It all boils down to these factors.

Catherine DiBenedetto
April 05, 2016


Photo: Getty Images

"Around my 40th birthday, I started thinking about what it means to age," Cameron Diaz writes in the introduction to her latest work, The Longevity Book ($28; amazon.com). Inspired to learn more about how the passage of time affects our bodies, she began traveling the country to consult with top medical experts on the subject. What she learned? It's the simple things in life that have the greatest effects as we grow older: "Eating nutritious foods, moving often, and getting enough rest are the keys to healthy aging," she concludes. In the excerpt below, Diaz describes her ideal formula for a "most perfect" day.

I wake up rested from a night of sleep and dreams. The first thing I do is make my bed, smoothing the covers down with purpose, because this is one of the rituals that, for me, marks the beginning of a bright new day. After I brush my teeth, I'll drink a liter of water, and then I'll meditate for 20 minutes, because it relaxes my body and brain, putting me in a calm, energetic state. Then it's time for food, some protein and some carbs and some fat—perhaps a piece of avocado toast or a bowl of savory oatmeal. After that, I work out. This whole routine takes about an hour and 15 minutes from start to finish, and the balance of its components—rest, nutrition, and movement—is what I have found to be the perfect formula for getting me energized, excited, and ready for the day ahead.

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Throughout my day, I try to be conscious of my food intake and my movement. How I feel is a good indicator of whether or not I've given myself adequate rest, nutrition, and activity. If I'm active without getting enough food, I'll feel depleted. If I eat too much and move too little, my stomach will hurt or I will feel slow and weighted down. If I move throughout the day, and I fuel that movement with consistent healthy snacks, my energy stays up.

I eat dinner on the earlier side, because I don't like to go to sleep with a full stomach. In the evening it is time to reverse that energy flow and start to wind down. So I avoid heavy foods before bedtime. I make sure my room is nice and dark. I keep all those electronics and their blinking blue and green and red lights out of my sleeping space. I create the best setting for rest I can give myself, so that I'll have energy for the next day. And in the morning, I wake up, and the process begins again.

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Of course this perfect day is imaginary, because no day is perfect. But any day that I can implement some version of this formula is a better day than the ones I can't. If I don't sleep well, if I miss breakfast or eat something that looked rich and delicious on a menu but turns out to be tooooo rich and delicious, if I miss my workout because I have a stack of meetings that seem more pressing at the moment—well, I suffer for it, just as we all suffer for choosing not to take care of ourselves. And only one element of the trifecta of strength is not enough, and two out of three won't cut it, either. Letting these basic needs become imbalanced hurts our hearts, hurts our brains, and speeds up the rate of aging in our cells and organs. No day is perfect, but some days seem to inch closer than others.

Excerpted from The Longevity Book: The Science of Aging, the Biology of Strength, and the Privilege of Time by Cameron Diaz and Sandra Bark, © 2016 by Cameron Diaz. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins.

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