How to tHink your­self younger

It sounds as­ton­ish­ing but, as this land­mark series re­veals, you really CAN turn back the years with a few small tweaks — start­ing by chang­ing your mind­set

Daily Mail - - Front Page - by Jayney God­dard

MY CoN­sUL­tANt’s as­sess­ment was bru­tally blunt. I’d never walk, or even stand, again. In fact, I would be lucky to sur­vive.

While I’d suf­fered from rheuma­toid arthri­tis for a long time — I’d been in a wheel­chair for seven years — this flare-up was so bad that I’d been ad­mit­ted to a hospice. You might as­sume rheuma­toid arthri­tis just causes painful joints, but it is an au­toim­mune disease that can cause the body to at­tack it­self in its en­tirety, and can be life-threat­en­ing.

dur­ing this dev­as­tat­ing flare-up, not only were my joints dan­ger­ously in­flamed — I was locked in a foetal po­si­tion due to the ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain — so were my in­ter­nal or­gans, in­clud­ing my brain, liver, kid­neys, lungs and blood ves­sels. It was quite ter­ri­fy­ing. I had lost so much weight, I was just 5 ½ st and was told I might have only a few weeks to ‘get my af­fairs in or­der’.

Yet, 18 years later, not only am I still alive, I am fully mo­bile. even bet­ter, al­though I am now in my sixth decade, I have re­ju­ve­nated my body and mind to the point I have re­wound my ‘bi­o­log­i­cal age’ to that of a twen­tysome­thing.

I had started to be­come long-sighted,

but even this has now re­versed, and my near vi­sion is just fine.

Given the bil­lions spent on an­ti­age­ing prod­ucts and ser­vices, it’s fair to say stay­ing youth­ful is hugely im­por­tant to many peo­ple. Some see want­ing to stay young as some­thing su­per­fi­cial, even ego­tis­ti­cal, but I don’t be­lieve it’s any­thing to be ashamed of.

After all, a healthy dose of self-es­teem is vi­tal to our men­tal, phys­i­cal and phys­i­o­log­i­cal well­be­ing.

Tak­ing pride in your ap­pear­ance is, in it­self, a marker of youth­ful­ness.

Con­versely, one in­di­ca­tion of the de­scent into pre­ma­ture frailty and an un­healthy old age is some­one no longer mak­ing an ef­fort to present them­selves well. Van­ity is a bit ‘chicken and egg’: when we take pride in our ap­pear­ance, we feel bet­ter, and vice versa.

There are an abun­dance of cos­metic quick fixes, but I be­lieve youth­ful­ness goes much fur­ther than skin-deep; it’s en­joy­ing a life that just fizzes with en­ergy. It’s not giv­ing up things you love be­cause you don’t have the phys­i­cal ca­pac­ity or mo­ti­va­tion.

For me, the im­pe­tus to re­verse the age­ing process was a med­i­cal cri­sis. But, as many of my clients have since dis­cov­ered, any of us has the power to turn back the clock, in­side and out.

Age­ing hap­pens at dif­fer­ent rates, and its ef­fects can be re­versed. We have far more con­trol over how we age — whether that’s hair and skin or vigour and men­tal pow­ers — than we re­alise.

As one of the world’s lead­ing ex­perts in the field of nat­u­ral anti-age­ing, and founder and pres­i­dent of the Com­ple­men­tary Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, this is an area I have re­searched rig­or­ously and ex­ten­sively.

YeTa lot of the sci­ence about this is so new few peo­ple are aware of it. I dis­cov­ered this in the af­ter­math of that dev­as­tat­ing arthri­tis at­tack. When it became ap­par­ent I was go­ing to sur­vive, I was moved to a high­de­pen­dency res­i­den­tial unit for treat­ment, though the doc­tors as­sumed I would be in a wheel­chair for ever.

In my year-long stay, us­ing knowl­edge I had pre­vi­ously gained as a com­ple­men­tary med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner, I slowly started re­turn­ing my­self to health.

I had tried to help my­self when I was first di­ag­nosed, aged 30, though I now re­alise my ap­proach was not right — es­pe­cially my diet and mind­set.

Se­cond time around, after my flareup, things went bet­ter. Still, it was an­other three years be­fore I was able to stand and walk, and even then there were re­lapses. Get­ting well was far from a straight tra­jec­tory, and in­volved a lot of self-ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. But the strate­gies I de­vel­oped in my re­cov­ery form the ba­sis of the ap­proach I con­tinue to fol­low to­day and rec­om­mend to my pa­tients.

I know it works be­cause I reg­u­larly test my own bi­o­log­i­cal age. It in­cludes a range of fac­tors: your skin’s ap­pear­ance and elas­tic­ity, strength and bal­ance, hear­ing and vi­sion, re­ac­tion times, men­tal acu­ity, sleep, li­bido — and more. The tests I’ve cre­ated draw on ro­bust, re­spected re­search. It is pos­si­ble for your bi­o­log­i­cal age to be very dif­fer­ent to your chrono­log­i­cal age. For ex­am­ple, after my health melt­down I had a chrono­log­i­cal age of 38, but a bi­o­log­i­cal age of 55.

Ye t wh e n I retested a year later, my bi­o­log­i­cal age had re­verted to 27.

And now I’m 55, I’m still 27 bi­o­log­i­cally — so not

only have I re­wound my body clock, I have also pro­foundly slowed my biol o g i c a l age pro­gres­sion. I’ve done this by over­haul­ing ev­ery area of my life — from my sleep pat­terns, nu­tri­tion and beauty regime to em­brac­ing med­i­ta­tion, breath­ing tech­niques and even just spend­ing more time in na­ture.

I can see the changes: the wrin­kles on my fore­head are less pro­nounced — some have dis­ap­peared — while my hair is thicker and glossier than ever.

I reap the ben­e­fits of lots of phys­i­cal en­ergy, a sharper mind and a lust for life. I also had a trou­ble-free meno

pause — an un­ex­pected but won­der­ful bonus! Ac­cord­ing to re­spected anti-age­ing sci­en­tists, one of the most ef­fec­tive tools we have for stay­ing young is a youth­ful and pos­i­tive men­tal at­ti­tude.

A host of stud­ies show how the mind can im­pact on health, well­be­ing, and even looks. Re­searchers in the Nether­lands found older men and women with op­ti­mistic per­son­al­i­ties were less likely to die over a nine-year pe­riod than pes­simists. Sci­en­tific stud­ies also show how pos­si­ble it is to im­prove strength and fit­ness with­out lift­ing a fin­ger. In one ex­per­i­ment, re­searchers mea­sured strength in dif­fer­ent groups: one did two weeks of highly fo­cused strength train­ing, three times a week, while an­other just lis­tened to record­ings that helped them imag­ine do­ing the same work­out — they did no ex­er­cise. The re­sults were as­ton­ish­ing: the ex­er­cise group saw a 28 per cent gain in strength, but the group who vi­su­alised ex­er­cis­ing ex­pe­ri­enced nearly the same gains: 24 per cent!

The mind has also been proven to have the power to make you slim­mer. In a Har­vard study, house­keep­ing staff in a ma­jor ho­tel were told the work they did on a daily ba­sis equalled the amount of ex­er­cise needed to be fit and healthy. They made no changes in be­hav­iour; they just kept on do­ing their jobs with this new be­lief in place.

Four weeks later, they’d lost weight, low­ered blood pres­sure and im­proved body-fat per­cent­age, had a health­ier waist–hip ra­tio and a bet­ter BMI. A group of house­keep­ers who had not been led to be­lieve their job qual­i­fied as ex­er­cise saw none of the changes.

I har­nessed the power of the mind in my trans­for­ma­tion.

When I had my dev­as­tat­ing flareup, the doc­tors wanted to put me on a chemo­ther­apy drug to kill off my de­struc­tive im­mune sys­tem — but with a se­verely un­der­weight body and lit­tle mus­cle mass, I knew pow­er­ful and toxic med­i­ca­tion could have dev­as­tat­ing side-ef­fects.

So I de­clined the treat­ment for the first year. I set out to ‘com­mu­ni­cate’ bet­ter with my body, to en­cour­age my im­mune sys­tem to calm down and stop at­tack­ing me.

Think­ing back to that strength study, I played bal­let mu­sic and sim­ply imag­ined my­self danc­ing, as I couldn’t do it phys­i­cally.

Hav­ing trained to be a bal­le­rina since child­hood, and go­ing on to make a ca­reer out of be­ing a dancer un­til arthri­tis stopped me, I knew I could do it.

Slowly, I became de­ter­mined not just to live, but to get bet­ter and really thrive. And I know the key is that I to­tally be­lieved it would be achiev­able.

Of course, I also made sure all other as­pects of my life­style were op­ti­mal. I tweaked ev­ery­thing from diet to sleep, the sup­ple­ments I took, how I ex­er­cised and the way I han­dled stress and men­tal health — all of which I’ll go into more de­tail about next week.

Lit­tle by lit­tle, I got bet­ter: firstly, by vi­su­al­is­ing my­self mov­ing and danc­ing, I man­aged to get my brain to ‘re­mem­ber’ where my mus­cles used to be — and bit by bit my brain re­con­nected, a few mus­cle fi­bres started twitch­ing and my strength grew.

I was able to be­gin my own phys­io­ther­apy rou­tine to cap­i­talise on these tiny gains, though of course I was still in agony. I’ll never for­get the ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain — and ela­tion — of stand­ing for a few sec­onds, months after start­ing my pro­gramme.

a year or so, I even­tu­ally man­aged to re­gain full use of my body, and trans­formed my health in many other ways. But re­cov­ery from rheuma­toid arthri­tis has gains and re­lapses — so five years on, when I felt stronger, I did take the chemo­ther­apy along­side my reg­i­men.

I don’t think that con­ven­tional medicine alone would have let me make the full re­cov­ery I did.

Ul­ti­mately, my life­style pro­gramme left me bet­ter and more youth­ful than ever. No won­der I place such an em­pha­sis on the mind’s power. It’s at the heart of ev­ery­thing, from op­ti­mis­ing re­cov­ery after ill­ness to set­ting you on the path to a more youth­ful, hap­pier, dy­namic you. And if I can do it, so can you.

Rewind Your Body Clock by Jayney God­dard is pub­lished by watkins, £14.99. To or­der a copy for £11.99 (20 per cent dis­count), go to mail­shop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640. Free p&p on or­ders over £15. Spend £30 on books and get free premium de­liv­ery. Of­fer valid un­til April 18, 2019.

Healed: Jayney Pic­ture: MURRAY SAN­DERS

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