In Building Your Enduring Fitness, Lisa Teresi Harris has written the book Baby Boomers and everyone from middle-age to centenarians have been waiting for. We all know exercise and nutrition are important, but all the health and fitness books and exercise programs out there seem to be geared toward the 18-40 age bracket. We all want to feel good long after that, but we may forget how important exercise and nutrition are as we age-not so we can look good at the beach like the younger generation wants, but so we can offset muscle loss, brittle bones, disease, and the belly fat that threatens to make us old before our time.
Harris has been a registered dietitian since 1978. As the owner of Enduring Fitness 4U, she provides senior exercise classes and in-home fitness training and nutrition coaching. As a result, she has the knowledge, skills, and positive mindset to help anyone improve his or her health, activity-level, and overall life satisfaction. She’s helped hundreds of people, and now she shares her lifetime of knowledge with her readers in this new book.
Getting into good shape and being healthy, however, is easier said than done. Some people might even think it’s impossible to slow down the aging process. Many people believe they are fated to be fat because their parents were fat, or to be diabetic, have heart disease, etc. However, research shows that genetics do not always have the final say. For example, Harris quotes a source that states “only about 10% of cases [with Alzheimer’s] carry the defective genes for the disease, and only half of those who carry the genes ever develop it. Most Alzheimer’s cases are caused by cumulative brain damage that occurs during life.” In other words, disability and disease are not inevitable, despite your genes.
For me, this book’s most important message is the need for us to get up and move. Harris asks us whether we are sabotaging our health by the number of hours we sit each day. It’s true we move less with Roombas and smart phone addictions and things delivered to our doors, so she encourages us to find ways we can move more, such as walking while talking on the phone.
And Harris’ results are astounding. She helps people who are prediabetic change their diets. She helps people with walkers regain mobility. She helps seniors strengthen their muscles and improve their balance so they can get up if they fall, and even better, avoid falling altogether. She also encourages people to find activities they enjoy. If you don’t like an activity, you won’t do it, so she shows us how to find our “exercise ecstasy.”
While exercise is important, so is nutrition. Harris gives guidelines for how to get the proper amount of fruits and vegetables into your diet. She offers advice on when to eat protein, how much of it to eat, and how to use it to the greatest benefit. Of course, she’s a big advocate of drinking water.
Many people will find invaluable the series of chapters titled “Building Up Your Defenses Against Chronic Diseases.” Here she talks about heart disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia, arthritis, and osteoporosis and how to improve your chances of not being diagnosed with any of them. She also explores how to live better if you already have them so they don’t impede your enjoyment of life.
One of the biggest challenges for most people is overeating. Harris realizes we are all human and not going to eat vegetables all the time without occasionally indulging. I love her advice on what to do when you go out so you don’t overeat or when you go on one of those cruises where you feel like you’re being held hostage by a breakfast buffet. Despite restaurant servings having increased in size, Harris gives solid advice on how to enjoy eating out without setting yourself back. At the same time, she believes in mindful eating-allowing yourself to enjoy food now and then. For example, she tells us: “Have that yummy ice cream cone when the urge hits; savor every mouthful, and then just move on. (This is an example of mindful eating-paying close attention to the moment and accepting your feelings, not trying to change them.)”
I’m only forty-six, but I loved Building Your Enduring Fitness because it made me realize I can take action now so that my senior years will provide me with the high quality of life I want. I used to exercise regularly but fell into a slump after my exercise bike broke a few months ago. Harris encouraged me to get back to doing push-ups and lifting weights and walking more, and even make some changes to how I eat. In just the few weeks since I started, I am already noticing results.
So get a copy of Building Your Enduring Fitness and then get up and get moving. The more you move, the longer, healthier, and happier your life will be.