Nutritional Fitness Advice From Local Experts

Nutrition and Fitness Advice No Matter What Age You Are

They say you cannot outrun a bad diet and they (whoever they are) are correct. It does not matter how much you work out. If you are running 100 miles a day and bench pressing 1000 pound weights, a bad diet of unhealthy foods will not allow your body to make any positive changes. However, you should take fitness as seriously as you should with healthy eating.
And no, we don’t mean this type of Fitness:

x354-q80Because it is Garden Fresh National Nutrition Month, we went out and interviewed a few people to get their advice on what you should be putting into your body and how to get your body moving. We don’t believe fitness and nutrition are reserved for a certain age group. Our interviewees have worked with people of all ages and their answers have remained constant across generations.

Before delving into the interviews, we want to stress how important it is to take fitness and food health seriously. When you don’t give your body the right nutrients it needs and if you aren’t getting the right amount of exercise, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. When we mistreat or bodies like that, they tend to get worn down much faster. As we age, our bodies need protecting even more. Doing healthy things for our bodies can help prevent diseases or aid in making us feel better if we do fall ill. Good foods and exercise keep us strong.

We interviewed three fitness and nutrition experts and got their take on age-less practices to remember

We all love to eat. Unfortunately we sometimes eat too much of the wrong thing and a lot can go wrong from doing that. Sure pizza is delicious and who wouldn’t give anything to have it all day, every day, but it is not realistic and it will most likely make us sick.

Executive Chef Mabel Prado from Spring Hills

To find out how we should be eating we had a chat with Executive Chef Mabel from Spring Hills Memory Care to find out what it is like cooking healthy foods for the residents at the facility. She has worked in over 100 different kitchens, across 35 states – including Alaska and Canada – over the course of 20 years. Mabel will soon be opening and introducing her recipes to Poet’s Walk as new locations are established.

What does your average day look like?

I work with our staff to make sure everyone is in their place and I go to the garden to see what we have in harvest. We have our own garden and there are 6 hydroponic gardens with fresh herbs to grow ourselves. with every recipe we make, we make sure use fresh ingredients and it doesn’t get much fresher than your own backyard. We Keep the garden organic and grow vegetables such as lettuce, tomato, cilantro, and peppers.
I have spent over 10 years working with Spring Hills and we use anything organic we can add to our recipes and try not to use too much salt. We like to make all of our recipes taste amazing even if not all of the residents can properly taste them. Essentially, we take pride in the recipes we make and it shows.

We also make sure they are tailored to the residents. We try to make everything fresh, but sometimes with over 100 residents to cook for at once, it’s tough. Some things come frozen, like corn, so we can handle the volume, but we avoid too many already made products.

Residents pick the menu themselves. Whatever they ask, we can make, since everyone loves food that makes them comfortable.

What do you recommend people eat starting out on their fitness journey?

The number one issue is, you need to have vegetables, everyone is scared of vegetables: especially the residents.

We have our own signature smoothies to help them eat vegetables and we made our first recipe book in 2013. We developed the body smoothie, soul smoothie, and mind smoothie. We turn recipes into something fun and exciting to keep things fresh.

What is your opinion on using supplements? Like vitamin D or C pills? Should people forego them all together and just get those through food?

I don’t believe in pills myself. I believe everything we need is already out there. But, it also depends on your health situation. Protein shakes are good when breakfast is on the go. If someone has a deficiency, you need to find the right vegetables to make up for it. Make the smoothies something that the person likes so they will want to drink it and get the vitamins they need. It is different for every person.

Part of the main problem is that people are not eating vegetables. There are 90 year olds – some of which have never had greens, because this is what they’re used to. It’s tough to help them to want to eat vegetables.

We have menus, which includes breakfast and desert, with nutritional facts. It’s to keep our residents aware of what they eat and what’s in the food. This is not only to inform them, but to help educate them and get them involved in their diet. Many people go for steak and potatoes right away, but forget the important vitamins, because they don’t want it or it isn’t as appealing.

People don’t always necessarily know they have to have certain foods to get certain nutrients, but if they are more aware of it, they begin to understand why and how to get them. For example. there are lots of other sources of protein than just meat. Kids like to eat chicken tenders, but it is not something you should eat everyday. I recommend trying to add extra onions and peppers, to help ease into other vegetables.

If someone has certain medical problems, would you change the way you guide them on what they should be eating?

Because of variety, our menu for assistive living includes over 36 choices. There are appetizers, salads, sandwiches, etc. Our residents eat what they love, but we also encourage variety. They use the menu as a guide for being heart healthy, depending on what they need and with use of the nutritional facts. Our menus are diabetic friendly as well.

Do you have a favorite recipe?

My comfort food is rice and beans – with added garlic, onion, pepper, and tomatillos. I love Thai and Mediterranean cuisine with lots of fresh ingredients. You don’t have to go to Greece for fresh ingredients. There is no need for frozen when you can go fresh.

“Eating and prepping a meal is a celebration. It is a touch of love and freshness.”

We have some ham recipes, which are healthier than turkey recipes. As a chef I try to get as many fresh animals as I can too from good organic sources, avoid frozen. Fresh is easier to access now a days.

Haley from Brewing Happiness

The second person we got in touch with was Haley, a blogger from Brewing Happiness. When we spoke with her we learned a bit about her and got her take on healthy eating.

Explain who you are and what Brewing happiness is all about.

My name is Haley and I grew up in a small town in Georgia. I grew up on all the southern food you could imagine like biscuits and gravy all the time. When I grew up, I spent 5 years on the West Coast living in LA and I witnessed a complete change in food philosophy, but I loved it! I was very into Green Juice and Salads, and the pendulum swung the other way.

However, I realized that neither extreme turned out to be very healthy for me as the pendulum swung too far either way. My idea was to find the middle ground, give your body what it needs and not stress about it.

I don’t calorie count. I believe your body tells you when it needs a cookie and when it needs a salad.

Brewing happiness started as a hobby from this journey. I think cooking is a cool creative outlet, but it became obvious to me that it could become a full time job. It has been full time for a solid 6-8 months and I couldn’t be happier.

What do you recommend people eat starting out on their nutritional journey? Someone who thinks “I want to be healthy, what do I do to start?”

Everything in your life comes down to small changes that eventually make a big change. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed or swayed by different philosophies on food or health. It can come down to the idea that I’m going to commit to walking for 30 minutes for 5 days a week. Commit to moving my body in some way. Maybe this month I will have less dairy and see how it affects my body.

I recommend adding 1-2 days where you eat meatless; it’s definitely not hard to do, but requires tiny mental changes. Maybe switch out the oil you cook with or a healthier fat. One of my faves is switching coconut sugar for granulated sugar. It’s like half the points on the Glycemic index scale. It’s just as sweet when you bake but doesn’t affect your body.

Do you think that age plays into this?

No I don’t. It’s funny; a lot of my blog inspiration when cooking comes from my grandmother who was always in the kitchen, who cooked for us as a traditional southern woman. She died from heart issues and to me it was a moment I realized I wish I had a bigger impact on her cooking like she did on mine. It might not have changed anything, but I believe it’s never too late to start and why not try it? There is no reason to not try to be healthier.

What is your opinion on using supplements? Like vitamin D or C pills? Should people forego them all together and just get those through food?

I came from a family who said there was a pill for everything. I don’t necessarily subscribe to it fully, but if you think you’re not getting the most from your diet, take a multivitamin. Try to add in any plant-based foods to substitute for it.

Not that we eat the perfect diet to get all the vitamins we need, but there are plenty of foods out there, we survived without supplements for a long time, but now we have fast food and cars, so as we evolved, we found new ways to digest these nutrients. The fact remains that they have always been here and it’s a matter of knowing what foods give you the proper vitamins your body needs.

If someone has certain medical problems, would you change the way you guide them on what they should be eating?

For sure. I think food directly affects our health. I’m not gonna say eating a certain diet will cure cancer, but I believe there are lots of foods that are heart healthy and some studies show certain foods do help with digestion, maybe prevent cancer in some way, but generally it can be a great way to control your health. I eat healthier when something in my body is off by adjusting what I intake. I also believe there are limitations to that and there is always a middle ground.

Do you have a favorite recipe?

A) As a desert – I have:
Salted Tahini Chocolate pudding
It takes five minutes to make and it’s pudding made out avocado.

For Lunch BBQ tofu wrap. I also house pickle my vegetables. I love to make wraps.

For Dinner: 15 minute marinated mushroom pasta made with Zucchini Noodles – very easy to make for meatless days.

Do you have anything else you would like to add?

I would add my platform “Celebrate Healthier” which means to celebrate all the little steps I was talking about. Instead of thinking of health as a long terrible journey that’s hard and you’re never quite there, just celebrate the small steps along the way. Know the journey is all about being healthy.

Laura Miller

As mentioned earlier in the reading, fitness is equally as important about exercise but it can be a little intimidating on figuring out how to get started. To get insight on fitness for a healthier future, we spoke to Tai Chi and Yoga instructor, Laura Miller.

Tell us about you do.

I teach regular yoga, hatha yoga, and yoga for arthritic students. My oldest student is 90 years old. I’ve also had clients who’ve had brain injuries.

I teach in a fitness center and I teach a county program for seniors. I teach in a hospital wellness center. Some days I may teach four classes, some days one or two; I move from class to class depending on the schedule. I also teach Chair Yoga seated for people who can’t sit on the floor.

What steps do you take/recommend to get yourself moving and motivated about fitness?

I have a lot of people who have never done yoga or tai chi before, so it’s good for people to try different things. You tend to stick with something you’re comfortable with. My yoga classes are traditional mat on the floor, as long as someone can get down on the floor.

We also offer Chair yoga, which we do sitting and standing and Thai chi can be sitting or standing.

Yoga students tend to follow the instructor. I make sure to give verbal cues and go through the routine with them, and I find people follow along after 2-3 times. They understand, and they can follow.
I tell people to give it 2-3 tries per class and let the instructor know if you’re new to the class. Maybe there can be alternate poses.

I also tell people to honor your body and skip anything not appropriate for you. It could be long term, or just that day you’re sore somewhere. They can come out of any pose before I do if needed and then move more gently into poses to feel what’s a good stretch.

Be aware and help people become more connected to their bodies.
Many are already physically active, but some come late in life who haven’t done too much. It could be the first opportunity to connect to their body. It is
very calming; emotionally, and centering. We work on allowing the mind to become quiet. We notice a thought coming and see it drift away bringing you back to the moment. Both are practices for being present in the moment. It’s not about before or after.

What kind of exercises can you recommend for someone who is a bit older who wants to start working towards a healthy lifestyle? Do you just use modifications?

Chair Yoga

Someone might not be able to easily get up and down to the floor. Maybe there is someone with an injury or they are just not comfortable on the floor. They could have tight hips for example. They can do modified poses from the regular yoga. Depending on their flexibility of the class, we modify the poses.

There are modifications if they aren’t aware of the chair yoga class. One person started in mat class, but moved to chair class. Some people start in the chair, but realize they can get up and down and do the mat class.
One student, had been coming for years, and developed Alzheimer’s and kept coming to class. She came with her caregiver to keep going, and she moved away, but she loved coming to class and could follow along.

Have you ever worked with people who have had disabilities that prohibited them from doing certain things? How would you work around that?

I recommend talking to a physician first and finding out what is appropriate for you and what is not. A lot is physical, but some is mental (mind over matter). With Thai chi, the goal is for people to learn the form, which has 6 beginning movements, 12 total movements, and advanced form. People can come to Thai Chi and follow me without practice, or they can practice at home, and practice a form at home to learn after class.

The Tai Chi practice is by Paul LAM, a medical doctor in Australia with many programs. His method involves people watch you do the pose and do it along with you, then repeat on their own, then you watch and help them correct it (watch me, follow me, show me). You might not get it right first, but as you recall, you learn a little more until you master it. It teaches you how to learn something new and become calm.

You can get more information on the practice at

What would you recommend to help people keep up on their fitness routine?

One thing I’ve found is to find a buddy to exercise with. Some people sign up with a friend to help motivate each other. Some people meet friends and become friend outside of class. I try to make a warm community where people have Yoga in common. Find something you’re comfortable with and, if you try one class with an instructor who doesn’t work for you, then move one and find one that will give that comfort.

What is your favorite exercise to do?

I love the meditative aspect of it. It doesn’t matter what pose I do, whether strength or relaxation, but if I feel very calm, that’s my favorite feeling. It strengthens your Prana, your vital life force. You experience it when doing yoga. It helps keep the body flexible.

All of our experts really shine a light on the fact that people of all ages need to focus on nutrition and fitness. It’s never too late to begin focusing on your body and we hope we’ve given you some ideas of how you will improve your health as well. At Poet’s Walk, we are all about the best nutrition and appropriate fitness for our residents as both lead to a very happy lifestyle.