Food & Fitness After 50: Happy Healthy Aging Month

healthy_aging_monthSeptember is Healthy Aging Month and Dr. Bob and I wish everyone a happy, healthy September! Since we published Food & Fitness After 50 we have posted a weekly blog, Fit to Eat, and we have interviewed over thirty inspiring adults, ranging in age from 55 to 90! They live as far away as Australia and as close to home as our own backyards of of Hartwell, Georgia or Chicago, Illinois. (We hope you like our posts and if you haven’t already followed our blog, please do but clicking on the Fit to Eat link!)

Today, we are taking a short trip down memory lane to mine the advice and wisdom of the folks interviewed for Fit to Eat. Like our book, we’re capturing the ideas in three buckets: Eat well, Move well, and Be well.

Eat well

Three themes came through from our 50+ folks on eating well. First, no one adhered to a rigid plan or fad-diet-of -month. No Paleo, no Keto, and no CICO or IIFYM plans. One person experimented with intermittent fasting, but the key word for everyone is balance.

Bob bike 2
Bob indulging during his bike ride across Iowa

Balance is the ability to eat and drink anything you want, in moderation. Of course, you have to know what moderation is; eating a basket of fried chicken wings with a half dozen beers every Friday night is not moderation! It is OK to indulge once in a while, like Bob did on his 7-day bike trek across Iowa riding about 65-miles a day, but you can’t over eat everyday and claim you are eating well.

A second theme that emerges is eating for health, that is, enjoying a wide variety of healthful foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, lean meats, fish, and dairy. Some focused on plant-based vegetarian diets, but most didn’t limit a particular food or eliminate an entire food group, like grains. Eating a variety of foods is smart because you are more likely to get all of the nutrients you need to support optimal aging.

Lastly, everyone we spoke to did not fear their food! They know that eating is not only biologically necessary, but one of life’s pleasures. They are conscious of limiting sugar and saturated fat and excess alcohol, but they love sharing meals with family and friends over social occasions.

Move Well

Buddy
Chris walking Buddy but sometimes Buddy walks Chris

Everyone we talked to was active in their own way. Some loved pickleball and others used their fists and feet from boxing to Bollywood dancing. And, me, I love group exercise classes and walking my dogs while Bob prefers individual activities and doesn’t own a dog.

So, bottom line, find something you like to do and do it. Make it challenging…get your heart rate pumping a bit harder, your breathing a bit labored, and fatigue your muscles when you lift weights. As Sally says, “no challenge, no change.”

Exercise brings intrinsic joy, but it helps to have a mentor to encourage you or a buddy who will meet you at 5:15 am every morning for a run before work. So, make it fun and make it your own and be consistent!

Be Well

We all know that eating well and moving well are only part of the equation for optimal aging. To be well we need resilience; probably the most important trait to healthy aging. Because as we age, stuff is going to happen; we lose loved ones, we get injured, we experience chronic health problems, we get joints replaced…but, through it all we need to see the positive and bounce back from set backs. Everyone we  talked to had experienced some challenges but they all recognized the issue and moved on.

Social support is also important for being well; whether family or friends, community or religious institution, everyone valued social support for optimal aging. Book clubs, health clubs, Friday morning breakfast with the guys or gals, or developing a social club for Single Outstanding Ladies Offering Support (SOLOS), anything that keeps us connected helps us to be well.

Lastly, a thirst for lifelong leaning, as typified by Elizabeth, who at 90 seeks out opportunities to learn something new every day.

SCAN symposium
Chris & Bob

We hope you take every day this month (and every month!) to be healthy. For more practical intel on eating well, moving well, and being well, check out Food & Fitness After 50 on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food & Fitness After 50: Being Vibrant at 60….or any age

Retro KimI was intrigued when I saw Kim’s Facebook post, “31 Reasons Why I’m Vibrant at 60,” and knew I had to reach out to her for an interview. I’ve known Kim a long time, but haven’t talked to her for quite a while, so it was a good excuse to reconnect. Kim had the same joy, excitement, and, yes, vibrancy, that I remember she had we when we met over 20 years ago.

Make a commitment to healthy

Kim is a culinary registered dietitian nutritionist in Indianapolis and for 30 years has been a self-employed entrepreneur and has always found time to stay fit and active, even when life got in the way. You might be thinking that it is easy for culinary nutritionist to be healthy, but while that career gives her knowledge, it still takes a commitment to choose to be healthy. Kim’s mantra is “be responsible for your fitness, nobody else can do it for you.” Kim takes a “no excuses” attitude, even when she must adjust to a change in her schedule. “I plan my workouts, but if I can’t fit in my usual exercise, I don’t agonize or stress over it; I just find a few minutes in the day to move and plan to exercise longer the next day….or, the day after that.” It all boils down to the same thing she tells her grandkids, “choices and consequences!” If we don’t make the choice to be active, we pay the consequences sooner or later.

Take a “psycho walk”

Kim likes a variety of exercise, but her favorite activity is power walking. “I walk faster than everyone I know, so while I’m not quite a race walker, I enjoy my power walks.” The consistency, discipline, and effort to power walk makes her feel better, both physically and mentally. When time is tight, and she can’t fit her usual walk into her schedule, Kim says she sneaks in 10- or 15-minute “psycho walk.” The psycho is short for psychological and the brain boost and stress relieving benefits it brings are powerful.

She also takes a boxing class twice a week, (real boxing, as in pull-on-the-gloves-and-get-Kim boxingin-the- ring, Muhammad Ali- kind-of-boxing) “I was intimidated by the idea of group exercise classes, but boxing has changed that for me.” Besides the physical challenges of boxing, it keeps her mentally sharp. “Boxing works my brain as much as my muscles; the combinations are called out by the instructor and if I’m not completely focused I can’t do the workout.” Kim has warmed to group classes so much that she signed up for a Bollywood Dance class this spring…. there is photo I want to see!

Be positive about food choices

When it comes to food, Kim doesn’t struggle with food like many women do. “I am dismayed at the agony and angst that I see surrounding women and food.” She encourages a positive attitude toward food, be adventurous and creative with food, and above all, enjoy it. Kim has some great recipes on her website that I encourage you to try. Two of her favorites include Moroccan-Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus and Indian-Spiced Red Lentil Hummus.

Small steps

Kim advises her clients to take small steps to improve their diet or fitness. “I’m a firm believer that small steps yield big results.” Don’t try to change everything overnight but ask yourself what little thing you can do that you can stick with.” But above all, “have with your eating and activity!

More tips on eating well, moving well, and being well are found in Food & Fitness After 50,  available at Amazon.