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Keep Moving!
Five Steps to Lower Your “Real” Age

May You Stay Forever Young

Celebrating and maximizing the gifts of living in the moment

This chapter of èBella èXtra focuses not necessarily on eternal youth, but the spirit of making the best of the gift of living at any age.


From developing healthier lifestyles physically, emotionally and financially to rejoicing in life with a community of friends — from surrounding ourselves with coastal comforts to examining the possibility of reducing the dreaded neck “wattle” — here, we present mindful content about the choices we make that honor the many moments and gifts of life we are afforded.


Perhaps Bob Dylan’s lyrics say it best:

May you grow up to be righteous | May you grow up to be true

May you always know the truth | And see the light surrounding you

May you always be courageous | Stand upright and be strong

May you stay forever young


Five Steps to Lower Your “Real” Age​​

Depending on choices, your biological age can be higher or lower than your chronological one

by Sebastien Saitta, Blue Zones Project Southwest Florida

American comedian, award-winning actor and bestselling writer George Burns said it best. “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”

Burns lived and even worked to 100 years old. He understood that the number of candles you blow out does not determine your age. In fact, we have two ages: a chronological age, our age based on when we were born, and a biological age, which refers to how old our body really is, and therefore, our “real” age.

In other words, you can be 70 years old, but have the health of a 60-year-old. That’s right!

You can turn back time, biologically speaking, that is. While you have no control over the number of times your body takes a trip around the sun while you’re alive, the good news is you do have some control over how your body ages.

Depending on factors that include eating, stress, exercise and sleep habits, along with family history, behaviors and existing conditions, your biological age may be higher or lower than your chronological one.

A lower biological age in comparison to your chronological age could be an indicator of lower risk of suffering age-related diseases, so it’s worth the effort to make it happen. Here are five simple steps to help you turn back the clock and grow younger.

No. 1 Learn to downshift and reduce stress

Many of us feel that the stress of the pandemic may have taken years off our life.

The good news is, learning to downshift can take those years back and has been shown to be a key factor in increasing longevity. In fact, a study published in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences suggests that a downshift activity, like meditation, has some positive effects on telomere length.

Telomeres are DNA-protein structures located on the ends of chromosomes that promote stability and protect DNA. Age is the strongest predictor of telomere length.

No. 2 Eat a plant-based diet

Contrary to what many mainstream advertisers want you to believe, slowing down the aging process has much to do with what you put in your body, not on your body.

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and low in added sugar, sodium and processed meats, could help promote healthy cellular aging.

No. 3 Exercise

Getting your exercise through moving naturally (a Blue Zones Power 9® principle) is one of the best ways to walk away from father time.

In a 2018 University of Birmingham study, a group of older people who had exercised all of their lives, were compared to a group of similarly aged adults and younger adults who do not exercise regularly. The results showed that those who exercised regularly defied the aging process, having the immunity, muscle mass and cholesterol levels of a younger person.

No. 4 Get more sleep

We all remember our younger days, when getting less sleep seemed to have little effect the next day. As we get older, we quickly realize that is no longer the case and how truly important proper sleep is to our ability to function and stay healthy. 

A University of California Los Angeles team study found that even one night of partial sleep deprivation activates genes related to biological aging in older adults.

No. 5 Take the free RealAge® test by Sharecare

This 10-minute test is free and will yield your RealAge result: an estimate of your body’s age based on more than 100 factors affecting your health, happiness and lifespan.

You get a personalized health profile, easy-to-implement health tips, and a dashboard that shows your progress toward your health goals. To take the RealAge test, visit


With more than 20 years of experience in marketing and public relations, Sebastien Saitta currently serves to help optimize community well-being as Marketing Director at Blue Zones Project Southwest Florida.

Is Hypnotherapy the Fountain of Youth?
Celebrating Florida Interiors with New Coastal Décor


Keep Moving!

Find fitness everywhere and stay forever young

by Melanie Pefinis

Unlike your favorite antique that grows more valuable by being left untouched, stationary and idle, the human body needs to move to maintain its value. To stay “forever young,” you have to be forever moving.

We’ve seen iconic footage of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg lifting weights in her 90s. Ginsberg knew the value of maintaining an exercise routine to age gracefully, mentally and physically.

It’s long been proven that movement into old age is key to maintaining a vibrant lifestyle. Research continues to show that exercise, both gentle and vigorous, makes the aging body more resilient and mobile as we age.

Here in Florida, where the weather allows outdoor activity yearlong, walking, golfing, tennis, pickleball and aqua aerobics all get your body moving and your blood flowing.

The National Institute on Aging spearheads research about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle as we age and has concluded that exercise reduces chronic conditions and increases mental acuity as we advance in life.

Although the aging process is unique to each person, seniors face several dominant health factors: balance, loss of muscle mass and strength, flexibility, sleep irregularities, blood pressure fluctuations, arthritis and stroke.

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Many local gyms have workout programs dedicated to the needs of seniors, providing both fitness and friendship. If a gym is not your thing, water aerobics is a no-impact, total body regimen that can be tailored to your fitness needs.

As we age, fear of falling can impact daily activities. By adopting stretching and balancing routines, such as yoga, chair yoga or Pilates, you gain awareness of your weight distribution and how to keep joints supple and mobile.

At 80, Bonita Springs resident Tom Copeland is a prime example of fearless aging. An avid biker and golfer, he also saw the need to incorporate stretching and lengthening movements into his fitness regime. Copeland became a devotee of both Pilates and Gyrotonics, and he’s often mistaken for a 60-year-old. More importantly, he says challenging his body in such a different manner — one which complements the repetitive motion of a golf swing — has aided his flexibility and leaves him feeling exhilarated.

To stay forever young and exhilarated, keep in mind that you can find fitness anywhere. Are you an avid gardener? Get out there and dig, plant and prune, using your back and knees in a focused manner for maximum results. If you’re more of an in-house exerciser, ease into a yoga routine by using a wall behind you until you are more comfortable stretching and balancing without aid.

Even bad backs, often caused by tight hamstrings, can be rectified by sitting on the sofa or floor with your legs in front of you. Using an old necktie around the arch of the foot, gently pull each leg as you lean forward.

It’s always advised to consult your physician before introducing new activities into your schedule, but a nightly walk around the neighborhood, a leg-stretch in bed prior to rising, a splash in the pool with the grandkids and a stroll on the beach at sunset can all keep you feeling forever vibrant and forever young.

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Melanie Pefinis is a freelance writer who spent her youth as a professional dancer. That experience led her to acquire teaching certifications in dance, Pilates and yoga.

Tom Copeland


Is Hypnotherapy the Fountain of Youth?

Clinical hypnotherapist explains the role mindfulness plays in feeling, acting and looking younger

by Christine Deschemin

The search for eternal beauty motivates people to try many ways to rid themselves of the dreaded signs of aging, like wrinkles, dark under-eye circles and extra pounds. Yet, they don’t always tackle one of the most important causes for premature aging: stress.

So, why not first try to manage stress, maintain a healthy diet and get a full night’s sleep to prevent accelerated aging?

If you have attempted to hit the reset button, but have been unable to stick to a proper routine, hypnotherapy might be the solution.


What is Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is a therapeutic technique that helps change behaviors through guided relaxation. The hypnosis state is often described as a heightened state of awareness and intense concentration. It allows a person to focus attention on specific thoughts, feelings or tasks, getting them closer to their desired goals.



A leading cause of premature aging, high stress levels reduce your body’s ability to produce new, healthy cells. This not only makes you look older, but it ages you on the cellular level. The visible effects of stress are seen in wrinkles, dark circles, eye bags, hair loss, adult acne and weight-control issues.

Most women who experience these symptoms will suffer from additional stress, making the signs of premature aging even worse, and kicking off a vicious cycle of stress accumulation and aging.

Hypnotherapy can help you manage your stress, regain control in your life and prevent premature aging symptoms caused by stress.



Lack of sleep or good quality sleep also has an effect on appearance. Sleep deprivation can cause droopy eyelids, dark circles and even weight gain.

Insufficient sleep can lead to increased appetite. Studies show that by not receiving an adequate amount of sleep, the body can produce an increased amount of ghrelin, a hunger hormone. Too much ghrelin causes fat and sugar cravings.

At the same time, the lack of sleep can also lessen the production of leptin, the satiety hormone, meaning your body doesn’t signal you to stop eating, which can affect portion control. You will not only crave fat and sugar, but you will act on those cravings, eating more and more, resulting in weight gain.

Your skin’s health is also affected by poor sleep. Your body produces collagen when you sleep, which helps with skin elasticity, preventing wrinkles and sagging. With less sleep, you can have more wrinkles, paler skin, dark circles and possibly acne.


By practicing hypnotherapy, you can get rid of anxious thoughts that deprive you of restful sleep. You will wake up feeling refreshed, with bright eyes, supple skin and plenty of energy to go about your day.

Diet and Exercise

Sticking to a healthy routine isn’t easy. Your subconscious could be telling you, “You can always exercise tomorrow” or “Just this one cheat meal,” convincing you that the work you will put in won’t be worth it. But extra weight can harm your joints and affect your energy levels.

Hypnotherapy can help change that internal dialogue. Instead of sabotaging you, the voice in your head can work for you by encouraging you to stick to a fun fitness routine and a healthy diet. For instance, you can use hypnotherapy to delete your sugar cravings and to help you eat mindfully. A healthy body weight will help you not only look better, but feel better.

Similarly, practicing self-hypnosis can help encourage exercise motivation and keep you looking and feeling young. This can be done on your own with a simple hypnotherapy audio composed by a certified hypnotherapist. The UpNow self-hypnosis app can help you regain good habits, enjoy greater motivation and sleep better, helping you to look and feel more like your young, vibrant self. 

Making self-hypnosis part of your daily practice can help you discover your best self.

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Christine Deschemin is a certified clinical hypnotherapist with an MBA from Harvard Business School. She created the self-hypnosis app, UpNow, and founded the Renewed Edge Hypnotherapy Centre. With passion for peak performance, she has helped athletes, executives, entrepreneurs and others achieve success.

In the Neck of Time
Empowering Women to take Control of Their Finances
Putting Customers First


In the Neck of Time

Peña Plastic Surgery’s “Instant” Neck Lift is minimally invasive with little downtime — for the right candidate

“Nonsurgical” skin tightening and fat dissolution are two of the fastest growing cosmetic procedures being performed today. Everyone wants noticeable results with very little downtime. 

Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Manuel Peña advises his patients that, by themselves, nonsurgical procedures are somewhat limited, and the results are usually not comparable to standard cosmetic surgical procedures, especially as far as neck rejuvenation is concerned.

Still, finding nonsurgical procedures, or a combination of procedures that employ technologies that achieve predictable results while optimizing results and minimizing downtime, is the goal at Peña Plastic Surgery.

Minimally invasive, “instant” neck lifts have been used extensively over the last four years. But results can be disappointing, falling short of those achieved from a surgical neck lift.

However, in appropriate male and female candidates who meet the criteria, the “Instant” Neck Lift combination of procedures can be performed with predictable results, a short recovery period and good long-term results that get better with time.

But the procedure is not for everyone, Dr. Peña points out. Patients must be carefully screened to meet the criteria — a bit of excess sub-mental/sub-mandibular fat, moderate skin laxity and early central platysmal bands — and who accept the risks and limitations of this procedure. Consultation is required before and after the procedure, and results are discussed thoroughly with the patient.

A detailed description of the entire procedure can be seen by visiting Non Surgical Neck Lift Naples - Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Marco Island (

Normal social activities can resume in two to three days. Apparent results after the procedure make this approach very attractive to those requesting significant improvement with minimal disruption in their daily routines, but proper selection of patients is paramount to obtaining positive results.

To learn more about the minimally invasive “Instant” Neck Lift, contact Peña Plastic Surgery at 239-348-7362 or visit

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Putting Customers First


Bill Sanford, the first CEO of STERIS Corporation, discusses how putting customers first helped STERIS become a global leader in infection and contamination prevention, growing to a $17 billion company.


The NextGen Speaker Series is hosting a panel discussion, “Leading Ladies: The Business of the Arts,” on Friday, April 23. There is still time to register for this interactive virtual event:

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Empowering Women to take Control of
Their Finances

The more they know, the more confident women feel in making financial decisions

by Adria Starkey, Collier County President, FineMark National Bank & Trust

You’ve likely heard that women’s financial lives are different than those of men. And quite frankly, they are. But why?

The individual reasons vary. However, we can start to understand the big picture by looking at some numbers.

First, women are waiting longer to marry. The average age of widowhood in this country is 56, so the vast majority of women are single at the end of their lives.

Women also have different employment histories. Although 81% of women today are in the workforce, most make less money than men. Women also take more time off to care for children and aging parents.

Half of marriages end in divorce. When things are theoretically split equally, studies show that a wife’s standard of living drops by nearly 30% when the marriage ends.

Whether you can relate to some or all of this, planning is essential. You are never too young or too old to start.

At FineMark, we strongly embrace the concept of empowering women to be more informed, confident and prepared to handle their financial futures independently and dynamically. This often requires a change of mindset, since we begin our personal relationship with money at a very young age.

The psychology of behavioral finance tells us this mindset is most likely determined by the time we’re 10 years old. Much of it goes back to what we’ve heard at home about money as a child. For many women, the message was that they aren’t in control.

In the nearly 40 years I have been in the financial services industry, I’ve never had a man walk into my office, distraught because his wife just passed away and now he has to deal with the family finances. But I’ve had many women break down in tears because their husband handled the finances, and in his absence, they don’t know what to do.

So, where do you begin in this journey of empowerment? Whether you are a young professional or a seasoned CEO of your own household, it’s important to start by understanding what you spend and what you need to save.

I often ask my clients if they know what it costs to live their current lifestyle. I suggest they start by writing everything down throughout the month. If that feels daunting, I suggest charging everything for one month on the same credit card. The monthly statement will be an excellent window into monthly expenses.

Once you know what it truly costs to live, it will help you understand what you need to save for a strong financial future.


Once you know what it truly costs to live, it will help you understand what you need to save for a strong financial future.


It’s also important to understand basic investing and the stock market, even if you don’t think you’ll ever be an avid investor. Many women don’t take advantage of opportunities to build wealth in the market because they have never been taught “investing 101.” I encourage every woman to become comfortable with the fundamentals. It’s part of taking an active role in managing your finances.


And that brings us to protecting the wealth you have built and having a clear plan for distributing your assets.

If you are like many women, you probably don’t think about your estate plan often, if at all. However, the reality is that estate planning issues can affect women more profoundly than men, since they often outlive their partners. A comprehensive plan should help protect and grow your assets while you are alive and ensure those assets provide for you once you retire.

To learn more about estate planning, I recommend you speak with your financial advisor or estate planning attorney.


These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg, but I truly believe that the more knowledge you gain, the more confident you will be in making financial decisions. Once this begins to happen, I encourage you to share your experiences with other women.

By expanding our financial conversations, we can help empower each other to take control of our financial lives.

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Adria D. Starkey is the Collier County President for FineMark National Bank and Trust. With three decades of experience in financial services and a strong commitment to the community, Starkey has been awarded for many accomplishments and contributions, one of which is her commitment to empowering women.


Celebrating Florida Interiors with New
Coastal Décor
Drawing the outdoors in has never been so effortless, crisp and classic

by Diane Torrisi, Owner of Diane Torrisi Designs

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Whether your description of Florida Coastal décor is based on the iconic Colony Hotel in Palm Beach or Sunday morning reruns of the Golden Girls, the Sunshine State has adopted an undeniable “coastal” style.

As with many popular trends, the recognizable pink/green interiors, with an abundance of palm décor and seashells, has become outdated. Some designers attempted to replace that by “Tuscan-izing” Southwest Florida, now also outdated. As what happens at the end of many décor trends, we then took a sharp turn to everything gray and square. What’s next, you ask? 

As an interior designer, I’ve been noticing a new design aesthetic. It’s quieter; not cliché in that beachy way. It appears effortless, crisp and classic. Coastal (not the same as Nautical or Cottage) is about embracing the outdoors with soft colors, natural light and casual style.

I’m not suggesting you drop your Lily Pulitzer rattan handbag and go full-on pastel, but take a moment to notice this shift in style. For all intents and purposes, let’s just call it “New Coastal,” and if anyone comes up with a unique, new title, call me! 

Let's set the stage. We desire to create a space where the lines between the interior and outside are blurred, inviting natural light inside by hanging soft sheer linen curtain panels to frame your amazing view.

Today's performance fabrics (think Sunbrella) have made such progress in texture that choosing a fabric for your sectional or dining room chairs is a no-brainier. Design, functionality and safety are a designer’s mantra, and we lead lives that require comfortable, timeless and easy-to-maintain style. 

Tread lightly with accessories. Less really is more. Accessories should enhance your interior, not clutter or overpower it.

Connect with the outdoors by emphasizing nature’s abundant beauty. It’s one of the only times that subtle imperfection is not only accepted, but desired.

Choose your color palette from outside your window and embrace texture in your fabric and furnishings. 


Flooring is important. The practicality of tile is undeniable, but in recent years, there’s been a trend toward wood flooring, luxury vinyl or wood-like tile, supporting our desire to incorporate natural elements into our interiors.

I confess I have a soft spot for local artists. They, through the lens of their trained eye, can capture the colors and sites around us and project them onto a canvas that we then have the honor of hanging on our walls to enhance our personal décor. 

Aspire to a sense of lightness and comfort in your home and embrace the colors and textures that Southwest Florida so abundantly offers! 

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Diane Torrisi grew up in Europe — an American benefiting from the best of both worlds — and she brings that European flair to her design projects! Last year, she opened her own successful design studio in downtown historic Bonita Springs. She is active in her community and has her own podcast (see link at


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