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How His Fear of Needles Got Him Moving

Fear can be a powerful motivator.

Forget about the entertaining scares from ghosts, aliens and the supernatural.

Think about how fear – blind TERROR – can cause us to take action. It’s the classic “fight or flight” response that’s hard-wired into human behavior, right?

For Rocky Eilerston, it was simple, powerful and effective fear that drove him to get healthy.

“No needles,” Rocky recalls, a shudder in his voice.

Rocky had gained too much weight when his doctor told him he was heading for daily use of needles for diabetes. Rocky was 270 pounds at 5’10”. He was so unnerved that he walked across the street – literally – and into a gym, where he hired a trainer to help him.

“It’s the first time I ever set foot in a gym,” says Rocky, who grinds stumps to pulp for a living at age 63. “In my entire life.”

Rocky started working out and dropped down to 200 pounds, with his waist size going from 40 to 34 inches. His doctor took Rocky off his diabetes medicine, and lowered his blood-pressure dosage, too.

Exercise to Manage Health Conditions

Getting fit after 50 is a great way to reduce the amount of prescription medication we need. It also helps prevent the development of complicating conditions like Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. Exercise helps with arthritis pain, and a proper diet can lower inflammation. Both help you sleep better and manage your physical and mental health.

Studies suggest that taking too many daily prescriptions can lead to health complications, and some combinations can produce unwanted effects like falls, dehydration, and cloudy thinking. Plus, some of us just don’t like the idea of taking one more pill every day.

If you think you’re on too many prescriptions, you might want to talk to your doctor about making lifestyle choices that could reduce your need for so many. And if you see more than one doctor regularly, make sure they all know about all your medications.

You and your physician might be able to come up with a plan that involves regular exercise, good eating habits, and follow-up visits to see how you’re adjusting.

We all age differently, and many of us need medicine as we age. But, as Rocky proves, we can often do something about it.

Eating Right Is Key to Weight Loss

For Rocky, eating right was just as important as his workouts with his trainer.

He cut out sodas and as much sugar as he could – motivated at every step by that fear of regularly injecting himself with insulin.

Rocky trains three days a week for an hour each time. It is stretching for flexibility and hip mobility, then lifting weights and cardio.

“He knows a lot of stuff,” Rocky says about his trainer, so the cost is fine.

Now Rocky knows a lot, too – and he’s putting it to work every day for his health.

And he’s teaching us that sometimes, fear can be good for us. Whatever motivates you, we are always happy to see you in class.

5 Fast Facts about Lowering High Blood Pressure

Everyone knows high blood pressure is a killer. It’s the No. 1 cause of heart attacks in the United States, and the most important risk factor for strokes.

And we know it’s a bigger problem later in life, afflicting up to 65 percent of people 60 and over.

But do you know the best ways to help keep your blood pressure right where you and your doctor want it?

Here are the top five.

  1. Exercise regularly. Studies prove that strength training and aerobics workouts lower both numbers of your blood pressure – the systolic and diastolic. This is one more reason you need to be lifting weights, using resistance bands, or practicing yoga. Strength training equals life. It does not equal bodybuilding! And, of course, exercise is a great way to…

  2. Maintain a healthy weight. More than a quarter of people with high blood pressure are obese. Being overweight makes your heart work harder to pump blood through your body.

  3. Manage stress. Take time every day to purposefully calm down, sit still, and focus on your breathing. Get enough sleep. Enjoy the outdoors, the arts, and hobbies.

  4. Drink alcohol moderately if at all, and don’t smoke. The first part means no more than two drinks a day for me, and one for women. The second part means, Come on – are you kidding?

  5. Watch salt? Yes. But also sugar. Limit how much of both you put on foods. But remember that both salt and sugar are added heavily into our processed foods, so start reading labels and making your grocery choices accordingly.

Talk to your doctor about hypertension (another word for high blood pressure). We’re here to show you how exercise helps.

Healthy Recipe, Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots, Pistachios and Avocado

Quinoa is an ancient plant with tiny seeds that has become wildly popular in recent years as a gluten-free stand-in for cereal grains. This “pseudo-grain” is also called a “superfood” for its supreme nutritional value. Not only is it packed with fiber and an array of vitamins and minerals, but it’s also one of the few plants that provides a complete protein, meaning that it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need. Quinoa is also prized for its versatility, with a mild, slightly beany taste and a fluffy, chewy texture that takes well to just about any flavor you pair it with. This hearty, vegan-friendly salad is a delicious example. It’s adapted slightly from “Grains for Every Season: Rethinking Our Way with Grains.”

Serve it as a meal in itself or make it heartier by adding grilled or sauteed shrimp, chicken, or tofu. Double or triple the recipe and be the hit of the next potluck. Serves 2.


  • 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa

  • Kosher salt

  • 8 ounces carrots, cut into small chunks

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • ½ medium red onion, cut in ½-inch wedges

  • ¼ teaspoon dried chile flakes, plus more, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • ½ cup roasted, roughly chopped pistachios

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • Grated zest and juice of ½ of a large orange (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 1 large avocado

  • Lemon or lime wedge


  1. Place the quinoa in a small saucepan along with 1 1/3 cups of water and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low and cover with a lid.

  2. Let simmer until the quinoa is tender and water is absorbed, about 15 -18 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid if necessary. If the water has absorbed but the quinoa isn’t fully tender, add a few more tablespoons of water and cook a few minutes longer. Set aside to cool completely.

  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the carrots in a bowl and toss with about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil (or just enough to coat), ½ teaspoon of salt, and the chile flakes. Spread the carrots out on half of a large sheet pan.

  4. Place the onions in the same bowl and toss with about ½ tablespoon of the olive oil (or just enough to coat), ¼ teaspoon of salt, and a few grindings of black pepper. Spread out on the other side of the pan.

  5. Place the pan in the preheated oven and roast until the carrots and onions are tender and beginning to brown, about 15-20 minutes. If one of the vegetables gets done before the other, remove it with a spatula to a large bowl and place the pan back in the oven for a few minutes longer until it’s also done to your liking, then add to the bowl.

  6. Add the quinoa, pistachios, parsley, orange zest and juice, and 2 tablespoons of the oil to the bowl. Toss gently.

  7. Halve and pit the avocado, scoop out the flesh with a spoon, cut it in chunks, and add it the bowl. Squeeze the lemon or lime wedge over it, drizzle with another tablespoon of oil, gently toss it again, and taste it. Add a little more oil, salt, chile flakes, or black pepper if desired.

  8. Serve immediately.

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