Around Louisiana: Greater New Orleans
At 70 years old, Emelina Edwards can squat with a 100-pound barbell on her back for 10 repetitions (after a warm-up of 90 reps). Age aside, the accomplishment of this feat for Edwards is doubly amazing: Decades ago, she was told that her spine was deteriorating and she needed surgery. But all of that was before she experienced a personal epiphany that led her on an odyssey of self-discovery and a confrontation of her inner demons. This journey resulted in blossoming physical and mental health as beautiful as a strong magnolia tree: At 70, she looks 50 at most, and she has the stamina and body of a fit teenager. Thrown into the beneficent mix is a youngster’s mindset that life is still before her to be savored and enjoyed.
Recently published, Edwards’ book, Forever Fit and Fabulous: A Guide to Health and Vigor – Even at 70 and Beyond, not only chronicles her climb to fitness but also offers sage advice, diet plans and an exercise regime geared to keep what was once-called “the Geritol set” spry, even when they are well into their 90s. Edwards, a New Orleans resident, is definitely proof in the pudding. Twenty-five years ago, she was in a mental and physical quagmire. She was twice-divorced, diagnosed with cancer, told she was going blind (twice) and then informed that her spine was deteriorating. Using meditation, while eliminating sugars, fats, meat, alcohol and negative thinking, she began building up her body through weight-lifting and exercise, emerging as a glowing butterfly from the former entrapment of a cocoon that wouldn’t open until she finally commanded it to do so on her own.
She read the works of Indian philosophers, studied biomarkers and made wise choices. According to Edwards, her mantra became “Learn to love what’s good for you!”
“Your body is a product of your beliefs,” says Edwards in her book.
The clear point of this inspiring tome is that physical fitness doesn’t just come from exercise and healthy eating; the mind and spiritual psyche have to be just as healthy for everything to work in synchronization. Got a secret you’ve been keeping that’s gnawing you from within? Get it off your chest, advises Edwards, even if you do no more than sit down and write it on paper. The same applies for anything negatively emotional that’s holding you back. Aging to the point of decrepitude can be controlled by lifestyle choices, such as keeping muscles strong, healthy conditioning, controlling blood pressure and body fat percentage, to name a few. And yes, she has a strong belief in empowering yourself with positive affirmations about yourself along with stress management.
Edwards strongly advises putting an end to personal demeaning as well as not believing anything ugly that someone ever says about you and knowing that you are an exceptional being who deserves love and that you are here to express the beauty of your own creation.
At 70, she has graciously shared her wisdom and health regime that has been enthusiastically endorsed by the likes of Dr. Walter Bortz, an international expert on aging; Dr. William Evans, adjunct professor of Geriatric Medicine at Duke University; and Dr. Bruce Iteld, founding cardiologist of the Louisiana Heart Center.
It’s hard to argue or dismiss anything written within the book’s pages; personally I was able to identify wholeheartedly with it.
Last year, after many years of lean fitness, I suffered two minor strokes brought on by nothing more than stress and my own self-neglect and believing I was at the age when everything naturally just fell apart. This huge wake-up call resulted in an abrupt about-face in my lifestyle. As outlined in Edwards’ book, I now realize personally that proper diet, exercise and stress-management can make you feel as young, strong and happy as you were in your youth. She has discovered the right formula for vigorous aging. Now, if I could just lift that 100-pound barbell on my back.