1. Your name, title, and age? What do you do (or did you do) for a living?
Nancy Bruning, president and founder of Nancercize: the Benchmark in Outdoor Fitness. I can’t believe I’m 65. I spend half my time as a writer and editor of books and blogs about health, fitness, and urban design. the other half of the time I teach outdoor fitness classes and design programs for others to follow. I’ve written over 20 books, and have been an outdoor fitness trainer since 2003.
2. Who was the person that inspired you as a child to eat healthy and stay fit? What was their relationship to you?
I’d have to say my mother, although I’m loathe to admit it. I tried for many years to not follow in her footsteps, but I guess she actually did a pretty good job of raising me. She was a single mom after my father left when I was 5 years old. She was an immigrant and at first a domestic who worked for rich people (like “Upstairs, Downstairs” or “Downton Abbey,” but in the US and with a German accent. After the business she and my father owned closed, she became a hard-working waitress.
3. What did they do to inspire you?
Despite all her hardships, she stayed upbeat and optimistic. I think attitude counts a lot for health, and I’ve either inherited or learned to be optimistic. My friends have called me “relentlessly cheerful.” This really came in andy after I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30. This was definitely not the plan. But I eventually bounced back, and learned to use the experience as a way to appreciate life and help others. I think it’s smart to emphasize prevention. She also never had money, and taught me how to do a lot with a little. I remember being fascinated at how she turned orange peels into candy by mixing the peels with sugar water and leaving the pot on the radiator overnight. The next day–voila, practically free candy!
4. How did their lesson change your life?
I didn’t realize or appreciate what my mother taught me until fairly recently. She wasn’t much of a talker, so she didn’t “teach” by preaching. She really just lived her life as best she could, enjoying good food, sharing with me the experience of shelling fresh peas and picking corn and apples at a farm–and walking fast everywhere. As she got older, one of the few things we could do together was to ride bikes in her retirement community in Florida. We would just take off and pedal around for hours, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, the smell of the pine grove, the sight of birds soaring overhead. She rarely overate,and except for a little middle-ages spread when she hit 70, kept her girlish figure. Being an only child, she did spoil me a bit, but I grew to be more generous and less self-centered as I paid more attention.Today, I use her skill at making the most out of little by teaching people how to stay fit and healthy be exercising outdoors, using only the features in a park, such as park benches, walls, railings, steps, and so on. Yes, I’m making orange peel candy in a way.
5. Do you convey their message to kids in your life presently?
I have no kids of my own, but I have friends with young children, and nieces and nephews. I encourage them to play and try to offer alternatives to screen time. Fortunately, they really appreciate parks and trees, rivers and rock, big cardboard boxes and string as much as ipads! Their parents were actually clients of mine, and I taught them how to eat better and they both lost weight. So, I also send my message to their kids indirectly, through their parents’ new healthier way of eating.
6. What would be your main message to children today to lead healthy lifestyles?
Look for the healthy pleasures–they’re everywhere.
7. Do you have a web site you would like to promote….web address only?