The pope vs. the president.

In this time of a new year beginning, a new president taking office, and significant uncertainty, it is time to review habits that can keep you looking and feeling your best.

Have you ever noticed that when the pope takes "office" he does not age as rapidly as the president of the United States? They both are world-recognized leaders, guiding large numbers of people and overseeing a vast number of resources that affect many people throughout the world. What is the secret?

The pope's youthful success comes down to three significant habits. The first is to take time on a daily basis for silent reflection. For some, this can mean 15 minutes of peaceful quiet, others may require an hour or longer. This time can be used to reflect or focus on actions aligning with intent. At times, it's in the silence that answers to concerns start to formulate.

Second, maintain a consistent time of going to bed, even if it means leaving parties early. This will keep the body's sleep cycle consistent. It is much easier to get the 7-8 hours of sleep recommended if you stick to a schedule. Finally, taking a day of rest each week is imperative to keeping the body and mind young. Presidents would do well to keep a schedule that mimics what has been so successful for the pope.

Now, as technology improves and our understanding of the aging process continues, the Mediterranean diet also aids in longevity and health. It is definitely an improvement over the standard American fare. A Mediterranean diet means a diet high in fruits and vegetables, low in processed carbohydrates and low in animal protein.

An exercise regimen of 20 minutes of cardio activity four times per week and two days of weight training also has shown to decrease the internal and external effects of aging. I'm not sure what the pope does on this one, but we do see presidents attempt to keep exercise as part of their daily regimen.

The myriad of skin care items on the market can help everyone. For the middle age and above age group that both the president and the pope represent, good skin care with a cleanser, treatment creams with peptides, growth factors, retinoids and antioxidants, along with a sunscreen would keep them looking young and refreshed until the end of their term.

If you'd like to look and feel your best in 2009, incorporate some healthy habits, including taking time for yourself to rest, meditate, eat healthy, exercise and take care of yourself on the inside and out.