Cameron Diaz remembers that as soon as she hit 39, the questions began. In seemingly every conversation, journalists asked her if she was afraid of turning 40. “As these questions about my age became a consistent part of every interview, I realized just how frightened we all are of getting older,” she recalls. “But the funny thing is, these people who were suggesting that I’d reached my expiration date at an age when I still felt pretty great were actually doing me a favor: They were jumpstarting my thought process about what aging is, and what kind of impact it will have on me.”
Her desire to learn about how aging unfolds on a biological level led her to write “The Longevity Book: The Science of Aging, the Biology of Strength, and the Privilege of Time” (HarperWave, $27.99), now residing on “The New York Times” bestseller list. The book is an enlightening follow-up to the bestseller “The Body Book”—which spent 26 weeks on the “New York Times” bestseller list—in which Diaz revealed her insights on health, wellness, and the importance of the mind-body connection in what became an essential guide for young women everywhere.
Her mission to educate and empower continues here as she tackles the next phase of life. Unlike so many books about aging for women, “The Longevity Book” does not take an anti-aging stance, and it is not focused on how to look younger. As Cameron writes, “I’m not going to tell you how to reverse the aging process in thirty days. This book takes a step back to examine how the aging process works, why we age in the first place, and how it will affect us physically and emotionally.”
“The Longevity Book” provides a comprehensive overview of the female body over time, from those first gray hairs that crop up in our thirties to the menopause transition that can begin in our forties or fifties, to the increased health risks—for breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, depression—we face into our sixties and beyond. Human life expectancy is longer than it has ever been (and women outlive men by an average of five years); we are among the first generations to lay claim to our forties as an extension of our thirties instead of a preamble to our seventies. But the quality of those years matters. In order to enjoy this gift of longevity, it is essential to understand and prepare for the road ahead.
In her journey to learn more about how the aging process impacts women, Diaz travelled across the country, consulting with the nation’s leading experts on this topic—from the prestigious Buck Institute in Northern California to the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C. The book not only shares exciting discoveries from the frontlines of aging research but also relates how these insights can be applied to our everyday lives, explaining the impact of nutrition, activity, stress management, and rest on our health as we age. The good news? It’s the simple things—eating a wholesome meal, going for a walk, connecting with friends, getting a good night’s sleep—that make a real impact on our health as we grow older.
And while “The Longevity Book” is focused on how aging unfolds internally, it doesn’t dismiss women’s concerns about the external signs of aging. “Believe me,” Diaz writes, “I know it’s easy to get caught up with what you see in the mirror and use it as a metric for how well you are aging.” But with this book, she says, she hopes to change the conversation around women and aging. “As women, we are routinely shamed for aging. We are made to feel like getting older—and especially, looking older—is somehow a personal failure. The physical reality of aging is going to present a real, true challenge to all of us one day. Societal pressures that encourage women to deny aging or pretend that it’s not even happening—as though we should somehow be immune to the passage of time—make it an even more painful challenge.”
Instead of ignoring, hiding from or feeling embarrassed about a process that is completely natural, Diaz suggests we fortify ourselves with knowledge, with physical strength, and with emotional resilience to give ourselves best possible chance of living fully, abundantly, and unapologetically for as many years as we are given the privilege of enjoying. As she concludes in the book, “Let’s push the midlife ‘crisis’ off a bridge and throw ourselves a party instead. The midlife celebration: a personal holiday that celebrates the journey we’ve made to get here, and the unexpected places we have yet to discover.”