My mom is an 84-year-old, 5’3″ spitfire. Known to many as “Nanny,” she is one of my earliest examples of a fitness makeover.
Mom was raised in the South by the best cook ever: my grandmother, the “original” Nanny. Mom grew up on Southern cooking (read: vegetables weren’t vegetables unless they were cooked with fatback, meats were often fried, and every meal included a homemade dessert. When mom grew up and married my dad, she carried on the tradition of the Southern cook in grand style, particularly Sunday-after-church dinners. Mom knocked herself out providing huge spreads for her family of four.
As time went on and people learned more about nutrition, mom started making subtle changes in the way she cooked. No more fatback in the white beans, and homemade desserts became less the norm and more of an occasional treat. Then in 1984 it was discovered that my dad had three coronary blockages. Following his triple bypass, culinary life has he knew it changed drastically. Mom was ultra-strict and dad cried “where’s the beef?” right along with the lady from the Wendy’s ad. But my parents got even healthier as a result of mom’s kitchen make-over. Exercise became more important than ever and my parents faithfully walked three miles a day at a pretty decent clip.
Seven years ago my dad died of a heart attack at age 83. I think living to age 83 is a wonderful accomplishment (although I plan to beat that) and I am convinced that he would not have lived that long had it not been for mom’s strict attention to proper nutrition and exercise.
Today mom takes no medication. I’ll repeat that. Mom takes no medication. Her cholesterol, blood pressure and weight are normal. Other than childbirth she’s never spent a night in the hospital. She had outpatient cataract surgery earlier this year and again, except for childbirth, that’s been her only surgery. Her annual physicals consistently prove she is in great shape, not just for her age, but for people a decade younger. In short, mom rocks it.
So Happy Mother’s Day to my mom… one of my fitness examples. I wish I’d started following her lead sooner, but better late than never.