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Counterclockwise: My Year of Hypnoisis, Hormones, and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-Aging Paperback – May 20, 2014
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"The human smile is an anti-gravity device. Kessler's delightful, witty book actually takes 20 years off your face!"--Mary Roach, author of "Stiff "and "Gulp""Lauren Kessler's bold, bad-ass take on aging solves one of our great modern dilemmas: how to stay young and vibrant without spending the rest of our lives obsessing over how to stay young and vibrant. I feel a decade younger just having read it."--Karen Karbo, author of "How Georgia Became O'Keeffe""Lauren Kessler has journeyed to the far frontiers of the anti-aging movement and, using herself as an ever-willing guinea pig, delivers insights that are at once funny, reassuring, practical, and real."--Peggy Orenstein, author of "Cinderella Ate My Daughter"""Counterclockwise" is an amateur cultural anthropologist's smart, inspiring narrative. It identifies the sensible, the ridiculous, and the dangerous and ultimately teaches that your birth date rarely reflects true age."--Sally Koslow, author of "Slouching Toward Adulthood"""Finally" a woman writer takes on lady aging without flinching. Honest, playful, and smart, Lauren Kessler's "Counterclockwise" gives us a chance to read the story of our own lives without cringing and cosmetic surgery. Run, don't walk, to buy this book before your next birthday."--Lidia Yuknavitch, author of "The Chronology of Water" and "Dora: A Headcase" "Kessler takes on the marketing, (sometimes pseudo-) science, and the psychology of the anti-aging industry in this funny personal tale. Game to explore every possible manner of aging gracefully, she interviews plastic surgeons and research scientists, attends conferences, has her mitochondria and telomeres tested, downs supplements and "superfoods," takes online self-assessments, and tries new diet and exercise plans. Her journey through the temptations of quick-fix anti-aging options treats the fountain-of-youth-seeking side of us with humor and compassion."--Publishers Weekly "An entertaining and informative investigation into growing
About the Author
LAUREN KESSLER is the author of seven works of narrative nonfiction, including My Teenage Werewolf, Pacific Northwest Book Award winner Dancing with Rose (published in paperback as Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer's), Washington Post bestseller Clever Girl, and Los Angeles Times bestseller The Happy Bottom Riding Club. She directs the graduate program in multimedia narrative journalism at the University of Oregon. She lives in Eugene, OR.
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The chapter on exercise was just a catalog of studies plus a list of every workout routine Ms. Kessler tried. Not much there for the average person who doesn't have the requisite narcissism or the time to pursue exercise 24/7.
I also wish Ms. Kessler had spent more time on health claims with genuine scientific merit--and less time on dubious things like detoxification. In some chapters she sums up the results by saying that she "felt great" or that something just "made sense." That kind of subjective evaluation is meaningless.
Also, I found myself irritated that Ms. Kessler keeps her age such a well-guarded secret-especially in the part of the book where she's talking about her physical age vs. her chronological age.
On the other hand, the chapter on supplements was excellent. It was a helpful summary of the state of the science with tips on how to research all the conflicting claims for this or that vitamin or herb.
Ms. Kessler has a lively, entertaining style and she kept me reading with her humor and spriteliness.
Kessler spends a year trying to turn back time (cue Cher - or don't, as it's all auto-tune and I can't take it.) I can relate. At 41, I am definitely interested in staying healthy and active. I am not interested in living into my "golden years" if they are going to be full of illness and someone else wiping me. I know I can't predict the future, but there are things I CAN control now to make my later years more robust.
As of yet, I haven't had to worry about the looking older part, as I have a baby face and look much younger than I am. I am not sure what I will do when that does happen, but it's nice to know what the options are, even if I never use them.
Kessler explores everything, from botox to mitochondrial testing, from supplements to VO2 output. It's a lot of research and science, but written in an accessible way.
What it comes down to is: You need to exercise. Study after study after study shows that one way to stay young is exercising. And, one of the best barometers of your health is your blood pressure. The farther apart the systolic and diastolic numbers are, the more your arteries are aging.
The health of your aging body is about 30% genetics and 70% environment. The best news is that it doesn't matter if you are middle-aged and just now figuring out that you need to take care of your body - you can start today and it will make a difference.
There is so much good information in here, it would be impossible for me to share everything. But here are some highlights:
•What I am interested in, what I powerfully and passionately want, is to be all those good things we associate with "young." Because, despite my independence of spirit and my modest successes and a strong streak of feminism, I am part of a culture that labels "old" bad (weak, sickly, sexless, boring, crabby) and "young" good (healthy, vibrant, sexy, creative, adventurous).
•My DNA and my eggs are the only parts of me that date back to the day of my birth. My skin cells are sloughing off and replacing themselves every moment. Over about a month, my entire epidermis is replaced...The entire lining of my stomach and intestine is continually re-created, with a turnover time of a week or less...My red blood cells are never more than four months old. My liver cells are perhaps a year old. My skeleton rebuilds itself too, with estimates ranging from a two-year to a seven-year regeneration process. The body is not a permanent structure...It is in a constant state of renewal.
•The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, a massive effort that tracked 3,000 people from their 20s to their 90s, concluded that people age at such vastly different rates that by the time they reach 80 or 90, the differences are so marked that birth dates are entirely irrelevant.
•Recently, researchers at the University of Southern California found that while life expectancy increased by 1 year during the past decade, people also faced an additional 1.2 years of serious illness and an extra 2 years of disability. By some estimates, nearly 85 percent of people over 65 suffer from one or more degenerative disorders.
•The forehead wrinkles. The brow droops (and don't forget the eyelids.) The midface thins. Lips flatten. Jowls appear. The jaw squares. The neck "bands."
•Perhaps the best anti-aging appearance news I come across is this: Good posture and a strong, steady gait can make you look up to 10 years younger. The shoulders-back, abdomen-tucked, head-lifted position is said to also have other rejuvenating effects, like improving circulation and digestion, making breathing easier and deeper, and keeping muscles and joints in proper alignment. Just ask any yoga teacher.
•About the IPL (intense pulsed light), which I have three times: It works. Almost immediately after the treatment, the spots on the sides of my face darken (this is good)...A day or so later, the spots look like coffee grounds. Then the coffee grounds flake off.
•Two researchers from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts - a physiologist and a medical doctor - outline 10 quantifiable indications that they believe predict health and vitality. Four of the 10 biomarkers are closely related - intertwined really: lean body mass, strength, basal metabolic rate, and body fat percentage.
•The Tufts researchers say that the average American loses 6.6 lbs of muscle every 10 years starting right after young adulthood. After age 45, the rate accelerates.
•Older people are "weaker" than younger people because they have less muscle mass, and the muscle they do have is less dense and works less efficiently.
•Basal metabolism declines by 2 percent every decade after age 20.
•Increased muscle mass leads to increased strength, which is directly related to a quicker, more youthful metabolism.
•In fact, between voting age and retirement age, the average person doubles his or her ratio of fat to muscle.
•The more you can lower your percentage of body fat, the younger, biologically, you'll be. How does that happen? More muscle, more strength, high metabolism, less fat.
•Population studies show that by age 65 the average American has lost 30 to 40 percent of his or her youthful aerobic capacity.
Most recent customer reviews
But the book is more than amusing. She wades through the bewildering wheat (useful information) and chaff (hype) out there...Read more