I Love the Nineties

Measuring one’s health, much like measuring the size of Donald Trump’s hands, is very much up to interpretation.

Really: what is it that makes someone “healthy” anyways? Is it their weight? Their BMI? Their pant size? Is it the number of miles they can run (26.2, baby) or the number of push-ups they can complete (no comment)?

From “carbs consumed a day” to “gluten consumed an era,” people measure health in all sorts of different ways, and those yardsticks continue to evolve each time we learn something new about science. Seriously: can you imagine telling your 1998 self she’d be trading in her Olestra-laden potato chips for full-fat coconut milk in 2016? (Or telling her about the 2016 election cycle, for that matter? She’d have thought you crazy on both accounts.)

There’s at least one measurement of health, however, that hasn’t been proven obsolete by some new report or study. The most surefire measure of whether someone’s healthy: can they live to 90?

Well, I know someone who has: my grandmother Marie. (Also, the queen.)

And in case you’d like to live to 90, too, I’ve got her tips for healthy living right here. Step on up, folks, and see the future.

I sat down with my grandmother earlier this month ahead of her epic birthday bash that, no joke, had more guests than my wedding will, and asked her what’s her secret to nine decades and counting on this fine earth.

Gin,” she told me over the breakfast table on her backporch, before laughing and redacting her statement. “Don’t write that! Ok fine, you can write that. Everyone will think it anyways.”

And you wonder why I love this woman.

But it’s not just her 5 p.m. cocktail that keeps my grandmother spritely and sharp. Although she said she has no special regimen that explains her continued health, I still quizzed my favorite nonagenarian on her habits and have compiled a useful list for all of your personal betterment. Enjoy:

  • “Always eat breakfast.” During this specific conversation, my grandmother was having yogurt, orange juice, decaf coffee and sliced bananas in milk, and she says that’s a pretty typical morning meal for her. Even if something else is on the menu, she always works in fruit — a practice we could all pick-up.
  • “Sit down for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” In our modern world, it’s easy to inhale fast meals standing over the kitchen sink or straight out of the refrigerator, but sitting down makes the process slower and more deliberate. My grandmother doesn’t just sit; she also always uses a placemat. Classing it up at mealtime can never be a bad thing.
  • “Have an activity every day.” At 90, you may not be running ’round town or uni-cycling down the street, but my grandmother still has something on her to-do list every single day. Maybe it’s cleaning the windows, maybe it’s lunch at her favorite restaurant, maybe it’s bridge with friends. Having something to look forward to (or maybe not, if we’re talking window cleaning…) is a great motivator that keeps us from staying in our pajamas every day — a great temptation for yours truly some mornings.
  • “Surround yourself by super amazing grandchildren.” Ok, ok, so my grandmother didn’t actually say this one, but I’d like to believe having 14 grandchildren (plus kids, spouses, great grandkids, and granddogs) helps keep her extra busy. Selfies don’t hurt, either. 

So here’s to a happy birthday (month) to my lovely grandmother. May we all learn from her healthy habits, but may we also remember it’s not worth being healthy if you can’t celebrate from time to time with a splash of gin. 


2 thoughts on “I Love the Nineties

  1. Many happy returns! My mom hits the same milestone this fall, and Jimmy Carter got there a year or two before either of them. (As he points out, it beats the alternative.) However, I have very little that’s good to say about the 90’s as a decade (which I initially assumed to be the theme of the post) — the only thing that kept me sane was “The X-Files.”

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