While watching the 50th anniversary of the MLK Jr. March in Washington, DC I thought to myself, "My what a long time ago." Then the talking head on MSNBC said, "Back in 1963..." and I realized, "Oh, boy -- I was born in December of '63!"
I train in martial arts five to six times a week at a local dojo. Going in to class each morning I'm makeup-free, and my corkscrew curly shoulder length hair is up in a slapdash ponytail. On the way out, I'm significantly worse for the wear -- ew-y, not dewy.
Last week I had to drop something off and went into the dojo in showered, hair done, etc. The next morning on my way to class, a construction worker who sees me straggle in daily stopped me, "I don't mean to be rude, but you looked so sexy yesterday with your hair down."
Talk about your black belt compliment. From a good looking construction worker no less!
I couldn't get the words, "You. Sexy." out of my head. Sexy is for young people who don't have to Google "twerk" not for those of us who can remember when The Bump was risqué. I turned in my sexy card back in 19 -- hey, when did that happen? Why did it happen? Like many Moms, especially those of us with special needs children (I have three gorgeous teen daughters with autism) self-care often falls by the wayside. I've spent the last few years feeling selfish and even foolish for thinking about my looks and "sex appeal." I needed expert help. (No, not a psychiatrist.)
I asked my friend Tabitha Stevens her opinion on feeling sexy as we age. Guys might recognize Tabitha as the bewitching adult film star and frequent Howard Stern show guest. I've gotten to know her as a kind-hearted, witty, married entrepreneur who reached out to me for help on behalf of a family member facing the challenges of a child with autism.
Who better to ask than a woman who has made sexy her career even into her early 40s? Tabitha's suggestions are simple and helped me realize I didn't have to try to recreate "young" Kim, just work with "today" Kim.
Q: What makes you feel beautiful and sexy?
A: A dress with high heels, a blingy pair of earrings, a little bit of makeup, hair curled and pushed behind one of my ears and I spray a fragrance that I love on my wrists and neck.
Q; How has sexy changed since you were in your 20s?
A: In my 20's (I'm 43 now) I didn't know what 'sexy' was. Not many girls know what sexy is at that age. They try too hard. Confidence plays a BIG role in feeling and looking sexy.
Q: What can the average working or stay at home wife/mother do to feel sexy and desirable without looking like she's trying too hard.
A: Take care your hair and nails. Put your hair in a pony tail. Add some earrings for a little more umphhh. Apply a bit of makeup. I use mineral foundation to cover skin flaws and fine lines, mascara and a tinted lip gloss. I always use a scented body lotion after I shower. Change up your wardrobe by adding something to accentuate your favorite body part. Just one item of fitted clothing (top or bottom based on your shape) can help you feel sexy.
Q: Anything we should avoid?
A: Too much makeup. And while you can wear fitted clothing that will make you feel sexy, make sure it's not something your teenaged daughter would wear. I love Kohl's Jennifer Lopez and Vera Wang collections. I think it goes without saying, no booty shorts! Even I do not own a pair. Age appropriate can still be sexy.
Q: How about some pointers for our male readers to help their partners feel sexy as the years pass?
A: Every morning when I wake up, my husband kisses me on the forehead, tells me he appreciates me and how beautiful I am. That's a great way to start any woman's day. Always compliment your partner on her looks, especially when she is wearing something that is sexy. Grab her, squeeze her, kiss her and take her out as often as you can so she can dress up and feel her sexiest. You may even receive a 'sexy' present at the end of a date night.
I'm going to work on my attitude about aging as I start a new decade. In many ways 50 feels a lot like 40, since I'm still responsible for so many of the childcare tasks of a younger Mom due to my kids' autism. Tabitha's common sense suggestions are easy enough for me to follow.
My karate training has trimmed my figure and bolstered my confidence. Hmmm, maybe I can be a MILF at 50? Or at least a, Mom In Line to Fight.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you've been idle for a while, it's important to see a doctor before getting active again, says Dr. Alexis Colvin, an orthopedic surgeon at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. You want to make sure you don't have any pre-existing conditions, such as heart disease, that might present a problem when you start up your new exercise regimen.
Getting active too quickly, often with incorrect form, is one of the primary reasons people over 50 find themselves in her office, Colvin says. It's important to slowly build a base level of strength, flexibility and fitness before pushing yourself to, say, sign up for that marathon.
It's always helpful to have a little direction and support in starting something new. Colvin suggests getting started with a personal trainer or physical therapist to tailor an exercise program to your goals.
Low-impact activities, such as swimming or using the elliptical, are all good for people who have joint pain, says Dr. Colvin. If it hurts, don't push it!
An active lifestyle isn't limited to throwing on some running shoes and hitting the pavement. Dr. Colvin suggests yoga and pilates, which can help with strength and flexibility even if they don't give you the same cardiovascular workout you might get from the treadmill.
Colvin also points to the many home exercise videos available, which can be a great alternative for those who would prefer to exercise from the comfort of their living rooms. The one drawback, she says, is potential for injury from using incorrect form, "since there's no one watching you."
Mix up your routine and consider cross-training (adding swimming and biking to a running program) to prevent boredom, avoid repetitive injuries and improve your overall condition. Exercise with friends to add social benefits to the physical and mental advantages of your workout. Recognize your limits, adjust accordingly and enjoy the quality-of-life benefits of an active lifestyle for many years to come.
Follow Kim Stagliano on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KimStagliano