Ageless advice: New Year, New You

As Jews enter the most joyous and holiest time of year, most of us have much to be grateful for. The High Holy Days allow us to take time to reflect on another year gone by and think of all we did and didn’t get done. I’ve always thought Rosh Hashanah was a great time to consider the role and purpose of mitzvot in our lives. While it may sound trite, the holiday really is a time to celebrate the New Year and bring about a “new you.”

A mitzvah is often thought of as something we do for others. But consider the possibility of the greatest mitzvah of all – the gift of your personal good health and longevity to your family.

Our lives are no longer measured in simple years lived – as quantified by a number – but by how we live out those years. Most of us want to live long and live well – prosperous, healthy and “our way.” The best way to accomplish this is by preventing lifestyle-related medical maladies – such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and the ravages of smoking; maintaining and optimizing our current health; and managing chronic diseases while maximizing our quality of life and minimizing the burden on our families. We all dread the thought of living out our years trapped in a shell of a body, unable to care for ourselves.

The hottest area of medicine today revolves around preventive medicine and optimization of our current health. The world’s best scientists – some in our own backyard – are discovering and unlocking the keys to aging. Stem-cell research is burgeoning; gene-mapping continues; and “functional medicine” is alive and well. Boomers, as well as their parents and children, want to feel great as well as look great. One of the fundamental shifts in aesthetic medicine over the past decade is the melding of the future of medicine (age reversal, stem-cell therapy, collagen and elastin stimulation and growth, nutritional treatment of chronic diseases, etc.) combined with the centuries-old science of physics and well-studied areas of medicine and the human body.

My own practice has changed over the past eight years of my cosmetic medicine career. First, my patients today are older. And, I don’t mean by just eight years. Rather, the average age of the new patient entering my practice today is over 57. These are healthy individuals, most of whom still work or contribute significantly to their community in some way. They have no intention of aging into oblivion. They are doing a mitzvah for their families by taking care of themselves – not just taking care of others. We know that when we take care of our own health, we can better take care of others – whether they are family members, employees, co-workers or friends.

So, as we enter the most joyous and holiest days of the Jewish year, resolve to take care of yourself this year. If you make resolutions for Rosh Hashanah or promises for Yom Kippur, make realistic ones you really can achieve. Partner with a trusted physician or other health expert to treat yourself to the mitzvah of good health, optimal wellness and a fresh, youthful look. I promise you it will be the best year ever, and one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself. Next year at this time, you can reflect back on how many things you lost – years of aging from your face and body; the ravages of poor health and chronic disease; and mental fatigue and brain fog. Become “the biggest loser” of the aging game … and gain back your life.

Happy New Year!

Elizabeth VanderVeer, M.D., is a board-certified internist and president/medical director at VanderVeer Center. A native Oregonian, she is a fourth-generation doctor who has dedicated her practice exclusively to aesthetics for many years and specializes in nonsurgical cosmetic medicine. Dr. VanderVeer is a published author and a sought-after international lecturer as well as a national trainer for numerous industry leaders.

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