How Age Relates — or not — to Good Health and a Svelte Figure

My Letter to the Editor of the San Francisco Examiner newspaper was published a few days ago:

” Really now? “Elderly” is now age 52? (“Thief snatches elderly woman’s purse”, Examiner 11/5/15). Isn’t it about time the Examiner gets with it, and stops pushing us into an early grave? Webster’s says elderly means very old. So if we are now living into our 80s and 90s being rather healthy, we’ll be “very old” for about 40 years? Wow. As a healthy, fit, still working, high-school weight 73-year old, I might as well give up and die. My 11-year old nephew better watch out. I imagine he will get elderly in a few more years.”

It just frosts me to be in my senior years as I like to call them, and to see the prejudice and discrimination that we seniors face, as evidenced in the above writer’s perspective.

But it’s not just a matter of perspective or viewpoint, as one of my therapist friends  said it was.  She thought a 20 or 30-year old had written the article.To me it’s also a matter of ignorance of the facts.

Our parents’ generation typically passed at age 50 to 70 with some exceptions like my mom, who died just short of her 96th year although that’s not even that unusual today. Our generation and the next generation should be able to use public health information to our benefit (no sugar, no smoking, limited alcohol, limited red meat, a minimal amount of regular exercise, and even some corset waist-training to get our waistlines under control) to move up to our 90s and into our 100s, don’t you think? I think we can — and believe that we will get healthier, too, not just live to 90 and 100 with tubes connected and taking those 18 pills a day I’ve heard is typical of the “elderly.”

The real question is how to convert public health information into individual practice that leads to better health, a trim body, and an enhanced sense of well-being and happiness.

It took about 20-25 yrs. of public health messages about the ill effects of smoking to about kill that practice. I still marvel at how they can make movies in Hollywood today showing smoking, be it period-perfect or not. Why are the actors still smoking for “art’s sake”?

I don’t know about you, but somehow, someway six months ago my life changed. Many of my senior corset clients or personal friends experienced the same somewhere along the way to seniordom, and they also feel ageless and fit. Most of my corset clients are aged 40 and older, and a lot of them are now in their 60s and 70s. My oldest corset enthusiast client was 83 about five years ago when we met, and she still wears her corsets regularly as she approaches 90.

How have you kept feeling ageless and looking fit? Why do we take care of ourselves and want to look neat, clean, fashionable, and pretty? This latter question is now what I ponder since I see so many over age 50 just give way in terms of appearance and attractiveness, meaning being healthy, fit, styling our hair, using some makeup, and standing up straight. Why do some just give up on some or all of those things?

And why do social media corset-enthusiast commentators (like those on the Tight Lacing Society’s and Corset Maker’s  Facebook pages) never seem to mention health as a principal, or any reason, to love and pursue corseting and waist training? Most seem content to simply self-promote, or raise corset questions over and over again–questions that have been answered and publicized eons ago,  answered on several fact-based websites since 1996 (ROMANTASY had the first corset website launched that year), and in newsletters launched even way before my fledgling corset business and love came into being in 1990.

….Strange when things happen and habits change in life, and the how and why of it.

Six months ago (1) I stopped eating refined sugar (and stopped feeding it to my partner) and a bit before that (2) I enrolled in a twice-weekly falls prevention aerobics/flexibility/balance class (with an occasional day of yoga interspersed until I hurt my knee). Those classes are offered at the near by senior center I walk to and from one mile for each class, held twice a week.

Yesterday at lunch my friend asked why I did those two things? The only thing I could answer is that the right book/teacher came along at the right time in June (I Love Me More Than Sugar, on the NYT best sellers list), just when I had reached my emotional limit of tolerance as to the fat I was putting on my belly and fanny and a 10-lb. weight gain that had never before taken place. I was appalled. But I guess my ego kicked in just then, to help me make some beneficial changes.

Over the past two years since hitting aged 70 I had developed certain body dysmorphia, maybe for the first time in my life. I knew intellectually that as we aged we needed fewer calories to avoid gaining weight and losing our shape to our health’s detriment, but in practice nothing seemed to work for me since I don’t eat all that much to begin with. It’s not bragging, but it is a genetic fact that I take after my ever-slim mom but not after my robust dad. My mom’s typical healthy weight in her 80s and 90s until her last year, was about 103 to 110 lbs. at our same height of 5.5″ (until she shrank a good bit from osteoporosis). That too, was my normal high school weight.

Even worse, over my lifetime and especially as I aged gracefully and put on weight,  no one supported me in my quest to improve my health and drop some weight.  In fact, they rather much pooh-poohed, if not ridiculed, my efforts.

I experienced it over and over again. If one is already genetically slim compared to our nation’s expanding waistlines and typical size and shape, then everyone who says anything always says: “What? You (as if I am some kind of freak) want to lose weight? Why? Why give up sugar? I would eat tons of it if I were your small size.”

In fact, that is exactly what my friend said to me yesterday! Thus, even she could not initially encourage me to continue on my health quest, or celebrate with me my giving up sugar and taking on regular exercise.

Her automatic response struck me as bizarre because this friend had recently given up refined sugar and red meats as a result of her own health crises of cancer. I guess in her mind she was sufficiently obese enough and sick enough to justify her own dietary and nutrition changes, but to her mind I had not yet reached the right obesity or sickness level to justify me doing the same?

But what else caused me to change some of my weight-gaining habits?

During the past six months I have read voraciously on health and nutrition, in order to be of better service to my corset waist-training coaching students. I read The China Study and The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat, by an English doc on the microbiome and changing our gut bacteria for our longevity and health benefits. Then in my research (ongoing about health because my corseting led me to get interested in coaching others to lose weight and figure shape), I ran across the connection of refined sugar with Alzheimers!  I thought, hmmm, my mom made it to age 96 and her mind was great til the last year, so I likely have some years to go and want my mind not to give way all the way thru life. Maybe I better give way on the sugar issue?

So I decided to try the anti-sugar book’s four week experiment of eating no refined/added sugar. My partner went along with my plan, even though I did not propose it to him. I don’t believe anyone can make us change.  However I’m the one who prepares meals, so I simply stopped serving either one of us sugar desserts as a first step, and then starting reading labels to cut way back on cooking with products having added sugar of any kind.

As I have previously and recently blogged, within a day or two I suffered mightily and for three weeks from headaches and continuous nausea. I barely wanted to eat at all. But even this did not cause me to give up and go back to sugar. Rather, it rather convinced me that white sugar is addicting and certainly is not for me (and I suspect, is not for anyone else). I’m clearly addicted, or was.

Then I watched the documentary Fed Up, recommended in my anti-sugar book. Then I read about red meat (I sort of like Dr. Mercola’s website (although he peppers you to death with emails if you sign up for his newsletter) and illness/Alzheimers. So we are cutting way back on red meat now.

Then three months ago I was hired online to coach Lee, a 52-year old  lawyer who is committed to ‘clean eating’. I had never heard the term before Lee — amazing that. So I researched it and now see how clean eating dovetails with my general direction. We are now off processed foods for the most part (without being obsessive about anything, as that doesn’t work for me; going off anything 100% sounds too much like a “should” in life that brings out my resistant adolescent! )

Since May when I began routine exercising and muscle-building, or June 15 when I gave up sugar, I’ve dropped as of today from 120.6 lbs to 111.0 lbs on my home scale, and lost 1.5″ off my hips and 1″ off my waist. I’m almost at that high school weight and shape I said was true in my recent letter to the editor.

The best thing is that I’m feeling great! I note my mood has changed and improved. I’ve made two new girlfriends at the sr. center and gotten myself out for some social events again. I was way too much behind my computer during the days. I’m proud once more of my strength, flexibility, and shape. I’m developing muscles from my exercise classes each week and for the first time in decades, I’m committed to those classes for the forseeable future.

Then I read about the recent Calif. Fed District lawsuit against General Mills and their new “high protein” cheerios. Want a jolt today if you haven’t heard? Check out my immediately prior blog about that.

Basically, the world is hammering me with related messages that all dovetail together to support change. Some things in life have to come together to create a kind of tipping point to get us to change. For others it is a health crises, then we change. I’m glad I didn’t have to get to a health crises so far.

What keeps you on track? What do you think motivates us silly human beings? I think about those questions a lot, so that I can also do a better job coaching my corset waist-training students.

Anyway, that’s my story so far — and I’m sticking to it!


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