Tips on How to Age Well

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As president and co-founder of GOLO LLC, the nationally recognized wellness solutions company, Jennifer Brooks actively shapes the discussion around e-commerce and health and wellness.

Jennifer Brooks

Board certified in holistic nutrition and holding degrees in culinary arts and mind-body transformational psychology, Brooks’ unique perspective is at the core of GOLO’s mission of empowering people by helping them transition to healthier lifestyles, whether by reaching their weight loss goals, gaining an understanding of how to incorporate exercise into their daily routines, or learning the basic principles of good nutrition. She credits her success in the health and wellness industry to a lifelong passion for cooking with family and friends, often featuring traditional recipes introduced by her mother and grandmother. The experience created a sense of community, later leading to an interest in the science behind food and nutrition.   Among her many professional credentials, Brooks is a Certified Dietary Supplement Professional (CDSP) and a National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) member. She is one of the top women in business, as recently determined by Delaware Today Magazine.

 

By Sheldon Baker

ALtMed: What does aging well mean to you?

Ms. Brooks: Aging well to me means that you realize as you get older you can still maintain an active life, have good energy, and obviously good health. Also, a positive outlook. I feel it involves both your mind and body to help maintain a good quality of life, basically being able to do many of the things that you’ve done your entire life.

ALtMed: Aging is a little different in today’s generation than it was 30 years ago. Might you agree?

Ms. Brooks: I recently heard a news item that said we’re living longer, and fortunately, we’re not only living longer, but healthier lives, which obviously is a good thing. I think being able to do things as you age, that maybe a couple of generations ago people really couldn’t do is an amazing feat for sure.

ALtMed: According to geriatricians, there are different components to aging well: physical and mental health and emotional connections. Can you comment on that?

Ms. Brooks: I totally agree. We previously talked about how it’s really important to stay not just physically active, but mentally active, meaning socializing, keeping a group of friends, and being with family as you age. Perhaps, being multi-generational so that you’re not only hanging out with people your age. It’s equally important to keep your mind active.

ALtMed: We hear so much about mental health today and it comes in various forms. Mental health has to be close to the top for the aging process.

Ms. Brooks: I would think so. But it’s important to understand that someone’s mental health and wellbeing can cover a lot of territory, including areas of emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing.

ALtMed: Are there self-imposed roadblocks we put in our own paths that can keep us from aging well?

Ms. Brooks: Absolutely.  Number one is thinking you can’t do something that you’re passionate about anymore because of your age. Obviously, if you have physical limitations, that’s a different situation. Today, I see people in their 60s going back to school and fulfilling things on their bucket lists that they didn’t get a chance to do when they were younger. Continuously trying to improve yourself and keep doing and learning new things is a big part of aging well.

ALtMed:  Are there scientific secrets to healthy aging and aging well?

Ms. Brooks: I’m definitely not a scientist. But we certainly understand that eating food that gives you proper nutrition, staying active, keeping your muscles working, sleeping well, and keeping your stress under control can help you live a healthier lifestyle as you age.

ALtMed: What changes may occur as we get older?

Ms. Brooks: We know there are physical changes. Maybe our eyesight gets a little fuzzy and is not as sharp as it used to be. Obviously, there’s internal things that can affect us. It depends on each person and how fast or how gradually our body changes. Your bones might become a little frailer. Joints can get stiff, and we lose muscle strength. Some of us gradually gain weight. There are a lot of modifications and other changes that can happen as we age.

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ALtMed:  I think people overall may find it surprising that we start to age before we hit 50 and our body changes every 10 years after that. In any event, people in their 50s and 60s want to make sure they can still do things they want to do. In terms of that aging process, what are the lifestyle modifications we need to be aware of?

Ms. Brooks: We talked about exercise and staying active. You want to do aerobic exercise for your heart. You want to do strength training because as we age, we lose muscle. It’s very important to keep some sort of regular regimen of activity going. It doesn’t have to be lifting weights but just keeping some resistance on your muscles and bones.

What we eat is very important. A lot of times, people tend to change their eating habits as they age, especially if they lose a spouse. For example, they may not want to cook for just themselves, but it is important to cook your own meals and not turn to processed food. By eating healthier, you’re eating better. That gives you nutrition for energy, immunity, and digestion. It also gives you the best chance of preventing illness.

I think another thing we need to be aware of is when a spouse is still here, live your own life. But a lot of people are quite dependent on each other and when they lose that person they don’t know what to do. It’s a devastating thing. I recently experienced that myself. You get two choices, going one way or the other, but some people just don’t know what to do and they end up aging faster. People have to accept when that day comes.

If you’re retired, just don’t sit home. What is that passion you always had? Maybe volunteer or travel. This might be the time because you didn’t have that chance when you were raising your kids, then they eventually move away, or you were taking care of the house. You have to acknowledge that part of your life. It can be an opportunity or a loss, but you need to find the right situation.

ALtMed: Stress really is a major issue to contend with, too.

Ms. Brooks: We talk about keeping our stress levels down. We know that stress is really hard on us mentally and physically as well. It can disrupt digestion, sleep, and our overall health. I always talk about getting more sleep. There’s nothing wrong with going to bed at 8 p.m. because sleep keeps us healthy and functioning well and helps our body restore. If we have disruptive sleep or don’t get enough, we disrupt our circadian rhythm.

ALtMed:  We don’t want to age like our parents. The 70s and 80s are going to be the new 40s and 50s for people in our generation. Are there ways that we can slow down aging?

Ms. Brooks: You can’t stop the clock from ticking. If we could figure that one out it would be awesome. But I think the things that we talked about like exercise, diet, sleeping, and keeping stress down may all help to keep us from aging too fast and simply feel younger. As I previously stated, staying positive and connected to people will help keep our mental health well, too.

ALtMed: Are there signs that we can look for that say we’re aging well or that we’re even aging? Of course, facial wrinkles may be one way.

Ms. Brooks: If you don’t have to be dependent on medications and avoid common health problems that a lot of people have especially as they age, like high blood pressure, and you’re able to maintain a healthy level of physical energy that keeps you going throughout the day to keep up with the grandkids, you’re probably aging well.

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ALtMed:  Do you find people who make a modification in their lifestyle to start living healthier can start feeling younger as opposed to just not aging?

Ms. Brooks: Have you seen our GOLO commercials? Those people we have filmed are great examples. The people on our program came to us saying they lost weight and feel better than when they were in high school. They feel 30 years younger and are doing more than they did in their 40s; these people are in their 60s.

I have a letter from an 88-year-old customer who wrote to me because she can’t believe she has finally, after all these years, reached her goal of getting healthier and feeling fantastic.

ALtMed:  What impact does lifestyle have on your weight?

Ms. Brooks: In many cases, I feel weight and lifestyle go hand in hand. There are always outlying factors. But a lot of times lifestyle helps you with your weight, or it can go against you. We know it can contribute to many health conditions so it’s definitely an important thing to monitor because if your body is carrying extra weight there’s all these other burdens that you put on your body.

ALtMed:  The GOLO diet has been around for several years with massive consumer exposure. Do people still approach the company and ask about what the diet consists of and whether it is safe?

Ms. Brooks: Definitely. People ask us all the time because the word diet has a scary meaning to many. To some, it can mean I need to do something drastic, such as sacrifice or restrict.

They ask, “Is it healthy?” or “Am I going to eat healthy things?” We always say it is just about getting back to basics. A balanced way of eating with the foods that you know are easily accessible to you and that you’re very familiar with. We don’t cut food groups. We don’t count calories or carbs. It’s just a very balanced program.

ALtMed:  Back to aging, is there a difference between aging well and aging gracefully?

Ms. Brooks: Everyone has a different perspective. To me, aging gracefully would be being comfortable in your own skin. Some people embrace wrinkles and gray hair, and some people fight it. I think being happy puts it all in perspective, and they probably could be synonymous, too.

ALtMed:  We’ve discussed aging well. How about unhealthy aging?

Ms. Brooks: That’s a good question. I don’t know the official stat on that, but given the choice, people just want to age healthy. Sometimes, you have something that causes you to age unhealthily. You try to do things that give your body the best chance at living healthily.

ALtMed:  Are there foods people should be focusing on as they age?

Ms. Brooks: Yes. We know that as you age, more protein is needed because it’s going to help maintain muscle mass and strength. From what I’ve learned, we don’t necessarily need as much food as we did when we were younger. But protein is definitely on top of the list. Furthermore, sometimes foods are harder to digest, and our digestion slows as we age. You have to listen to your body and take those cues of how various foods affect you.

We also need more fiber to flush toxins out of our bodies. We have to include as much whole food as possible. I mentioned protein, but I didn’t discuss the fiber we can get from fruits, vegetables, and grains. I think that’s really important for our immune system.

ALtMed: How do you build a healthy lifestyle plan?

Ms. Brooks: With the start of a new year, people always tend to reassess and reflect on their health and wellness. You just have to look at the previous year and determine if you accomplished what you set out to do, and if not, restructure your plan. Was it unrealistic? Was it unattainable? Reassess what went well and what didn’t go well. We tend to think of short-term goals. For example, I’m going to go on a diet now, and if I mess up five days later, I’ve blown it for the year. That’s not the right plan. Your plan for the year might have some ups and downs. Write it all down, and when you get to the next month, decide how the plan can be adjusted if you need to make changes.

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ALtMed: What do you say to people who feel they have messed up their health and wellness plan for the year within a few days of starting it.

Ms. Brooks: We always say it’s about developing healthier habits. The odds are you will mess up because learning a new habit takes a long time. We always say it’s progress and not perfection. You’re going to have some ups and downs. Take three steps forward, and one step back, and that’s just a part of learning. That’s always been our philosophy.

You can’t change how you have eaten for the past 25 years overnight. Yes, of course, you want to change immediately. But you’re going to mess up because, for 25 years, you’ve been eating in a certain way. In one month, you can’t expect to change that. We tell people to forgive themselves and reassess. Why did you go back? What made you do that? What was the trigger? Just try your best. Take it one meal at a time. One exercise class at a time. Eventually, it all averages out.

ALtMed:  How many years has GOLO been in business?

Ms. Brooks: We started in 2009 and then we let it rip officially with a soft launch in 2013. We formally launched the product in 2016.

ALtMed:  What do you attribute your success to?

Ms. Brooks: I think persistence, and we never changed our original philosophy and stance. We have always had this holistic philosophy that it is simply balanced eating and a mind-body program. You’ve got your supplement that helps you on the inside and your meal plan and all the support that helps on the outside – provided that you’re also changing those bad habits.

Like anything, it starts small. We were just very persistent. And we told our story without changing the message. Our longevity is because we have a good product. That’s a testament to that. We’ve always been very focused on our message that you can achieve a healthy lifestyle and reach your goals. You can learn how to change if you want to.

ALtMed:  GOLO is really about a healthy lifestyle for people, and weight loss is an added benefit to it.

Ms. Brooks: That’s totally true.

ALtMed:  Support is one of the keys to helping people succeed.

Ms. Brooks: Correct.  Even with the best of intentions and the right attitude, your journey to a healthier lifestyle is bound to have a few setbacks along the way. That’s why providing a community of support is a major element of everything we do at GOLO, including our private members’ Facebook page – a place for customers to share, support, and uplift one another.

We also recommend partnering with a friend or loved one to serve as an accountability partner. Someone who has your back through the ups and downs of becoming healthier. Teaming up with a friend or a loved one is one of the best ways to stay motivated, achieve your goals, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

When it comes to achieving a healthier lifestyle that’s actually sustainable, no one does it entirely by themselves. Building a community of support around you becomes even more important as we age to keep you on track, pick you up after a misstep, and celebrate your victories.

 

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