Column: The Perfect Recipe for Aging Gracefully – Shelter Island Reporter – Shelter Island Reporter


This time of year brings a bountiful amount of recipe sharing to help create perfect meals for those we love. Now, imagine if we could share “recipes” for wellness.

Just like the very specific ingredients that make up the perfect pumpkin pie or homemade stuffing, there are necessary components for the most delectable forms of healthy living. This year, I would like to share my own recipe for “Graceful Aging” that, when combined thoughtfully, can enrich your well-being for years to come.

Embrace Your Wisdom: Graceful Aging means enjoying wisdom we’ve learned and accumulated from all life’s experiences. As a cancer survivor, I learned it’s all about how you handle what happens to you. Graceful Aging isn’t just physical, it’s about embracing the power that wisdom and life experiences give you to create and love the world you’ve built around you.

Quality (Not Quantity) Time: Not doing as much as we used to. Value your time, filling your world with things and people we love. Make sure you fill your time with meaningful activities you’ve learned are important to you, and say no to anything that isn’t serving you.

Well Rounded Wellness: Having a sense of well-being doesn’t mean trying to be young again, it means taking care of yourself — body, mind, spirit, and emotions, in a healthy, balanced way. Really value what’s important and make sure health is a priority.

Self Care Satisfaction: The ultimate freedom comes from having the energy to feel great in your own body. Take care of it and recharge by spending time on yourself with simple self-care routines, like winding down with a bubble bath followed by your favorite lotion in a scent you love. Creating little rituals can turn into enjoyable habits for self-care.

Breathe In, Breathe Out: It’s important to become aware of your breath and mindfully breathe, making you present. You will find that being present can change how you automatically react to situations, allowing you to respond in more beneficial and loving ways.

Meditative Moments: “Meditation” can be as simple as being aware of your breath, sitting quietly with a favorite cup of tea, going for a walk, anything you can do that allows you to unplug, pause and be mindful.

Get Moving: The right exercise is the one you enjoy! Make your workouts mindful with low impact practices such as Pilates, barre, yoga, Zumba, walking and weight training. It really helps to find a workout buddy, or pair your workouts with podcasts or music that enriches you; anything that can keep you on task and coming back. You must value discipline when it comes to caring for yourself with steady exercise routines.

Take Care of Your Feet, Spine and Joints: They are quite literally your body’s base for your entire life, and are where the alignment for your body begins. Be aware of the mechanics of your body, tend to your body’s needs at every age, and keep your body aligned with low impact exercise, stretching and walking for “juicy joints” and bone strength necessary for comfort and agility, supporting your structure and enhancing your overall health, allowing leisure activities like tennis and golf to be most enjoyable.

Happy Hydration: Water, Water, Water! Proper hydration will keep you radiating from the inside out. Keep your body healthy with foods rich with fiber, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. How much you love and care for your body on the inside will surely translate to your outside.

The Art of Appreciation:  We always hear about the power of gratitude, but grace comes from appreciating what you have, and enjoying the contentment that comes from wanting the life you have created for yourself.

Fancy Your Friends: Surround yourself with people you admire who seem comfortable in their own body, and treat themselves well. You will be inspired to follow suit.

Quite simply, Graceful Aging results in having energy, a sparkle in your eye because you like your life, feel healthy, and a positive attitude. You smile, because you are in the present moment. You aren’t trying to be 20 years younger, and are happy where you are on that journey. It’s not about having the perfect wrinkle-free face, or being the perfect size. It’s about loving the body you live in, and being comfortable and feeling at home with yourself. And of course, it is never too late; if you don’t like it, change it.

Suzette Smith is the founder of Shelter Island Pilates and Barre, which offers weekly classes and private sessions. Visit for schedules and details.

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