In January, I launched the first post of a series I’m calling “Women Who Inspire Wellness.” The idea behind the series is to share some insight into the health and wellness journeys of some of the women who inspire me to keep going. I sent a questionnaire to 12 incredible women in my life, and one of the first to send it back was my great aunt, Wanda, who is a true inspiration to many people in her life.
I’ve mentioned before that she has been motivating me from a young age. Every card she gives, no matter the occasion, comes with it at least one perfect quote for the occasion, usually written out in her gorgeous handwriting.
Suffice it to say, I was overjoyed when she agreed to help me out with this little project of mine.
When I asked Wanda what health means to her, she responded with one of the most beautiful definitions I’ve ever seen.
“Health seems to be a harmonious blend of strength, energy, enthusiasm, gratitude and empathy in the body, mind and spirit.”
She maintains this harmony in her own life by attending regular senior fitness classes in cardio training twice weekly, strength training once weekly, chair yoga classes once or twice per week, plus regular walking in nature or her neighborhood, and leaning toward a sensible Mediterranean diet.
The Best Instructor
Wanda is inspired by her friend and senior fitness class instructor, Steve (who happens to be the very same Steve inspires me and who I train with!). He makes the whole class laugh on a regular basis, challenges them with new routines and brain games, and educates about fitness without ever being preachy. Steve is also an inspiration to many people.
He also continually demonstrates how to modify, if there are ever flexibility issues such as problems with knees, backs, shoulders and so on.
She and my grandma (her sister) often attend these classes together, and had been singing Steve’s praises for years before I finally picked up the phone and gave him a call. I don’t know what took me so long!
The Challenge of Healthy Eating
While Auntie Wanda leans toward a Mediterranean diet, she does mention that healthy eating is a continual challenge with life-long weight issues, something I think a lot of us can relate to . . . I know I can!
As a general rule, she tries to eat more vegetables and less bread (which is one of the toughest parts of the diet, because what’s not to love about good bread?), and she eats beef once a week on average. She is also sure to have a snack with both protein and carbs within an hour after each workout.
Examples of snacks she may have include string cheese with an apple, 7-8 raw almonds, or walnuts.
I asked Wanda if she would do anything differently if she could start her journey with wellness over again, and she said she would commit to a fun, sustainable fitness routine at an earlier age, and enjoy more hikes in places of beauty.
This was so powerful to me, because exercise is often made out to be a chore we just have to get over with and move on with our day. But what if exercise could a joyful part of the day, maybe even something to look forward to? That would sure make it easier to accomplish and to stick with for years to come.
She also said that the most important lesson she’s learned since beginning her journey toward a healthier lifestyle is to forgive herself when going off-track, because “it’s only human to falter on occasion; each day we are alive is an opportunity to begin again. How lucky is that?”
A True Inspiration to Many People
Auntie Wanda is one of the kindest souls I’ve been fortunate enough to know. She inspires me and many others in our family (without even trying to!) on a regular basis to keep up our work toward harmonious health.
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