"We don't fail to be active because we are old. We are old because we fail to be active."

Walter Maier

In honor of my dad, Walter, who passed in January but who would have turned 93 this month, I’d like to share a few things I learned from him about living an active LONG life filled with good health and vibrancy. I owe many tenets of wellbeing to him. Nearly every day, I practice these top 9. Which do you subscribe to or want to practice?

  1. Use moderation for just about everything; from drinking wine or beer to serving sizes, sweets and even activities like skiing, tennis and swimming. He was never one to “overdo it” with/on anything.
  2. Get outside and get in the sun. Now granted, we did use sunscreen well before it was fashionable or even remotely recommended if we were going to be overexposed to sun, but he was always an advocate of “sunning yourself.” True, the sun we know now is stronger than 50 years ago but he was onto something. We need vitamin D and with so many vitamin D deficiencies one has to wonder why. Surely it’s not just from lack of sunshine daily but that plays a role as more and more opt to stay in, experiencing technology vs the great outdoors.
  3. Drink plenty of water. Water was his beverage of choice and he always traveled with his own “canteen.” Years ago it was a olive green plastic Army issued canteen that he had probably saved from when he served as an Army medic in the Korean War. I still remember tasting the plastic when drinking from it. 😬 I’m sure it was filled with all sorts of chemicals we would never put our mouths on now, but it was clean well water so I can only hope (fingers crossed) it all balanced out.
  4. Read labels, know what you’re putting into your body. If you don’t know what the ingredient is, it’s likely not food. Don’t eat it. Processed foods or “convenient foods” were becoming en vogue when I was younger but we never touched them unless of course we were visiting at a friend’s house. Then, us kids would likely overindulge in these foreign delights but my dad rarely did. And, if he did, it was “all in moderation.” Always in moderation. (Back to #1. ⬆️)
  5. Nitrates and nitrites cause cancer. When I think about this I almost chuckle, not because of the cancer part but because he was always WAY ahead of his time. He was talking about these two preservatives in the 1970s, LONG before there was significant research showing that they are carcinogens and obviously, long before one could look something up on the internet. Presently, it’s quite common to be able to find lunch meat, hotdogs and bacon that are nitrate free but 10, 15 and certainly 40 years ago you could not. What a long time we had to wait for the research to arrive and become more common and accepted knowledge! If only they’d listened to Walt, ha ha! And while these are still considered “red light” foods because of how processed they are, they are still considerably better than foods preserved with unnecessary and toxic nitrite and nitrates. (If you aren’t sure what a “red light food is,” sign up here to get the FREE Traffic Light Eating guide, the newsletter that explains how to use it and extra love to get you on track to live your healthiest and most joy filled life!) Get your FREE Traffic Light Eating Guide
  6. Stretch every morning. My dad had a simple yoga practice. I don’t think he started a day without his “limbering up” routine. I’m sure this played an important role in his maintaining agility and flexibility into his 90s. So much so that I also have incorporated a simple yoga routine into almost every morning. Not only does it minimize any back and hip pain that tries to accumulate, but I just feel more centered, clear headed and ready for my day when I have my quick “limbering up“ aka yoga routine completed.
  7. Exercise should be enjoyable activities like tennis, swimming, skiing, rollerblading, whatever you enjoy. He never understood the gym trend. Why would one want to go someplace to just “exercise?” He felt that if we stayed active doing the necessities like tending to a garden and land then choosing fun activities there’s no need to spend time at a gym. I’d have to say, considering how “ripped” this lifelong athlete was, he was onto something.
  8. Use supplements. He was aware, even back in the 1970’s that our food could not provide all of the essential vitamins and minerals we ideally need. He knew that not only was the quality declining overall, but raw and fresh wasn’t always obtainable all year long, even from our own garden. I remember as a child loving my mouth puckering chewable vitamin C’s and biting vitamin E capsules in my mouth until they popped. There were a plethora of other supplements we took over the years, depending on what kind of research Walt discovered and on occasion, we’d learn that some of the supplements were no longer recommended and even a few were likely toxic, like bone meal. YIKES! Thankfully, we now have third party certifiers, more gold standard studies and better manufacturing practices. For more on what to look for in supplements, check out this blog post Do your vitamins pass this essential test? and see if your vitamins and supplements pass this checklist.
  9. Do your research. I doubt there was any activity or purchase, small or large, that he didn’t research first. He valued hard work and earning money so partly, it was about saving money and not making rash decisions but on the other hand, he wanted the best experiences and value for his money. Somehow, he managed to track down the information he needed in papers, magazines, catalogs, talking to experts, and reading the actual research if it was available. He never really caught up to current technology and seldom touched a computer, but he would have likely used Google sparingly while also scrutinizing the source of any website he’d come across.

Of course I learned many more things from my dad over the years, often reluctantly, 😂 like how to handle tools, how to plant a trees to allow for root growth, how to take a cutting from one tree and graft it onto another tree, the necessity and “how to” of automobile maintenance and how to reuse or repurpose just about anything, but these are my top 9 that quickly come to mind. For fun, I’ve included an article written about him when he was “just” 80 years old and still competitively skiing. There’s some good thoughts here. Enjoy! Thank you for the lessons, Daddy! Happy birthday to you.


“We don’t fail to be active because we’re old. We’re old because we’re not active.” Walter A. Maier