I recently had the opportunity to offer an online Eastern Area Agency on Aging presentation through the University of Maine Employee Assistance Program for distribution to their employees. Consequently, I viewed myself speaking on a screen for one hour, and it wasn’t pretty.
I noticed lines and puckers and droopy skin that I didn’t know I had because whenever I look in the mirror I am not talking. In fact, I realized that when I look in the mirror, I am seeing the Noelle that I think I look like and not the real me.
The bottom line was that when viewing myself chatting away, I looked old. This is not easy for a 60-year-old baby boomer to accept because most of us think we should still look like we did when we were 30 or perhaps 45 years old.
There had to be a way to fix this problem, so I went online and looked up how to get rid of jowls without cosmetic surgery. It turns out that jowls live hand in hand with a double chin, which I don’t have, although my husband disagrees on this.
Would you believe that it said to take up running? Since I already run about 25 miles a week, and I still have these so-called jowls, I ignored that suggestion.
And then I discovered the mother lode of facial exercise videos on YouTube. So for the next two weeks, when I was driving or just hanging out with no one around, I began to try some of these. The first thing I learned was that my face is not used to “working out.” It actually became tired!
Who knew the face needed exercise? They certainly never discussed this in gym class or even at the beauty parlor. There are any numbers of contortions that one can do to strengthen and tone those sagging cheeks, but trust me when I say you need to do them in private.
Here are some examples of recommended facial exercises: (Caution: These are not sanctioned or recommended by official doctors and reading them may make you laugh.)
The X exercise
Sit in an upright position. Put your hands firmly on your neck as though you were going to choke yourself, forming an “X” with your wrists. Keeping your hands firmly in that position, look up toward the ceiling until you feel your neck muscles stretching. Hold this position for about 45 seconds. Repeat this exercise between 10 and 15 times a day to see results.
Sit in a chair or stand upright and gradually turn your head to the left, feeling the stretch and pull of your neck muscles. Do not drop or lift your chin. Remain in this position until the count of five, then repeat with the right side, holding for a count of five. Repeat this exercise three times. This will help tone a double chin and firm up sagging skin.
Lots of people have recorded these and other routines on YouTube for demonstrating how to rein in facial deterioration. I guess I’ll give some of these a try for a while and if nothing happens, I’ll settle for what nature gave me or avoid watching myself on recordings. Of course, there is always makeup or cosmetic surgery.
Noelle Merrill is the executive director of the Eastern Area Agency on Aging in Bangor.