Exercise All Day

When someone learns that I lost more than forty-five pounds at age fifty-four, one of the first questions they ask is, “Do you exercise a lot every day?”

The truth is, you cannot exercise away a bad diet. I do not go to the gym or take classes, or do any particular routine regularly. I do move with purpose throughout the day. Sitting at my desk for more than an hour is a rarity. Going for a long brisk walk when the weather is agreeable is by far my favorite exercise. More importantly, I incorporate lots of stair climbing, fast walking, and stretching into all of my waking hours.

For example, while washing dishes (I have a washer but rarely use it), I stand on one foot while doing side leg extensions with the other because I want to remain mindful of balance and posture. This often-repeated habit also builds core strength. Flexibility, balance, and strength can diminish with age and less activity. While sitting at my desk, I often extend and slowly lift one leg at a time, engaging my core and thighs’ muscles to do so. These are slow, controlled movements.

You will never see me circling the lot in search of the space closest to the building. I park far away from the door and walk briskly to the building. While I am in the store, I stride past all the processed, boxed, bagged, and canned foods. That is perhaps the most important “exercise” of all. We often enjoy a date night or evening at a restaurant with friends. These are not occasions to treat myself to every decadent dish on the menu. I often order a salad with a side of steamed vegetables, skip the bread and share a few bites of a dessert with Mr. Mickey. I eat small portions and drink lots of water every day. My daily diet includes many fresh vegetables and leafy greens (wash them, slice them and arrange them on a plate, no recipe required.) Fresh fruit, grains, nuts, and seeds are breakfast.

I do not “save” trips. If something needs to go upstairs, I take the steps two at a time and put it where it belongs. I clean my house, often and with gusto. My kitchen gets mopped daily. The bathrooms get cleaned daily. The rugs get vacuumed at least twice each week. The wood floors get dust mopped three or more times a week. Sitting in front of the TV has never been something I could do for more than a few minutes, so I don’t even have cable. I haven’t turned on my TV in a year.

I gained weight several times because I did not understand the power of nutrition and regular vigorous movement throughout my day. I was tricked into believing that aging meant gaining weight and having lots of aches and pains (even in my forties!).

My physical and psychological health was negatively affected by eating the wrong things and too much of them. I also moved through my days like a slug. I had no energy and rarely slept for more than three or four hours, so I was always tired. I weighed more than two hundred pounds in my early forties, so I understand when women tell me how difficult it is for them to make positive changes. Start slow. Go for a walk, even if it is in your home. Walk or dance around your apartment for ten minutes. Tomorrow, aim for fifteen minutes. Do not drink a soda today. Eat a raw vegetable and a piece of fruit today. Drink a full glass of water. Right now is always an excellent time to start taking care of yourself.

We each had one glass of wine on this date night, and we shared an appetizer-sized vegetarian pizza. The long jacket and coated jeans are old from Chico’s. The black top is by Covered Perfectly. I didn’t wear a necklace or scarf because enough was going on with shoes. They are old by French Connection.

  1. Thank you Susan, for all that you so willingly share with us. I love the colors you wear. I too look better in bright colors and am learning to work with that. Have a wonderful day.

  2. I go to the gym almost everyday. One day I do cardio and the next day I do weights. On Thurs I do line dancing. I try to watch my carbs and was told by my doctor to eat more fiber and protein.
    Recently a friend of mine lost 70lbs and didnt do any type of exercise and now is dealing with lots of lose skin, not just in the belly area but on her arms, legs and face. One has to do some sort of exercise to keep the skin tight.
    Thats why I incorporate weights into my program. Keep up the good work Susan….you look amazing.

  3. Thank you thank you I’m 56 with about 40 lbs to loose You Inspired me with all your wonderful tips drinking my glass of water now thanks again so much Margaret from Ohio

  4. Do you run your business out of your home – the jewelry portion, I mean – in order to have so much time to do housework during the week? Just curious.

    And just a note to Carol Joseph’s earlier post, as we age, our skin loses elasticity, so it is very possible that your friend is stuck with loose skin and exercise will not help. Exercise tones the muscles but it can’t make skin that has lost its elasticity shrink. Or so my dermatologist told me.

    1. I have an excellent staff that runs my warehouse for the jewelry business. I am up working by 3 AM most mornings, and I don’t stop until around 9 PM every day. I am still very involved with my jewelry supply company, run my shopping site alone, as well as publishing the blog. I am involved in many charities and special events in my area. I make time for the things that are important to me like visiting with my family every week, calling my mom every day and spending time with my dear Mr. Mickey often.

      My dermatologist told me the same thing about loose skin and another Doctor told me to stop lifting weights over my head immediately. (I have many bone spurs on my vertebra and a misaligned neck.) I try to share practical ideas that most folks can add into their day. Sometimes it’s just an attitude change that makes a lot of difference in a person’s life.

  5. I do the same type of things for exercise all day long. When I get to the lab every morning, I literally move the chair away from the counter high bench I work at and stand all day. I also have a Sonicare toothbrush with a 2 minute cycle. While brushing my teeth, I do wall sits. I do leg lifts with 3 lbs ankle weights while watching Jeopardy every evening. I’m sure many other readers have some great tips as well!

  6. Susan,
    You are my favorite blogger! I love your style and you have such a classy/classic look! I love your gray hair. I appreciate your very clean, uncluttered blog page and clear descriptions and links to the clothing that you are modeling. Well done my friend!!!

  7. NYC is a walking city and in addition to that, carrying packages from the grocery stores frequently is great exercise. I live in a studio apartment so housekeeping is not as extensive as yours seems to be. Recovering from knee surgery, I have only now returned to the gym to do the bike and leg weights a couple of times a week. I enjoy cooking, eating and wine or cocktails. Going out with friends is a major form of entertainment. My height and weight (5’7″ and 140) has been stable for many years so I am happy with my lifestyle.

    It seems that your lifestyle is working very well for you so vive la difference!

  8. Susan, again you offer us very sound, do-able advise. You have given me several low intensity exercises that I will add to my routine. I also clean my own house because I think of it as a trip to the gym. I’ve saved time and money. You look aaaamazing! Speaking of color, I saw myself in a picture recently. I was wearing a pale gray sweater and it really drained me. I needed some color up around my face. I love gray and own lots of it so now I’m searching for small scarves with a spark of color to add to all my gray tops. I will check out your shop.

  9. Thank you for the good advice. Looking well as we age is not easy but I love your advice of how we can all take care of ourselves.

    I am going to take a page out of your book and start slow and add something every day.

  10. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your blog. Your style is elegantly comfortable and classic. Exactly what I wanted mine to be but wasn’t sure how to get there. Until I found your blog. I’m happily redoing my wardrobe in the neutral tones that work best for me. The reason I started redoing my wardrobe wasn’t just on a whim. I lost 20 pounds last year. And at age 67, it was a triumph. I’m now turning my attention to healthier eating, again, thanks to you.

    Best wishes for continuing success, health and much happiness.

    Phyllis Kennedy

  11. Susan, I very much appreciate the amount of time you take to keep your blog updated.
    But I must admit I’m confused about the whole carb/paleo issue. You’re looking so good on your plant-based diet that I’m tempted to follow your example. However, so many people are saying that paleo is the way to go to prevent bloating.
    I’d be grateful for your thoughts on this dilemma.

  12. I really enjoy reading your blog each day. You have positive & common sense on your diet & exercise. last year in April 2016 I joing weight watchers & I have been very conscious to get in more exercise & eating clean. I love your outfits and appreciate a more mature opinion of how to dress well & stylish. Keep up the good work! – – Sue L.

  13. This is such a practical post, Susan. Thank you for these common sense reminders! Do you mind me asking where you got the beautiful cabinet that is in the picture–the one behind the love seat/sofa.

  14. Hi Susan, Don’t know why, but not receiving my blog subscription last few times, but can visit you on FB…miss it! Hoping it will resolve soon. Have a great weekend! Laura

  15. I think the beautiful mirrored chest used to be sold by Shades of Light, an online retailer of lighting goods, rugs and some furniture.

  16. We definitely have to keep moving. It’s that old saying “use it or lose it”. We have a dog who walks me 2 miles a day weather permitting. We walk at a pretty good pace after he does his business. The other thing that has kept my weight down is to stop eating when I am full and to lose that two or three pounds I may gain before they become twenty three.

  17. Can’t believe I just discovered you through FaceBook! So excited to find someone to guide me through this phase. I turned 60 in August, I’m 5’11” and weigh 160 lbs. If you meet me in person, you will say that I’m thin and fine on my weight (my height hides “issues”). In fact, I have a thick middle that I hate. Still working full time outside of the home so my schedule can’t be the same as your schedule. But, I do roll out every morning at 4 a.m. to walk 4.5 miles before I jump in the shower. Unless it’s raining; not walking in the rain. Really want to drop 15 lbs., but not willing to give up wine for the battle! So, I do the best I can with the rest of my diet and exercise. I truly am the living example of not being able to exercise off a bad diet. Frankly, I hate eating healthy – I’d love to eat a Reese’s Easter Egg right now (and we have them in the kitchen….). Thanks for your blog; I look forward to following you going forward.

  18. You are so right when you say that nutrition must go hand in hand with activity. I have been doing classes (aerobics with weights and Zumba) one hour a day, five days a week for a year. I have not lost one ounce and have actually gained 3 lbs. After my son’s wedding last year, I stopped restrictive dieting because I could no longer bear it and substituted daily activity. While I may be more fit, I am not slimmer. And so, something has to change. I will continue the classes, but need to change my eating habits without chaining myself to a diet that I hate. And, I found that soda, diet or regular, was the biggest culprit in bloating for me. Once I stopped, the belly bloat that had plagued me subsided. Now to find an eating plan that works for me.

  19. Once you adopt plant-based eating and this “integrated” style of moving throughout your day, you will never again fall victim to the latest diet/fitness craze that fills every grocery store checkout line and TV infomercial.

  20. I LOVE this! Have been a fan of your blog for quite some time, but finding this article in the Vibrant Nation was a perfect reminder for me (as I’m trying to work on my own weight gain) from menopause AND bad nutrition (also struggle with IBS).

    Thank you Susan!

  21. I so admire the way you dress and always look so chic. I notice that all your clothing is in solid color. Do you not care for prints or do you consider a print non-Chic? I am having second thoughts about wearing any of my print tops.

  22. Susan I applaud your comments on weight loss I think as women we are told early on your destiny is muffin top. I don’t believe that is true and our life style is a piece of the puzzle to ageing how we want to age. I will be turning 51 next week and I feel and look healthier then when I was a lot younger. I have enjoyed your blog and tips on fashion they get me to think outside side my traditional box. Have a fantastic week. Fit at 50.

  23. Those are really great tips and so much common sense if you think about. Not crazy about the house cleaning idea but I agree that it is good exercise.

  24. I just”discovered” you on Pinterest ! I fell in love with your look. So stylish! I thought that is what I want to do…go from frumpy to…fabulous! I am so impressed by your transformation.
    On March 14th I was laying in bed feeling sorry for my self because I felt so frumpy and everything hurt. I jumped out of bed at that moment and signed up at our local gym… it was too cold to be out. I have walked every day since! I have felt so much better. But how to get out of the frumpy mindset????? I am 66, short, need to lose 50 lbs. and can not wear heels.
    I don’t know where to start. I will spend the rest of the night reading the blog!
    Thank you for the inspiration.

    1. You will learn to make better clothing choices most of the time. (I still make a few mistakes occasionally.) Forgive yourself and move on with joy. (I rarely wear heels now.)

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.