Photo: Jared Castaldi
HEALTHY HABITS HERO: Carol Olbum, Age 75, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Carol Olbum’s earliest childhood memories include her mother’s old-world Romanian cooking, big family dinners on Sunday, homemade pastry, and dance classes. She was full of energy but didn’t give much thought to fitness. By 30, though, she was a mother of three. She quit smoking (she’d started at 15), planted an organic garden, and set out on a quest for health and fitness. In 2006, Olbum was diagnosed with lung cancer, 45 years after her last cigarette, and has since made a full recovery.
As she talks about navigating her life over seven decades, you can see a twinkle in her eye. Yes, she exercises (a lot), and yes, she eats healthfully, but she is also happy to tell you how she relishes her almost-daily Scotch. “I love my hooch, and I’m not giving it up!”
Olbum’s love of life, her constant laughter, and her style—elegant and comfortable with a touch of understated lipstick—would make anyone feel blessed to be like her at 75.
- Just move: “I do activities I like. Right now, I walk and take tai chi classes. I think it’s really important for people to recognize physical problems as they get older and adjust. A few years back, I decided to try tai chi because I thought it might help with my balance, and it has.”
- Embrace moderation: “I’ve tried many, many diets that were, for the most part, extreme. But over the years—and it has literally taken me years—I’ve learned moderation in eating. I love pancakes, but I’m satisfied with one. I love bacon, but one strip does it. I eat real butter, real mayonnaise—I just don’t use much.”
- Have fun: “I used to make fun of the women who played bridge and canasta when they got older—I was wrong! It’s good for you. You have to have interest in life. When you’ve had cancer once, you know you can get it again, so I really try to enjoy every day.”