Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I am 59 and have just been diagnosed with osteopenia (the precursor
of osteoporosis). I used to be almost 5’3”. Now I am 5’11/2. Eeek I am
shrinking! I hate gyms but know that I have to do exercises to halt the
process. I am scared and feel motivated but also know that I am not
very disciplined. I know I can’t get taller, but when I saw a picture of
myself recently I looked like a short child sitting at an office
conference table with all the grown-ups. Everyone else’s head was a
foot higher off the table. How can I grow?
There’s an app for that! It’s called weight-bearing exercise. It’s
something you can do at home or at a gym. My best recommendation
is to see if there’s course designed specifically to counteract
osteoporosis at a local community college or parks/rec program. Most
communities have services specifically for seniors and this is a pretty
popular topic and problem. Start there and see if you can learn, and
sustain, a program with weights at home. There are also likely DVDs
that you could work out with, but better to learn the correct
movements in a class first so you don’t inadvertently do some damage
and not be able to follow through on your program. If you do fail to
exercise, then a gym or a personal trainer are very viable next steps.
The other thing you can do, to quote my dear departed mother is to
Stand up straight, Pull your shoulders back, and Look up not down.
You could also hire a posture coach, someone who might say the same
thing but also help you know how to do them. I’m not talking
schoolmistress with a ruler rapping your knuckles, but maybe a dance
teacher to act as a tutor. As one short middle-aged Jewish woman to
another, I’m proud of Elena Kagan for standing tall and representing
the rest of us as bright and competent, if short.