At age 41, Jill had a wakeup call that it was time to end a 12-year relationship with her boyfriend. It was the start of her journey to “let go for it” that has led her to accomplish amazing things. When it came to a marriage commitment, her boyfriend’s favorite two words were “not yet.” Jill finally realized if not yet, when? So, she let go of everything: Broke up with him, quit her job, moved from the Midwest to the East coast, and met a wonderful man online. They were married a year later.
Now in her mid-50s, Jill has come to fully embrace the power of letting go, but it took another blow—the loss of someone she deeply loved for her to realize what we all know is true, that life is precious and can end way too soon.
With that in mind, she decided she wanted to help other people let go of the things that were standing in the way of enjoying life. Starting with herself, she began working on letting go of the self-doubt and nagging burdens about her less-than-perfect body, in particular, that had plagued her since childhood. “We all have a motor running in our brains 24/7 telling us we aren’t good enough or pretty enough or thin enough,” says Jill, adding that letting go is a process. “Women, especially, have a hard time quieting the harsh voices in our heads and living up to society’s idea of what we should look and act like. All of this negative self-talk can take a toll on our self-worth and our outlook on life. It can also increase our stress, which has been well documented to affect our health.”
Instead, she says, at a certain age, letting go is not only an act of kindness, but preventive care. “When we learn to let go, we can enjoy better health as we grow older, and accept ourselves and love ourselves most. It’s very freeing.”
Jill wanted to get her message of letting go to a wider audience so she took on the ambitious, audacious idea of doing a TEDx talk called “The Unstoppable Power of Letting Go”. For those who don’t know, TED, which stands for “Technology, Entertainment and Design” is a non-profit devoted to spreading ideas in short 10- to 15-minute talks. Her proposal was accepted on the first try, which is highly unusual, but that is just like Jill. You can watch her talk here.
Jill is also working on a book about letting go and an advice column to help people let go for romantic love, specifically, which you can read on her website.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch her talk; it is inspiring, touching and funny, and it might just make you think about what you are holding on to and what you need let go of to be happier and healthier as you age. In the talk, Jill lists five ways to let go. I won’t give them all way (you will just have to watch it!), but one of my favorite tips is “let go of the need to be perfect.” I had a friend who was a perfectionist, but she was always unhappy. The world isn’t perfect so trying to be a perfectionist is just self-defeating!
While letting go may not seem like an obvious way to improve your health as you age, it can be just as important as eating well and moving well. Each plays an important role in staying physically, mentally, and emotionally well as we age. For more tips and stories on how to do it, check out the book Food & Fitness After 50, by Chris Rosenbloom and Bob Murray.
And, if you have questions about eating well, moving well, or staying well as you age, leave us a question at our webpage.
Perhaps you’ve heard the Tim McGraw hit, “Be Humble and Kind,” and while many of us strive to be both, we often fall short. I know one person who is always humble and kind, and she is so humble, that she will not agree with my assessment, although she is too kind to tell me I am full of it!
At age 71, Tia helps make our community a better place. She is that behind-the-scenes mover and shaker that doesn’t like the spotlight, but she likes to get things done. Here is a short list of the things she does as a volunteer to make our community be well, and herself be well.
- Volunteers at the elementary school to mentor children (for 5 years, she did the same at the high school)
- Organizes a low country boil every year to raise money for our county’s Imagination Library chapter. Dollie Parton started the Imagination Library in 1995 to foster reading in preschool children in her home county in Tennessee. Each enrolled child receives a specially selected book each month. The program was so popular that in 2000 it was expanded to other communities who wanted to partner with the Foundation and provide local support. To date the Foundation has provided over 1 million books to kids in countries around the world. In our little corner, 1,115 children received a book in the month of October. Follow up research shows that the program improves childhood literacy.
- Serves on the board for the Hart Beat Running Club; an organization that coaches children on how to be physically active through running and competing in local events and prepares those who want to run cross country in middle and high school.
- Serves on the board and organizes the volunteers for the Clothes Closet, a non-profit group that provides clothes at a discount and then uses the money for a food pantry for elderly adults.
- As member of our Friends of the Library (our library was the 2016 Library of the Year in the state of Georgia…quite a feat for a small town!), she worked to bring The Piatigorsky Foundation to our community for a yearly classical music concert. The goal of the foundation is to make classical music part of life for communities throughout the U.S. that would not otherwise have the opportunity to hear such amazing performances. Here is Tia with violinist, Qing Li, and pianist, Paolo Andre Gualdi, at the October 10, 2017 concert.
On top of all that she spends plenty of time with her husband, Bob, and with her 3 children and 8 grandchildren.
So, it is obvious that Tia stays busy but her physical activity is limited to walking, gardening, and household chores. She has had asthma for 69 years, and while she would love to play tennis or pickleball with her friends, she finds it is hard to do those things “when I can’t breathe!” She doesn’t complain and she has found alternative ways to be active every day. She eats healthy; lots of fish and chicken and veggies, and doesn’t eat out very often so that when she does eat out, “it is more of a treat than an everyday thing.” She loves to cook and is always trying new recipes and finds an enthusiastic audience for new dishes by her husband.
When asked what challenges she has faced as she has gotten older, she replied, “it is easier, not harder!” What makes it easier? “Sharing life with her husband who shares her love of God, family, food, and exercise!” Losing her father and brother at early ages, makes her live every day as a gift. Her closing words? “Life is just darn good!” The closing verse of Humble and Kind sums up this special friend:
Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you’re going don’t forget turn back around
And help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind
(written by Lori McKenna)
For more tips on how to be well after 50 check out Chris Rosenbloom and Bob Murray’s book, Food & Fitness After 50 available at Amazon.
This guest blog post was written by Dr. Bob Murray
In Food & Fitness After 50, we describe the importance of regular exercise for health and longevity. We know that for many people, words such as “exercise”, “training”, and “workouts” are turn-offs, terms they can’t relate to and don’t want to consider as part of their lifestyle. That’s no problem! Most important for all of us is to adhere to a simple concept: sit less and move more. Improving our health is as simple as that one painless step. By reducing the time we sit, our increased movement throughout the day results in more calories burned and challenges our hearts, muscles, and bones to gradually improve their capacities. For those who have spent the past decades doing just the opposite—sitting more and moving less—changing that habit is one of the easiest and most effective steps we can take toward better health.
Here are our top 5 tips to easily experience the long-term benefits of moving more:
- Make sitting-less a priority. During each weekday, set an alarm to sound every hour (or less if you’d like) as a reminder to get up and move around. If you’re stuck at your desk or in a meeting, moving around may be nothing more than standing for a few minutes. If you have the opportunity, use those regular breaks from sitting to take a walk, stretch, or do a few exercises. Television commercials can be another prompt to get up and move, just don’t use those opportunities to visit the refrigerator!
- Make moving-more easy to accomplish. Family responsibilities and work require most of our time and energy, so it’s no surprise that many people want and need some down time to decompress. If your day is jam packed and there simply is no time (or energy) to devote to formal exercise, there are still easy ways to move more. For example, if you drive to your job—or ride a train or bus—take a longer way to walk to work. Even an extra five minutes of walking before and then again after work can make a big difference over time. If you have the chance to take a walk at lunch or during a break, that extra movement just adds to the benefits. Also keep in mind that we don’t have to do all of our physical activity at one time; breaking things into ten-minute periods three times each day is an easy way to achieve a total of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity. Spreading out our activity over the day may actually be as good as or better than exercising for an hour and being sedentary for the other 23 hours.
- Make moving-more enjoyable. Common sense tells us that we’re more likely to continue to do the activities we most enjoy. For that reason alone, moving-more should consist of whatever physical activities you most enjoy. This simple lesson is especially important for those who have not exercised for decades, but have decided it’s time to increase daily physical activity. Remember that housework, gardening, and mowing the lawn all count as moving-more. We may not always enjoy those activities, but they all contribute to the goal of moving more.
- Make moving-more fit your lifestyle. It can be frustrating to get excited about changing our fitness habits only to soon realize that we can not sustain the commitment of time or energy. If your weekday schedule is crammed with family and work responsibilities, trying to find time to exercise can add stress. Do your best to move more each day and use the weekends to get in the exercise you couldn’t fit into your chaotic week.
- Make moving-more a regular habit. If you are one of the millions of Americans who are overweight and out of shape, your lifestyle will have to change if you hope to become slimmer and fitter. Some people are successful at making large and abrupt changes in their lifestyles, but most of us find success in initially making small changes and gradually building on those over time. If you haven’t exercised in decades, it makes more sense to develop new move-more habits by taking a daily 5-minute walk in one direction and then returning home than it does to sign up for a 12-week body-pump class. Start small, develop a new habit that’s easy to maintain, and then gradually add more time and intensity.
Food & Fitness After 50 contains common-sense, science-based tips and resources that can help us eat well, move well, and be well. Remember, the journey to better physical and mental health can begin with something a simple as a walk around the neighborhood. Food & Fitness After 50 is published by Eatright Press, a division of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is available at Amazon.
I hear it all the time, weight loss isn’t possible after the age of 50. To be fair, it is harder to lose weight as we age. Biology conspires against us. Declining hormone levels, for both men and women, mean more fat is stored in the abdomen (the dreaded belly fat). For women, a pear-shape might get transformed into an apple shape. But, for Debra, now in her early sixties, losing 60 pounds wasn’t hard, but keeping it off was the challenge.
Sound familiar? Debra was at her highest weight when she was age 50 and she managed to lose 60 pounds with a commercial weight loss plan, but she regained half the weight.
It is not uncommon to regain some weight after a big loss, and even if she regained some weight, she was still 30 pounds down from her highest weight. Debra was doing some exercise, but not enough to lose weight. A friend gave her a special gift; a golf lesson and Debra took to golf like a regular Annika Sorenstam. Another friend gave her an even more special gift; the gift of social support. Her friend suggested they diet together though a Spartan regiment of no sugar, grains, nuts, dairy, or potatoes. Their diet consisted of lean meat, green vegetables, apples, and oranges. (I should insert my opinion here as a registered dietitian; I don’t advocate for restrictive diets because key nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D, and B-vitamins, can be short supply when grains and dairy foods are eliminated. So, if anyone is thinking about this type of plan, make sure to take a multivitamin-mineral supplement and additional calcium to meet the recommended 1300 milligrams of calcium that women over 50 need each day. Using food tracking apps are great, but they only count calories, carbohydrate, protein, and fat; not vitamins and minerals.) But, this plan worked for her and her friend and they lost weight and motivated each other through the 3-month journey. Debra lost the 30 pounds she had regained, and lost another 20 pounds for a 50-pound total weight loss. She no longer follows the diet as strictly as she did when losing the weight, but she does monitor her weight every day to make sure she doesn’t regain it.
An added benefit of the weight loss was a renewed commitment to exercise. Reducing calories is critical for weight loss, but exercise is important to keep it off. She exercises at the YMCA twice a week, takes a strength training class another two times a week, plays pickleball, and of course, she is an avid golfer. Here is Debra, third from the left, holding the trophy for her club’s team match play event, The Miss Betty Cup.
Debra says the keys for her successful weight maintenance are vigilance: daily exercise, monitoring her weight, logging her food intake every day into an app on her phone, drinking lots of water, and making wise choices when she eats out. “I can always find lean meat and substitute green veggies for potatoes.” Her other advice? “Don’t keep the food you don’t want to eat in the house!” That, and have a good friend for social support.
You can find more tips on weight loss after 50 in Food & Fitness After 50 by Chris Rosenbloom and Bob Murray. Available now on Amazon.
Greetings from Chicago, where I’m attending the annual meeting of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I’m with my peeps…. all 12,000 of them!
I’m often asked how I got interested in nutrition and why I became a dietitian. Like for many of us, parental influence was paramount.
I first became aware of the power of nutrition when I was a teenager. My father had kidney disease and was on dialysis for many years. Since I was the one kid (one of seven!) who liked to bake, I learned to make low protein bread for my dad, as protein was a nutrient that had to be controlled in his diet. My father died when I was a senior in high school and then my mother’s influence kicked in.
She was insistent that her daughters get a college education so we could always take care of ourselves. There was one catch; we had to have a useful college degree that would lead to real job. It was logical for me to choose nutrition and dietetics for my career path. In fact, my senior picture in the North Olmsted, Ohio yearbooks, says “future dietician.” (We prefer the spelling dietitian, but I didn’t know that in 1969 when I graduated from high school!).
So, I went to Kent State University to major in nutrition and it was the best choice for me because: (1) got a great foundation in nutrition science, and (2) I met my husband, Rob, at Kent State. After graduation I went to the University of Minnesota to complete a 12-month dietetic internship. I loved Minneapolis, but after growing up in Michigan, going to school in Ohio and spending a year in freezing Minnesota I was ready for a warmer climate. Georgia was it and has been for over 40 years.
Now that I am older and “retired” after 30 years university teaching, I am glad I became a dietitian and excited to put all the years of education, work experience, and personal insights into my new book Food & Fitness After 50. I still enjoy writing about nutrition, giving presentations, planning food influencer conferences, and talking to athletes, so that is why I say I am retired in quotes. I hope you get on a path to eat well, move well, and be well whatever your age.
Chris Rosenbloom and Bob Murray’s book Food & Fitness After 50 is available on Amazon
This guest blog post was written by Dr. Bob Murray
A few year’s back, Patti’s college-aged daughter came home from a stint as a volunteer at the local hospital emergency room and declared, “Mom, you and dad have aged pretty well.” It’s easy to understand how pleased Patti was to hear her daughter’s compliment, a small affirmation that things might not be as bad as she thought, at least in comparison to hospital patients!
Patti, now 60, mother of three adult children, and the wife of a university professor has long appreciated the value of diet and exercise, as one might expect from a physical education major. That lifelong commitment has been recently put to the test because in October 2016, Patti volunteered as a subject in a research project that required measurement of her body composition. The results were upsetting: her body fat was higher than she had hoped and the decrease in her muscle mass with age was evident. Those results sparked a renewed commitment to changing things for the better.
For the past 24 years, Patti and a close friend have run at 6 am three days each week, usually covering 3.5 to 4.5 miles each morning. For the past 7 years, Patti has gone to three yoga classes each week, something she wishes she had started 30 years ago. After learning how her body composition had changed with age, Patti started taking strength training classes, usually completing 3-4 classes each week.
“There’s so much I like about being active,” said Patti, “and that includes the social aspect of being with friends and others around my age, but also working out with younger people. I like that mix because it challenges me physically, gives me a strong sense of accomplishment, and an emotional high that’s good for my mental health.” Patti explained that her long-term goal is to be able to continue all the things she enjoys doing with exercise, gardening, family activities, and travel. “I don’t want to be one of those people who struggle to get their carry-on bag into the overhead luggage bin. And I know I’m going to be an older grandmother, so playing with my grandkids—including getting up and down from the floor many times each day—is really important to me.”
In the short-term, Patti knows that her diet and exercise play a major role in leading a happy, healthy life, and minimizing aches and pains are part of that. She has been very pleased with the results of her strength training because her nagging aches and pains have subsided, she’s amazed at how everyday activities have become easier, and her walking gait has improved. Patti noted that she’s always had a lot of energy, but now she feels her physical strength and endurance match her energy. A recent body composition test confirmed that she has lost fat and gained muscle, so she knows she’s on the right track.
Patti has been a vegetarian since 1991, but has recently added fish to her diet because she was concerned that she hasn’t been eating enough protein. She knows that adequate daily protein intake is critical to maintaining muscle mass and strength and is looking for other protein sources. She’d love to eventually develop fit and toned shoulders, abdominals, and legs, but knows that won’t happen overnight and she recognizes that the most important outcome is to maintain strength and muscle mass as she ages.
“I realize how fortunate I am now to have the flexibility to fit exercise into my daily schedule,” Patti said, “and having raised three kids, I know there are many times when that’s very tough to accomplish. Looking back, I think one saving grace is that I stayed committed to those 6 am runs, even when the last thing I felt like doing was to get out of bed. Doing so made me realize that I can make time to stay active, rather than just sit around lamenting that I’m too busy. My advice to those whose lives are jam-packed is to make one small, manageable commitment to a change in diet or exercise and find a way to stick with it.”
Chris Rosenbloom and Bob Murray’s book, Food & Fitness After 50 is available on Amazon
I love to travel. Inevitably, someone always asks, “What’s your favorite place?” My answer is “the last place I visited,” so that means South Africa and Zimbabwe are at the top of the list. Travel brings so many riches, but one lesser mentioned treasure is the people you meet along the way.
Meet Irina, one of my travel companions for the 2-week trip to Africa last September. Spending time with Irina is to understand how her whole life is a big adventure that she embraces with enthusiasm, good humor, and a strong mind. She is living the principles of optimal aging.
At age 30, she came to the U.S. from St. Petersburg, Russia with her husband and 2 small children; a 4 ½ year old son and another son was just an infant. Her husband wanted to divorce and left her to fend for herself. Speaking no English and not wanting to disrupt her son’s life as he was settling into a new school, she decided to stay in the U.S. and figure out a new life. Fast forward 25 years, married to a wonderful man, she has designed a rewarding life of career, family, and travel.
She loves to be active, exercise, and to eat! She never diets, yet has maintained the same weight since age 18, of course, except during her pregnancies, but she quickly lost her baby weight by listening to her body. She loves sugar and you wouldn’t expect someone who looks like she does to start each day with a sugar-laden breakfast with cinnamon rolls and pancakes. After breakfast, she hits the gym and says that the “sugar fuels her morning workout.” She is listening to what her body needs for a strenuous workout. She played basketball in high school and college, and still loves to be in the gym lifting weights four days a week. For most of her life, she was active, enjoying everything. “Everything I do, I do it because I like to do it;” which is a good philosophy for life-long activity. Find something you love to do and just do it.
But, about 6 or 7 years ago, she noticed her flexibility was decreasing so she tried yoga, but didn’t like it. When she told a friend, she didn’t like yoga because she wasn’t very flexible, her friend responded, “That’s like not taking a shower because you are dirty!” The message was received and now Irina is on the front row of the yoga class twice a week, not worried about comparing herself to others. She noticed that her balance was the first thing to improve. “Flexibility and balance are so important as we age, it makes me feel safe to do the things I want to continue to do.”
While I mentioned she doesn’t diet, she does listen to her body and tries not eat after 6 PM at night. She has also embraced intermittent fasting; fasting for 24-hours two days a month to reset her body. Although the first time she tried it was hard, she says now it feels good and is very doable. Intermittent fasting can be done in several ways: fasting for 24-hours once or twice a month or eating 500-calories for two days a week. While the jury is still out if it is effective for weight control, some researchers think it can improve health by regulating our circadian rhythm, improving some biomarkers (like cholesterol and blood pressure), and improving sleep. During her fast, she drinks plenty of water or unsweetened tea to stay hydrated.
So, Irina eats well and moves well, but travel makes her be well. She loves everything about travel: “exploring new cultures, hearing new music, tasting new foods, and learning more about what I don’t know is very inspiring.” I watched her buy this dress in Africa and rock it in Zimbabwe! Her adventurous spirit shines in this photo!
Travel brings many new experiences and meeting new people is certainly one of them!
Chris Rosenbloom and Bob Murray are the authors of a new book, Food & Fitness After 50; available on Amazon. #FoodAndFitnessAfter50
I was first introduced to Connie when I heard her sing the national anthem in front of 10,000 dietitians at the opening session of the annual convention of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Her powerful voice and engaging on-stage presence made me want to get know my fellow dietitian. Fast forward many years later, and many more times performing the nation’s anthem (10 times more, to be exact) and I’ve come to admire her commitment to helping her patients get well and stay well, and her personal commitment to prevent a chronic disease that runs in her family.
Connie is a registered dietitian who is also a certified diabetes educator . She is the author of The African American Guide to Living Well with Diabetes, and her new book, Diabetes Guide to Enjoying Foods of the World, will be available soon (information is available on her website.)
Connie’s personal commitment to eating well, moving well, and being well stems from her desire to prevent diabetes. “Diabetes affects family members on both sides of my family and that inspired me to not only become an expert in diabetes, but to practice what I teach by leading by example.” Connie says she had always done a little bit of exercise, but as she approached her mid-60s she ramped up her activity by hiring a personal trainer for twice weekly strength workouts and does cardio work three times a week. She says, “I am running away from diabetes!” She loves challenging her mind and body in her strength and conditioning workouts. Her latest challenge was to set a goal to complete 1,000 feet of “Jacob’s Ladder.” This Jacob’s Ladder is not the biblical ladder that connects earth to heaven, but rather a tough workout combining aerobics on a stair stepper with power, balance, and agility. “When I set the challenge, I could barely do 100 feet, but I made 1,000 feet with hard work and persistence.” Connie finds it motivating to be able to perform feats “that some younger people cannot do in the gym!” Check out Connie lifting 155 pounds at age 66!
Connie says that it is hard to keep up her fitness routine when she travels, but that traveling isn’t an excuse to abandon working out. While many hotels have great fitness centers, it isn’t always easy to get to the gym at 5 AM when morning meetings start at 6 or 7 AM. Connie found a solution; she packs a travel hula hoop. She says, “I have been known to rearrange hotel furniture to find a spacing for hooping.” She also uses apps on her phone to download workouts that she can do on the road. But, she also says the goal with exercise is “persistence, not perfection.” She tells people not to beat themselves if they miss a workout, but instead take the very next opportunity to move it.
Thanks for inspiring us with your story, Connie, and making me want to hit the gym…now!
It is also available from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Do you have a special friend who is a nurturer and a positive presence in your life? If not, I hope you find someone like my friend, Lisa, who elevates people by her outlook on life and being a champion and cheerleader for her friends and family.
In her early 60s, Lisa spent over 20 years in corporate America and now takes time to take care of her 89-year old mother, teach classes at a local college, and focus on nurturing her spirit by getting back into art and photography. Growing up the middle of three children, her mother tagged her as the “artistic” one. Lisa got her first Brownie camera as a child and took it everywhere, capturing people and places she loved. Art took a back seat to her career, but in 1991 when she moved to Chicago, she enrolled in a watercolor class at the Art Institute, where she met her husband, who was into oil painting. (At their wedding, the comparison to “oil and water” was raised!)
Lisa said she asked herself, “if art is my favorite thing to do, yet I don’t do it, how can I say it is my favorite thing?”
Lisa’s artistry and creativity are at their best at gatherings of friends. Many years ago, we met at a friend’s house in Pennsylvania. Hanging on her wall was a painting of a woman who she named “Shirley.” Lisa got the idea to have the five of us draw our version of “Shirley;” we were all pleasantly delighted when she compiled our drawings and framed the print for us. To this day, we call ourselves “The Shirleys,” thanks to Lisa!
Lisa’s tips for healthy aging include sage advice for all of us. First, she says find your passion and act on it. Years ago, she heard Deepak Chopra speak and one of the things he said has stayed with her. “Every day ask yourself three questions: Who am I? What do I want? How can I make a difference? The answers don’t have to come right away, but they will come to you.” For Lisa, she isn’t sure what the answers are, but she knows she wants the answers to be the same. Who she is will be someone who makes a difference.
She adds that a physically active life is also important for healthy aging. She enjoys running, walking, and cycling. But, she says, “don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day of exercise or don’t reach your goals.” She practices what she calls, “the power of now,” or living in the moment and being present for all of life’s experiences.
Lisa has always eaten well, but she admits she used to exercise so she could eat anything, but now she is more thoughtful about her food choices. Preferring local to support local farmers and protect the community, she shops at Farmer’s markets and grows veggies at home.
Lastly, Lisa doesn’t keep a “to do” list. Instead, she starts each day by thinking, “I’m going to feel great today if I do……” She also celebrates the little things in life and encourages us all to enjoy good news when it comes our way, instead of moving on to the next thing.
Lisa celebrates and elevates her family, her friends, and very importantly, herself.