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.

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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

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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.

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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: Bike. Drink. Eat. Repeat.

This post was written by Dr. Bob Murray, co-author of Food & Fitness After 50.

         At my 50-year high school reunion, I was reacquainted with two classmates who were planning to participate in the 2018 Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) event and they convinced my wife and me to join them.  For the past 46 years, the Des Moines Register newspaper has sponsored the RAGBRAI—the world’s oldest and largest multi-day bike ride.  Each year, over 10,000 riders from around the world gather near the Missouri River on the western border of Iowa to begin a 7-day trek across the state to the Mississippi River.

This year’s July ride started in Onawa and ended in Davenport, averaging about 65 miles each day.  RAGBRAI is a bike ride, not a bike race, so people ride every kind of bike imaginable; unicycles, tandems, recumbents, mountain bikes, hybrids, road bikes and strange variations of all of those clog the country roads and small towns along the route.  The participants are equally varied: female, male, young, old, in-shape, out-of-shape, thin, overweight, fast, and slow, RAGBRAI is an equal-opportunity event.

Each day begins whenever you want it to begin and ends in the same fashion.  Small Iowa farm towns pop up every 10-20 miles, so there are ample opportunities for rest breaks with plenty to eat and drink, along with the food and drink vendors that dot each day’s route between the towns.  RAGBRAI is a weeklong combination of food and fitness, with nights spent sleeping in tents pitched on fields near each town, or on the lawns of residents willing to accept overnighters.

Bob bike 1Depending on their speed and size, riders expend 1,500 to 3,000 calories each day (on top of the 1,000 to 2,000 calories needed for resting metabolism), so everyone had a voracious appetite.  As you might expect, the streets of each town were packed with vendors selling drinks (including adult beverages), pork, corn, sandwiches (including the peanut-butter-and-jelly, toasted-cheese, and ice-cream varieties), pizza, barbecue, pies, pancakes, snow cones, salads, egg bowls, french toast, and stir fry.  Suffice to say there was no reason to ever be thirsty or hungry.

Throughout the week, I was reminded of the saying “You can’t outrun a bad diet”, a reminder that it is the combination of food and fitness that provides lifelong benefits.  That saying usually popped to mind each day when I stopped to eat a slice of cherry pie, but RAGBRAI was a one-time event and developing a cherry-pie addiction was unlikely, so I ate pie without a smidgeon of guilt.  The same went for beer, pizza, ice cream, and whoopee pie.

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Bob, enjoying an Iowa treat

There are times throughout each year when we’re thrown out of our usual diet-and-exercise routines—parties, holidays, and vacations being good examples—but all is not lost when we occasionally overdo eating and under-do exercise.  Part of enjoying life is to avoid being so regimented that we can’t revel in special occasions and then return to the food and fitness approach that best fits our needs and lifestyles.

Bob bike 3 Enjoying food, fitness, and social connections are essential aspects of lives well lived, as we point out in Food & Fitness After 50. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to food and fitness, so it’s important to find an approach that works best for you this week.  Next week, next month, or next year might call for a different approach; there is absolutely nothing wrong with switching things up because there are countless ways to eat well, move well, and be well.

For scenic bike routes in your state, check out this link.

For more tips on eating well, moving well, and being well, follow our blog, Fit to Eat.