Lesson #3 on Living Longer and Staying Sharp

This article in Parade Magazine (Dec. 28, 2013)  both humbled me and inspired me. So much so that I am serializing her lessons here in my blog.

Ninety-four-year-old Olga Kotelko, a retired schoolteacher from West Vancouver, Canada, could be the poster child for late bloomers. Seventeen years ago, at 77, she entered her first “masters” track and field competition, for participants age 35 and over. At 85, she knocked off nearly 20 world records in a single year. Today, she is the only woman in the world over 90 still long-jumping and high-jumping competitively.

Now for the third of six smart habits of super agers. Here Olga’s Lesson #2.

Lesson #3: Eat Real Food

Harold Morioka, Olga’s 70-year-old coach, is one of the most gifted masters athletes ever, the only runner of any age to break world records in every distance from 60 to 800 meters.

People are intensely curious about Olga’s diet. And while her eating habits are healthy – there’s very little processed food in her cupboards, for instance – they are by no means perfect. She is no stranger to carbs, often having toast in the morning (perhaps topped with cheese and honey) and bread again in her lunchtime sandwich. She likes her meat and she likes it medium-rare. At a baseball game she’ll down a hot dog and a beer.

Instead, it’s her approach to eating that may be an overlooked part of the puzzle. Olga eats four to five times a day, and not much in the evenings. She won’t skip meals or scarf fast food and count on a handful of supplements and vitamins to pick up the dietary slack. (She does take a baby aspirin each day to prevent blood clots, and glucosamine to shore up her joint cartilage, which takes such a pounding on the track.) A balanced diet ought to do it, she figures. Nature had a couple million years to get this right. Plus, she says, “food’s cheaper.”

Here is Olga herself – be inspired!

Olga’s Lesson #2. Return tomorrow for Olga’s Lesson #4.