In yesterday’s Part 1 Chris Zaremba introduced us to the remarkable Jane. A lady knocking on the door of 80 who has lessons for all of us in keeping mind and body alive, thriving and energised. Here we find out more about this great example of longevity and quality of life.

Three day cycle trial

A couple of months ago, I joined Jane on a three-day cycle ride on the 90 mile Mountain Bay trail – a former railway converted into a long-distance bike route that leads eastwards through the State to the coast (Lake Michigan coast).


It’s a trip that Jane has wanted to do for some time, but lacked someone to do the whole journey as a partner. I was keen to try it!

Four hours a day of cycling, covering thirty miles each day, for three days isn’t the world’s toughest challenge for youngsters, but remember Jane is nearly 80.

Riding with a positive attitude

She took it on gladly and was very happy to complete it with me well before the planned arrival time on day three. Not only that, it would be no exaggeration to say that she completed it with energy and enthusiasm to spare!

Another reason for her joy was that the ride ended in the town of Green Bay – home of her beloved Packers. I expect her enthusiasm for them is probably another reason she is keeping the ravages of age so firmly at bay!

It requires a certain level of commitment, determination and strength of constitution to sit in the open air of coastal Wisconsin for a winter game, but husband Will has season tickets and they are hardened to it!

50 years old_2

* Author Chris Zaremba with the remarkable Jane

Another skill to add to the list

And just when you might think I have got to the end of Jane’s skills, hobbies and activities, I can add scuba diving to the mix.

She regularly makes trips to the Caribbean to indulge in this wonderful passion. In fact it is on one of those trips that Jenny and I met her for the first time. Her levels of diving skills are right up there with the youngsters and I only wish I had her aptitude for taking stunning underwater photos!

Focus on mental fitness

Jane also keeps herself mentally stimulated through a variety of volunteer positions in the community.

She is passionate about the outdoor environment in the State and has an official position working with the authorities to preserve and promote local natural resources.

One area of mental stimulation Jane does without, is the passive activity of too much TV and internet stuff. You won’t find her on Facebook, not because she feels too old for it, but because to her it feels like a drain on her time. Ironically her indifference to the online world means that she is unlikely to read this unless I gently coax and steer her to it!

Mr & Mrs…

It’s not just Jane, as I’m sure you’ll have spotted.

Husband Will joins Jane on some of these activities. And one of his specialities is that he downs, cuts and splits the wood for their fireplace every winter, conveying heavy logs around using a wheelbarrow that is far younger than his own 84 years.

Jane and Will eat sensibly to fuel this activity and to keep them both healthy. Neither has a clue about macronutrient ratios or counts calories, but they don’t need to.

What about the nutrition?

Asked about nutrition, she says that they don’t eat much sugar or fat, as Jane says, “because those are obviously bad for you”. But they do eat sensible amounts of lean meat from a local butcher and green veg from the farmers’ market,”because those are obviously good for you”.

And she keeps the portion sizes reasonable, which means smaller than is typical in this land of plenty.

Due to their approach to food and activity levels, neither Jane nor Will carry any excess fat, which I bet doesn’t surprise you. Indeed, I think an entire book on nutrition could be replaced by just a couple of sentences from Jane!

Finally, and for me the most important take-home message, is that Jane has achieved these levels of health and fitness without being a ‘fitness-nut’. She has just gone about her life enjoying it and remaining mentally and physically stimulated.

There is no worry about any level of fitness obsession taking over her life. Good levels of physical activity, sensible eating and mentally active roles have all combined in the lives of Jane and Will to give them long, healthy and happy lives.

I told you there were lessons to be learnt!

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