Give your body what it needs

You may say, “Oh, I don’t need a lot. I’m happy with the way things are.” But what you really mean is, “I eat healthy and get the nutrition I need within my calorie allotment. I move my body the way the AHA and CDC recommends. I give my brain all the stimulation it could possibly need.” But, is this really true?

It’s a lot. And if it really is true, that’s fantastic! But let’s take each of these individually to see if you do give your body what it needs.


I’m no expert, but I know that if I eat my 3 squares a day, load up my plate with lots of veggies and legumes, a little meat, and not nearly as much potatoes or pasta as I like, I’ll be eating well. I’ll probably be within my recommended calorie range. I’ll be getting enough protein, enough fiber, and enough vitamins and minerals to keep my body fueled. Of course, I also add in a bit of chocolate to keep me happy. You’ll want to check with your doctor or a nutritionist, but I’ll bet they’ll tell you pretty much the same thing.


You’ve heard it from me before. The Heart Association recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity, and even more strength work. How you get those minutes in is up to you. You know you’ll want to keep your workouts fun – because that keeps your motivation up. But, if you don’t exactly enjoy your workouts, but you know you have to keep it up, what do you do? You might want to hop on the “Cozy Cardio” bandwagon. That’s making your environment appealing. If you walk or run on a treadmill, or use a stationary bike, that’s a great way for your workouts to be more inviting. Listen to an exciting audiobook, like I do when I run, or watch a favorite TV show while you exercise. You’ll enjoy the ambiance, if not the workout.


And when you exercise, you’re also feeding your brain! Vigorous exercise improves your memory, makes you happier, more resilient and helps you sleep better. 

Put like that, it’s not too much to give your body what it needs.

Make it easy to track it all every day using your Fitness Journal and Tracker!

Eat more protein

We all want to live a life that’s long and healthy. And part of our healthy aging is making sure we get the right nutrition. Boring, I know. But with a little forethought we can plan our meals and snacks so that they’re fun, tasty and nutritious. Even with that planning, though, it’s common to not get enough protein. Highest on the list of protein-rich foods are meats and yogurt. But many seniors skip the meat, perhaps because of budgetary or other concerns. But the fact is, protein will help us keep up our energy. And we need to eat more protein.

Why we need to eat more protein

The “formal” government recommendation for protein is the same for all adults age 19 and up, but recent research has shown that we older folks probably need more. We know that as we age our muscle mass declines – by up to half. And, as we age, we have more chronic ailments, many of which affect our ability to process the protein we eat efficiently. Why do we need protein? Simply put, protein can help us build and maintain muscle mass. And it also replaces the proteins that chronic systemic inflammation depletes.

We need a LOT or protein

According to the official recommendation, we need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (1 kg is about 2.2 pounds). I did the math, and I need about 45 grams of protein every day. That’s a lot of meat. But other foods have plenty of protein as well. Plan your meals and snacks with protein in mind. Breakfast is a perfect time for an egg. And hard boiled eggs are also great snacks.

More high-protein snack ideas

If you’re feeling hungry in the afternoon (for me, about a half hour before my workout), have some almonds or pistachios. They’re high in protein, and they taste good. Greek yogurt is also high in protein. Something I don’t often think of as a great snack is jerky – but it’s tasty and full of protein. Dry roasted edamame beans is another possibility. Another great snack is an apple or stick of celery with a bit of peanut butter.

When doing some reading, I found a recipe for roasted chickpeas that sounds amazing. For a main dish, try lentil soup.

The point here is, if we need to eat more protein, we’re not limited to roasting a chicken or broiling a steak. Sure, those are great, but we thrive on even more choices. And there are plenty of protein choices.

The 3 Keys to Healthy Aging

I have an irrational distaste for going to the doctor. Of course, if I really have to go, then I will. (I’m not like my grandmother who absolutely loved going to her doctor’s appointments and all the attention she got there.) So I do everything I can for my healthy aging. It turns out that there are 3 keys to healthy aging that all work together.

Diet is first

The first of the keys to healthy aging is diet. Your nutrition, what you eat, affects everything you do. Your diet affects your brains, your bones, and muscles. Eating a healthy diet has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer, among other health concerns. It also affects your mental health. Eating well can lessen your likelihood of developing depression or anxiety. If you eat a healthy diet, you’re more likely to keep to an exercise plan. And you’ll sleep better. What you eat can determine the amount and quality of your sleep.

Number 2: Exercise

Exercise is the second key to healthy aging. The benefits gained from exercise are for every age. From lower blood pressure to stronger bones to better mental clarity, exercise is essential. And every type of exercise can help to improve your sleep. Of course, exercising closer to bedtime could make it more difficult to fall asleep. I always have more energy after I exercise, so I don’t even try to take a nap after a workout.

Sleep is Last But Not Least

And sleep is the third key. Sleep gives your body and your brain time to recover from the day’s exertions. Without proper quality sleep, you have a higher risk of certain conditions like stroke, heart disease and diabetes. When you get enough sleep, you have better energy for all the activities you love doing during the day. 

They all work together. The 3 keys to healthy aging make you more resilient and able to tackle everything life throws at you. Sleep and a good diet gives you the energy to exercise. Exercise and sleep help you make good choices, both in your diet and in the rest of your life. And, of course, diet and exercise keep you healthy and happy.

It doesn’t have to be fancy

The concept of creating goals for yourself may seem intense and scary. You may picture sitting at a very professional-looking desk with an open journal, colored pens and rulers. A couple of screens and a fancy keyboard may occupy a corner of the desk. But it doesn’t have to be fancy. Planning for your future can be as no-frills as you want it. Whether it’s a goal to become more fit, to eat right, to earn a million dollars, to buy a new house, setting your goals can be as simple as you like. Get a piece of paper and start writing.

Fitness goal? No-frills is best

If one of your goals is fitness, no-frills may be best. You don’t need special equipment or specific workout gear. You just have to be specific about exactly what you want and a timetable to get there. If you know that you want to do strength training two times a week, your own body weight can help you out. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just today I read about 2 celebrities who used mainly body-weight exercises while touring and on location. 

Carrie Underwood, country music superstar, worked with a trainer recently on tour to keep her endurance up. She said, “”I try to make the most of my time. I have changed my focus. Instead of just trying to get those external results that I wanted, my goals have changed. I want to be stronger, I want to live longer; those are the things that I want now other than just, ‘I want to fit into that.'” Underwood’s goals and wellness practices still aren’t big or splashy; rather, her habits are things she can “stick with forever,” and that’s what she recommends for others as well. Don’t get fancy – just get it done.

And Pedro Pascal, star of “The Mandalorian,” took a similar approach while on location filming the movie “The Last of Us.” There was no equipment, so he had to rely on body-weight moves for the mobility and movement he needed for the character. 

Make a date with yourself

If becoming more fit is one of your goals, there’s no need to join a gym or invest in expensive equipment. Make a date with yourself a few times a week to go for a walk. Have a half-hour dance session. Cue up your favorite playlist and move. Don’t break those dates with yourself! Working toward your fitness goals will make you more optimistic and you’ll feel more powerful and resilient.

Test the waters first for other goals too

And the same kind of thing follows for your other goals. Start by testing the waters. If you want to save money, think about easy ways to start. Don’t buy the most expensive coffee drink. Make coffee at home every day. If you invest in an inexpensive coffee maker (I use a single-cup French Press coffee maker that costs under $10) and a can of coffee grounds, you may find that you like it even better than the expensive stuff you buy at coffee shops you have to travel to. Make your lunch at home a few times a week. Limit your restaurant spending. Maybe don’t buy those shoes this month. Start small. 

Achieving your goals doesn’t have to be fancy. Keep working at it. Figure out ways to start small and grow from there.

No. It depends. A while. Answers to goal-specific fitness questions.

When will I see Exercise Results?

When do you see exercise results? It depends... And everyone is different.

“I have a wedding in June. Will I be skinny by then?” “How long ‘til I fit into Size 6 jeans?” “When will I see a six-pack?” Were you laughing when you read those questions? Me too. And yet, deep down, I kind of wondered when I’d see exercise results all those years ago when I lost weight. By now, you know that “No,” “It depends,” and “A while” are the answers. It turns out that “It depends” is the answer to quite a few goal-specific fitness questions. 

Goals are key

Having specific goals, committing to a program and sticking with that program is the sure path to success in reaching a fitness goal. For example, if you want to lose 5 pounds in a month, experts agree that it’s totally doable. Reduce the number of calories you consume (a food journal helps with this), increase calories burned (an exercise program will help here), make sure you’re hydrated, get enough sleep, and reduce stress. That’s the formula. Of course, it’s never so cut and dry. 

Our emotions get in the way. We eat because of stress. And we eat when we’re happy. When it comes to exercise – there’s never a good time to do it. Or we just don’t feel like it. So, having real, achievable, specific goals is the key to keeping on track.

Everyone’s different

We’re human. And as humans, our bodies react differently to the food we eat and exercises we do. Exercise results are different for everybody. My body reacts differently than yours. Your body may not retain water the way mine does – be grateful. Or your muscles may respond more quickly to exercise than mine. Everyone’s different. So – it depends when you’ll see those results you want.

A real time frame … wait for it

But, there is sort of a time frame on when you can expect to see some results from your hard work. “When performed appropriately, exercise can lead to physiological changes in about eight to 12 weeks for most people,” Chris Gagliardi, MS (an ACE-certified personal trainer) says. “This does not mean that everyone will respond to exercise in the same way. Some people may see and feel results in less than eight to 12 weeks, and for others, it may take more time.” 

Don’t exercise for the outward results

It’s such a long time to see any results, that it’s important not to focus on these physiological changes. Remember all the other benefits that come from exercise. Remember that even Khloe Kardashian exercises for the invisible benefits! If I have to wait 2 to 3 months to see any results, there had better be other benefits to this whole healthy living thing! 

The biggest reason for me to exercise is the brain boost I get, and how much better I feel emotionally afterward.

Enjoy everything in moderation – even wine

Surprising place for provoking thought

Reading about healthy aging at a tire store!
Health reading at a tire store

I had to get new tires for my car this week. It would take an hour but I was prepared with a book. There was an array of Wine Spectator magazines on the table in the waiting room. Surprising magazine choice at a tire store! I picked up the top copy and started to leaf through it. There was an article about wine and its health benefits, so I started reading. Going right along with what I’ve been saying for years, it turns out that enjoying wine in moderation is not detrimental and can actually provide some benefits. Enjoy everything in moderation – even wine.

But wait – the WHO says no alcohol

The World Health Organization decreed at the beginning of 2023 that no amount of alcohol consumption is safe. The paper cites previous studies in which alcohol was considered a cancer-causing agent. There was no study linking specific amounts of alcohol to cancer, however, merely the potential cancer-causing risk of alcohol consumption. It could be that the WHO considers that it may be all too easy for moderate consumption to become excessive consumption.

Some studies have shown benefits

But a recent study determined that moderate drinkers live as long as people who never drink. So, why not enjoy! And the Mayo Clinic has observed that the polyphenols in red wine may help protect the lining of the blood vessels in the heart. This could be the reason that red wine has been touted for its heart-healthy benefits.

The flavanols in wine have also been implicated in reducing cognitive decline and a reduced risk of stroke in moderate drinkers – which we all want for our healthy aging. Yes, the flavanols can also be found in other foods, but why not enjoy the wine? 

Enjoying with friends has other benefits

Wine, enjoyed with friends, has benefits beside the physical ones.
Wine, enjoyed with friends, has benefits beside the physical ones.

Another point to consider is that we often enjoy wine in the company of friends and family. Getting together in a social group is not just fun – fun planning and reconnecting with friends – but it also increases our resilience and optimism. Why not have a wine tasting at your next get-together. Tasting wine critically with friends will combine all of the benefits of good wine, good food and good friends.

Enjoy everything … in moderation – has been my motto for years. I never deny myself anything I really want. Chocolate cake? Pizza? You bet. I plan for it and that could make the enjoyment even greater. A new purse? New shoes? If I see something I really want, then I figure out a way to make it happen. I don’t splurge, but I enjoy.

So – enjoy everything. Even wine – in moderation.

Why start a fitness program?

Last week I was completely winded after a practice agility run with my dog. I was huffing and puffing and thought to myself, “If I want to do more of this (which I do), then I’ve got to figure out a way to build my endurance and stamina.”

Do you huff and puff on the stairs?

Now, you may not want to run agility with your dog. But you may want to get fit for any number of other reasons. Do you have to pause on the stairs? Or do you look for a parking spot closer to a store’s entrance? You may wish you were in better shape, but thought it was impossible to succeed because your metabolism just isn’t what it used to be. So to start a fitness program would be futile.

The truth about your metabolism, even after “a certain age”

According to Dr. Nick Pryomski of the Advocate Aurora group, that’s nonsense. Your metabolism is the same as it always was. But you may find it more difficult to find the motivation to get out of your chair and do something about it. Dr. Pryomski says, “Metabolism doesn’t necessarily slow as you age. It only does if you are less active.” Likewise, “slender people don’t necessarily have a higher metabolism than larger people.” That’s good news for most of us.

So, it is scientifically possible to get fit at any age. But you may be completely overwhelmed by the prospect of losing weight or starting an exercise program. 

Make your reason a no-brainer

Why start a fitness program? I started a running program for my dog.
Why start a fitness program? I started for my dog…

The secret? Be really honest with yourself. Know why you want to get in shape. If your reason is just to look good or age gracefully, that’s probably not good enough. But, if you want to be able to play with the grandkids as much as they want to? If you want to go for walks in the park (when the weather improves), or travel and be able to see the sights you’ve always wanted to see, then you’ve got a pretty good reason to start a new healthy aging program. 

I certainly would not be pushing myself on the treadmill, up to 6 miles per hour so far, so that I have a prayer of directing my off-leash dog on an agility course, if I didn’t want to succeed in the sport. 

Start small

The way to start your new program is small. Make small changes to your routine. Like walking for 2 minutes after breakfast. Get used to those little changes first before you make bigger changes. Then you can start to determine the bigger changes you need to make. 

If you want to start a new eating plan with the goal of losing weight, same thing: start making small changes. Perhaps cut down on your starch and dessert portions. Don’t eliminate them – you know that I’m a believer in not depriving yourself! – just make those portions smaller for now.

Small goals lead to big results

No matter if you’re starting an exercise or an eating program, set goals for yourself. (See “Set goals – big and little.”) First set short-term goals – something for the next two weeks or a month, perhaps. Those goals should be doable but challenging. For example, if you start with walking 2 minutes a day, work up to a half hour in the next 2 weeks. Or lose 4 pounds in the next 4. And when you reach those goals, be sure to reward yourself with something that’s meaningful to you. Download that book you’ve wanted to read.

If you need an accountability partner to keep you “honest,” enlist a friend. I started out by scheduling my workouts on my calendar – my “date” with myself. You may find a step tracker a useful tool for motivation.

The key is to never give up. If your reason to get healthy is important enough, you’ll find the motivation and the tools to help you.

Get excited about fitness

Get excited about fitness. Try new things.
Get excited about fitness!

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “She’s nuts. Excited about fitness? That’s the most boring thing ever.”

But you should be excited about fitness. You’re doing something for you when you actively work to improve your fitness. While eating right can be less than exciting, it can be the greatest opportunity to explore the world and try new things. 

Get out of your eating rut

We get in a rut with our eating. Same old proteins, veggies and flavorings. But thinking about eating healthier can be an introduction to new herbs and spices that we have never tried before. I don’t really know a lot about Indian (from India) food – or Native American food for that matter. It’s easy to do a search for nutritious ethnic foods, and experiment in the kitchen. Print out a couple of recipes you’d like to try and make your shopping list from those recipes. 

The produce store I go to frequently has many vegetables that I’ve never tried and don’t know how to prepare. Things with exotic names, from exotic countries. The next time I go there I’ll take a picture of some of these and explore preparation tips and recipes for them.

Class trip to Spain not for the food

I took a class trip to Spain when I was in high school (a very long time ago). The meals were definitely Americanized for us – high school kids were not adventurous eaters. Some of my classmates even searched out McDonalds for some meals. Others refused to eat anything but the bread served at mealtime. (It was good bread, but not that good!)

Explore new cuisines

I will do more research on Spanish dishes but in the meantime I found this recipe for Pisto (Spanish version of Ratatouille) which I might make sometime soon! If you ever took a trip and perhaps were not as courageous as you might have been with your meals, now might be a great time to take a look back and discover some new taste sensations.

Maintaining your motivation when you embark on a healthy eating program can be tough. I talked about this before when I gave 5 tips for sticking to your plan. But exploring new cuisines is another way to make it easy to stick to your plan.

Even if you’ve decided to eat healthier, be bold. Search out new tastes and flavors. Travel the world from your kitchen. Get excited about fitness – at least the eating part for now.

When you really, really want something

When you really, really want something - like the stuffing - don't deprive yourself.
When you really, really want something – like the stuffing (or dressing) – don’t deprive yourself.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day here in the US. Happy Thanksgiving to my readers! I am truly thankful for you! Traditionally it’s a day of football, eating until you’re too stuffed to eat any more, and then collapsing in a turkey coma on the couch. As I wrote last week, Thanksgiving for me is truly a day of gratitude for family and friends, and food. Ours was a very small celebration yesterday – just two of us. But we had all of our Thanksgiving favorites – turkey, dressing (it’s dressing not stuffing because we don’t stuff the bird!), cranberry relish and brussels sprouts (yes, we love our sprouts!). And dessert. And I had everything. Because when you really, really want something, it’s perfectly OK to have it.

Everything in moderation

I’ve written about my “everything in moderation” philosophy. I never deprive myself. If I really, really want something, I have it. Perhaps just a little bit of it, but enough to satisfy the craving.

I love our stuffing – or dressing. It’s really a savory bread pudding with minimal herbs and spices. We salt and saute a few pounds of onions and a whole head of celery in vegetable oil until they’re nicely browned and caramelized (this takes a while). We mash a loaf of stale (or lightly toasted) egg bread with a few eggs and a quart of warm milk. Add a little more salt, mix everything together, turn it into a casserole sprayed generously with cooking spray and bake it for a few hours, stirring to get the maximum amount of crustiness every half hour or so. I’m making myself hungry writing about it.

I don’t skimp

When dinner time comes around, I give myself a regular sized portion. When I finish that, if I really, really want more, I give myself another spoon. It’s Thanksgiving, after all. 

I don’t feel guilty about it. I don’t second guess myself. I know there are lots of calories in it. But it’s worth it to me to work out extra the next few days.

Because if I didn’t have exactly what I wanted, I’d think about it. I’d mope about it. I’d overeat in another way. I’m doing myself a favor in eating exactly what I want.

Focus on yourself – for your health

Be mindful when you start to focus on yourself. Start slow so you can continue.
Focus on yourself – so you’re healthy for the long haul!

I can picture it… There you are, living your life. Seemingly happy with your family, your job, your home, your friends. It’s been a while since you actually focused on yourself, so one day you may realize that there could be so much more to your life. If you could move better. Zip your pants. Not feel so bloated in the evening. And all those prescriptions. Taking a good, hard look at your daily life you may come to the conclusion that, “Yeah, it’s good, but it could be better. I need to get fit.” You need to focus on yourself!

What a reckoning moment! When we decide that our own fitness is a way to be happier and be more for our loved ones, it’s an earth-shattering decision.

There’s no easy fix, though. If it’s been a while since you made yourself a priority, it’s going to take a while to reap the benefits of that major decision. Make sure you start right and focus on yourself so that you can achieve the results you want.

The food

We all need to eat to survive. Chances are, if it really has been a while since you focused on your fitness, the foods you eat may not be the healthiest. I’m not a nutritionist, but I do know that what we eat is reflected in our body. When we eat right – watching the calories, reducing the fat, added sugar and salt, and eating more vegetables – our health improves and we lose weight.

The exercise

Exercise can help you “burn” more calories, so it does help us to lose weight. But, I think, more importantly, exercise is a mood-lifter. We feel happier when those endorphins post-exercise kick in. Exercise boosts energy and also helps to combat some diseases.

But start small

If it’s been a while since you focused on yourself, start with the little things. If you usually enjoy a scoop of ice cream for dessert, don’t cut it out entirely. Or if your servings of potatoes take up most of your plate, don’t eliminate your mash. Just reduce the serving. Maybe go for half of what you’ve been used to. 

I’ve always been a firm believer of “Everything in Moderation.” If you cut all the good stuff out, you’re much less likely to stick with a plan. Perhaps, if you’re feeling it, enjoy your mashed potatoes, but cut out the cake and have fruit for dessert. I enjoy a couple of spoonsful (teaspoons – don’t get crazy!) of super-rich chocolate ice cream most nights.

Well-known fitness trainer Sohee Lee even advises the moderation approach. Especially at first, moderation is the key. More than that is unsustainable. Cutting all indulgences will just make you want them more. But if you have a tiny bit of whatever you’re craving, you’ll most likely be satisfied.

Start small with exercise too. I wrote about starting to exercise a little while ago. If you haven’t exercised in a while, start with a short walk after dinner a couple of days a week. Gradually extend the time and add another day or two in a few weeks. If you’re wanting more, search out a fitness class you think you can stick with. Be honest with yourself. Don’t attempt too much because that, too, is unsustainable. The last thing you want when you’re just beginning your fitness journey is an injury or pain. Now, a little bit of muscle soreness is to be expected if you’re using muscles you haven’t used in a while. But if you can’t walk for days after a workout, that’s not a good thing. Starting slow means that you’ll maintain your healthy progress. 

Fitness is a journey. No one ever says, “I’m fit. Now I can quit.” There’s no quitting. Eating right, exercising and attending to your mental health is something you do for life.