Health & Fitness

Yes, you can feel fabulous after 50

Colombian-born author Carime Muvdi is a nutritionest and raw vegan chef (though she’s not a vegan herself).
Colombian-born author Carime Muvdi is a nutritionest and raw vegan chef (though she’s not a vegan herself).

You tell yourself that you’re too busy to exercise. Too busy to bother reading food labels or cook healthy meals or take five minutes a day to sit quietly and meditate.

Carime Muvdi has heard your excuses — and she’s not buying them.

“People say, ‘I don’t have time to work out,’ but listen, I used to be a financial adviser for Merrill Lynch,” says the Colombian-born certified personal trainer, aerobics instructor, nutritionist, health coach and raw vegan chef. “I was living in Aventura with two little children. I used to drive 45 minutes to an hour to my office. I knew when I came home I had to be with the children. So at lunchtime I joined a spinning class. Or I would go running, take a quick shower and come back to work.”

Muvdi has just turned 54, but you won’t hear her complaining about her age. You might, however, find her biking 30 miles at dawn or doing yoga or meditating or training for her first triathlon or posting photos of mouth-watering breakfasts on Instagram (@carimemuvdi).

You’ll also find her at Books & Books in Coral Gables Wednesday, where she’ll talk about “How to Look & Feel Fabulous After 50,” her new book on eating better, maintaining more energy and waving goodbye to the bane of everyone’s existence (sugar cravings).

The slim paperback is not a diet book. Most of what you’ll read in it isn’t revelatory information, just sensible ideas that bear repeating: Pay attention to what goes into your body. Incorporate superfoods (like chia seeds and maca, a Peruvian root available in powder form) into your diet. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Muvdi has met the enemy, and it is not calories. The enemy is processed foods — and complacency.

Her advice is simple: Especially after 50, even 40, we should focus on “eating healthy and portion control and being active.”

Reading food labels trumps fretting over calories, she says.

“I see a lot of people our age counting calories, saying, ‘Oh, no, I don’t drink vegetable juice because it has many calories, I don’t eat fruit because of the calories.’ But they’re good for you. You should be eating nutritious food. ... I believe in cleansing once in awhile to let your metabolism rest, but don’t take cleansing as a diet.”

Even though she’s a raw vegan chef, Muvdi isn’t a vegan — she eats eggs and will occasionally sneak a little milk into her coffee. She has tried a vegetarian diet but is now mostly a pescetarian (but admits if she’s served lamb she has been known to eat it).

“What works for you may not be working for me,” she says. “It’s important to learn your body.”

Muvdi says she’s not obsessive, she says. She has her guilty pleasures just like we all do.

Her greatest indulgence? Bread.

“In Colombia we have these bakeries, you go there at five o’clock and you smell the bread coming out fresh. There are all these different kinds of bread, with guava or cheese. It doesn’t have preservatives. It’s delicious.”

There is more to good health at 50 than food, however.

“You can eat all the organic broccoli you want and read all the labels, but if you’re not happy with your relationships, if you don’t love the job you’re doing, you’re going to be unhappy,” she says. “You’re not going to be happy every day, but you can be positive. ... You have to love yourself. As women we’re very giving. We’re always giving to our parents, to our significant others, to our children, and then when the kids are gone or you get divorced, you need to have something besides work you really like. Do things for yourself. If you’re in your 50s and you’re healthy, 50 is the new 30.”

Tips on life after 50

Dr. Eneida O. Roldan, a board-certified specialist in obesity, CEO of FIU Health and associate dean of international affairs at Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, offers her advice to women for staying healthy after 50:

▪ Don’t eat the same portions you did at 40. “Your metabolism slows down as you age. ... you’re not burning up as many calories.”

▪ Cut back on salt. “Hormonal changes over 50 include water weight, so if you eat the same amount of salt you will gain weight.”

▪ Drink less alcohol. It’s “packed with calories and is stored as fat.”

▪ Fight bad snacking habits. “Cravings are never for veggies but rather sugar and processed foods ... which may be detrimental to good health.”

▪ Skip crash diets. They “slow down your metabolism, which is already slowing down.”

▪ Give yourself a break. “Accept the normal changes your body is going through. … Embrace the milestone. Great things happen after 50. This is a time to reinvent yourself and plan for the next phase of your life. Now is your time — spend more of it as a gift to yourself.”

If you go

Carime Muvdi will discuss her book, “How to Look and Feel Fabulous After 50,” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables. Free.