Susan Sarandon has a line about getting older: "Accept that your face and body will change. Once there is acceptance, it's all about looking and feeling good at this precise moment in time," says the stunning 65-year-old.
Her resolve mirrors a new AP/LifeGoesStrong.com poll where midlifers indicated they weren't afraid of getting older and were talking concrete steps to look and feel great at all moments.
Some 33 percent of midlifers say they feel "confident" about getting older. In fact, 46 percent of those who feel that their health has been improving in the last five years were confident about aging.
Some 35 percent of us even say that we are looking forward to using our acquired wisdom and knowledge!
But we don't like those gray hairs popping up. Some 55 percent of women surveyed say they regularly dye their hair. Only 34 percent of women indicated that they haven't tried one of those anti-aging products.
But put away that plastic surgeon's knife.
Only 19 percent of midlifers surveyed are thinking about a quick nip or tuck.
A LONGER LIFE
Six out of ten midlifers feel they will live at least a little longer then their parents with half or 49 percent expecting a better life than their parents had at an older age.
To that end, 73 percent of midlifers say they're making at least a moderate effort to stave off the negative effects of aging. This is not only cosmetic, but 65 percent of those people said they're focused on warding off the negative effect that aging can have on health.
"It's about feeling great," says Oscar winning actress Helen Mirren, 65. "I try to take care of myself and eat right. I workout when I can to feel healthier. I've been blessed with great genes and now I want to take care of what I've been given."
MIDLIFERS HAVE HEALTHIER FOODS ON THEIR PLATE
Nine out of ten midlifers or 90 percent have made changes to their diet in at least one way and 61 percent have changed their diet in five or more ways.
Two-thirds or 67 percent of those studied were currently dieting for one of the following reasons: losing weight, lowering cholesterol, reducing salt, eating more fruits and vegetables, eating fewer processed foods, reducing fat, reducing sugar and reducing carbs.
"It's all about eating right, which means getting as much sugar out of your diet as possible," says Jason Alexander, 51, star of "Seinfeld" who recently lost major weight.
"I didn't hit 50 in a way I thought was healthy. But now the bad habits are gone. I'm more motivated than I ever have been in my life to deal with eating right on an ongoing basis for health," he says.
Most midlifers made their dietary changes without the prompting of a doctor and three-quarters or 73 percent say they were motivated by their health than by their appearance.
Yet, 67 percent of women say their last diet was aimed at improving their health as opposed to their appearance, while 80 percent of men chose feeling better over looking better.
MIDLIFERS ON THE MOVE
Forget slumping on the sofa in front of the TV – a whopping 57 percent of midlifers say that at some point in the past year they've worked on improving their physical fitness with a regular exercise program.
The finding is on par with all other age groups, except for those born before 1946.
A majority (58 percent) indicated they "move it" mentally on a regular basis to keep their mind sharp.
Aerobic exercise was popular with 26 percent of those studied saying they did it four to five times a week. Working out aerobically at least once a week was a mark hit by most, with 17 percent saying they exercised in this way once or twice a week, while 28 percent did the recommended three times a week.
Walking remained a favorite activity, with 35 percent hoofing it. The other popular activities are a mix of outdoor activities (13 percent), sports (13 percent), weights (12 percent), took classes or hit the gym (11 percent) and general exercise such as workout tapes, cardio and calisthenics (11 percent.)
Strength training is being increasingly embraced, with 22 percent saying they do "the heavy lifting" once or twice a week and 21 percent saying they do so four or more times a week.
"I prefer yoga," says actress Diane Lane, 46. "They say you are the age and the flexibility of your spine. If your spine is youthful and limber than you too shall be in other departments in your life. Flexibility is more important to me than strength or stamina."
Sadly, the poll numbers do indicate that based on self-reported height and weight that midlifers are more apt than those in other generations to have a BMI that classifies them as "obese." More than a third or 36 percent fall into an overweight category with another 36 percent considered obese; only 27 percent have a BMI that's in the normal range.
The good news is two-thirds or 63 percent of midlifers whose BMI lists them as overweight say that in the past year they have tried to improve their physical fitness with regular exercise – 68 percent have embraced some type of diet. Those whose BMI place them in the obese category are far less likely to be engaging in regular exercise (49 percent), but are just as likely to be following a diet (72 percent).
A NEW WRINKLE
Are midlifers logging countless hours in front of the mirror examining fine lines and wrinkles? The answer is no. Actress Mary-Louise Parker, 46, says, "Who has time to focus on looking perfect? I'm just too busy with other things."
Only one in six surveyed or 19 percent are even considering plastic surgery.
As for the other highly touted de-aging methods – Botox, chemical peels, wrinkle fillers (such as Restalyne), or laser treatments – only 26 percent would consider going this route.
"It's fine for other people, but my mom would kill me," says actress Nia Vardalos.
Here's how it adds up: Only 17 percent of midlifers would do a laser treatment; 12 percent a chemical peel; 11 percent wrinkle fillers and 5 percent Botox.
For those considering "going under the knife," the prime "trouble" areas are the stomach (55 percent) and eyes (54 percent). A large number or 38 percent would consider a little nip/tuck on their chin with 23 percent on their thighs, 21 percent on their butts, 18 percent on their noses, 17 percent on cheeks, and 13 percent on lips.
Why is there is a new product for anti-aging popping up every other day? It's ironic that 55 percent of midlifers say they have never spent any money on anti-aging skincare products.
But consider the gap between the sexes. Some 76 percent of men don't buy these products while only 34 percent of women have avoided them.
One-quarter of female midlifers have spent at least $25 on anti-aging products.
"I'm so blessed to have great skin," says Kris Jenner, 55, star of the reality series "Keeping Up with the Kardashians. "It's worth it to find a great skin care regime for yourself as you fight the battle with gravity."
But don't let us turn gray. A full 31 percent of those polled including 55 percent of women regularly dye their locks, with 73 percent saying they do it to cover the gray.
WORRIES OF MIDLIFERS
Midlifers did have some concerns about aging, with the biggest one (45 percent) being a loss of physical independence. Loss of memory ranked the second greatest concern at 44 percent. Not being able to pay for medical costs worried 43 percent of those surveyed. Facing a major illness was a worry for 39 percent, while loss of eyesight also ranked as a concern at 37 percent. Loss of ability to participate in their favorite activities weighed on the minds of 32 percent surveyed.
Midlifers aren't vain. Only 12 percent listed looking older as a worry when it comes to aging.
There was even excitement about aging. Ranking the highest in this area was seeing children and grandchildren at 60 percent and having more time to spend with friends at 59 percent.
Legend Cher, 65, says, "Dancing around a room with my kids is what makes me feel beautiful."
Having more time for favorite activities also was a cause for happiness at 58 percent.
"I wouldn't be 20 again for millions of dollars," says Sarandon. "There is no price that you can put on the wisdom you have when you're older and feeling comfortable in your own skin."