Source: USA TODAY
Martha Stewart has rallied her fans to partake in hundreds of projects over the years, raising the bar on cooking, entertaining, gardening, decorating, collecting, crafting — and more crafting.
In her new book, Living the Good Long Life: A Practical Guide to Caring for Yourself and Others, Stewart arms herself with a team of specialists, including several of the nation’s best geriatricians, to reshape a more somber landscape. The entertaining and home decorating maven, self-made entrepreneur, philanthropist and recent grandmother of two insists “successful aging” be gracefully performed in the intrepid manner undertaken by her mother and grandparents.
“They all lived into their 90s and were healthy and vital people until shortly before they died,” says Stewart, 71. “I’ve always been interested in their longevity and in other parts of the world where people are healthy. I always wonder what they’re doing to stay healthy.”
She sought the counsel of many experts for the comprehensive book, including her personal trainer, yoga instructor, chiropractor and doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, where she established a center for geriatric health, The Martha Stewart Center for Living, in 2008, a year after her mother died.
True to her passion for minutiae, tons of charts, tips and recipes adorn the pages. At the book’s core: her “10 Golden Rules” for staying physically, mentally and socially fit. They range from eating well and staying fit to connecting with others and “staying curious.”
“When you’re through changing, you’re through,” she says.
Why conquer this topic now? The season (a season always beckons in Stewart’s books and magazines) is upon us, she says.
“Because the Baby Boomers are all coming of age, there is a giant (health) problem looming,” says Stewart. “My book can tell people how to take care of oneself in every possible way so you can live well and healthy for a long time. If disease does hit you, and it will eventually, the book has sections on how to let it not define you.”
Her mother, Martha Kostyra, died when she was 93, but stayed strong until shortly before she died, even appearing on Stewart’s television shows at her daughter’s side. That’s how taking care of yourself pays off, says Audrey Chun, physician and director of the Mount Sinai geriatric center.
“Lengthening the functional good time people have is the role of geriatrics,” says Chun. “The life Martha’s mother led, so active, so full of helping everyone out, and compressing the morbidity at the end of life” is the philosophy Stewart’s book aims to inspire.
In the book’s introduction, Stewart writes that at age 71, she doesn’t think about age much at all, “because there is so much to do, so many things to accomplish, and so much to look forward to.”
Readers of the monthly calendar in her magazine, Martha Stewart Living, know it’s jammed. But there’s apparently room for more: She announced last week on the Today show that she’s put her profile up on Match.com, an online dating site. Her book is even cited in her profile: After writing it, she says, “I was reminded how central good relationships are to happiness and longevity.”
A big part of the care plan is to follow a Mediterranean-type diet, often prescribed to patients with cardiovascular disease to improve heart health. It consists of leafy green vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruits, fish and olive oil. Red meat and processed foods are rarely eaten.
Did adopting this diet require some arm twisting — given Stewart’s baking and entertaining books have recipes deliciously rich in both calories and fat?
“Not at all,” she says. “I’ve always tried to eat healthy. I grow just about everything I eat. I’m not a fanatic about it all. Everyone is going to eat a piece of cake now and then.”
“But things have to be done in moderation,” she adds. “If I’m given a bagel in the morning, I cut it in half and then into fourths. Then I cut it into eighths. I tear one piece up into bits and scatter it around my plate. I feel like I’ve consumed a bagel that way. But I would never do that with a croissant. It’s too fattening.”
Her favorite breakfast recipe is in the book: Green Juice, which she makes with her juicer. It is, indeed, very green because she uses home-grown vegetables. (In the winter, she grows produce in a “small greenhouse.”) She says the juice is rich in nutrients and fresh enzymes, gives her a jolt of energy and also keeps her hair shiny and strong.
“Today I have two garden editors and a photo editor here taking photos of daffodils we planted last fall,” she says. “We had green juice together. It’s not a specific recipe. It’s what I have on hand. Today it was made with the peel of a grapefruit, fresh spinach, fresh parsley, a little cilantro and cucumbers and ice. I also had one tiny scrambled egg.”
From your hens?
“Yes, from my hens,” she says. “And that was it. That’s how I started my day.”
She adds that she worked out with her trainer beforehand for an hour, as she does every day. The trainer had green juice also.
“It is really about living it,” she says. “It is important if you’re going to write it to live it.”
STEWART’S ’10 GOLDEN RULES’ FOR AGING
Martha Stewart compares aging to a bonsai tree, which is revered in Japan and, with proper care, flourishes as it ages. Her “10 Golden Rules” for growing old beautifully, like the bonsai:
• Eat well
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Stay physically active
• Get quality sleep
• Wear sunscreen
• Collaborate with a good primary care doctor regularly
• Find your passion
• Connect with others
• Stop complaining — change what you can, and accept what you cannot
• Stay curious