healthy, and yes, satisfy my vanity in the next week and the rest of my life (hopefully):

  1. Engage in aerobic activity at least 30 minutes, 3-5 times/week, and strength train. My current efforts: online yoga classes atwww.yogaglo.com 45 minutes a day, 4 times a week, with sprinkles of jogging and calisthenics when I’m feeling ambitious. Do what keeps you motivated.
  2. Follow a healthy, low sodium diet including calcium-rich foods. Think unprocessed and clean food choices, such as leafy greens, salmon, tofu, almonds, etc. (like the opposite of chips and cookies). When I’m being good, a veggie juice + almond milk combo is simple, quick, and satisfying.
  3. Slow down my eating and eliminate gas-inducing foods, carbonated beverages, and chewing gum. Eating too fast and chewing gum can cause air swallowing. If your doctor has confirmed any food allergies/intolerances, eliminate those potentially gas-inducing foods. That’s a serious request. Please. Your family and friends will appreciate it. Lactose is my enemy, so au revoir gelato and cheese plates. Fizzy drinks means gas and well, gas means gas.
  4. Hydrate. Put the vodka down. Instead, guzzle down 6-8 glasses of water a day.
  5. Reduce stress. I have tried it all — self-help books, therapy, acupuncture, Reiki, massage, meditation, yoga, listening to music, exercise, you name it. And those are all excellent ways to reduce stress, but what has made a world of difference is practicing gratitude. That means being thankful for the obviously positive things in my life, but also not viewing obstacles as obstacles, but rather, opportunities for growth. Recognize that the Universe supports our needs in countless ways (thank you, Deepak Chopra), and any challenge that presents itself is not an invitation to freak out and/or crumble, but to pause, think, and ask yourself — what is the lesson? How can I learn from it? At the end of the day, when you focus on the positive and practice gratitude, you’ll reduce the stress and be happier overall.

So, this all begins now! Because 20 years have quickly passed, and it now feels like I’ve got 20 minutes left to kick it into high gear for the high school reunion. And this isn’t just a show for the old schoolmates, but I’ve got something to prove — to me. It’s time to show myself that I’ve really evolved in 20 years, perhaps not to a world of perfection, but definitely to a world of progress. And just like high school was, I’m considering this reunion a training ground for the rest of my life — a chance to show myself (and everyone else) that I’m proud of who I am 20 years later, and I’m excited for what’s still to come. I may not have the ultimate career, husband, and perfect life, but who does? And really, who cares? We’ve all got our challenges, some more serious than others, but we’re all works in progress. And at the end of the day, if you’ve got your health, you’ve got the wealth to make anything happen. Because health is wealth, yada, yada. You’ve heard it all before. So have I. But today, I’m doing something and not just sitting on the sidelines like some wallflower at a high school dance. It’s time to get down. Who’s with me?…Now, I’m off to work out — and find a hot date for the reunion!

Donna Estudillo

Donna Estudillo

RN and associate program director for a non-profit charity, plus mom who's working on being the hardest spiritual gangsta around, living the YOLO life and enjoying mishaps along the way. Current vibes: only positive ones -- which have led to her blog (www.AmI40yet.com). "Am I 40 Yet?" is an idea conceived after turmoil, inspired by a determination to get her sh*t together, and launched at the start of her 38th year. She writes, she learns, she shares…and hopefully, she entertains and inspires.
Donna Estudillo

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