What to give up and what to maintain

After a certain age, we women are faced with some tough decisions. After a lifetime of glamour, excess and having it all (that’s how it was, right?), we now to need to carefully select our indulgences. Despite the inherent appeal of these luxuries, we must be conscious of the cost, the health effects and of maintaining our dignity. The good news is that the dignity part matters less and less because, as a friend once told me long ago (perhaps before  the adage was even true), “no one is looking at us anymore anyhow.” So, here is a primer on what to keep and what to retire when you retire.

High Heels – Give ‘em up. Or at least only wear them when you are going to be on your feet for less than 2 hours. Enjoy the search for reasonably attractive, comfortsshoes. You don’t need to wear those cushiony beige nursing home slip-ons (yet), but I’ll bet you can find some decent flats and some great boots easily. Wedges and platforms are deceptively comfortable. Your feet and back will thank you.

Flats can be interesting, as well as comfortable


Cocktails – Cut back. Despite the civility of the cocktail hour, us old dames cannot (should not?) handle alcohol like we used to. Over indulging can lead to a bad night’s sleep (ok – what doesn’t?) And residual sluggishness. However, I still enjoy the 4:00 ritual of a glass of red. And if a special occasion (say Friday) requires enhancing the ritual with some extra effort (great booze, fancy glasses, garnishes and a little nosh), you really won’t need to overdo.

Bikini – No way. Even if you are a demon in the gym and everyone compliments you on how great you look, you really don’t look that great. Let’s just say we’ve reached the age where we look better with our clothes on. And this might be the one area where dignity matters. Buy a pricey one-piece or tankini and a cover up. And a hat.

Note that I am attracting a seagull, at least.

Hard-core Exercise – Increase. You are stronger than you think and if you want to continue to enjoy those cocktails and that one-piece bathing suit, you need to make an effort. But, how exercise really pays off is making you feel good about yourself even if you are now a tee-totaling, flat shoe-clad old lady.

Dietary Excess – sadly, a thing of the past. We all know the metabolism hit we take as we age. And, I don’t need to enumerate the health benefits of a “clean” diet. My take on this, though, is purely on the excess part. A dirty diet is okay, as long as you limit the dirt. One cookie, not three. Split a dessert. Don’t eat the whole bag of whatever crunchy, salty thing. I just might patent my diet slogan: Eat less than you want.

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Pieter Claesz – Still Life with Peacock Pie (1627). Just watch you portions!

Your High School Weight – too bad we didn’t enjoy it while we had it. Give it up because it ain’t coming back anyway. No matter how much you exercise and how little you eat, it is just not possible to hit that number. So accept the 10 pounds you’ve gained in the ensuing years and fight a bit to avoid making it 20.

Hair color – And styling, for that matter. By all means, keep up the ruse. Odd as it may seem that none of us 50+ women have gone gray, you must highlight, color or otherwise improve your crowning glory. I know I said that no one looks at us, but you might pass a mirror every now and then, so do it.

Makeup – Use when necessary. I’ll admit to loving cosmetics and beauty treatments of all kinds. Nothing says self-care like a facial mask made with matcha, Icelandic lava, charcoal and hibiscus. But, one of the joys of not going to work is saving the time and money it took to apply full makeup. Find a minimalist routine and go-all out for a special occasion (which for a retiree may include anything that involves leaving the house). Then, tag all your photos as #unfiltered and #nomakeup no matter how much you’ve plastered on.

So, there you have it: beauty advice for those past the goal of being beautiful. Now, I think it is time to mix up a something special with artisanal bitters in a glass that cost more my haircut.

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The glass really didn’t cost more than my haircut. It just looks that way.

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