Don’t Call Her ‘Sweetie’

Don't Call Her 'Sweetie'

Barb DeAngelis, 76, sees the stereotypes against older people exercising to stay strong, and she shatters them every chance she gets.

Not only does Barb love lifting weights and setting records, but she sees herself as a quality-of-life ambassador for other “little old ladies.”

Barb crushes the “frail grandma” idea one dead lift at a time at a gym in Vermont, where she lives. Barb says she does it to inspire other older women who have been told, “Be careful, Sweetie. You’ll hurt yourself.”

Her favorite T-shirt reads, “Old Ladies Lift.”

What’s behind her devotion? Barb was a physical therapist, so she knows how important exercise is. She started lifting weights almost four years ago. A bone-density test revealed age-related osteopenia. She was losing bone mass. The weightlifting has shut off the decline.

“They’ve done studies that show that weightlifting supports bone health, and you’re not talking about little dumbbells, we’re talking about a heavy weight that increases stress on your bone,” Barb says.

And she’s right. Resistance training improves bone density, keeps us strong to prevent falls, and improves mood, sleep and lots more. And, no, it won’t make you look like a bulky young man.

“I look like every other little, old lady,” Barb points out.

Barb says she wants recognition as a “stealth bada**” – and she’s earned it. This summer at the USA Powerlifting Association event in Palm Springs, California, she set two world records for her age group.

“I wasn’t competing as much as I was representing,” Barb says – because no one else was in her age group, 75 and over.

Most people have more modest goals, of course, and that’s great. Barb and other weightlifting “little old ladies” are powerful motivators to help us all live better lives. They remind us that being fit improves quality of life – and maintains your independence.

“When you have independence,” barb says, “you have a different mental attitude than when you need help from other people.”

Before she started lifting, Barb said she had trouble navigating sidewalks and stairs, and was beginning to fall.

“If you don’t keep your strength up, you lose function, you lose balance, you lose joint mobility, and little by little you’re chipping away at your active and functional life. There is a wheelchair waiting for every one of us. And the point is to stay the hell out of it.

“I used to stumble and fall but not now. I can catch my balance. And every time you don’t fall you don’t risk a significant injury.”

Barb urges everyone to exercise and to practice strength training, which also includes yoga, body weight, and smaller weights than Barb fancies. Her advice: Use a trainer to get coaching on form to make sure you’re doing it properly and avoiding injury.

“I’m just a 5-foot tall, little old lady,“ she says. “And I just really want to get other little old ladies involved.”

We’re here for that, Barb!



How do you feel today?

It’s a simple question that can bring a lot of different responses, right?

You might say, “I feel great – had a checkup with the doctor yesterday and everything’s good.”

Or, “I feel kinda crabby… Didn’t get much sleep last night.”

Or even, “I feel tired and sore, and I can’t seem to concentrate.”

We’ve all heard the brain is just another muscle. And that the “mind-body” connection is crucial among top-tier athletes.

And it’s true. You know that physical fitness will help you enjoy life on your own terms longer, combatting high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and a whole range of physical health issues.

But it’s also good for your brain, memory, mental health and mood.

Today, as we’re all coming out of a stressful time that has affected our physical and mental health, we should be re-establishing productive behavior patterns. It’s good for our bodies – and crucial for our brain and mental health.

That means exercise!

Many Examples Prove the Facts

Have you ever heard a jogger describe her “runner’s high” – a feeling of elation caused by her exercise?

Weightlifting also is good for our brain health. In fat, just about any exercise will get more blood flowing to the brain, which is crucial.

Some exercises – like dancing and boxing – strengthen the brain because they require steps to be repeated during the movement, which takes mental focus.

Just one exercise session can improve how our brains work and the part of memory that lets us recognize common information, according to a report from The Journal of International Neuropsychological Society.

“Exercise can have rapid effects on brain function and … lead to long-term improvements in how our brains operate and we remember,” The New York Times wrote about the study. Science is finding that adult brains can be malleable, “rewiring and reshaping themselves in various ways, depending on our lifestyles.”

Our brain’s memory centers can become more fit, the study suggests, “an analogy to what happens with muscles,” one doctor said.

Lowers Risk for Dementia

Another study found that physical activity improves cognition in older adults, even those with dementia, The National Institutes of Health reported.

“Encouraging evidence indicates that being more physically active is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and a slower rate of cognitive decline in older adults,” the NIH said.

Professor Wendy Suzuki, an expert on brain science, agrees exercise can protect us from depression, Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“I am talking about the powerful effects of physical activity – that is, simply moving your body has immediate, long-lasting and protective benefits for your brain that can last for the rest of your life,” she says.

If you’re concerned about brain and body health, speak with your doctor. I can help you smartly combine aerobic and strength training to make the biggest impact for your brain and body.

You don’t have to take up running or become a bodybuilder. Anyone can start feeling better right now.



If you’re over 50 or so, you might be gaining weight, developing high blood pressure, and becoming frailer and weaker by the day. It’s true. Plus, if you’re like most people, you’re worried about falling and developing dementia. But what if I told you about a miracle drug that would help you lose weight, manage your blood pressure, and improve your bone density and strength? What if this drug also helped prevent falls and memory loss? If that came in a pill, you’d swallow it, right? Who wouldn’t? Nope, It’s Not In A Pill But if the miracle cure came from lifting weights? Would you be as excited? Probably not. The health benefits of lifting weights for older people have been proven countless times over many years. Yet it’s still seen as a young person’s activity, usually in pursuit of nothing more than a muscular physique. ​ ​Education is crucial in overcoming harmful stereotypes, so I am more than happy to share a few of the literally countless reasons why you should practice resistance training on a regular basis. You don’t want to be one of those people who can’t get up off the toilet by yourself. Or who can’t pick up your grandbaby. Or sleep through the night. I’ll start with 15 – all proven by legitimate medical studies. This isn’t just my opinion. Ask your doctor. Then call me, and let’s get going. 15 Reasons to Start Weightlifting Now 1. It slows age-related muscle loss and increases muscle mass and quality. We all lose muscle as we age, but we need it to stay strong enough to function in daily activities, not to mention to travel, enjoy sports, and play with grandkids. 2. Resistance training burns fat. Think it’s all about cardio? Wrong. So many people want to lose weight, and if you’re one of them, then you need to be lifting. 3. Weight training improves balance — both when standing still and when moving, thus lowering the risk of falls. 4. It eases arthritis pain. 5. Lowers blood pressure. 6. And fights obesity. 7. Strength training builds bones and fights osteoporosis. This is an extra motivation for women, who lose a small percentage of bone mass each year after menopause. 8. It fights depression among older adults. 9. Plus dementia, including Alzheimer’s. 10. And Parkinson’s Disease. 11. Weightlifting helps you sleep better. 12. It helps your self-esteem and appearance. 13. It can improve memory and mild cognitive impairment. 14. Strength training is effective at treating the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes. 15. It boosts our metabolism, in addition to burning fat and building muscle. So we’re also using more calories when we’re resting and sleeping. I am talking about the safest, most effective tool to improve your quality of life. I promise you will NOT look like you’re entering a bodybuilding show. Plus – seriously – it’s a ton of fun. And think how tickled you’ll be telling your kids and grandkids that you’re lifting weights! Sorry it’s not in a pill. But I know this way is better.
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