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Episode 132: The Secrets to Aging Gracefully: Nutrition and Fitness with Amy K. Wilson




Brief Summary of the Show:

In this episode, we had the pleasure of speaking with Amy K. Wilson about the importance of aging gracefully and how fitness and food intake play a crucial role in this process. Amy, a qualified pharmacist and fitness expert, believes that about 90% of aging gracefully comes down to our choices regarding fitness and nutrition. While both fitness and nutrition are important, Amy suggests that nutrition holds a more significant impact, accounting for about 80% of the equation. Fitness, on the other hand, is like the cherry on top. As we age, preserving and building muscle becomes crucial for maintaining independence and avoiding the need for assisted living. Amy highlights the importance of incorporating regular exercise and focusing on muscle-building to age backward and lead healthier lives.


Listen as we talk about:

  • Intro (00:39)

  • Aging Promoters (03:06)

  • Why Building Muscle is so important (04:20)

  • What is the cause of gaining weight? (04:45)

  • What causes binges over the weekend (06:02)

  • Purpose VS Pleasure (08:17)

  • Why diets don’t work (11:04)

  • Ideal daily meals (12:25)

  • The importance of keeping your body active (16:54)

  • The average age of nursing home residents is getting younger (18:12)

  • Mediterranean diet is one of the best diets for aging gracefully (21:09)

  • Sugar tax in Ireland (22:59)

  • What you should cut out from your diet (24:28)

  • Be mindful of dairy (24:14)

  • Start with one thing (28:23)

Notes from Natalie:


Connect with Me



View Transcript for this show:

Natalie Tysdal

Amy, thanks for joining me today. This is a topic I think a lot of women, in particular men too, but we want to age gracefully. We know being active, eating right is part of that, but just how much of a part of our aging gracefully is our fitness and our food intake? Oh my gosh.


Amy K. Wilson

I'm going to say 90%. I know. I think we don't want to think about that. I think we don't. Or something that's just not on our radar. We never have been, I guess, educated in that. You know, we see the creams, and we see the topicals, and of course, you know, we have Dysport and Botox. And sure, those help. But it's kind of an inside job, too. And it's.


Natalie Tysdal

An inside job. You mean I can't eat all the Oreos I want and sit on the couch and still age gracefully?


Amy K. Wilson

No, because unfortunately we can get into ultra processed foods and how much sugar you're in taking all of that actually promotes aging. It actually makes our DNA shorter and that's not that's something that happens naturally, but we don't need to help it along. And when we do not fuel our body, when we are eating, I hate to say it, the junk food, the crap, the


Amy K. Wilson

the ultra processed foods that have chemicals and additives and it's, you know, sugar gets a bad rap. It's not natural sugar from bananas and oranges. It's the sugar that's added into all the processed foods that is causing the wrinkles that is causing you to have inflammation and promote disease and arthritis and so many other things. And then that's shortening our lifespan. It's yeah.


Natalie Tysdal

Okay, so if it's 90% and the intake and the fitness, is it 50-50 food intake and fitness? Let's break them down a little bit more.


Amy K. Wilson

It's nutrition. I mean, fitness, I would say, is a cherry on top. Fitness is what, especially as we age, we do need our muscle. We absolutely need our muscle and that is, I call it, seriously the fountain of youth. That is what keeps us out of assisted livings and that's okay.


Amy K. Wilson

So yeah, nutrition is most important. So when you think about it, okay, so nutrition is 80% of, so let's go from 90%. So nutrition would be 80% fitness and building muscle 20 percent. But that building muscle is what's actually going to help us age backwards. It's what's going to help us live independently. But the nutrition part is so important, especially for females. And the reason I will say females is that we have not had a very good relationship with food since our teenage years. And we do a lot of, believe it or not, under eating and that under eating is actually what's caused us to gain weight. That's caused us to have issues with our thyroid. That's had increased our issues with menopause and gut health. When we start fueling our body correctly, we can actually reverse a lot of that. Our body can start functioning better, our thyroid can start functioning better, our gut health is better, and if we pair that with fitness, with muscle building, then we are going to start increasing our muscle mass instead of losing it. And that is, it's kind of like they go hand in hand, but if you're going to focus on one thing at first, focus on the nutrition, start adding the fitness when you're ready.


Natalie Tysdal

Okay, so let's break that down. Let's go into nutrition. I can't have salad morning, noon, and night. We know the fruits and vegetables are good, but let's talk a true balance. And given that, some splurging keeps us from going crazy, right? But yeah, but that's how much. We're talking percentages a lot now. So I like to say, if I give myself one big splurge day a week,


Amy K. Wilson

Yeah.


Amy K. Wilson

Oh no. Yeah.


Amy K. Wilson

Oh, it keeps us sane, yes, absolutely.


Natalie Tysdal

Or a little bit a day, but how do you calculate that?


So when you're eating real food, when you're eating fruits and vegetables and protein and you're not starving yourself, we really set ourselves up for binges on the weekends because of not eating enough and then all of a sudden our body's like, oh my gosh. I call it the Betty White moment. You remember the Snickers commercial where Betty White's all hangry? It's kind of the same thing is that our body's like, hey, wait, you gotta feed me and it's saying you gotta feed me now. Well, the quickest form of energy is sugar.



Amy K. Wilson

And so that's why a lot of my clients come to me and say, well, I'm a sugar addict. Why am I a sugar addict? It's because you're not fueling your body or feeding it enough during the week. And you'll actually find that once you start getting rid of the ultra processed foods, once you start fueling your body with good food and eating. For some of us, it seems like a lot, you no longer crave the daily treats, the daily things that you were going to or thinking that you needed to survive, and all of a sudden blueberries taste like candy and strawberries taste like candy. And then, you know what? On the weekends, life happens. That's the other thing too, is that we have to find the balance because we have, I'm a chocolate chip cookie girl, I gotta have my chocolate chip cookie. But I now… eat a really good chocolate chip cookie, I can stop at one, I no longer have that binge urge because I'm fueling my body and giving it what it needs. So it's okay. It's like, okay, it's a cookie. Move on. Instead of having that, oh my gosh, how much time do we spend guilty and feel that guilt complex and beat ourselves up because we had ice cream or now I got to go walk around the block or go do two more miles or 20 burpees and we equate when it's just let's make it part of our plan part of our life so that we can find that balance and no longer have that guilt on us that weight on us that oh my gosh how many calories is this that I'm putting in my mouth I mean you know it just it does it takes over everything the voices in your head and you can't even enjoy the party that you're at because after you're done you feel so bad all you're thinking about is what you're gonna do after the party to


Natalie Tysdal

Mm-hmm. It just takes over your beat. Yeah.


Amy K. Wilson

Damage.


Natalie Tysdal

It's so true. I have heard a theory and I try to think of this often, see what you think, of purpose versus pleasure. Like, am I eating this because it's purposeful and here's my breakfast, here's my lunch, here's my dinner and yep, this one's pleasure. I'm going to have this and I'm going to enjoy the heck out of it and it's my pleasure, but you can't have pleasure before purpose.


Amy K. Wilson

Correct. And that's such a great way of looking at it. I love how that is. I'm actually gonna use that.


Natalie Tysdal

Feel free.


Amy K. Wilson

And some people call it maybe call it intuitive eating is that you're listening to your body. The thing that we have to remember is sometimes that especially when stress and cortisol, you're reaching for the M&Ms, you're reaching for the Snickers bars. And when you have purpose or I like to say a plan and you're feeding your body what it actually needs because our body is a machine, it's just like a car. It needs the high octane fuel to run properly.


Amy K. Wilson

give it what it needs and all of a sudden you start feeling better. It's like the brain fog's gone. The 2 p.m. nap that you want so bad you don't need it anymore or you wake up every morning without having the aches and pains. You don't realize how much of that is actually tied to your nutrition and the thing is I always tell people is like you don't realize how bad you felt until you start feeling good.


Natalie Tysdal

That's the truth. Yeah. So what are the big things that get in our way right now? Fad diets are always a thing. Like I'm looking to drop weight quick. I'm going to completely cut out one category. It was fat when I was growing up. You remember the whole like fat free everything, right? And that's why we never felt full, right? And then of course, keto and cutting out carbs.


Natalie Tysdal

have it for pleasure sometimes and a little bit here and there, but are those fads? Do some of them work or are you opposed to those?


Amy K. Wilson

So the problem that we have with carbs is that we, and I hate to say there's two kinds of carbs, good carbs, bad carbs. I hate putting something in a bucket, but there are carbohydrates that are really good for us, meaning fruits and vegetables and certain grains. The carbohydrates that, yes, that we need to stay away from, I would say with peas, pasta, pies, you know, all that kind of thing. So the cookies, all the extra sugar. Well, yeah, those aren't really that great for us, but good carbs are.


Amy K. Wilson

The problem that we have as females is that we're so used to doing fad diets. We're so used to doing the drop 10 pounds in 10 days and expecting those results. We get the results, but they don't last. That's the problem. And we don't feel good. But we maybe got into those skinny jeans at one point, maybe for one day. And we remember that feeling. We remember like, oh my gosh, they zipped up.


Natalie Tysdal

Mm-hmm. And we don't feel good.


Amy K. Wilson

And then we try to keep going back for that feeling. So we try to do that diet again. And of course, it doesn't work. The reason it doesn't work is because you starved yourself and now you used muscle. In the meantime, you slowed your metabolism down. So yes, our metabolism does slow down. The problem is that we, a lot of it that the reason it does slow down is that we've caused it with using muscle for fuel when we thought, and we were told, but it's wrong, that we were gonna be using fat for fuel, because we weren't.


Natalie Tysdal

Mm-hmm. Yeah.


Amy K. Wilson

We were using muscle and we so want that quick fix. We so want that. It's, we want the easy button is it staples. It has the easy button. We want that easy Amazon prime two days. Don't have to think about it and really health and nutrition. You have to think about it. You have to be mindful.


Natalie Tysdal

Yeah.


Amy K. Wilson

and understand and maybe unlearn some of the things that we were told. That's bad. OK, that's not really the case. Carbohydrates are bad. Not really the case.


High protein's bad, that hurts your kidneys. Not necessarily the case. So it's finding what works with you. It's not getting rid of one total macronutrient and understanding that once you start fueling your body because your thyroid needs carbs, your muscles need protein, your hormones need fat. And in order for your body to work, it needs all three of those macronutrients.


Natalie Tysdal

Yeah. So what are what give me an ideal day. Give me a okay here's breakfast here's lunch here's snack it's normal. What does that look like for nutrition?


Amy K. Wilson

So on ideal days, we want to what's called blood sugar stabilization. I mean that your blood sugar's gonna fluctuate. It's gonna go up and down, up and down. What we don't want is this.


Huge rise and that's caused by simple sugar. So what I always say is think of protein, fat and carbs. So that's you always want to have that during a meal. So let's say breakfast. Breakfast could be, and I'm going to sound like millennial here, but I'm a Gen X and I still like it. Avocado toast. It's perfect. It's yeah. And having some eggs, maybe some egg whites to increase your protein, avocado smash and a good whole grain or gluten-free bread that is, has a lot of nutrition.


Have it with some fruit. So you're getting your protein with eggs and egg whites, you're getting some carbohydrates with the bread and the fruit and then you're also getting your fat and a lot of fiber too with your avocado and then the whole eggs. Eggs are not the enemy. I'm gonna tell you that right now. People always say it's like, oh, but I have cholesterol. It's not the eggs that's causing the issue. It's the sugar. It's alcohol. There's a lot of other things that's in your diet that's more of a culprit than eggs.


So let's go to, I always say meal number one, meal number two, because some people, depending if they're intermittent fasting or what they're doing. So the same thing, maybe it could be turkey breast or chicken breast. And if you want a side salad, great. Stay away from the fat-free and the low-fat. Go ahead and go for the real salad dressing, the stuff that's in the refrigerated case in the grocery store. Or make your own vinegar and oil.


And lots of fruit, lots of vegetables, maybe a sweet potato or rice. And then dinner, kind of like the same thing. You know, you can even have, I love red lentil pasta or chili. It's getting fall now, so at least around here. So I love cooler temperatures. So chili is always on the menu. We make spaghetti with red lentil pasta because that has a higher fiber and a higher protein content. So there's, you can still eat really well.



Amy K. Wilson

and getting your nutrition. And then for snacks, sometimes you need snacks, sometimes you don't, but snacks are great. So like, nuts and fruit and cut up vegetables with hummus. Stay away, if you want something sweet, okay, so have some raisins, have some berries and make it, you make things that are interesting. It doesn't have to be boring.


Natalie Tysdal

Yes.


Amy K. Wilson

I love trying different combinations and different spices and stuff to make things more lively.


Natalie Tysdal

Yeah. Okay. So on the fitness side, you don't have to, I'm imagining you're going to say, you don't have to go all out and be all crazy, but you've got to stay active, right? What does that look like? It can be so different for so many. I put so much pressure on myself, like, I didn't do enough or I should have gone to that class or I should have been spinning or for me, it's like, just get out on a walk. If I can just get the fresh air and get moving.


So our bodies are meant to move no matter what. So that's called NEAT, non-exercise activity thermogenesis. So just moving, doing laundry. What we're not meant to do is sit all day. So give yourself grace on the fact that if you're able to get up and get moving and do things. That's awesome. A walk a day is great. So if you're just starting, let's start with that. Honestly, we are, I'm a fitness instructor, ex cardio bunny. I will admit it. And I was also an exercise addict.


Amy K. Wilson

Over-exercising does a lot of damage. You would think it doesn't, but it does. It causes breakdown of muscle tissue. It also causes injuries. Really what we need is a good 30 minutes a day of a good workout, meaning that a couple days a week we do something called high interval intensive training, which gets that heart rate way up. Three days a week, do about 30 minutes of lifting, and then two days a week, something like active recovery, a yoga class, an easy spinning class, a walk, the rest of that time doesn't mean that 30 minutes like okay so I'm gonna sit on my butt the rest of the day. No. The rest time you're moving you know if you have a standing desk great if you're going for a walk great if you are doing laundry all that keeping your body active but you don't need to do three back-to-back classes you don't need and I'm guilty of this I was an instructor says you're not leaving on the floor you're not working hard enough well


Amy K. Wilson

I hate to say it, I'm teaching a class right now and I look out there and I'm like, oh my gosh, these people, that's all they do is classes and they've hurt their body so much where if they would just do a 30 minutes and pair that with some good lifting and some mobility, they would be so much better, so much further along.


Natalie Tysdal

Thanks for watching!


Natalie Tysdal

Yeah. Of the people you work with, and I know your specialty being in geriatric pharmacy, tell me about that. Because you see people at that stage and what they've done successfully.



Amy K. Wilson

Oh, so I will actually see people what they've done not successfully because what I do is I work in nursing homes. So I'm a long-term care pharmacy consultant. My, uh, I say my customers are nursing homes and the, and the patients that are residents that live there.


Natalie Tysdal

Mmm.


Amy K. Wilson

And what really got me into being nutrition coach slash fit echo by the nutrition coach pharmacist is that my goal is to keep you out of nursing homes. The reason being is that it's not a place to live. But what I'm seeing the last, I would say five years, especially is the average age of the residents is getting younger. I'm seeing 40 year olds, 50 year olds, and


Natalie Tysdal

What do you think that is?


Amy K. Wilson

lifestyle is lifestyle diseases. I see a lot of diabetes. I see a lot of lost limbs. Kidney function is not there. They're not able to live on their own because of medical conditions, heart attacks, strokes, early dementia. And you know, when I'm looking at a chart and somebody has my date of birth or it's younger,


It's like, whoa, why am I seeing so much of this? Because I don't feel old enough to be in a nursing home as a resident. And I know these people never wanted to do it, to be in a nursing home. So then I start doing a deeper dive and I start looking at their history. And it's been a type two diabetes. It's been, you know, unfortunately not taking care of themselves or...


Natalie Tysdal

Yeah.


Amy K. Wilson

learning and I'm a pharmacist who doesn't want people on medication. Medication is a treatment, not a cure. And even if it's for high blood pressure, even if it's for diabetes, it's a treatment, it's not a cure. It's to help you and not saying that there's not a purpose for medication. There absolutely is.


Amy K. Wilson

But a lot of things that we can do is we can prevent those disease states or we can actually reverse those disease states so that in our midlife, we can thrive, live on our own, be strong, keep our cognition, which is huge, and be able to pick up our groceries, pick up the grandkids, pick up our dogs.


Or going on vacation, taking that nice little luggage and putting it in the overhead bin. I mean, there's a lot of things that keeps our, what I call ADLs, Actives of Adult Daily Living, Activities of Daily Living, that we don't even think about and we take for granted, but those can slowly go away if we're not looking at our nutrition and our fitness.


Natalie Tysdal

Yeah.


Natalie Tysdal

Yeah, yeah. How much of it do you think working in America is the American way of life and other countries that, you know, we visited Italy years ago and oh, the stories of taking my children there where people would literally go to the market or go to their garden and pick their dinner right out of, you know, the garden on the side of their house, not everywhere in Italy, but, you know, everything, it's just so different.


Amy K. Wilson

Oh, it's huge.



Natalie Tysdal

From how we live our lives here.


Amy K. Wilson

Yeah, the standard American diet, which is also known as sad, go figure on that one, but I have to say in Europe, unfortunately, they're catching up with us too. You can see when convenience hits, that is really when...


Amy K. Wilson

The disease states also hit. Like everybody says the Mediterranean diet is the best. Yes it is because there are olive oil and fish and vegetables and it's all about cooking. It's all about getting real food and not pre-packaged food. And yeah, when you go to Italy and you know, I have people here where we decrease gluten because of how gluten is processed here in the United States and all the pesticides that are on it. That’s an issue, but they do have a sensitivity issue because of the way that we have processed our car, our crops. But when you go over to Europe, they're like, wait, I can have this stuff here and it doesn't affect me. I don't, I don't feel cramped and my stomach feels fine. Why is that? It's because the way they also process food is much different and what they're allowed to put on their crops is.


Natalie Tysdal

Wow.


Amy K. Wilson

I wish we could incorporate some of the things that they do. They are stricter and the pesticides that we put on our crops are not on their crops.


Natalie Tysdal

Well, even just some of the basics though, like, you know, some of the cereals and processed things that we shouldn't be eating, their same brand names are made differently in Europe.


Amy K. Wilson

They don't do the high fructose corn syrup. They don't put our dyes or any of that kind of stuff. So if you look at a sugary cereal here and a sugary cereal there, very different with the chemicals that are in there, very different with the dyes, very different with, ours is extremely ultra processed. I would call theirs more of a slight process because they don't have all the additives. And they also, like in Ireland, there's a sugar tax.


Amy K. Wilson

So if you want something that is a candy bar or a soda or something that has sugary, you're going to pay more for that. Well, of course, we don't have that here in America. Sugar is one that is consumed in large quantities in our diet.


Natalie Tysdal

Yeah, trying to force people to be healthy by paying more. That's interesting. So if you're telling people, here are the three things I would recommend you cut out of your diet to live longer. You mentioned a few, give them to me now.


Amy K. Wilson

So I would say definitely ultra processed foods. So get 90% cut those out. Those are your treats every now and then. But ultra processed foods, and I hate to say it's your lucky charms. All that cereal, anything. Yeah, box, yeah. And pre-packaged, and I'm gonna put healthy choice and linguazine in that too. Even though it says healthy, doesn't mean it's healthy. So that'd be one thing to cut out. Whereas actually a big thing to cut out.


Natalie Tysdal

Hmm, bagged, boxed, canned.



Amy K. Wilson

Anything the other thing to be cut out is not necessarily sugar so much but decrease the amount of sugar that you're consuming. I mean like I said we all need chocolate chip cookie every now and then but it doesn't have to be every day so your sugar your candy your candy bars and then I would say the third thing that to cut out and it's not to cut out but also to decrease and we didn't really get into this is in especially for females alcohol plays a big part in a lot of times why we're stagnant and you know a glass of wine a week is fine but it's that nightly glass of wine that might be hindering your progress because your body stops everything to get rid of alcohol in your system.



Amy K. Wilson

And so if you're wanting to lose some inches, you're wanting to lose some body fat, that nightly glass of wine might not be the best option. Weekly? Okay. Every night? I would cut that back.


Natalie Tysdal

Yeah. And what about then the three things you would say to add to feel better and to age gracefully?


Amy K. Wilson

Mmm. So real food. So we'll go into real food. So protein. We need protein. Doesn't mean you have to have a steak, but your chicken, your fish, you can even do vegan. So tofu, tempa.


Protein is number one. Two, fruits and vegetables. We need those micronutrients. Our body, our gut, we need all of that fiber and just the yumminess and goodness that comes from fruits and vegetables. And then three, don't be scared of good fats. We need that too. So your olive oil, avocado, nuts, our hormones need it. So say those are the macronutrients, protein, fats, and carbs. So those are the three.


Natalie Tysdal

avocado.


Natalie Tysdal

What about dairy?


Amy K. Wilson

So I am in my, in when I coach, I take dairy out for six weeks. And the reason why I have people take dairy out is that sometimes it is a trigger for people, meaning that it does cause inflammation, that they may not realize that dairy is causing an issue. The problem sometimes with dairy in the United States is it's also processed too. So know that where you're getting your dairy is very important. How it's sourced is very important.


Amy K. Wilson

Two brands of cottage cheese may be totally different. Irish fed grass butter is different than just regular butter. So just know that there is like, I would say, yogurt. You can look at yogurt and there's a lot of processed yogurt out there that have the colors and they have added sugar all under the skies that it's yogurt and it's healthy for you. So if you can and you're gonna continue dairy.


Natalie Tysdal

Yeah, a whole lot.


Amy K. Wilson

Don't be afraid of looking at looking at where it's coming from, where the source is, what's in it, is there extra additives in it, and then if you're thinking that hey you know what I have a lot of headaches, I have a lot of fogginess, I have a lot of joint pain, take it out for a little bit and see what happens.


Natalie Tysdal

Yeah, yeah. You really have to look at ingredients. That's the bottom line. You have to know what you're getting and start somewhere. I do these podcasts sometimes and I think, oh boy, we've just overwhelmed everybody. And then people shut down. But if you just start with one thing, just start with something like getting on the walk every day. And, yes.


Amy K. Wilson

When I coach it's all about baby steps because if you put, if you throw everything, that's why January 1st is so bad because you went and you did a pantry cleanse. You got rid of everything in the house. You are going to go to the gym every day at 5 a.m. It's like you're trying to do an overhaul from the 31st here I am and here's the new me on the 1st. It doesn't work.


Because you have to do the 1% better every day. You have to do the baby steps. And that's what I try to do, work with my clients. Cause you don't want to get overwhelmed. When you try to put everything in and implement everything at once, then you're like, oh, it's nevermind. Nevermind, peace out, I'm done. Yeah.


Natalie Tysdal

Yeah. Nevermind. We've all been there. We have do one thing today. Like you said, the 1% and do another thing the next week, even until you, until you start seeing results. Well, Amy, where can people find you, follow you and get more information?


Amy K. Wilson

The easiest is to actually go to my website and that is www.amikwilson.com and don't forget the K because there's tons of Amy Wilson's out there but www.amikwilson.com. All my socials are there. You can contact me and if you want to get a free download you can go to amikwilson.com slash podcast and there's a free download for you.


Natalie Tysda

Wonderful. Well, thanks for the information. Really good to talk to you today and good luck everybody. Don't give up. Keep feeling better. Yeah. All right. Take care, Amy.


Amy K. Wilson

No.


Amy K. Wilson

Thank you.




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