That's Elaine Griffin, looking amazing in the infamous January 2009 issue of O the Oprah Magazine where Oprah discussed her recent weight gain. I recognized her because she has been in O several times for her gorgeous interior design skills and I thought, "Something about her is different." When I saw her wedding announcement in the New York Times, I thought again, "Hmmm, she looks different. Can't put my finger on it." Then I read the O magazine caption that accompanied the picture above. It turns out that Elaine, who is 44, lost 50 pounds and went from a size 14 to a size 6! Doesn't she look great? This is the type of weight loss story that always inspires me, a woman around my age who lost a reasonable amount of weight and looks good and not sickly with a drawn face or borderline anorexic. I will turn 40 next October and I have read several blog posts over the last few months by women my age who are suddenly awakening to the big 4-0 and revamping (or starting) their exercise and eating habits accordingly.
Women who are my age provide certain inspiration, I also take my cues - and inspiration for my own "Pushing 40 Diet" - from much older women who led strong healthy lives and lived well past their 80s and in the case of the Delany Sisters, well past one-hundred. The Delany Sisters gained fame in the early 1990s when their autobiography, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years, was published. The sisters, Dr. A. Elizabeth (Bessie) Delany and Ms. Sarah (Sadie) Delany, lived to be 104 and 109 respectively. In their second book, The Delany Sisters Book of Everyday Wisdom, Dr. Delany explained the sisters' daily routine. They started out each day by drinking a full glass of water and followed with a teaspoon of cod liver oil and a whole clove of garlic. Next, they ate breakfast (their biggest meal of the day) which was always one scrambled egg (each), a hard roll, fruit and a bowl of oatmeal ("I mean home-cooked oatmeal, not that instant stuff.") After breakfast, the sisters exercised together. They had been doing yoga for forty years at that point (the book was published in 1994.) Ms. Delany mentioned they used to "walk for miles" when they lived in Harlem because they could not always afford the trolley (subway). For lunch, they ate chicken or beef and in the evening, they said "we make ourselves a big vanilla milkshake. It's not good to eat your big meal toward the end of the day." They also took daily supplements including Vitamin A, B complex, C, D, E, zinc and tyrosine. They varied the amount according to how they felt.
Does that sound familiar in a way? It sounds just like the common sense advice that any doctor or nutritionist would give any woman "pushing 40" today: Always eat breakfast, exercise, don't eat your biggest meal towards the end of the day. Very basic. I'm sure it also helped that neither of the sisters' ever smoked although they did enjoy the occasional glass of wine. In fact, they include a recipe for Sadie's Rose Wine in the book.
It also helps to avoid extremes and know when you are going overboard. Elaine Griffin told O magazine that she was hiding behind her weight and "For eight years I did nothing but work and eat, eat and work. My blood pressure skyrocketed and my doctor told me diabetes was on the horizon." If your doctor tells you diabetes is "on the horizon" or, if you are like me, it runs in your family, it makes sense to get a grip sooner rather than later. I am fortunate that I do not have diabetes and I want to keep it that way, so I try to stick to a common sense diet more often than not. I have also noticed that my body feels a lot different as I get older: I need more sleep and I find that I simply don't operate well if I don't eat breakfast in the morning. I used to get by with a cup of coffee, but now I find that I need to actually eat.
The next frontier for me? Consistent exercise. The Firm DVDs are on the way from Netflix.