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The Unsung Benefit Of Avoiding Carbs
Gather 'round, young 'uns. Let me tell you a little secret: If you start eating low carb now, and stick with it, you will get better looking as you get older.
What do I mean? Just this: I was not a particularly good-looking teenager. I was fat and awkward freshman year. By senior year I was not skinny (I've never actually been skinny), but slimmer, prettier and less awkward. I got dates, had boyfriends. But I was never one of those heart-breakingly beautiful 18 year olds, with the long, slender waist, the perky breasts, the butt just made for tight jeans. I went from having the body of a child to having the body of a matron. I'm short and stocky, with a short waist, a huge rib cage, and a big chest. Clothes are not cut for me. I have the build of a fire hydrant.
Ah, well. We work with what we have. It does little good to spend time railing about the stuff we can't change; it's far more profitable to concentrate on the areas where we can have considerable influence. Like the aging process.
Then came my 19th summer, when I read my first book on nutrition (Psychodietetics by Cheraskin and Ringsdorf). I dropped sugar and white flour from my diet overnight, and within three days felt so much better it was like living in color after a lifetime of black-and-white. That was the beginning of my lifelong obsession with nutrition.
Not only did I quit sugar and white flour, I started taking vitamins. I read every book I could get my hands on. I experimented with recipes. At 22, I gave up smoking. (It had become way too painful a cognitive dissonance to be a health food freak who smoked, you know? I just went from thinking of myself as the sort of person who would smoke, to thinking of myself as the sort of person who wouldn't smoke.) I did have the unfortunate 10 year or so foray into low fat/high carb mania, but even then I avoided the worst of the garbage -- I was eating whole grain bread and brown rice and whole grain cold cereal and stuff, but I didn't drink any sugary beverages, easily the biggest source of sugar in the American diet. I didn't eat donuts and sugar-frosted cereals and piles of fast food fries. Then, at 36, I went low carb. And since it turns out a whole lot of aging is caused by sugar -- a process called "glycation of proteins" -- that means I have, for decades, held the aging process to a slow walk instead of a gallop.
Flash forward fifteen years. I am now 51 years old, 52 in October. And you know what? I look damned good for 51. I do. Oh, I still can't compete with goddess-like 18 year olds, but then I couldn't compete with them when I was 18. But in my peer group, I have gone from being okay looking to being positively good-looking. My skin is great; I have remarkably few wrinkles for my age. My jaw line doesn't sag much, and I don't have a double chin. My posture is erect. I move quickly and agilely. I'm flexible. I have a waist. And over the past 30 years or so, I have developed self-confidence, a sense of self, and an idea what clothes look good on me, all of which were sorely lacking in my youth.
I'm sure when the gorgeous frat boys with which Bloomington teems see me they think "Middle aged woman." But do I get the eye from men in my age group? Oh, you bet. Even some who are a decade younger than me. And my husband thinks I'm hot. Frankly, it all makes me happy. Happy, happy, happy.
See, if you can just hold the line on aging long enough, you eventually become good-looking for your age. I know if you're twenty it may seem like a long time to wait. But trust me, it comes a lot quicker than you think. May as well get started now.