Health Advice from an 86 Year Old Yogi



My new grandmother-in-law, Laura Beth, is an inspiring woman. At 86, she’s still driving, practices yoga daily, volunteers regularly, and walks faster than I do! We sat down to talk a bit about health and wellness, and the time she got caught doing a headstand naked - in her 70s!

ER: Have you always been interested in health and wellness?

LB: Yes. I was born during the Depression, when there was very little money. My mother learned to use everything sparingly and economically. This would’ve been 1929, and she learned to feed us on a dollar a day. So it had to be healthy. We always had vegetables, fruit, starch, and she was an excellent baker; so we did have sweets around, but not that much. So the answer is yes, I was raised that way.

ER: How did you get into yoga? I know it wasn’t quite as popular in the 40s as it is today.

LB: Well, I was about 35 or so. A friend of mine wanted me to go to a yoga class with her, so I did. The instructor told us to practice every day, and I thought “Right. I’m not practicing every day. I might do it once a week before I come to class.” But then she encouraged me to find a time that worked for me during the day, and to set a routine. And I did. That time just happened to be about two hours before my husband would come home for dinner. I thought, “well, I can do this for half an hour.” So I started doing that at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon every day. But really, any time will suit. Right now, I do it when I wake up. I wake up and do yoga and weights. Eventually you better find a time that fits, and just do it at the same time every day. Whatever works for you.

ER: What would you say are the top three things that keep you healthy right now?

LB: Broccoli! (Laughs.) Broccoli, quinoa, and well, the exercise. Not eating very many sweets either. But the thing is, I don’t want very many sweets. If I want something sweet, I’ll go eat an apple. I mean, you don’t have to have a cookie or a danish. Just go get a peach, you know?

ER: And you do a lot of home cooking, is that right?

LB: Yes. I do not like restaurants. (Laughs.) You never know what’s going on in the kitchen; who dropped what and who dunked their finger in what, and how much grease and sodium they’re using. I prefer to cook at home. I do believe restaurants use a lot of grease and sodium, and I don’t do that.

ER: What advice would you give to young women who want to live long, healthy lives like you?

LB: Smile if you feel bad. If you’re not feeling well - really - force yourself and it really does make you feel better. Get your sleep, all at once. Not little catnaps around, get it all at once. Whatever fits you - you might want 6 hours, or 10, but whatever is good for you, do that consistently. I eat small meals during the day. I do not eat three big meals. I eat a good breakfast; generally quinoa with whatever fruit I have. Pineapple, apples, bananas, blueberries, cranberries, whatever is around, and I mix it up in yogurt. Aussie bites, I’ll crumble those up, or add granola to my yogurt.

Treat yourself well as far as eating when you’re hungry, but then stopping. So have an apple if you get hungry. I’d say I eat about five times a day, but it could be an apple, 6 oz. of yogurt, half a sandwich. And I eat meat, sure. I’m not a vegan. Like shaved turkey, or I like salmon!

ER: Do you eat a lot of red meat?

LB: I don’t know when I had any red meat last, but it’s just because of what I like. I like the salmon and the turkey. Sometimes I get really hungry for salmon, and other times I’ll get really hungry for broccoli, or an Aussie bite. I just try to listen to what my body desires.

ER: So I’m hearing you say that you listen to your body. I think that can be difficult today with the overwhelming amount of processed food available to us.

LB: I try not to eat anything processed. I don’t even get processed cheese. Hot dogs taste great; well, they used to. But they’re so processed, and I don’t like that.

ER: So I heard a rumour about a naked headstand?

LB: (Laughs.) My husband and I were in New York, and he had a purple-ish bathrobe with him on the trip. So one morning he was wearing the bathrobe. That morning I was doing my daily headstand, and I just happened to be naked. So I was doing my headstand, and the door opened, and I saw this pinkish skirt, and I thought “did he go across the street to get yogurt in his bathrobe?! My gosh, he’s nuts.” And then I heard this gasp! And someone said “excuse me”, and it was the maid. And I said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I’m doing my yoga.” Anyway, my husband came back from wherever he’d been, and we got dressed and left our room. Just as we opened the door, another maid was standing outside the door, and my husband said to her “Oh, are you the one that caught my wife doing yoga?” And she said, “Oh no! She’s down there!” So you just knew that everybody that worked on that floor had already heard about it.

ER: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

LB: Oh, yes. I think doing volunteer work is important. I’ve always volunteered. As you know, I read to the blind, but I’ve been involved with all sorts of organizations: schools, churches, hospitals, whatever. There’s no reason, if you can move, why you wouldn’t get out and help someone else. It makes you feel lucky, too. I used to be a volunteer probation officer, and those kids were in deep trouble. And I think “my gosh, I had such great parents.” I didn’t have these experiences. I’ve never been hit, and yet there are children that get hit all the time. And I just feel so lucky that I had the parents that I did. My parents were both sweet. They were low speaking, so I didn’t live in a household where people yelled. And also, my parents were never divorced. They were married for like 66 years, or something, because they lived so long. My dad was 96 and my mom was 92. So good genes helps too! (Laughs.)

Liked this post? You might also enjoy: Body Image Around the World


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