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In honor of this upcoming Mother’s Day, I thought I’d write about the great influence my mother has had on my own healthy way of living today. I have mentioned my mother a few times in my writings before and, I must admit, I have yet to meet another woman as passionate or absorbed into healthy eating and exercising as Mom.

Just this morning, Mom called me up to discuss Bob Greene’s latest book, “20 Years Younger: Look Younger, Feel Younger, Be Younger.” He was on ABC’s Good Morning America earlier and she caught the clip. She suggested I should buy his book and that she’s going to get it, too. Mom is 86 years young.

You have to love Mom’s spunk and relentless dedication to health and wellness. As long as I can remember, this was her way of living. When I asked how her interest in living healthy first began, Mom says she happened to catch a television program, sometime between the births of my two older brothers, that instantly ignited her interest and fascination into wellness. And she took to the subject like a sponge.

Mom was always a ferocious reader and she began reading all of the latest and greatest health and nutrition books of her time. She scoured newspapers and magazines for columns and articles, and surfed radio and television channels for shows broadcasting the latest and greatest on diet, exercising and overall wellness.

For years, she drove from the suburbs of Philadelphia into the City of Brotherly Love to take yoga lessons from a then well-known instructor. His name now slips her, but that’s okay; after all Mom is in her mid-eighties. When finding the time to travel to the city for her classes became challenging, Mom switched to practicing the physical discipline at home. Sometimes I would see her in her bedroom stretching and bending into all sorts of yoga positions and poses, then to the teachings of Mara Carrico.

In addition to her yoga, Mom rode the stationary bike we kept downstairs, walked at a nearby track with a neighbor of ours, and followed the exercise routines of Francois Henri “Jack” LaLanne, the renowned exercise and nutritional guru who is referred to as the “godfather of fitness” or the “first fitness superhero.” As a child, I remember seeing his classes on TV with LaLanne dressed in tight-fitting clothing, and my mom following his instructions to a tee.

Accompanying Mom’s commitment to exercising, she also faithfully followed the teachings of several public health advocates which lead to her attraction to vitamins and nutrition. Almost daily, you would hear her listening to Dr. Carlton Fredericks on the radio in our kitchen. Once considered “America’s Foremost Nutritionist,” Dr. Frederick discussed vitamin and nutrition therapy for nearly half a century on the radio, broadcasting six days a week and nationally syndicated. Dr. Linus Pauling was another favorite of hers. An author of best-seller “How to Live Longer and Feel Better,” Dr. Pauling was an advocate on the very high intake of vitamins, especially vitamin C. Mom read this book and others of his. Then there is urologist James Balch, M.D. who co-authored “Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A to Z Guide to Supplements,” a book that has sold over 3.5 million copies to date. Dr. Bach also authored “Prescription for Dietary Wellness,” “Prescription for natural Cures” and “The Super Antioxidants.”

Mom also has read the writings of Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a board certified cardiologist, nutritionist, and anti-aging specialist specializing in integrative medicine; Dr. Isadore “Izzy” Rosenfeld, perhaps the most famous cardiologist in the world, plus a distinguished Professor of Medicine at New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center and a well-known health authority in medical media; and Robert Kowalski, a renowned medical journalist and another best-selling author who was known for his a pioneering advocacy for quitting smoking, reducing saturated fat and cholesterol, increasing  exercise and adding oat bran and fish oil to a heart-healthy diet.

As a result of Mom’s healthy lifestyle, our refrigerator was stocked with all sorts of vitamins, supplements, minerals and herbs while growing up. No sweets could be found in our house, vitamins were served with breakfast, and all food labels were examined by Mom before entering our kitchen. When I was a child, she enrolled me in every sporting activity under the sun and encouraged me to continue my athletic endeavors well into my adulthood.

Although I didn’t see it then, Mom’s ways had a way of rubbing off on me. The older and wiser I become, the more I am like my mom with a similar strong allegiance to nutrition, fitness and overall wellness. Like her, I have added yoga to my workout regimen and, for the last several years, read books by Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Steven Pratt, Dr. Rosenfeld and Dr. Mehmet Oz among others. And to top matters off, vitamins come with breakfast, food labels are read before entering the kitchen, and, with the exception of dark chocolate, no sweets are in the house.

Thanks to my mom for a wonderful upbringing and an amazing life. As one of the early trailblazers who saw the value of good nutrition, regular exercises and overall wellness, Mom is my role model and my mentor. Her healthy ways are now my healthy ways. And on this Mother’s Day, when Mom unwraps Greene’s “20 Years Younger” book in large print, she will once again bask in the euphoria of learning something new and noteworthy about living a healthier life at any age.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.
Adriana

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