They say age is but a number, and that when it comes to aging, you’ve got one of two alternatives – you either embrace it or you decide that you’re going to give up and die. Diana Devi, the President of An Ageless Life, joins Jen Du Plessis to talk about aging and how you can take care of yourself as you’re approaching that. Having experienced some major changes starting in her early 50s, Diana shares how she discovered a holistic approach to aging. Feeling the brunt of aging and looking for solutions that work? Then don’t miss Jen and Diana’s interesting and transformative conversation.
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Living An Ageless Life With Diana Devi
I have a great guest. This is going to be a little unique from what we’ve been talking about. Most of the time we’re talking about what are people thinking about as they’re thinking about exiting their careers and moving to the next career, entrepreneurship, retirement, and making an impact in the world. We’re going to talk specifically about how you’re taking care of you as you’re going through that. My special guest is Diana Devi. She is the Owner and Founder of An Ageless Life. Diana and I met at New Media Summit, which is a great big podcasting convention where we all share our stories. I was inspired by your story because I’m getting older. You’re also a dancer, an Argentine Tango dancer. For those of you that have tuned in for a while, I’m also a competitive ballroom, Latin, and Swing dancer. I was fully attracted to you saying, “I got to talk to you about everything and anything that has to do with us aging gracefully, whether we’re a man or a woman.” Diana, welcome to our show.
Thanks for having me. I have embraced the aspect of aging. You’ve got 1 of 2 alternatives. You either embrace it or you decide that you’re going to give up and die. That’s the long and short of it. I enjoyed meeting with you at the New Media Summit and we clicked for some reason. It must be a dancing background.
Let’s get started with, how did this all start for you? I know that there has to be a story because we all came out of the womb the same way. We don’t think about getting older. At some point, you must have had some major breakthroughs that said, “I have to make some changes here.” Tell us your story.
I was in my early 50s when this happened to me. I had been dancing and was working. I had a very successful career, extremely demanding, and required a lot of extra time as far as that’s concerned. It’s not what you would call your typical 48-hour per week job. Nonetheless, it was rewarding. As I started to get older, I noticed that I wasn’t thinking as clearly. I was a human calculator in my group of friends. When we would go out, they would bring the check and they would say, “How much is it?” I would divide it up at the tip before they could physically do it on their phones. I also had a great memory, good recall, all of those kinds of things.
I noticed that I was having brain fog. One day, I couldn’t remember how to spell the word, with. I was like, “What is going on?” At the same time, I had this expanding waistline. I have no energy whatsoever no matter how many hours I sleep. I thought, “There is something that’s not right here.” Being in healthcare, the normal thing that you do is go to a physician and get checked out. They did blood tests. This is what was shocking to me is that I was going to a woman. She came back to me and she said, “It’s just aging.” I was absolutely devastated. I thought, “I cannot live the rest of my life like this.” Then I got mad. It’s like, “Fine, if you’re not going to help me figure it out, I’m going to do it myself.”
I have all of this experience in healthcare. I can figure out some of the changes that are going on from a metabolic to a hormonal. I’ve been a mover since I was in high school with dance. I’ve done meditation for almost as long as that’s concerned. I’ve studied different body movements, body alignment, and all that stuff. I’m going to figure it out because this is not okay. Slowly but surely, I began to put together things and figure things out that worked and helped me. It was interesting because I also teach Argentine Tango as well as dance it. My students started asking me, “You look so different. What is it that you’re doing?” These are men and women, it’s not just women that are noticing the change.
I began through that process starting to help people. Then people outside of the Tango group were saying, “What is it that you’re doing? You look so vibrant. You have so much energy. Your skin looks good.” All of these signs, “What’s up?” That’s when I decided, maybe the universe is trying to tell me something that there is a need, and it’s not satisfied with what we see traditionally within healthcare. It is a lot about what I can do and what I have control over. I have a lot more control over things than you think. Genes play a role, but there’s a lot of stuff that you can do a lot.
I love that you said the universe is calling for you because this is something that we talk about on this show. It’s not much with the passion, it’s what you were born to do. It becomes such an alignment when you are doing something that resonates with you. In ages, life is wonderful when you can incorporate dance. There’s a great dancer in this world. I’m forgetting her name. I’m living your problem, the problems you say that we all have. Her name is Jean and she was the first dancer on screen for the 1940s.
You know how popular it was then in the ‘40s, the nurse with the Army guys. She was one of the first dancers ever to do swing. She’s 97 years old. She’s part of the swing club I belong to. She comes out every once in a while, we do this big, at the airport, hangar dance. It’s fun. They bring the old airplanes and they’re loud. We have so much fun. She is such an idol for me. I told her, “Jean, I want to be you when I’m your age. I want to still be moving like this.” Guys still roll her over their shoulders, and I can’t even do that. I’m like, “How am I going to do it 40 some years from now if I can’t do it now?” I love that that’s what the calling was for you.
I want to say something too. My father, he’s passed away, but he said to his life, “I never want to rust out. I want to wear out.” I think that this is something that you did some research on. I’d like to talk about this. I’m very big on the five Blue Zones in the world. It’s a big National Geographic report that was done about these five zones where the most centurions live, people who are 100 years old and they don’t rust out. They wear out. There’s something about the United States. We are the biggest rusting out entity there is. What happens is we get cancer, emphysema, back problems, that’s my issue. We have all kinds of problems that put us into walkers, canes, sedentary life, and wheelchairs. We literally rust out for years and years. Sometimes twenty years or sometimes the last 3 to 5 years of your life. That is scary for me. Thankfully, my father wore out. It was instant. He was working when it happened. It’s all good.
I want to die on the dance floor.
You talk a lot about how we plan for retirement, but we don’t plan for aging. Let’s talk about that and figure out what we can do to stop talking about being healthy, vibrant moving because we know a body in motion stays in motion. What can we start doing so we can have this wonderful vibrant life as we age?When it comes to aging, you've got one of two alternatives - you either embrace it or decide that you're going to give up and die. Click To Tweet
There are 4 or 5 factors that are associated with how you plan your aging. One is the area that you’re an expert on is financial. I don’t cover financial at all, but I talk about physically planning how you’re going to age mentally, socially, and emotionally. Physically, when we talk about planning, how you’re going to age, I can tell you from my own personal experience with dancing. I have certain goals. In order to achieve those goals, I have to be physically active but I also train. I am in better physical shape now than I was years ago. It’s because I have a goal. Some people have a goal. They want to run a marathon. I had a friend who says, “I want to be able to bend over and put the palms of my hands on the floor.” You set a goal and you work toward it but having a goal in mind for you to do physically, it might be something simple like, “I want to be able to walk up this trail without feeling I’m out of breath or that my body hurts.”
You set a goal like you would in your financial life. I use finances because most people understand financial planning and how to plan for retirement. They don’t understand that you can do the same thing with aging. They don’t understand that physically I can set up low challenges. When I make it, I celebrate it and I set a new one. I’ve always got some goals in mind. Sometimes I understand, and a lot of times I’m not going to be an expert at whatever it is. I’m going to do something new, different, and it’s going to challenge me physically. When it challenges me physically, it challenges me mentally. I grow new brain cells, which also means that I think better and I sleep better.
It automatically helps you emotionally, but how can we start on the emotional part? I think about the physical, and this is why my big mantra in everything I do is, “Stop talking, take action, get results.” I hear a lot of people say, “I need to lose weight. I need to move. I need to start walking more. I used to ski, I want to ski again.” They talk about doing it, but they don’t take the action to do it. You had said when you take the action emotionally, you grow brain cells, but it starts with the emotional piece of it. How do I start doing? How do I make that leap and emotionally get that mindset to go that way?
Part of it is overcoming ageism in ourselves. If we think that we can’t do it or we won’t be able to do it, then we’re less likely to even try. We’ll just give up. I recommend people start with something small, an achievable goal, and something that’s easy. I recommend a lot to people to put on a shake your booty song in the morning and dance around. For me, it was AC/DC because that’s like bang it or work it, but it can be anything, whatever your choice is. I vary the songs. Sometimes I do one and sometimes it’s two. Starting with something so you begin to move. Even if you just step from side to side and tapping your foot, you’ve started to move.
I was stiff in my back, and I still am. I’ve been sitting here doing a bunch of shows and coaching. What I do when I get up is I lay on what’s called a Denneroll. It’s for my back and for my neck. I looked at the floor and went, “I’m not going down there this morning. I’m not doing that,” but I’ll do it later on when I’m moving around a little bit more. That’s part of what happens. I love that you were saying, you don’t have to shake your booty if you’re not physically there. You can just step back and forth, do something.
I like to have a couple of different options. It might be that I have a couple of 1-pound weights that I can strap around my ankles and I can put them on. They’re small enough that if I’m wearing pants, nobody can see them. I can walk around for half an hour, however long I want to with those weights on my ankles. I’m still doing something to be more active. I’m building muscle strength. I’m building my body. I recommend making a list of three things that you can do. You don’t have to do them all, but make a list, pick one every day. It doesn’t matter which one it is, do it. If you can do it a couple of times a day, you’ll start to feel so much better.
It’s about pushups. You can’t expect to go from 0 to 500 pushups in a day. You just can’t expect to do it, it’s one at a time. That’s what success is. It’s not an elevator, it’s a staircase. You have to take one step at a time. Let’s talk about what we need to be doing socially.
Socially, what happens as we age for many people and especially after retirement is their social network was everybody that they worked with. Now they don’t connect with them. What is it that you have wanted to do all of your life but you’ve never had the chance to do it because you didn’t have the time or you or you didn’t know where to look? Is it you want to join a book club? For example, here in this State of Minnesota, if you’re over 62 years old, you can take a course at the university for $5 or $10 a credit hour. I’ve always wanted to study Art History because I’m self-taught in that. I have all math, science, biology, and chemistry. That’s great. The thing about that as far as establishing a new social network is you’re then bombarded with new input, which again helped build a brain, but also your self-esteem. You feel better because you’ve tried something. You meet new people. I’ve known people that have gone to quilting clubs or they’ve gone to pickleball or whatever it is.
Poker and boating. There’s a whole bunch of things that people have all these passions for and put them on the back-burner. The last step in the four, because I know there’s five, is financial. What is the last step?
It’s the mental building’s mental capacity. I started out by forcing myself not to use my cell phone as a calculator. I started saying, “If I need to pull out a pen and a piece of paper and do it that way,” then be able to migrate to doing it in my head. I was surprised at first it was extremely frustrating because it’s like, “I can’t do this.” I started with simple things, simple addition. For me, that’s what I did. People will do word games. For example, try having, “I’m going to make a list of going to the grocery store or go shopping. I might put the list in my phone, but I’m going to try to remember everything before I check my phone.” The little things that you can do to test yourself mentally.
The other thing is looking at your stress level because if you are in a high-stress situation or if you’re in a situation in which you have a lot of fear, then your body is hyped up and it’s not going to remember things as well. If you can do things that will make your life is less stressful. A little bit of stress is good. When we try new things, our bodies a little bit, “I don’t know if I can do this.” Some of that is good, but to be heavy-duty stress where you’re in full alarm status, that’s not good. The last thing I would say is gratitude. Being an environment of gratitude changes the brain. It changes the way that we think, the way that we interact, and the way that people see us.
I think so too because it’s attractive. There’s no question about it. Many people become hermits as entrepreneurs. I’m saying that yes, we’re aging too. When I think about the people that are listening to this podcast who are thinking about leaving their career and moving into entrepreneurship or whatever their next step is to be significant to their family or to the world, or those that are struggling in it. They’re making that bridging that gap and they’re struggling in it. They’re wavering on, “Is this going to work? Is this not going to work? How can I learn it?” I even mentioned that I was an expert, and I’m sure you were too, in the healthcare field.
When you start going into something else, it’s very challenging. It’s acerbated by the fact that you’re having these memory lapses. You’re getting older and we don’t do career changes. We don’t leave 30-year careers when we’re 30. We’re leaving 30-year careers when we’re 40 and 50. It manifests that, how difficult it is to go to that next extreme if it’s business if it’s setting up a charity or foundation and all of the things that we have to learn and relearn. This is one of the things that we need to be looking at is planning our aging so that the transition can be easier for us as well. That’s what I love about what you’re talking about.
There’s a big social component associated with it, and you talked about what it is as far as nonprofits. It’s a little bit too of, what legacy do you want to leave? It is astounding that people are willing to take the step to jump into something that they’re not familiar with and something that’s new for them. It’s high stress, but also it’s courageous. The sense of accomplishment and being willing to be the novice when you’ve been an expert for so long, that is very courageous and something that we need to acknowledge for ourselves like, “I’m not going to get it perfect the first time out, but it’s okay.”
It’s the same thing that we would tell our 30-year-old self. We would say, “It’s going to be okay. You’re going to make mistakes.” It’s funny because we’re in this place, and we won’t accept you anything but perfection. That’s pretty interesting. I want to talk to you about feeling invisible. It’s one of the things that you talk about as well. I’d love for you to share a little bit with our audience about that piece of it. We’re aging and we’re feeling like we’re not as visible as we used to be and what that impact is on us.
It’s part of a gradual retreat process. For me, it started when I felt like I didn’t know who I was anymore because my body didn’t react the way that it used to. I didn’t look the way that I used to in that my posture was starting to change. I was gaining weight around the middle. I lost self-confidence. You can see the rounding in the shoulders. This is a retreat. When we do this even a little bit, we start to become invisible in the world and being able to say, “I am initiating this invisibility.” I’m the one who is, “I can be here.” This says to the world, “I’m engaged. I want to interact. I want to be there.” This is, “I’m retreating. I’m pulling,” and it becomes more prevalent with age.
I’m seeing it for my son. It’s because he works on a computer all day and he’s rounded. I love that we’re talking about planning your aging because it’s something I always say to him, “Sit up straight.” He says, “Mom, I’m 30 years old.” I go, “I’m telling you, if you don’t do it now, you can retrain those muscles. Keep going this way, as much as you possibly can.”Having a goal in mind helps you to work towards it. Click To Tweet
I read a study that talked about the number of young people that are having to have back surgery because they’re rounded like this. With the aging piece, the rounding plus the loss of confidence.
You don’t feel that. I shouldn’t say you aren’t. You don’t feel that you’re as relevant, so you slowly disappear.
“I used to be able to do this. My thinking is off a little bit. I become less confident,” and that shows. Being able to go back and say, “Maybe the things that I was good at and did when I was 30 might not be the things that I need to focus on when I’m 50 or 60 or 70.” I have all of the experience that I had then, but I have so much more that I’ve gained through aging. How do I use that? How do I contribute? I need to value myself.
All the aspects that you’re talking about, having goals helps you value yourself and build confidence so that you can physically start moving, but it also helps you with the brain cells, being social, and not retreating. My mother-in-law, she’s active. She’s 78 years old and she’s hunched over. My daughter got married and she was on the dance floor shaking it like nobody. It was crazy. I contribute that to the fact that my husband’s father passed away after my father did. She could have retreated as my mother did. My mother then passed away quickly or she could have gone out and done what she did, which is to join a women’s group. They go on all kinds of little trips together. She’s a librarian, so she likes being busy in the library. She’s always been an avid reader, continues to read all the time. I think that continues to grow her body. That’s a sad statistic in our world too, and I still can’t believe this statistic, but I know it’s true which is only 3% of Americans read books after high school.
The 3% is just the people I know?
It’s only 3 out of 10 adults. I’m like, “You’ve got to be kidding me,” because I read so much and my husband reads magazines. We’re talking about books, but it’s a scary thing. It does help me with words retrieval, being able to read. That definitely helps me because it kicks out that reticular activator of, “I just saw that word. That’s the word I’m trying to capture.” Tell us about what you do for people.
What I do is start them step-by-step. A lot of people, I start with five minutes a day because if you’re busy, the last thing that you need is for somebody to come in and say, “I want you to t change your diet. This means you have to learn how to cook all over again and shop in a different way. I want you to sign up for a gym and I want you to be there five days a week or even three days a week. I want you to go to bed at 9:00 and get up at 7:00 or 6:00 or whatever it is that you need. I need you to do these five brain games every day.” It doesn’t work. People have to be able to pull these things in a way that works for them.
I talk about simple things. For example, one of the things that a lot of people are concerned about is how they face ages. I have exercises that I give to people that they can do while they’re driving in the car. It’s not anything extra. The five-minute, shake your booty thing. Spinning a few minutes a day in the morning when you’re still in bed and at night before you go to sleep, that’s starting to be able to build gratitude. Giving people the tools and helping them understand what is aging them and also giving them permission to let go of the things that are not working for them.
If someone wants to get in touch with you, we know that we can text the words, “Plan your aging,” but what else could someone do to get ahold of you if they want to find out more about you?
They can send me a message on Facebook. They can send me an email. They can go onto my website, AnAgelessLife.com. They can access me through LinkedIn. There’s pretty much a lot of different ways that people can get ahold of me. I would love to chat with anybody who is interested in being able to change the way that they age by planning.
We plan for retirement. We plan for weddings. We plan and plan, but we don’t ever plan for how we’re going to age. That is a big a-ha moment for me. We don’t plan for aging and I’m a victim of it because I told you that when I was 50, that was my goal. I was going to live to 100, but I wasn’t going to do anything about it except wishing, hoping, and wonder. I see that as I have to do something. I did a few things. There are some things I started doing at 50. When I turned 56, my husband said, “You’re 56,” and I said, “No. If I live to be 100, I’m only six because I have lived this life of 50, and I get to live it all over again, doing it the right way.” Hopefully, there were things in my past that will creep up on me and there are some things. Everybody who can’t move, these are habits that you created and relearn. I absolutely love that. When someone texts you, what are they going to get when you text?
What they will get is 1 of 2 things. I have a freebie that I’ll send them the link to that talks about what it is that they can do and give them a little more information or I can send back something about setting up if they want to have 10 to 15 minute chat to see what it is that I’m doing and if it is what they want. The last thing is to have misaligned goals that don’t work for either of us.If you think you can’t overcome ageism, you’re less likely to even try. Click To Tweet
Thank you for that gift. I appreciate it. Thank you so much for spending time with me on this show. I love what you shared. I hope that everyone who’s reading is feeling the same way. It’s not just about business and making an impact on other people’s lives, but we need to look internally at what we’re doing for ourselves as well. I’m always talking about that. I appreciate you taking the time to join us.
Thank you. This has been fun.
- An Ageless Life
- New Media Summit
- National Geographic – 5 Blue Zones article
- Facebook – An Ageless Life
- LinkedIn – Diana Devi
About Diana Devi
I would like to share a bit about my personal journey that has brought me to this point. About 10 years ago I started to feel like I was fading, almost like I was becoming invisible. I was not sleeping well, I did not have any energy, I was gaining weight. I did not have the spring in my step or the desire to do much of anything. I felt like I looked older than I should and was worried that this was going to be what the rest of my life was like.
Old, fat, and wrinkled, no longer valued at work and unsatisfying personal relationships. My posture changed, my body changed and I did not like the changes that were happening.
I decided to go to see my physician, thinking there had to be something physically wrong with me. After a thorough exam, I was told there was nothing wrong with me, and it was part of the aging process. How depressing!! I knew this was not true because my fitness coach told me my metabolism was so low that she was surprised I was awake and walking around.
After seeing a woman in her 80s celebrating her BD at a local restaurant – I saw her vibrancy, she was laughing, everyone around her was so engaged and enjoying her wit and company.
I wanted to be that woman. I wanted to age like that. I did not want to be like a faded Hollywood star chasing youth but to write my own story on my own terms. To be like is Meryl Streep or Helen Mirren. These women have aged in their industry that relies on looks and have kept working on their terms…They have aged not gotten old.
I am fortunate that over 30 years of experience in pharmacy and over 10 years experience dancing and teaching Argentine Tango and the drive to live life fully and in a holistic manner.
I created An Ageless Life: The Defy Gravity Program to help women that are facing the same challenges that I faced.
My program helps women to enjoy life no matter what their age – to fully embody the adage “age is just a number it is how you live your life that counts.