The life of the senior citizen looks less and less like those of our great grandparents. Women (and men) over 65 are trading in retirement for a life of passion and exploration, all the while embracing the wisdom that comes with having truly lived.
The pin-up girl for this new take on life over 60 is Mimi Kirk, a vibrant 72-year-old, who just a couple of years ago was named as PETA‘s sexiest vegetarian over 50. The Californian girl is proving you don’t have to cut your hair off or dress purely for comfort once you reach the so-called golden years. For Mimi, life is about living, and so she does — arm-in-arm with boyfriend Mike Mendell, 53. She has a Facebook page, travels the world and coaches others on how to live a healthy life. She’s also an author, with her book Live Raw: The Natural Way to Good Health and Timeless Beauty hitting the shelves next month. Filled with recipes and top tips on how to be healthy and youthful, no matter your age, the book is a good glimpse into what has kept Mimi so young for so long.
I asked Mimi to share some of her secrets, including her philosophy on life…
You’re 72 and yet you look like you’re in your 40s. What’s your secret?
I would place what I eat at the top of my list, a raw vegan diet. Second I think exercise is important. I know that now more than ever before, so I’ve included strength training to my walking, yoga and qigong routine. I think moderate exercise is enough. I would also include to my list of secrets, a positive attitude, compassion and passion, and of course having a boyfriend 19 years my junior doesn’t hurt.
Do you know any other 72-year-olds who share your youthful vibrancy?
Yes, I think there are many youthful seniors today. The face of aging is changing and those of us who eat healthy can attest to that, but still, I think there is a common agreement amongst advertisers and drug companies pandering to the senior set, that we have to look our chronological age and take a fist full of drugs to combat aging and diseases.
It’s obvious you’ve not had any plastic surgery. What do you tell people who question you about that?
I’m not much concerned with the lines on my face. I’m more concerned with how I feel. I think plastic surgery is a mistake. I’ve seen some really bad surgery, loss of character on the face and even tragedy associated with plastic surgery. I think people can tell I’ve not had surgery when they meet me in person. I have laugh lines and look natural, well my blonde hair is not natural, but I find it fun at my age.
What gets you up in the morning? What are your greatest passions?
I love life, I’m a happy person and certainly passionate about my family. I have a book coming out in May, and I’m thrilled about it. To pass along what I’ve learned about being healthy over the years certainly keeps me passionate. I accept a few coaching clients each month and I’m passionate about seeing their results.
Did you always know you’d become a vegan? How did your life path lead to it?
I became a vegetarian over 40 years ago. I had an epiphany while eating a slice of roast beef. I realized I was eating flesh. That was it for me. I soon learned of the inhumane treatment of farm animals and although I would occasionally go off course, I would immediately get back on just thinking about where meat comes from. Vegan life is a compassionate one, for the animals, the planet and our own wellbeing. There was a spiritual awakening when I realized I did not have to take part in killing to eat. I love looking at my plate and seeing live food and not a deceased animal. Sorry to be so graphic, but I really do believe this is the humane way to live.
What is it about being vegan that has changed your life?
All the above and more! My health is fantastic. I look at things differently in many ways. Buying organic produce at farmers markets and from farm stands makes me feel I’m eating clean food, and helping farmer who are making a difference by keeping chemicals out of our food chain. One day I realize that wearing leather felt disturbing to me. People say well, the animal is dead anyway, so why not use the hide. Well, that is not always true. Some animals are killed for their hides. It took time to realize the connection but now I couldn’t buy leather or even wear any of my old leather goods. I personally prefer finding faux leather, shoes and bags. I think it amusing when I’m stopped so many times with people asking where I bought my leather boots or bag. Of course they are surprised when I tell them they are not leather, and maybe sometimes I can’t help myself and I give them a little education on why I wear faux leather. I try not to be preachy, as I believe people are ready when they’re ready to make a change and not a moment before. I know this from my own experience.
You’re proving that we don’t have to age how society tells us we inevitably will. Do you think we all have the ability within us to defy aging as we’ve come to accept it?
I believe when we love ourselves and nourish ourselves properly, laugh, be happy and are kind and generous to others, we can start to accept aging as part of life. It’s going to happen and we can’t stop it, but there is no reason why we can live a long and healthy life. There are more centenarians today then ever before, in fact, I recently heard about a study of supercentenarians who are people over 110. Although living long might be a goal of some, living long and in good health is what most people really want.
As far as looks go, well, I’m not sure all the anti-aging products really can do anything for us. Love what you see in the mirror, appreciate your body as it changes and ages, thank it for all it does for you and you will soon see beauty in yourself regardless of what age you are. Go through your body parts and think what each does for you on a daily basis. Your eyes, your hands your legs and feet, your teeth and gums. Really appreciate everything and a little line here and there on your face shouldn’t bother you. That is how I defy aging.
I am grateful for everything in life that comes to me as it will always be for my highest good
You were named PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian over 50. Had you thought of yourself as sexy before that point? What do you think defines “sexy”?
Sexy might be defined like an old stereotype. Enhanced breast, or provocative clothing might be sexy to some, but for me, it’s more of what’s inside a person. I find a man or woman who is kind, loving, confident, and caring sexy. George Clooney, Bono, Matt Damon are sexy to me and in a classy kind of way. They are good looking of course, but they are involved in doing good thing for people around the world. I use them as an example so you will know what defines sexy to me. Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, and a few other women fall into that sexy category, because of what they do for others, and not solely what they look like.
You’re an author, can you tell me about your book and why you wrote it?
My book contains my thoughts and experiences on health and wellbeing. Over 120 raw food recipes will help those who think that going raw means carrots and celery sticks. When people begin a raw food diet, they are in need of delicious gourmet food. I am a foodie at heart, I love to grow food, shop for food, prepare it, serve it, and needless to say, I love to eat it. I’ve traveled around the world and love international foods; I’ve included some of my favorite dishes in my book LIVE RAW. I have so many recipes I’ve experimented with over the last three years; there was not enough room to include them all. My boyfriend Mike’s beautiful photographs grace the book and everything really looks mouth watering. I wrote the book at the requests of so many of my Facebook friends. I always post recipes on my pages, and then people started saying why don’t you write a book. I was inspired to share my recipes, so hence a book was a good idea. I feel lucky to get published, as it’s not easy these days. I feel if my book helps one person create a healthier life, I’m happy.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to live with youthful vibrancy, regardless of his or her age?
Eat a raw, vegan diet. Stop eating meat, dairy and processed foods. Our bodies can’t process this kind of food. I believe it’s the main cause of disease. Laugh as much as you can. Give and receive love. Don’t hang on to anger and resentment. Forgive yourself and others. Life is too short to stress about anything. Let it all go and trust what comes your way. Look for the good every situation. Smile at yourself in the mirror.
1 Start with a green drink every day. A simple recipe would be apples, celery, cucumber, spinach, and kale leaves. Add a little ginger or lemon. Switch off and get creative, but make sure to include plenty of dark leafy greens.
2 Walk 30 to 40 minutes daily
3 Deep, deep breaths, at least 30 a day
4 Stretch, stretch, stretch
5 Rent funny movies
What does your beauty regime look like?
I’m a bath person; I relax in a warm tub daily. When I get out I dry off, slather 100% organic coconut oil all over my body, and in every crevice. I use Dr. Woods Black Soap on my face and his Almond Soap with Shea Butter on my body. They are both liquid. I brush my teeth with Tooth Soap or Toothpaste that contains Neem. I brush my eyebrows down, curl my eyelashes, put some natural blush on my cheeks, a bit of natural lip color, a dash of mascara and off I go. People continually ask me what products I use so I’ve posted them on my website http://www.youngonrawfood.com they are in the â€œshopâ€ section. I don’t personally sell these products, but you can order on my page as it goes through Amazon at check-out. I list them for convenience, and make it easy for people to purchase if they want.
Who, in your opinion, are the most beautiful women in the world and why?
There are so many beauties around the world in every country. Not the ones who enter the Miss Universe contest, but the women in Africa carrying their babies in colorful cloth held close to their body. Women in India, rinsing out their saris in a stream and draping them over a rock to dry. Women around the world, who adorn themselves with their native customs, the ones who walk with confidence, show compassion to the less fortunate, hand money to someone living on the street, or stop to pet a dog. This is the picture I see of beautiful women; women with big loving hearts are beautiful to me.
What are your goals for the future? Are there any more books in the works?
Life takes many turns in the road. I had no idea I would be writing a book at this time of my life. I thought more about goals when I was younger, but now, I really don’t make plans for the future, I could never plan it as well as the one who has been planning it all along anyway. Although, I would certainly like to continue traveling the world, possibly writing another book, and continue helping people to find health and happiness. I know my life will never be dull. It has always been exciting and it’s the unexpected that has made it that way.
The best advice you were ever given?
We all make decisions from either love or fear, always choose love.
Life…is a beautiful adventure and even if we live into our hundreds, it still appears to be quite short, don’t waste time, enjoy life to the fullest.
Love…is the answer to human existence.