Approaching Forty

I’m nearing 40.  As in the age. I’ve seen two close relatives die from cancer and it wasn’t pretty. Lately I have been hearing stories about the parents of my friends who are not aging well. It scares me to think that I could be unable to walk because I’m obese. It frightens me that I could end up needing an assisted living facility or nursing home. I’m flummoxed when I think about hip and knee surgery that may be required as the result of a fall. I’m hyper aware of the wheelchairs and stairs conundrum.  I guess you could say my desire to age well is big. But this desire of mine didn’t happen overnight.

ostrich burying head in sand ignoring problemsAbout four years ago, I learned I had high cholesterol which I later found out runs in my family. I didn’t do anything about this. That’s right, I just dug my head in the sand and left it there. Like an ostrich. For over a year.

Then I woke up one day and realized I needed to actually do something about my cholesterol. I chose to eat healthier and exercise. These are difficult things to do when you love cookies[1] and Netflix as I do.  Alas, I began my slow crawl towards wellness. Then I started telling my friends what I needed to do and they invited me hiking and shared vegetarian dishes with me. It helped when my best friend decided to take a trip to Machu Picchu and I vowed to help her train; for several months I hiked two or three days after work and then on the weekends with my friend and our hiking buddies. I even managed to summit Mt. Baldy which is really f*****g hard due to the oxygen deprivation and the steep inclines.

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Then I borrowed my neighbor’s bike and started riding to work once a week. Okay – that’s not really what happened. Mostly I watched as my neighbors, Jeff and Gwen (henceforth they shall be known as Gweff), biked to/from work every day for years without getting hit by a car. I live in Los Angeles so commuting by bicycle was scary to me; drivers are insert-very-bad-expletive-here. However, my desire to be more active and tackle my cholesterol had grown to the point where I wanted to bike to work. So Gweff lent me their extra bike AND found a route that used back roads so I would feel safe. They even calendared a group bike ride[2] to my office on the weekend to build my confidence. When Monday rolled around, Gwen rode to work with me in the morning to make sure I was good to go. I was. I even declined her offer to ride home with me that night.  I figured there was no time like the present. And yes, eventually, I bought my own bike.

That was over two years ago. Then a little over a year ago I sold my car.

My BicycleDon’t be misled. I’m not super in shape, nor am I super skinny. I’m not even mildly skinny. Part of why I bought the bike I did was because 1) it’s pretty and 2) I’m not an athlete-I’m just a commuter. My bike looks like a daydream and helps me feel like I’m not in a rush. Overall, bicycling has slowed down my pace of life – something that I feel helps me age well because I’m less stressed and more in tune with my city than ever before. The exercise I get on a daily basis feels life changing. Biking has also altered my relationship with nature. In the past nature meant a hike. I didn’t see the “nature” available to me on a daily basis. How could I? I was in a car. With the windows rolled up and the air conditioning turned on. On a bike, my feet touch the road at stoplights. On a bike, I can say hello to people I pass – and I pass a lot of people from nannies, to gardeners, to joggers, to moms with baby strollers, to people watering their lawn. I’m more connected to people and my environment than I was with my car and I like this.

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Organic Just Makes Sense

Once I started looking at my environment differently, I also started to look at the chemicals in my food. Again, this was a slow moving boat at first, but after time I grew more informed and concerned. GMOs and endocrine disrupters are my second and third least favorite words in the English language[3]. So I started buying organic food and frequenting the local farmer’s market. As I continued my dive into overall wellness[4], I also realized the pores in my skin were susceptible to chemicals. The more I looked at my cleaning supplies and moisturizers and soap, the more horrified I became. I couldn’t pronounce half the words in the ingredient list and I still don’t know what “natural fragrance” means let alone what the chemical makeup of such an ingredient could be. When I checked out what the FDA says about ingredients I was alarmed. A couple examples:

  1. The use of chloroform in cosmetic products is prohibited because it causes cancer in animals and is likely to be harmful to human health, too. The regulation makes an exception for residual amounts from its use as a processing solvent during manufacture, or as a byproduct from the synthesis of an ingredient (21 CFR 700.18).
  2. Mercury compounds are readily absorbed through the skin on topical application and tend to accumulate in the body. They may cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, or neurotoxic problems. The use of mercury compounds in cosmetics is limited to eye area products at no more than 65 parts per million (0.0065 percent) of mercury calculated as the metal and is permitted only if no other effective and safe preservative is available. All other cosmetics containing mercury are adulterated and subject to regulatory action unless it occurs in a trace amount of less than 1 part per million[5] (0.0001 percent) calculated as the metal and its presence is unavoidable under conditions of good manufacturing practice (21 CFR 700.13). http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/GuidanceRegulation/LawsRegulations/ucm127406.htm

When I checked out the ingredient  in one eye cream, I found the below items. Actually I found more, but I didn’t have the heart to list them:

  1. Methyparaben (https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/703937/METHYLPARABEN/)
  2. Polysorbate 80 (https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/705142/POLYSORBATE-80/)
  3. Chlorhexidine Digluconate (https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/701318/CHLORHEXIDINE_DIGLUCONATE/)

And so, five or six years after I was diagnosed with high cholesterol, my entire life has changed to where I am now a co-owner of Kaiya Naturals. Trust me when I tell you, the products we make are from natural ingredients that don’t contain trace parts of anything that may cause cancer or neurotoxic problems.

Jessica
Co-Owner, Kaiya Naturals

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[1] I like cake too. A lot.

[2] Okay, we stopped at Bob’s Big Boy on the way home. Big life changes should be made slowly.

[3] “Chronic” is my first least favorite word. There are reasons for this, but a footnote isn’t the time or place to expound on it.

[4] Overall wellness sounds much better than “fear of aging poorly and pooping myself”, doesn’t it?

[5] I want no parts per million, thank you.

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