As I’m turning 36, some people ask how I manage to look younger than my age. I’ve asked the same question of many people who age well (from Jared Leto to a random fitness trainer who looks like 25 at 50). Here’s what all of these young-looking individuals do (and don’t):
1. AVOID alcohol. There may be some rare exceptions, but in general, alcohol (as well as other addictive substances) makes people less healthy and visually older.
2. Sleep a LOT. Sleep is when your body repairs itself. You can’t borrow it: lack of sleep during the week can’t be compensated with oversleeping on the weekend.
3. Do NOT overeat. Excessive weight makes people look older and correlates with dozens of illnesses. Typically I eat twice a day within a 6-hour window or once a day, no snacking. Eating 3+ times a day is just a (bad) habit.
4. EXERCISE. Moderate but regular exercise makes people look healthier and live longer. Personally, I don’t do much cardio (I’d rather walk/cycle/swim in the open air) and prefer moderate weights.
5. LIMIT stress. There are mental habits that help. It helps to believe that everything that happens is for the better. Stoic techniques such as negative visualisation and generally not giving a shit also work. Living close to nature makes all of the above easier.
6. Do NOT eat meat. Eating seafood and wild-caught fish is fine, but farmed red meat is something most people who look younger than their age avoid. I suspect the unhealthy nature of farmed meat has to do with the way livestock is raised and killed (growth hormones, fodder etc).
7. Live ALONE. Surprisingly, all the young-looking, middle-aged men I spoke with lived alone for most of their lives. It may be the result of their independence from the sleeping/eating/behavioral patterns of another person. Or it’s just correlation, and people who are independent from unhealthy societal norms are also independent in their personal lives.
Interestingly, you can find scientific explanations for most of these points (even the last one is defensible, e.g. there are multiple studies showing that sleeping alone improves the quality of sleep). I’ve been following these rules for over 10 years, with "more sleep" being the most difficult due to the nature of my work.
If you are twice as young as I am and looking for the key takeaway, here it is: NEVER DRINK ALCOHOL. Once you give up on alcohol, you’ll stop silencing your intuition, which will tell you what is good and what is bad for you. You will figure out everything you need to know by yourself and won’t depend on other people for advice.