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In 1972 I launched my very first slimming class. Click here to read how it all began.


Some of you will recall me telling you about my hubby’s Auntie Pauline who lives in Grimsby. Auntie Pauline is one of those people that we meet and immediately think ‘I hope I’ll be like you when I’m your age!’.

Three years ago Auntie Pauline, then aged 90, unfortunately fell twice in a relatively short period of time, breaking her hip on one of those occasions. From living independently for many years, it was felt she would be safer if she moved to a care home. Slowly she recovered and became more mobile but she developed ulcers on her legs and the nurse commented on how thick her blood was, hardly being able to take a blood pressure reading.

When Pauline told me, I knew she needed to move more so I taught her some leg and foot exercises over the phone. COVID, of course, hit us all and Pauline found herself unable to even venture out of her bedroom for weeks because the care home was in lockdown. Pauline nevertheless continued to diligently work toward getting fitter. The ulcers healed remarkably quickly much to the nurse’s delight.
Over time Pauline became fitter and more confident and after 18 months she decided to move out of the care home and back into a private flat to live independently where she is positively flourishing.

We regularly chat on the phone and the other day she commented that she was getting a bit out of breath after doing a few jobs around the flat. I explained that her heart and lungs probably were not as fit as they could be after living in a single room for so long but, over time, we could help her become fitter so that she wouldn’t get so puffed. I suggested that she walk a whole circuit of her flat, (bedroom, living room, hall, bathroom, kitchen) with her little walking frame, once in the morning and again in the afternoon, every day this week. Next week we would perhaps try to increase the distance if she found she could manage it this week. Even before I’d finished speaking that sentence she said, ‘I’ve worked out my route. Yes, I will do that and I’ll let you know how I got on when we speak on Friday.’  Don’t you just love that ‘can do’ attitude!

Now aged 93, Pauline is still as mentally sharp as she’s ever been and nothing gets past her. When she ordered a present for a friend at Christmas and they sent the wrong one she called to tell them. They asked her to return the ‘wrong’ one and then they would send the correct one. ‘Which Christmas tree do you think I fell off?’ she told them. ‘No, you send me the one I ordered and I will return the wrong one at my convenience’.  The correct one arrived the next day!

Having a positive attitude and not making excuses as we grow older is the key to a happier life. I am always inspired by the example of people I come into contact with like my class member Pam, (86), who still came to my fitness class despite having had a fall in the garden that afternoon; or one of our Newsletter readers, Jennie, who is also in her 80s, who is now fit and slim having followed our advice and weekly challenges; or Auntie Pauline, getting back to living independently after a set-back. We can all learn from positive role models like these. Well done to you all!

Staying fit and feeling young is an attitude. Let’s work on developing ours!

Recipe of the Week

This recipe is ideal for using up leftover rice and turning it into a highly nutritious quick-to-prepare lunch. Perfect for anyone whether you regularly follow a plant-based diet or not.

Serves 2
Per serving: 340 kcal/2.1g fat
Preparation time: 10 minutes

1 Green Portion Pot® cooked Basmati rice
(or 90g uncooked weight Basmati rice boiled in water with a vegetable stock cube)
½ red onion finely chopped
1 pepper finely chopped
200g canned mixed beans, rinsed and drained
½ grated carrot
100g canned sweetcorn including the juice
1 tsp dried coriander leaf
Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and store in a refrigerator. Eat the same day.

Rice can be a common cause of food poisoning if it is reheated incorrectly or if cooked rice is kept at the wrong temperature. So how can we safely use left-overs?

  • If cooking rice to use in a salad cool it as quickly as possible. You can chill it down more quickly by dividing it into smaller portions, spreading it out on a clean, shallow tray, or putting the container of hot rice into a larger container of cold water or ice. Never leave rice in the rice cooker, steamer or pan to cool down and get it down to fridge temperature (5° or less) as soon as possible.
  • Store cooked rice in the fridge for no more than 24 hours before eating.
  • If reheating, check that the rice is steaming hot all the way through and never reheat more than once.
For more recipes click here to visit the website

Fun, Facts & Fitness from Mary Morris MSc.

As we all know, the recent storms left a serious amount of devastation and on one of my regular walking routes that I use for my members there was a huge tree trunk right across the path and we had to look for another way through. Now you need to be aware that the average age of this group is 75 years so you would have been amazed at the physical skills of these sprightly 'oldies' tackling a muddy slope and masses of protruding tree branches.  I mention this as it clearly demonstrates the value of what they do every single week at my classes - they consistently work on muscle strength, stamina, flexibility and balance.  And on this occasion, all those skills were needed!

We have no idea how long we are going to live (thank goodness!) but I am in no doubt that we all hope for a long life that is free from illness and that we are 'physically able'.  So, what does that mean?  Well, there are two types of age: our chronological age and our biological age.  Of course, we all know exactly when we were born so that number of years is our chronological age.  But our biological age can be a very different number – higher or lower!  It is linked almost totally to our lifestyle and can be changed quite simply by eating well and being active.  There is a genetic factor in this too which is not always within our control, but modern medicine with regular health checks can certainly prolong our life as long as it is combined with what we know to be a healthy lifestyle.

Here is an inspiring example for you:

Janice joined my classes at the age of 62.  She had recently retired and was looking for a way of getting fitter and losing weight.  When I measured her on the Body Composition Scales she was 11 stone 5lb so at only 5ft in height this meant that she was defined as ‘obese’ with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 31.2.  Not only that but her body fat level exceeded 40%.  Both of these factors put her health at serious risk. But despite all these alarming statistics the thing that shocked her the most was that these results gave her a biological age of 70 years.  She was ageing a lot quicker than her real age!  Now, in my experience this goes one of two ways, either burying our head in the sand and hoping it will get better or we go full steam ahead and make the changes necessary to increase our chances of a longer and healthier life.

I am pleased to report that Janice did the latter and two years on she has now dropped her BMI to the healthy range of 25 and her body fat to 32.4%, bringing her well within the healthy range for that too.  But the thing that has given her the greatest buzz is that she has managed to drop her biological age by a massive 21 years to 49 years!  The actions Janice took will have greatly improved her overall health and perhaps given her a good few more years enjoying a healthy life.   Well done, Janice!

We know so much more now than we even did a decade ago about how the body ages and what we can do to slow the process.   I am constantly impressed by how my own generation are embracing this whole idea of 'ageing well'.  Check the list below to see whether you are on the right track. Here are the basics:

You need to ensure:

  • You are a healthy weight.  BMI 20-25
  • Have a body fat level in a ‘healthy’ range.  For women aged 65+ that needs to be between 30-36%. (Men’s body fat levels are always lower and should be around 18-24%)
  • Regularly go walking.  Aim for 7-10,000 steps per day
  • Have a positive mental attitude (PMA) like Rosemary's Auntie Pauline!
  • Socialise regularly with others.
  • Have regular medical checks.
Knowing your metabolic/biological age can be a real motivator. In this video, Rosemary interviewed her Personal Assistant, Peter, who had piled on the pounds during lockdown and then bought a set of scales that told him he was 68 when he was only actually 53!

This Week's Fitness Challenge

  1. Download the 'Active 10' App from the NHS.  It splits up your brisk walks into manageable 10-minute slots.  Perfect for the busy person.  It also adds up all your walking minutes for the day.  I have set mine for 3 x 10 minutes and it doesn't matter if I split them up or put them together.  SO useful!
  2. At the end of your daily walk try to use your garden wall or sturdy garden furniture to lean against to do 2 sets of 10 standing press-ups and 'Sit to Stand' x 10 before you go back in the house. You will then have worked two vital strength areas as well as your heart and lungs. You will find both of these strength exercises in the Immunity Plan Workout - Week 1
  3. Work on balance this week.  I challenged my classes this week to increase 'standing on one leg' up to 45 seconds instead of the usual 30 seconds.  Whatever you can manage work on adding a few seconds more! Have a look at Balance Exercises.
  4. Select from our full strength programmes from the website and do one 3 times this week:
Did you know...

Beans and rice are among the oldest foods known to humankind. Both are easy to grow, plentiful, and filling. 

The mix of beans and rice together is a great combination because together they create a complete protein whereas beans alone and rice alone both lack certain essential amino acids.

Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of the parts!

And finally...

I really hope you will take on board everything that Mary has said about our biological age being within our control.  As we become older, life becomes all the more precious and when we understand what we can do to make a real difference to our potential longevity, surely it has to be worth the effort.

Have a great week!

With love and best wishes,

Rosemary Conley CBE DL


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