Why I’m posting myself only wearing my underwear on social media!

Why am I posting myself wearing underwear on social media?

Despite what some may think of the recent photos I’ve been sharing on Facebook and Instagram I am not one to court attention. I’m quite a modest person in many ways.

The first time I posted I genuinely felt there was a possibility I could die of the cringe!

Having received some very encouraging and positive feedback I want to delve further into the reasons I feel compelled to show these photos and I promise there will be more (at least this way you’ve been warned) as I move closer to and pass level 50 in a short while.

I’ve always been someone who questions mainstream narratives and over the 20 years I’ve been working with clients I’ve been quietly disrupting them in various ways.

Approaching my 50th birthday and noticing so many people born around the same time as me talking about how poor their energy levels are, how dreadful their health is, and their horrendous mid-life symptoms including tumultuous per-menopause transitions I started to feel even more strongly that the narrative needed to be shaken up.

After all so many of the people in my circle are incredible business owners and professionals who would never hand over responsibility for the performance and success of their business to anyone else.

And yet when it comes to their own experiences in their body they readily leave their circle of control and hand over responsibility to bad luck, misfortune and external factors such as germs.

The incongruency has always been striking to me but for some reason, probably because I have been through plenty of ill health myself – chronic tonsilitis, constipation, underactive thyroid, severe PMS, debilitating IBS, clinical depression, paralysing anxiety and more – and am now at this stage of my life, transitioning smoothly through peri-menopause and watching my husband becoming progressively stronger and stronger over the last 8 or so years, now in his early 50s, it became clear that the generally accepted narrative is of ageing being an unavoidable decline.

And I’m so not here for it.

I’m here to embrace vitality, to disrupt this mediocre narrative around ageing.

Now I’m not a deluded fool…I know that ageing is a natural and inevitable part of the human experience. However, I’m calling time on the prevailing narrative of ageing as an unavoidable decline in health and vitality.

So let’s explore some of the reasons why the mainstream narrative around ageing is so negative AND consider some empowering strategies to redefine and embrace the ageing process as an opportunity for continued growth, vitality, and all-round well-being.

The Standard Narrative
The accepted and standard narrative around ageing is deeply ingrained in society. It’s perpetuated through various channels, including the media, advertising, and even healthcare.

Ageing is commonly considered as something to be avoided, hence the rise of the anti-aging industry. It’s associated with a decline in physical and cognitive abilities, increased susceptibility to chronic diseases, and a diminished quality of life. It’s a strong story and let’s face it when you look around you you see a lot of evidence of this as just how it is!

This prevailing mindset, along with the general state of health in most, if not all developed nations, undoubtedly leads individuals to accept these standards as inevitable truths, shaping their attitudes and behaviours as they approach older age. This of course can easily become a fait accompli.

Factors Contributing to the Negative Narrative

Cultural Influences: Societal norms and cultural expectations play a significant role in shaping perceptions of ageing.

In many cultures, including our own, youthfulness is idealized, especially for women, and this results in the progressive marginalization of older individuals. You’ve only got to think about the dwindling roles for actresses in Hollywood as they get older as an example of this.

Media Portrayal: The media often reinforces stereotypes by focusing on the challenges of ageing, such as health issues and dependency.

Positive stories of vibrant, active seniors are overshadowed by more negative depictions. Whilst this is understandable from a commercial perspective – humans have a very real evilutionary bias towards the negative as a survival mechanism so it sells – it’s also important to be aware and avoid falling into the trap it can set for your mind and outlook here (and in many other parts of your life).

Medicalization of Ageing: The medical community frequently views ageing through a lens of disease and decline, treating symptoms rather than empowering and offering solutions. Again this is understandable as this is what they see every day.

But there is no open conversation about how to take the ever-increasing body of evidence (because contrary to what you may have been told it is there and it’s growing) about the prevention of ill health in later years and make it live in meaningful ways.

Many people live from the paradigm of a pill for every ill and nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to being chronologically older. As most people have abdicated their responsibility for themselves much earlier in life (please note this is an observation made over 20 years of working with the chronically ill) it should be no surprise that decline in function leads to more and more meds that haven’t been tested in combination and this can have dire results (which I experienced personally with my maternal grandmother).

Personal Mindset

I know it can be easy to think of ourselves as powerless in the face of this force of nature called ageing especially when so much of what we’re told and witness can suggest we’re left as a victim of circumstance and unable to have any real influence on the way we age.

But this makes us impotent and allows our old friend blame to shoulder the burden of responsibility for how we spend our later years. The alternative to a default victim mode is to intentionally choose to take responsibility for the ageing process in as many ways as possible.

I understand this may not be easy but as the Chinese proverb says ‘ If we don’t change direction, we are likely to end up where we are going.’

Disrupting the Narrative

So how do we disrupt this ongoing narrative?

Well firstly have a look around you and see where you’re headed unless you choose another direction…

And then look for the unicorns…

Those people who are challenging the accepted paradigm and proving it to be incorrect when we accept the notion that ageing can look like strength, vitality, wisdom and ongoing success in whatever ways we choose for ourselves.

Possibilities and Solutions: As a Naturopath, my personal and professional approach to disrupting the negative narrative around ageing involves embracing the perspectives of possibilities and solutions.

Among other things, I integrate the fields of nutrigenomics with traditional wisdom from Western herbal medicine. This allows a robust foundation for a comprehensive understanding of the interconnected factors influencing health and ageing and what that can look like for an individual.

Empowering Through Education: A key strategy is to empower individuals with knowledge and help you to reconsider your beliefs around ageing and to consider the potential for positive ageing and what that may look like in the stage and context of your life.

Understanding that there is evidence to the contrary of the mainstream standard and exploring the roles of nutrition and lifestyle choice and how those intersect with your genetics can help you make more informed choices that will positively impact your well-being in the short and the longer term.

Create a vision that you can anchor yourself to and start to build a meaningful strategy as you go up the levels (my preferred way of thinking and talking about ageing).

Promoting Active Lifestyles: Encouraging physical activity is crucial in challenging the narrative of unavoidable decline. Regular exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function, enhance cardiovascular health, and promote emotional well-being.

Strength training and building lean muscle mass have been shown to counteract the weakening impact of sarcopenia (if you don’t know what this is then look it up and above all make a plan to avoid it!) which undermines so much of our physical capacity and leaves so many vulnerable to injury and incapacitation.

Optimizing Nutrition with Nutrigenomics: Nutrigenomics, the study of how individual genetic variations affect responses to nutrients, allows for a more strategic and personalized nutritional approach.

Tailoring your food choices and judicious use of supplementation for your specific genes can optimize health throughout your lifespan and increase your health span, effectively slowing down the dysfunction that accompanies and accelerates the ageing process.

Cultivating a Positive Mindset: Shifting your mindset around ageing is essential.

Emphasizing the wealth of experiences, wisdom, and personal growth that can come with age fosters a positive outlook on the ageing journey. You can start by looking at cultures where people not only live longer but also remain healthy and connected as they head towards 80, 90, or 100 years old.

Moving into intentional choices that support you in staying as cognitively and physically active as possible with plenty of emotional energy to engage with your loved ones and the wider world around you instead of the world progressively shrinking alongside your biological capacity.

Herbal Medicine for Longevity: In my personal and professional experience integrating Western herbal medicine offers a natural and holistic approach to supporting the body’s resilience and vitality as it ages.

For instance, herbs with adaptogenic properties can help the body cope better with the inevitable stresses of life. They can also offer ways to nourish your body’s needs more broadly to support your overall well-being and a longer health span into your later years.

And finally…

You don’t need to allow the negative narrative surrounding ageing to be your story. Ultimately it’s your choice so don’t pretend otherwise – embrace the agency you have.

By empowering yourself with the right knowledge, creating an active lifestyle, and cultivating positive mindsets, we can all redefine the narrative around ageing as an opportunity for continued growth, vitality, and well-being.

It is time to shift the conversation from one of decline to one of empowerment and celebration of being fully alive. After all, this isn’t a rehearsal!