Adapted from Love Your Age (AARP/National Geographic, February 2018)
Oh, if I only knew then what I know now. Maybe my skin would have fewer brown spots, and maybe, just maybe, I would have had more good sex. Luckily, it’s never too late to pick up a few tips from your girlfriends to add life to your years and sparks to your nights. And come on, ladies, don’t keep these new habits to yourself — spread the word, even to those millennials.
Stop the tossing and turning at night. Even if you’re menopausal, most of us fall asleep in 10 minutes. If you’re still awake after 30 minutes or your eyes pop open during the night, don’t take it lying down — get out of bed. Keep lights dim, go to another room and read, meditate or stretch until you feel drowsy. No TV and no checking Instagram. Then slide back into bed and start the sweet dreaming.
Add walking to your runs. You don’t need to go hardcore on exercise to reap the maximum benefits. I hated running until I discovered Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk-Run program whereby you run for a period of time, then take a short walk break, then run again. Repeat. It’s easier on your joints and knees, and it doesn’t have to slow you down. In fact, my time has improved and I can sustain the stamina for long runs. Running this way helped me complete five marathons, one ultramarathon, and tons of shorter races. But who’s counting?
Give up the sit-ups. Oh, if I had a dollar for every sit-up I did before I got smart about fitness (sigh). For decades, sit-ups were the exercise of choice to help us get thinner waistlines and tighter tummies. But they can cause back and neck strain and honestly, they don’t really work. Here’s what does: the plank. The plank tones, firms and strengthens your entire body, especially the core.
Vibrate your way to better sex. All phases of sex can be fun and pleasurable, but sometimes we need a little extra help to get to the big payoff. Regardless of age, an estimated 70 percent of women need direct clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm. Not only that, women who bring themselves to orgasm before intercourse report having more intense experiences. Instead of saving your personal toy for when you’re flying solo, bring it out during foreplay, and get ready to be blown away.
Don’t assume you’re invincible. Whom among us did not believe we’d go on and on forever, or that illness would never strike? While we are Wonder Women in oh-so-many ways, the truth is we need to protect our bodies from harm with just a few simple steps: get exams, screenings and vaccines when needed. Consider booking them around your birthday each year as a little gift to yourself.
Schedule the sex. All those years waiting for sex to happen spontaneously! What a waste of time! Too bad no one told me that the best sex is planned sex: Put it in your calendar, start thinking about it, prepping for it, dressing for it, teasing your partner about it — and by the time the sex date rolls around, you’ll be swinging from the chandeliers (and don’t forget the vibrator).
Stop being sexually selfless. Instead of thinking only about your partner’s pleasure, get selfish! Women often make the mistake of focusing too much on pleasing their partner. Sure, it’s a turn on to see how we turn someone else on, but now’s definitely the time to encourage your partner to please you, too. You know what you want — now ask for it.
Barbara Grufferman, 61, a nationally recognized advocate for positive living, is the author of Love Your Age (AARP/National Geographic, February 2018)
Everyone needs a girlfriend!
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