Elixir of Life - How to Grow Old Quickly
The trials of the too stout are well recognised, and as it is comparatively easy to cure obesity, the course open to the woman with too much adipose tissue is fairly straightforward. Not so with the thin woman who may not find so readily the cause of that "state of an Individual in which the flesh allows the form and angles of the osseous framework to be seen."
Many thin women by observing the obverse of the stout woman's medal thereby find a cure, but not all. Indigestion is not always the primary cause of thinness, though certainly it is true that the thin woman is thin because her food does not yield sufficient nourishment. At the same time there is a constitutional leanness not incompatible with health, when the physique is vigorous and the mind strong and courageous.
But the thin woman is often the unhappy possessor of nerves, and is, therefore, robbed of the sunshine of life, and forced to grow old early. The constant trouble then of the too thin woman is that her will makes big demands upon her vital force, which, badly fed by the nerves, is soon depleted.
Age - the thin woman grows old sooner than her stouter sister - is a diminishing of the proportion of water contained by the organs of the body. Now, two-thirds of the human body is water, and five-sixths of the weight of fat is water, so that if the thin woman discovers how to avoid diminishing the water she learns how to keep herself young. "Wakefulness dries up the body," said an old writer, "and sleep restores it." The thin woman, therefore, should get as much sleep as she can, and rest as much as possible. Trouble, worry, violent emotions, and " nerve-storms," by exciting the brain, cause the whole mechanism of the body, so to speak, to go at an increased pace, so that as much vital force is expended in a week as should have served the body's needs for a fortnight.
Avoid extremes of all kinds. This is advice the thin woman finds difficult to take, because of her temperament. One extreme she will often fall into when apparently following the advice given her on diet, for she will deliberately run the risk of a disordered liver and bilious attacks by partaking of all kinds of rich food. But, should she succeed in acquiring flesh - in spite of indigestion, it will be of that order called " flabby " and not good to look upon. Moreover, her eye will be yellow and complexion muddy, so that the total result is loss from the beauty culture point of view. If possible, milk and dishes of a farinaceous type should be taken freely, but as a concession to the digestion, as well as to further the work of flesh building, extract of malt should be taken after every meal, whether stout be added to the diet or not.
Flesh-producing food always should be chosen - red meats, potatoes, rusks, biscuits, bread-and-milk as often as it can be digested. A tumblerful of good milk warmed, and with just a soupcon of finely grated suet added to it, if taken at night, is an excellent sedative as well as flesh-former. Poultry, white meat, light wines, and aerated waters must be left to the too stout woman. Liquids must be taken sparingly, and not with the food. It may be noted that a "cure " for obesity is hot water drunk freely.
The whole of the advice of a famous doctor to the thin woman used to be "keep warm." In avoiding extremes of heat one avoids a condition which makes directly for age, since heat dries the skin and causes the system to lose too much moisture. But an extreme of cold is probably worse. Cold paralyses the vasomotor nerves, so that they cannot control the muscular walls of the arteries; the arteries becoming loose, the circulation of the blood becomes poor. Poor circulation is the thin woman's worst enemy; it means that the whole body is being insufficiently supplied with nourishment, and waste matter is not being expelled. The too thin woman needs to specially study hygiene.
In the majority of cases she is " nervy," and as this state is destructive of good looks in women, be they stout or thin, it is well for anyone wishing to cultivate beauty to understand the importance of the nervous system. A woman whose nervous system is, so to speak, able to generate sufficient nerve force, not only to supply the daily demands upon it, but also to create a reserve force, is bound to be good-looking, and able to get the best out of life.
Broadly speaking, the nervous system begins with the brain (hence worry and anxiety are disastrous to good looks), continues down the spinal column (this accounts for many thin women's backache), and then branches all over the body. To quote Herschel, the nervous system " is a galvanic battery in constant action whose duty is to provide a certain and continuous supply of its special fluid within a given time." The particular temptation of the thin woman is to overtire herself. She overdraws her account at the bank of health, finally becoming bankrupt. She has to remember that the moment she touches her reserve vital force, she touches the source of her good looks; after that, though she may for a long time get through her duties of life in a proper manner, her appearance begins to "go off."
"Nervy " people are greatly influenced by their environment, and cannot endure people, places, or incidents which scarcely disturb the phlegmatic temperament. Now, this sensitiveness is nothing more than the nerves crying out to be fed, and the wise woman will immediately take advantage of the fact. She will speedily feel the benefit of a change of air, of massage, of electricity, of sleep, of tonic baths, and of good blood-forming diet. But as there are many cures and many symptoms, it is not wise for any woman to undergo any course seriously without consulting her doctor. It might be interesting to give her some rules "wrote sarcastic "by Hufeland. They are rules for "quickly attaining an appearance of old age " :
"1st. Endeavour by every art, physical and moral, to attain to maturity as speedily as possible, and waste the vital power with as much profusion as possible.
"2nd. Begin very early to expose yourself to the utmost fatigue. Forced journeys of several days, continual dancing, sitting up all night, and shortening every period of rest, will, in this respect, be of most service. By these means you will accomplish two objects - that of speedily exhausting the vital power, and that of making the vessels soon hard and brittle.
"3rd. Drink abundance of wine and strong liquors. This is an excellent prescription to desiccate the body, and to make it become shrivelled.
"4th. Care, fear, and sorrow are extraordinarily well calculated to bring on very early every characteristic of old age."
These quaintly worded rules hold much food for thought for the too thin woman.