I get this question a lot.
How do you stay slim at 50?? You've had two kids, and you look like their big sister? How do you do it? How do you love desserts and still stay slim?
Well, it is not just a lucky genetic trait I got from my parents. Many have answered the question for me, even before I have the chance to answer. Some say, "Oh, you're just lucky. You've always been slim. It must be your genetics." Some say it's because “you're vain—that's why you stay slim.”
The last statement is very interesting and funny. I do believe I'm vain to a certain degree. I do love to look good. It puts a strut in my step, a confidence to my persona, and a sureness to my voice. I will say, I am humbly vain. I like to look in the mirror and dance when I see the beautiful woman reflected back. But I see my inner and outer beauty in the mirror. And it makes me want to continue to look and feel good.
But looking and feeling good doesn't just happen. Like anything that brings a good outcome in life, it takes commitment, hard work, self-discipline, prioritization of time, and consistency.
People you see who look and feel good physically didn't get there by eating whatever they'd like to eat, in any portion they'd like, and by not exercising consistently. Nope. If you follow them secretly, you'll see they have certain routines to their lives.
Exercise is a must-do in my routine. I brisk walk everyday; an average of 8-10K steps a day; about 3-5 miles/day. I combine this with more cardio/weight training and stretching, taking Barre classes 2-3 times a week. Since the pandemic started, I have been taking these Barre classes virtually with a fitness instructor. I will not be going to an in-person gym anytime soon. It is almost impossible to social distance safely in a gym setting! I have actually really enjoyed the online classes. When I walk outside, I wear a mask if I see there are more people walking around me. Otherwise I don't wear one. If it's too hot outside, I often get my steps inside our home. I walk up and down our three flights of stairs, or just all around our living room. I stretch on and off through the day, or just hold a plank for 2 minutes here and there to get a burst of movement. Anytime I slack off on exercise, I start to feel sluggish and tired. Exercise makes me sleep really well also.
Sleep is so important for our overall health, and is a very effective anti-aging routine. Adults need at least eight hours of sleep every night. Good sleep habits enhance all other parts of our lives. When we sleep well, we are more likely to choose healthy foods, more likely to have the motivation to exercise, and of course, good sleep improves our body's natural immune defenses. I go to bed between 9-10 pm, and I wake up at 6.30am. I also slot in afternoon naps whenever I can. It helps to go to bed at the same time as your spouse. My husband and I go to bed at the same time every night, and cuddling up definitely helps us both sleep very well.
Even when traveling (pre-COVID times), I try to move as much as I can. Walking is easy on some trips. On many trips to Europe in the past, my daughters and I intentionally did not take taxis or buses. We would walk around all day from place to place and easily get in 10 miles a day. On one trip to Napa Valley with a friend, I walked 20 miles in one day. We walked from town to town and didn't even feel it, because the scenery was so beautiful!
Walking is such a great and simple exercise!
On my last trip to Orlando and Cabo a couple years ago, we walked a lot at the theme parks and took one-hour yoga classes in Cabo. Being away on vacation has never meant total 'couch potato time' for me. I relax, but still get in my daily dose of physical exercise.
When home, my exercise is scheduled on my calendar. I choose morning workouts because I'm a morning person. Once I get my eight hours of sleep and complete my one-hour exercise class, I'm ready to face the day. In the past, pre-COVID, I have often changed the routines I do: regular gym, Pilates, spinning, Barre, HIIT workouts. It's less boring and more fun to sometimes change it up.
And then food. Food, food, food!!!
We must be careful what we consume. Our bodies function according to the fuel we place in them. Some foods we consume cause bad inflammation, which leads to a host of chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, joint pains, inflammatory bowel disease, loss of memory, depression, and so on.
My diet consists of a lot of fresh fruit, fresh veggies (especially green), and nuts (I love nuts—almonds and walnuts mostly, but I eat only about 10 pieces a day, and they are unsalted and mostly raw and organic). Eating a cup or more of highly salted nuts a day is not a good choice. High salt consumption contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Nuts are healthy and rich in good fats, but they are also very high in calories, so be careful not to overdo eating nuts.
I also eat mostly seafood; sometimes chicken and turkey.
Breakfast consists of oatmeal with unsweetened 30 calorie almond milk, nuts, and berries; or Greek yogurt; or a smoothie; and/or egg whites with veggies/avocado.
I rarely eat red meat, maybe once a week or once every two weeks.
I'll occasionally eat duck or pork when dining out. (pre-COVID times).
I avoid foods with thick white sauces and loads of butter and cheese sauces. I go for tomato-based sauces, or I just ask for the sauce on the side.
I eat very little rice, maybe once a week (this was hard for me, considering my Nigerian background), but eating a big plate of rice once or twice a day seven days a week will pile the pounds on you. White rice has little nutritional value except for energy giving, but your blood sugar gets unstable after such big carb loads—a quick way to developing type 2 diabetes!
I no longer cook with palm oil—it is high in saturated fats. I cook with canola or extra virgin olive oil. I eat a variety of beans. Beans are high in protein and good for you!
I eat small portions. I am conscious of my satiety level—I eat to that point and stop.
I drink 16 ounces of water first thing every morning and at night. I drink water all day long and a variety of green teas and other herbal teas—hot, decaffeinated, no caffeine and unsweetened.
I drink wine, mostly red, once or twice a week--one glass. I stay away from cocktails except when on vacation, when I'll drink the occasional cocktail.
I do not drink any sodas, even diet sodas—I stopped drinking diet soda about five years ago.
I do love my desserts. Lol. I eat a slice of cake at least twice a week. But when I do, I'm conscious of everything else I consume that day. I'll consume more of fruits and veggies and pulses and beans.
And lastly, I take care of my mental health. I nourish my spiritual life, and I cast my cares and worries on the Lord. I minimize stress in my life, and I practice forgiveness. Chronic stress tends to lead to over-eating and obesity.
So there you go. Being slim at 50 is doable—if you exercise consistently and make good food and drink choices and practice portion control.
Take care of your body the natural way. Be permanently happy!