In Part I of this essay, I wrote about a new Harvard study documenting something that many of us have always known – that it’s possible to slow the aging process through certain simple changes in the way we eat and exercise.

I encouraged you to make a list of everything you eat and drink over the course of a week, and everything you do (or don’t do) in terms of exercise – and then start making a few simple changes in that routine each week.

It’s important that you take this action for yourself – not for your children, not for your friends, and not because others have convinced you that you “should” make these changes.  Serve as an inspiring role model for your children when it comes to health and fitness, but if you embrace new habits for your children (rather than yourself) you risk falling back into the same bad habits once they leave home or no longer need your frequent attention.  The same rule applies when it comes to your friends.  Make these changes because you acknowledge that you are important.

Also, embrace these healthy changes for long-term reasons, not short-term ones.  Don’t “diet” because you want to fit into that special dress.  Instead, adjust the way that you eat on an ongoing basis, so that you can literally add years to your life.  It’s not about deprivation.  In fact, I think you’ll find that by making a few simple changes, you’ll find that you’re actually adding more joy to your life.  Sometimes it can be easy to complain and focus on what’s wrong in life, but I encourage you to focus on the joy instead.

Like the mice in the Harvard study, it’s time for us all to start adding years to our lives – and adding joy and energy.  As I’m sure you’ve concluded, the most important ingredient to making this plan work is you.  I believe you’re capable of great things, and I look forward to hearing your story, and to celebrating your new life!

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Susanne Veder Berger hid her face for more than 50 years. Now, an amazing surgical procedure has allowed this courageous resident of New York City to show her “true face.” Susanne calls it “Getting Naked.” She’s embarking on a new journey and invites you to join her in confronting challenges, “getting real” and stepping into a fresh, more empowered life.

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