Sophia Loren: Mature beauty is very different than youthful beauty.

Sophia Loren – 79

(September 20, 1934)

The most beautiful woman in the world! – Kat’s opinion.  Her grace, her charm, her style, her disarming honesty, her outspoken views on mature beauty, and her oft declared most cherished role – that of the mother of her children – all of these mold this timeless teacher of true beauty into a classic role model.

Sophia Loren personifies our Love Your Life Now, Step 5: ADORN – the wisdom and commitment to drape ourselves with pleasing attire and attitude that makes us ooze with contentment and confidence.

This is her conviction: “Mature beauty is very different than youthful beauty.  It demands a different approach.  Youthful beauty is ‘dewy cheeked and made up to disguise an imperfect nose.’  Mature beauty is knowing and sophisticated.  It admits to effort.  It is also much richer and more complex. … I’m convinced that nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is so” (Women & Beauty, 1986).

Does she love her life NOW?  In her own words: “I always wake up early and jump out of bed—sometimes not wanting to, because one can always find an alibi not to exercise—and then I take a walk for an hour.  And as I walk round the park I always think, ‘Maybe round the corner I am going to find something beautiful.’  I always think positively.  It is very rare that you find me in a mood that is sad or melancholic.”

Little Sophia learned the harsh rules of poverty as a child, living with her mother and her grandparents.  She shared a bedroom with eight people.  World War II bombs ravaged her struggling village of Pozzuoli.  She lived in famine – her mother resorted to capturing water from the car radiator and rationed it by the spoonful.  Bomb shrapnel flattened little Sophia and split open her chin with a scar she bears today.  Her sickly physique earned her the nickname “little stick.”

At 14, everything blossomed, and the beauty we know today emerged.  The war was over, and the family opened a pub in their living room, popular with American GIs.  Sophia waited tables and washed dishes.  Fate changed at age 17 when she landed her first acting job, an extra in Quo Vadis (1951), then Hollywood, and over 100 movies.

Through it all, she has kept her style, poise, savoir-faire, and incandescence.

Good news: Sophia Loren has a film comeback due out soon, in an Italian adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s 1930 play The Human Voice (La Voce Umana) which charts the breakdown of a woman who is left by her lover – with her youngest son, Edoardo Ponti, as director.  Filming purportedly took under a month during July 2013 in various locations in Italy including Rome and Naples.  It will be Loren’s first significant feature film since the 2009 film – Nine.

We welcome our stunning Sophia Loren back to the silver screen!

Please leave us your comments about Sophia Loren, and please give us suggestions of names of women in their 50’s who exemplify loving life now.

Losing Belly Fat After 50: The Good, the Bad, the Truth

Radiance, wisdom, sophistication and authenticity are some of the gifts Mother Nature hands us after menopause. Here’s another: a not-so-svelte belly.

Everyone wants their belly fat to disappear. Here are some thoughts from my readers:

Tina, 72: “I lost 50 pounds before my new marriage, but my tummy stayed. I hate it.”

Eloise, 59:  “My waist thickened after menopause, but I work out six hours a week and my middle has a shape again.”

Martha, 61: “I don’t want that dimply stomach! But, honestly, I’m tired of obsessing. Get me some cool clothes to cover it and a glass of wine. Can we all move on?”

After menopause, our female bodies are encoded to lay down a layer of fat around our abdomen. Adding insult to injury, our metabolism slows down. Also, after menopause, it takes only about 1,300 calories daily for the average woman to maintain average weight, as opposed to 1,800 calories a day before menopause.

Good news: we can reduce it.

Bad news: it’s a lot of work.  Better news: We have choices on how to handle it.

First, a myth buster:

If you lose weight, you lose weight everywhere — not just in one place, like your belly. Doing 100 sit-ups/day? You’ll have incredibly hard muscles … under your belly fat. The fat will be reduced as you do more cardio, but you can’t “spot” eliminate.

Count those calories:

Since it takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose a pound of fat, it would take 12 days to lose one pound by ingesting only 1,000 calories/day. (Under 1,000 cal/day is dangerous without a doctor’s guidance). Some plastic surgeons claim they can “melt” it away. Again, it’s a matter of time, money, and in the last case, pain (plastic surgery can be very painful).

More cardio:

Yes, gentle stretching, cardio, and weights are necessary to sustain healthy bodies at age 50 and beyond. But here’s the hard truth: To lose weight, we have to add more cardio to our daily work-out, even if we’ve exercised all our life! After menopause, it takes five hours of cardio per week, religiously.

So before you “fix” your middle-aged muffin top, ask yourself these questions:

  • How much does your post-menopausal stomach keep you from loving your life now? If the answer is “a lot,” develop a healthy diet and exercise program to shrink it. Download the tip sheet at the end of this blog on how to do that. But before you do, have a healthy answer for the next question.

  • Where are you getting the message that your tummy needs trimming? Voices from the past? Your own negative thoughts? Perhaps it’s time to get help and let it go.

  • What would life be like if you simply accepted your belly? Millions of women have recognized that a not-so-perfect body is one factor of life after age 50. So they dress in magnificent new adornments, feeling luscious and alive, and focus on other parts of life. You can learn to accept, even love your tummy, and move on. Click here to get a free tips sheet on how to dress to look and feel your best.

Whatever you decide, know this: One part of your anatomy doesn’t define you. You’re a radiant woman with the buoyancy and insight that we need in this world. Let your light shine!

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Belly Fat After Menopause” description=”Here are my essential tips to help you actively reduce your mid-life tummy.”][/tagline_box]


Sexy After Age 50: More Tips to Fix Middle-Age Muffin Top!

My jeans and I did battle this morning. Picture a boxing ring. The jeans came out of their corner spiffy, freshly washed, and back to original shape. I stepped into the ring at a formidable disadvantage. Unlike my jeans, my body had not shrunk to my former shape.

Tug. Pull. Suck in the belly. You know this drill, don’t you?

Nonetheless, I’m not giving up my jeans because of muffin top or stomach fat. I love wearing jeans, and I don’t plan to stop.

Fact: Mother Nature makes radical body changes after 50.

We simply have more belly fat now than in our younger years. Even losing weight or exercise doesn’t alter it: Everything else gets thinner, but our stomachs stay bigger. Phooey. However, we can alter how we view our changing bodies and how we handle those changes. After all, in the long run, it’s not really our aging bodies that upset us. It’s our angst over change, which is inevitable. Here are four real-life solutions for handling belly fat after age 50:

Change your mindset.

Belly fat is here to stay, like it or not. Appreciate what your body can do. Say “thank you” to your body instead of fighting it.

Stand up straight.

Jeans fit better when your shoulders are back, your head is held high, and you project your heart to the sun.

Get jeans that actually fit.

Your jeans should snap above your belly button — no exceptions! These days, there are flattering jeans for all shapes and sizes. For our age group, I recommend Not Your Daughters Jeans, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Lee. And Miracle BodySuit jeans even have a little spandex for tummy control.

Wear Spanx or other smoothing undergarments.

Of course, you shouldn’t wear spandex all the time, but it’s fine on occasion. Spanx and similar undergarments help us look wonderfully curvy and can boost self-confidence! If you find the advice helpful, click the link below to download more free tips, “Top 10 Tips to Fight Muffin Top After After Age 50.” [tagline_box backgroundcolor=”” shadow=”no” border=”1px” bordercolor=”” highlightposition=”top” link=”” linktarget=”” button=”Click here!” title=”Free Download: Top 10 Tips to Fight Muffin Fat After Age 50″ description=”Here are tried-and-true tips to help you look and feel your best!”][/tagline_box]

Three Unconventional Steps to “Fix” Belly Fat After 50

About five years ago, I was in Nordstrom here in San Francisco with a personal shopper. My age: late 50’s. My quest: getting a knock ‘em dead outfit for my second date with the latest candidate.

But things didn’t go well. Looking at my almost-naked body in front of triple full-length mirrors was torture. I posed several ways in the dressing room, hoping to make the skin puckering on my torso less prominent.

The longer I was left alone with those mirrors and the cruel fluorescent lighting, the steeper the nose dive my confidence took, gaining exponential speed on its downward plunge

Finally, I, the advisor on loving your body now, sat down, head in hands, and sighed. “My stomach looks like jelly and I feel like a freak,” I thought.

Sound familiar? The changes to our bellies after ages 50 and beyond is the number-one challenge for women to accept, according to a recent study on body satisfaction at midlife. In fact, research says that we dislike our fat tummies more than our sagging faces and snake-skin hands.

So what can we do about our middle-aged muffin tops? It’s not a tummy tuck or liposuction. Miracle salves or supplements won’t do it, either. Exercise and new food selections are healthy but can’t change Mother Nature.

The only action that hits the bull’s eye: Control what’s between your ears. It’s not our abdomens that need adjusting. It’s our brains. Your brain believes everything you tell it! Watch what you say about yourself. Do not put yourself down.

My friend Claire, who owns Angelique Boutique in Sonoma, Calif., tells me that 95 percent of women who come into her warm, wonderful shop immediately begin to apologize for their bodies. No matter whether they’re large, small, tall, short, mature, or teenagers!

So, the three steps to combat belly fat after age 50:

  1. Make a statement of acceptance about your midsection.

  2. Admire a part of your body that you love.

  3. Follow through on a positive adornment plan.

Here’s how I did it: I stood up, shook myself off, and said out loud, “My belly has hung in there with me and supported me through diets — the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m not going to mock you. You are what you are! Kat, accept it right now!”

Yep, I really said that, lame as that sounds! Then, I focused on a part of my semi-naked body that I adored. “Look at that fabulous pedicure!” I said. I smiled at my twinkly toes, put on a fabulous new top over that stomach of mine, and waited for a sales associate to ring me up.

These steps are from my Exhale Midlife Body Blues book, which has more information about managing puffy tummies and other body image challenges. If you find the advice helpful, click this link for a tip sheet, “Overcoming Fitting Room Fatigue.”

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Body Image Blues: Shopping When Nothing Fits

Sometimes, practicing what you preach is not as easy as it looks.

On Black Friday, my daughter and I were at the shopping mecca of New York City: Fifth Avenue. We were betting on grabbing good deals at the high-end boutiques, and guessed that shoppers would be fewer in this more chic area of town.

If nothing else, we would window-shop, admire the elaborate “sidewalks dressed in holiday style” as only NYC can do and cap the day with a glass of wine at the St. Regis Hotel. What fun! We giggled about playing “grown up” for a day.

I decided to splurge on something magnificent for my speaking engagements – a holiday treat to myself to celebrate being with my daughter for five luscious, luxurious days in New York City.

We stepped through the doors of a tasteful, elegant, and very expensive retailer. We were immediately immersed in racks of lovely clothing to adorn the woman of style in her 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. The boutique was inviting and gracious, albeit with a staff that seemed only moderately congenial and interested in helping us. (Was it my NYDJ jeans?).

Nonetheless, the garments were so beautiful that I asked to have four outfits brought to me. I could see myself modeling them for the gentleman I’m dating, and feeling oh-so-confident in front of my next audience of beautiful, zesty women.

The retail clerk brought the requested treasures. That Mandarin red jacket! And that gentle peacock blue silk blouse with matching silk tank! Delicious. With black silk pants – a magnificent outfit!

Then I tried them on.

“Well, well,” I thought. “It seems clothes now fit a little tighter than last year. That’s OK.  I’ll just get one size larger.

But as I tried on more tops, slacks, jackets and skirts  — all of which didn’t fit, I began to get that horrible feeling that I call fitting-room fatigue, or body image blues. I didn’t like my body: That turkey neck, those heavy arms unable to fit comfortably in the sleeve, that blubbery tummy making the trousers and jackets tight.

Frankly, I was feeling old and unattractive, and I said so to my acting advisor, my daughter.

Suddenly, she stood up straight, put both hands on my shoulders and said, “Mom! You teach this stuff about managing your thoughts while shopping! So stop the self-defeating thoughts right now!

“Get real. Let go of the size thing. These clothes weren’t made for you. Big deal! And nobody looks good unclothed in front of these mirrors. Where is that beautiful, confident, sophisticated mother of mine? Let’s leave.

Isn’t it amazing how our own offspring can give back what we so blithely hand out? She was correct, of course. Those clothes weren’t right for me. It didn’t mean I needed to lose 20 pounds or commit myself to the gym. It simply meant it didn’t work this time. That’s it!

I hope this lesson will help all of you destined for fitting rooms over the holiday season.

Meryl’s dress — dignified and daring

Look at Meryl Streep on Sunday, at the Academy Awards.  We all agree – she’s gifted, sexy, brilliant, beautiful, feminine, strong. And, I would add: daring. I found it surprisingly refreshing to see a different kind of daring from her – her beaming visage, first, rather than her cleavage, her legs, her curves. It takes courage to be covered up in Tinseltown, perhaps more courage than baring it all.

To watch her flow to the stage in that dress, gracefully and graciously sent a message to our youth centric mania: I am comfortable in my own skin as a mature accomplished actress and I don’t have to succumb to skin rules to be magnificently elegant and sexy.

022612_oscars_nip_teaser120226210531-300x200Look carefully. Wait a minute! She’s got gentle rolls at her waist. Her arms aren’t sporting taut overly defined muscles. Are those suggestions of jowls? Is her waist just a bit higher than Abercrombie and Fitch would like?

Meryl, what are you thinking? Don’t you get it that showing off your body is what you do in Hollywood? Jennifer Lopez – and her “gosh, I didn’t mean to show my nipple” and Carmen Diaz get it. By the way, look at those arms on Carmen. Is that definition really necessary? Better said: How nice to be able to exhale and stop the madness of trying to look like that.

Can Meryl use her power, her standing and cachet to role model a new benchmark of body image acceptance for us at 50 and beyond? Yes. It’s nice to have permission to be elegant, sexy, powerful, and feminine from someone at the top. What a concept! Feminine beauty as rounded and soft. Thank you, Meryl. You’re in good company with one of the greatest Greek beauties ever known (now living in Paris).

What do you think of Meryl’s dress? Share your thoughts here.

The Ultimate GPS for Anti-Aging

In 1985, I saw a group of German women tourists on the beach of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. These women were in their late 60’s, and early 70’s. Not skinny, toothpick women, these gals. They were hearty ladies. Cellulite abounded. Bingo wing arms flew in the breeze. Thighs were heavy and thick. And, they were topless.

Close by, plastered prone on the sand, tops undone and positioned under them for easy re-attachment, on beach towels, were American women with sculpted bodies, tight butts, and no trace of cellulite to be found. When the German women got up to play, they pranced. They trotted. They had the time of their lives.  When the American women finally got up, they slinked. Not as in sexy slink. Slink as in trying to appear at ease, but clearly not relaxed at all.

I asked the men in the group who were sexier. They all agreed. The American women turned their heads. But the German women turned their libidos. Say what? Yes, they all said they would have much more fun with the German women.

Body Image. What have we done to ourselves that we can’t enjoy these amazing bodies we’ve been given? These bodies that have tolerated all the stress, all the pressure, we’ve put them through. To stand in front of a mirror and say, “I hate my arms [pick a body part]” – what’s that about?

On Thursday, I began a series in Sonoma, CA, called, “The Ultimate Anti-Aging Formula: A GPS for ReClaiming Your Body – for Boomer Women and Beyond.”  This is step 1 of 6: ACCEPT. The point: Anti-aging is not about needles or knives, salves or supplements, food or fitness. Those things might lift your spirits temporarily, but there’s only one cure: What’s between your ears. Your brain and your thoughts. If the team leader, your body computer as your brain, is not the positive leader on the team, none of those other “cures” matter. Work on your brain, and the rest will follow.
Women over 50 dread these four fear mongers: Becoming invisible, becoming obsolete, losing the power of youthful days, and the changing of our bodies. In a youth culture, it’s darn scary.
What if we could do something about those? Something real for the rest of our lives? We can! Turns out it’s an inside adjustment, not an outside decoration that gives us hope, permission, and joy. In the event, I call it REJUBILATION (ree joo bill a shun). It means we can rejoice, be elated, have joy, and celebrate our bodies. There are six steps. We’re not getting older, we’re getting started!
What body part do you dislike most? Make friends with it. What piece of you do you like the best? Women at the event talked about loving their noses, eyes, large breasts, small breasts, long legs, short legs. Seems that everything can be appreciated depending how we look at it. Honor the body part you like best. Find a way to show it off. Let everyone know how beautiful it is, by the way you show it off.
Change the course for yourself. Take charge and OWN IT! Like those German women in the Bahamas, decide to prance. Stand up tall. Shoulders back. Push those beauties out! Then, compliment other women, and when someone gives you a compliment, simply say, “Thank you” – no deep diatribe about the honored item needed!
More to come as we continue this series in Sonoma. I would love to hear what you think! Share your comments here.