Success Story: Don’t Call Her ‘Sweetie’
Barb DeAngelis, 76, sees the stereotypes against older people exercising to stay strong, and she shatters them every chance she gets.
Not only does Barb love lifting weights and setting records, but she sees herself as a quality-of-life ambassador for other “little old ladies.”
Barb crushes the “frail grandma” idea one dead lift at a time at a gym in Vermont, where she lives. Barb says she does it to inspire other older women who have been told, “Be careful, Sweetie. You’ll hurt yourself.”
Her favorite T-shirt reads, “Old Ladies Lift.”
What’s behind her devotion? Barb was a physical therapist, so she knows how important exercise is. She started lifting weights almost four years ago. A bone-density test revealed age-related osteopenia. She was losing bone mass. The weightlifting has shut off the decline.
“They’ve done studies that show that weightlifting supports bone health, and you’re not talking about little dumbbells, we’re talking about a heavy weight that increases stress on your bone,” Barb says.
And she’s right. Resistance training improves bone density, keeps us strong to prevent falls, and improves mood, sleep and lots more. And, no, it won’t make you look like a bulky young man.
“I look like every other little, old lady,” Barb points out.
Barb says she wants recognition as a “stealth bada**” – and she’s earned it. This summer at the USA Powerlifting Association event in Palm Springs, California, she set two world records for her age group.
“I wasn’t competing as much as I was representing,” Barb says – because no one else was in her age group, 75 and over.
Most people have more modest goals, of course, and that’s great. Barb and other weightlifting “little old ladies” are powerful motivators to help us all live better lives. They remind us that being fit improves quality of life – and maintains your independence.
“When you have independence,” Barb says, “you have a different mental attitude than when you need help from other people.”
Before she started lifting, Barb said she had trouble navigating sidewalks and stairs, and was beginning to fall.
“If you don’t keep your strength up, you lose function, you lose balance, you lose joint mobility, and little by little you’re chipping away at your active and functional life. There is a wheelchair waiting for every one of us. And the point is to stay the hell out of it.
“I used to stumble and fall but not now. I can catch my balance. And every time you don’t fall you don’t risk a significant injury.”
Barb urges everyone to exercise and to practice strength training, which also includes yoga, body weight, and smaller weights than Barb fancies. Her advice: Use a trainer to get coaching on form to make sure you’re doing it properly and avoiding injury.
“I’m just a 5-foot tall, little old lady,“ she says. "And I just really want to get other little old ladies involved.”
Fitness Helps with Recovery from Drugs & Alcohol for Active Agers
With drug and alcohol abuse affecting millions of people, it’s likely that we all know someone who is involved in recovery or needs to consider it.
That includes people over 50 using drugs and drinking alcohol more and more each year. If we add include other compulsive behaviors like eating and gambling, then we see how huge the issue is.
So, September is a great time to mark National Recovery Month and support anyone involved in living free of alcohol, drugs, and other addictive behavior. This year’s theme is “Recovery Is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.”
Almost 1 million Americans over 65 have a substance use disorder, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Millions more drink alcohol, with two-thirds reporting “high-risk drinking” that exceeds daily guidelines. And, as we age, we absorb effects more slowly, and our brains become more sensitive to drugs. More mature adults are likely to use multiple prescription medications which must be properly managed.
Addiction is treatable, and exercise can help. As WebMD explains, “Exercise and drugs of misuse work on similar parts of your brain. They both activate your reward pathway, which triggers the release of feel-good chemicals.”
Regular physical activity eases withdrawal, curbs cravings, improves sleep, and provides healthy social interaction.
That’s what we’re all about, and we’re here to help anyone live a healthier life now.
If you think you or someone you love has a problem, talk to a doctor or recovery program. The National Helpline is confidential, free, and 24/7: 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Healthy Recipe, Cranberry Spritzer
In the annual autumn rush to embrace all things pumpkin, don’t forget the seasonal pleasures of cranberry. This refreshing drink from The Mayo Clinic has low sodium and virtually no fat, protein, cholesterol or fiber. Serves 10
1 quart reduced-calorie cranberry juice
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 quart seltzer water
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup raspberry sherbet
10 lemon or lime wedges
Refrigerate the cranberry juice, lemon juice and carbonated water until cold.
In a large pitcher, mix together the cranberry juice, lemon juice, carbonated water, sugar and sherbet. Pour into tall chilled glasses and garnish with lemon or lime wedges. Serve immediately.
1 cup, 100 calories, 24g carbohydrates, 10 added sugars, 9mg sodium