Getting Old, Deal With It by Lee Janogly
PUBLISHED: 16:53 09 January 2020
Most octogenarians have accepted the inevitable, but the Hampstead diet and exercise guru has celebrated her birthday milestone with a new book about ageing
Most octogenarians have accepted the inevitable and started to slow up.
But diet and exercise guru Lee Janogly has not taken her birthday milestone lying down.
She continues to run popular stretch and tone exercise classes in her Hampstead Garden Suburb home - which leave women a third her age wondering how she does it.
And she's determined to pass on her life-affirming wit and wisdom to fellow pensioners in her latest book Getting Old: Deal With It. (Mensch Publishing £9.99)
Out this month, the ex Henrietta Barnett pupil's advice comes with warmth, humour and a desire to inspire others to stay fitter and healthier into an extended old age.
"I wanted to dispel the notion that old people are slow, frail, dimwitted and a burden on society," explains Janogly, who turned 80 last year and has been in the wellbeing game for 50 years, founding Golders Green fitness studio All That Jazz in the 1980s.
"Most are definitely not, they are busy, out looking after grandchildren, playing bridge and doing charity work - the image of frail pensioners sitting at home knitting covers for our hot water bottles is very outdated."
Janogly is the living embodiment of her mantra that "Being old doesn't mean you have to think old."
If you think of yourself as old you will be treated that way she adds. Naturally she's an advocate of exercise and has seen how her classes have a social as well as fitness benefit.
"You go to a class, see the same people every week, get chatting, have a coffee afterwards. It's lovely. Getting fit is something for your body and your mind, I encourage people whatever their age to pluck up the courage and go along to a class. Go with a friend, have a laugh, if you hate it don't go back, but find something you enjoy."
Janogly is all too aware of dementia in her own family - her mother, grandmother and aunt had it. Teaching herself to play piano, attending fitness classes, gym sessions and swimming regularly, are all part of "doing my best to stave it off".
"I am quite keen on new experiences, it boosts your mental health. For this book I spoke to so many older women who were taking courses in writing, painting or learning a language.
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"It's important to keep busy, Loneliness is one of the biggest problems for old people, so get out and do something! Join a choir, or the University of The Third Age, write a memoir of your life for you grandchildren."
She starts the book by dispelling common myths around ageing.
"Most people over 85 have completely normal cognitive function," she chides.
"Losing your keys is normal, finding them in the fridge is not."
Her manifesto is: "Age is non negotiable but how you deal with it is up to you."
"We are all going to fall apart eventually and develop a horrible condition from which we will die. After 70 there is more chance of getting heart disease, dementia or stroke and it's no fun living for years with a debilitating ilness."
"The book is about how the body gradually deteriorates and what to do about it, finding ways for old people to live as healthy as possible for as long as possible, so that the period of ill health happens much later in life and is pretty short."
Janogly has interviewed experts to ask what makes a difference - from general health, diet and memory, to a fashion expert on what to wear, and a counsellor on how to deal with grief - as she herself experienced when her beloved Maurice died in 2014..
As the author of previous bestsellers, You Don't Take Orders from A Biscuit and Only Fat People Skip Breakfast, the grandmother of five's diet advice is sensible and brisk
"People ask what's the best way to keep slim but it's more about eating healthily. We are not going to run a marathon, it's a matter of getting to a sensible weight for you and a level of fitness that we can live with and maintaining it."
She wishes society would stop lumping in everyone between the ages of 60 and 100 as old - there are decades of extended middle age she argues where we can live rich and fulfilling lives.
"I want to encourage peoople and say 'don't worry about what's happening to you, it happens to everybody. If you can't remember a name don't be terrified that it's the start of dementia. I hope that it makes people laugh and gives them ideas on the best way to look after themselves as they get older.
"I hope it resonates with people about keeping healthy for as long as possible."
For Lee's stretch and tone classes talkyourselfslim.co.uk