Well, I’m always pleased to share a success story and while I wish I could take credit this story is older than me, but my first and most lasting inspiration to do what I do. This is the story of my Grandma Dot who turned 86 yesterday. You’d never know it. I say that not solely because I’m biased, but because she is truly an inspiringly healthy, fit, and beautiful older lady by any standard. I’ve included a picture from yesterday to prove it!
Dot always worked in the beauty industry and was very successful at what she did. She pioneered the first full service hair and beauty salon in Toronto, she did it in an upscale area, and she was a woman, and she was in her fifties! This after having great success selling cosmetics and being a makeup artist too.
So she rocked at what she did for a living. She also rocked at baking. Her love of baked goods and tasty treats caught up with her, and she was told she was pre-diabetic. While Dot is mostly a go-all-the-way kind of lady, with that she wasn’t so interested in taking it to the next level. So she decided to turn her health around and take diet and exercise to the next level instead. In the ‘70s when essentially nobody else was on a diet for their health or anything else she was brown bagging her lunches and asking for modifications in restaurants. She took up jogging, she might have tried spin or Zumba, but this was the ‘70s and there was jogging or jogging at that time. You might be saying “so what?” well if you were around during this time this was newsworthy. Actually. Her lifestyle change and what she was up to made the paper (the paper is this thing we used to subscribe to and read to get the news before the days of internet and blogs).
By the time I rolled out in the early ‘80s Grandma Dot was superfit; I’ve never known her any other way. When I was sick and had poor immunity as a kid she had me in to see her naturopath who put me on my first “get healthy” diet (this by the way is excellent in retrospect, but at 5 years old I was less impressed about not having cake, pop, chocolate, and cookies like everyone else. It took me a while to appreciate this gesture).
A couple of times she let me go with her on her jogs. Clearly I slowed her down, I remember all too well her frustration as I dawdled with a skipping rope and couldn’t keep pace. It did however bring that “regular exercise routine” influence into my life. When I would sleep over at her condo she would always take me swimming and a couple of times she let me try a few things in the gym even though children weren’t allowed. Bad Grandma!
This is not to say that I didn’t have other great influences, and I have been very fortunate that way, but my Grandmother still can’t get through a conversation without mentioning the word “healthy”, no matter the context she finds a way! And with that always top of mind when I was around her, it rubbed off. The health and fitness, as well as the entrepreneurial bug too.
And Dot’s not just had it all easy since the ‘70s. Despite her good health choices she’s had a couple of injuries that could have stopped her from maintaining that exercise. She’s broken a few bones and had to have some surgery, but she’s not been stopped for any longer than her casts have forced her (and even then she was tricky to keep still). I might point out that her healthy lifestyle has her pumping out more energy than most anyone you’ve ever met, save for perhaps a young child on a sugar high.
She’s also tried new things since jogging: line dancing, aerobics, and other group exercise, resistance training, cycling, kayaking, cross-country skiing are some I can think of off the top of my head. Her “things” now are tai-chi and walking. She walks along this path near her place and there’s a hill off the path that she climbs a few times during her walk, then tells me her glutes are really strong and makes me poke her behind: Grandma’s got buns of steel!