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Our Great Grandmothers Wouldn’t Recognize Us: We’re Healthier, Happier and Crushing It!

By Wendy Irvine October 16, 2022 Health and Fitness

When I was young, the stars aligned, and I was able to know my great grandmother. I remember a kind lady who was very smiley, but tough to talk with because she mostly spoke Italian.

My mom remembers Mamie having lived a difficult life and looking very old when she was only in her 40s.

But it was Mamie’s ring finger that I’ll never forget. Having lost the top third (with the nail) in an old-timey washing machine, it looked like a Vienna sausage. The skin just grew over her little stump-finger.

Women of yesteryear were tough. (And, spoiler alert: so are you and I.)

Can you imagine? Those women had no right to vote (until 1920 in the U.S.), iffy birth control, sketchy medical care, no Pampers, no dishwasher.

I complain if I run out of almond milk.

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.

– Jim Rohn

My Point

Generations of women have been transforming the female culture through the decades and centuries, and you and I are the (insanely) happy recipients.

We take care of our health: we’re certainly more into fitness than generations past, and we prefer to stay at a healthier weight than our great grandmothers.

Women in their 70s and 80s today live life to the fullest; we aren’t sitting in our rocker, cat in lap, excited for the latest episode of Days of Our Lives.

We’re running 5Ks, learning to indoor rock climb, and kayaking on the local river.

We’re not afraid of the work involved to stay lean over age 50. Whether we’re losing weight because our surgeon won’t schedule a hip replacement until we lose 30 lbs.; we want to lose 10 for our grandson’s wedding; or we’re tired of our clothes pinching, we’re starting to understand that we can take control over our weight loss.

But here’s how we’re different from generations in the past: we’re maintaining our loss of extra weight. Called a “forever loss,” maintenance has burst onto the modern health scene.

Now It’s Our Turn

What will you and I contribute to the vast sisterhood of women who came before us and left so much good in their wake?

How about the concept that we can reinvent how we engage with our health? Starting with how we eat.

Bequeathing Wealth to the Next Generation

You and I know that there’s so much wrong with the fast food industry, the grocery store aisles packed with sugar, salt and fat, and holidays swimming in food-porn.

As we lose and maintain after age 50, let’s be proud that something much larger is happening here.

We’ve decided not to drink the Kool-Aid. Society doesn’t get to tell us “how it is” about our health. We’re taking charge of our health and happiness.

We’re showing the world how it’s done.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you think of yourself as tough – take no prisoners — when it comes to your health? Do you live with the – mythical – notion that women “over a certain age” can’t lose weight and keep it off? Do you think of yourself as someone who “drinks the Kool-Aid” when it comes to your health and weight loss?

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Absolutely!!!! My tough grandmother bore 10 children: she lived to 101, a daughter until 108, another daughter to 104, the rest (unless they succumb to cancer) lived well into their eighties (my dad was the youngest and lived until 84). They ( and consequently my family) always had a big garden and fruit trees, baked their own breads and desserts and rarely ate fast food or processed food. They all walked and walked and walked – everywhere! They scrubbed the floors and worked in their gardens and were always SO positive (and religious- the old fashioned religious that believed in taking care of others). I learned that joy and compassion, hard work, clean eating and moving our bodies all day long is a key to healthful longevity.
Thank you for this article and the reminder that our bodies, our minds and our spirits are to be taken care of with love

Farida Shah

Yes ,we are very fortunate and blessed.
I just would like to add – why we are not encouraging our children and grand children to cook at home and stop ordering food all the times and eating processed and frozen goods. The flavour of home cooked food bring positivity in the house.
Maintaining good mental health is equally important.


This is so true! I’m more physically fit at 70 than I was at 50. I no longer diet – after a lifetime of yo-yo-ing. I manage my weight just like I manage my fitness – proactively rather than reactively. And for the long-haul, rather to look good for some event or to avoid criticism from others who love to sit in judgement. After the recent death of my 37 year old son, there is so little that really matters any more – except love, relationships, and health. I need to be here and active to make sure that his young children have all they need to grow into strong and healthy adults. The past year has been absolute hell, but with many blessings along the way and so many reasons for gratitude. I’m grateful that I am healthy and strong enough to be able to support my family – now and, hopefully, for many more years.


You are absolutely right. I call this the cohort effect – I’ve written a book where I discuss it at length.

The Author

Wendy Irvine knows the difficulty of losing and maintaining weight, post menopause. After a lifetime of struggle, she lost 55lbs. in her 40s, and maintains the loss 17 years later (she’s currently 59). For the granular how-to, please visit her website.

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