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I am about to turn 29-years-old, but quite fortunately, thanks in part to good genetics, but also to a very healthy lifestyle, I still look 22. I know this because I often ask people to guess my age whenever they ask me how old I am and I have had many incidents where people then demanded to see my ID after I told them my real age. People have guessed that I was younger and older but the average, and most common answer, is 22. Furthermore, this was during the summer and not here at Rowan where people would be likely to assume I would be, at most, twenty-two, and thus not a sampling bias. Far more ambitiously, I plan to age like the seemingly immortal Keanu Reeves and look like I am somewhere in my mid-twenties when I turn 40. To put it simply, I aspire to look and feel 25 at 45. That way, when I turn 30-years-old next year, I can be happy with the knowledge that neither my biological age nor my appearance reflect that fact. So how am I planning to do this?

First, the foundational component of my approach to life in general has been optimizing my performance in all areas of life through first optimizing my diet, supplement and exercise regimen. In recent months, I have achieved remarkable improvements in my energy levels, my mood, my confidence, cognitive performance, athletic performance, body composition, resilience to stress and quality of sleep. For example, I finally quit the highly addictive drug people refer to simply as “junk food.” Three months ago, I take supplements like collagen to keep both my skin and my bones healthy and vibrant, and I now utilize supplements like Valerian root and passion flower that both increase the quality of my sleep and have, to my amazement, effectively cured my general anxiety disorder.

Note that when I refer to junk food as an addictive drug, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of peer-reviewed studies that have come to this very conclusion. For example, the results of one study conducted by Scripps Research Institute out of Jupiter, Florida led the researchers to compare the addictive quality of foods like cheesecake and pizza to nicotine and heroin. Professor Paul Kenny observed: “It presents the most thorough and compelling evidence that drug addiction and obesity are based on the same underlying neurobiological mechanisms.”

Fortunately, I have always been in good shape as a result of youth, genetics, exercise and eating an exclusively healthy diet about ninety-percent of my life. However, anytime I felt myself beginning to experience a bout of apathy and depression, it was then that several weeks of binging on junk food, Netflix and self-isolation were sure to follow. Thus, what would otherwise have been a few days of feeling down turned into weeks of engaging in activities that only made me more depressed. Luckily, thanks largely to self-administered cognitive behavioral therapy that I learned from the published works of the late Dr. Albert Ellis, I was able to train myself to react to feelings of sadness by engaging in things that make me less depressed. For example, whenever I feel down, I now turn to exercise, socializing, reading, doing research and most importantly, creative work like writing.

My struggles with junk food addiction have given me a unique perspective on the nature of both binge-eating and obesity, and I urge anyone struggling with binge-eating to seek cognitive behavioral therapy in order to determine their triggers and learn how to replace bad habits with good habits. In regards to diet, I recommend starting by eating as much healthy food as you like when quitting junk food rather than starting by both eating exclusively healthy food and restricting one’s calories. It is best to proceed one step at a time. However, obesity can also result from un-diagnosed thyroid issues or other medical issues and is definitely a subject for another article. In the meantime, I highly recommend the published works of Dr. Albert Ellis to anyone suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, binge eating, relationship issues, any sort of phobia or even just high levels of stress. His works can be found online or at any public library. Junk food addiction, high levels of stress or anxiety, toxic relationships and mental illness treated solely with prescription drugs are all common barriers to optimized performance and a successful anti-aging regimen.

Regardless, while nutrition and exercise serve as the foundation of both an ideal lifestyle and an effective anti-aging regimen, I also engage in as many other anti-aging interventions as possible and continue to add more to the list. I started pursuing these activities for their immediate benefits, but they also have anti-aging effects. These activities include hot yoga, sauna sessions, massage therapy (especially deep tissue massage), cryotherapy, intravenous stem cell therapy, neurofeedback and a nootropic regimen. Stem cell therapy is particularly promising given the miraculous results people have achieved, including everything from reversing cardiovascular disease, to improving cognitive function after head trauma, to eliminating chronic back pain that no other treatment had been able to properly address. There are hundreds of clinics in the United States that provide stem cell therapy and the amount of peer-reviewed studies proving its safety and efficacy in treating hundreds of different ailments continues to grow exponentially.

Unfortunately, most health insurance companies will not yet pay for stem cell therapy and so it remains primarily the domain of professional athletes, the very wealthy and the very desperate. This is despite the fact that paying at least part of the $10,000-$20,000 cost for a stem cell treatment could save those companies from later paying for upwards of $100,000 for several surgeries, long hospitalizations and the costs of co-morbidities. However, as the technology grows in popularity, more physicians learn to utilize stem cells, and the cost of treatment declines, health insurance company policies should begin adapting accordingly over the next decade or so. Given the powerful healing properties of stem cell therapy, the inevitability of improvements and innovation in the field, and the ideal of regular intravenous treatments every five years or so, stem cell therapy actually provides for the possibility of looking and feeling 25 at the age of 65.

Finally, I have recently discovered that a natural skin care regimen yields some pretty remarkable results in terms of skin quality. Whether it is a facial mask of coconut oil with coffee grinds, avocado, turmeric, cinnamon or green tea leaves, my skin is left looking visibly more vibrant afterwards. Coconut oil with coffee grinds is my particular favorite since skin readily absorbs caffeine. If you’re ever feeling that heavy feeling underneath your eyes, it will eliminate that and leave you feeling energetic and alert within minutes. The coconut oil is important since not only does it have its own extremely long list of beneficial effects on skin, it also absorbs the caffeine, antioxidants and polyphenols from the coffee grinds so that they can then be absorbed by your skin. The same applies to turmeric, cinnamon and green tea leaves.

As hundreds of journalists in women’s magazines have discovered, natural skin care masks are both more effective and less expensive than the aggressively marketed, chemical-based products that often tout extracts of the same items you can apply to your face without the addition of dozens of harmful chemicals that are also absorbed by the skin and then into the bloodstream. Some topical acne treatments are not provided to pregnant women since they can cause birth defects; imagine what harm those same chemicals do to one’s own body. That being said, I still use normal soap and normal deodorant since I have yet to find all-natural versions that are as effective. I am looking purely for results and have no bias against using man-made chemicals like the aluminum found in nearly all deodorants when it proves most effective in preventing sweating or using prescription medications like antibiotics when they are the best means of treating an ailment. However, if you want to keep your skin looking youthful for years to come, using a natural skin care mask every day rather than anything you can find in a tube is by far the most effective method and also the most affordable.

While I began designing my lifestyle for optimal health so that I could experience benefits in the present, it is quite a happy discovery to learn that I will also reap profound anti-aging benefits in the future. In a sense, I am really just a hedonist. I realized long ago that the healthiest life is the most pleasant life; it yields the most pleasure and the least pain. Those that abuse drugs, binge on junk food and ignore things like diet, exercise, supplements, healthy relationships, yoga, the sauna and massage therapy are the most miserable and experience the most pain in life. Thus, regardless of whether I look and feel 25 at 45, which I believe is very much an achievable goal, I believe the type of health-centered lifestyle I am pursuing will yield the most meaningful, joyful and satisfying life possible.

While I do not have time to properly explore this particular subject in this article, healthy relationships is an oft-forgotten cornerstone of a healthy life and it too requires conscious direction. For example, if you hope to get married one day, you can increase your chances of success by reflecting on and writing down what you want in a partner, reading books about what separates successful marriages from failed marriages and studying how to best resolve conflicts in a mutually-satisfying manner. That seems like hard work, but nothing could be more hedonistic given that it is from our relationships that we derive the greatest happiness in our lives. Why not do our best to learn how to be a better husband, wife, mother, father, son, friend, a leader in one’s community and so on? You will reap a great deal more than just a healthy life from great relationships; you will reap a meaningful life.

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