Ever wonder how you can optimize the aging process? We interviewed Marge Lieblein to gain her insight on this topic. Marge is 84 and lives a vibrant, active life. She began transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle 14 years ago when her daughter started peppering her with articles, books, and documentaries on the benefits of a plant-based diet. Reading the research influenced her to transition to this lifestyle and continues to reinforce her motivation to stay plant-based. The transition was slow, but steady, and today she describes herself as a “mostly plant-based eater”. When asked if her plant-based diet has affected aging, she responds with a resounding “Definitely!” She and her husband were very social during their 40s, 50s, and 60s; however, now she only has 3 good friends left from the original social circle, two of which are in a nursing home.
Marge believes there are four keys to successfully aging. While she is strictly plant-based at home, she has learned to be a little more forgiving of herself and flexible in her diet when socializing at friends’ homes or dining out. As a widow, she makes it a priority to get together with family and friends. When she first started this lifestyle, finding good plant-based options at restaurants was more difficult, but now she can almost always find something healthy. Occasionally, she will be somewhere without a good option, and, in those cases, will flex and have a vegetarian dish. Her goal is to enjoy both her friends and the food, not stressing over the meal. She believes that social connections are the priority.
The second key is to move her body everyday. She lives in Michigan during the summer and plays golf 3 days a week where she walks instead of using a cart. However, she plays 9 holes now instead of 18. She also mows her own yard and landscapes where she digs holes, lifts rocks, and moves bags of mulch. During the winter, Marge lives in Florida on Sanibel Island. She rides her bike 10 miles to a rec center to lift weights, plays pickleball a few times a week, and rides 20 miles on Saturdays with the bike club (she is one of the oldest bikers in the bike club).
Her third healthy habit is positive social interactions. She does this by volunteering in various groups such as her local Power Squadron, Arts Center, and Women’s Golf Leagues. She gets together frequently with friends and is quick to point out they generally are much younger than she. She also spends time with her children, another important component.
Finally, Marge makes it a priority to create a lifestyle that makes her happy. In almost all of her interactions, she is the oldest person present, but she never thinks of herself that way. In Marge’s words, “If I don’t look in the mirror, I forget that I am 84 because I feel so great.” Marge is an inspiration for us all by modeling being a plant based octogenarian and loving life!