Jacksonville, Fla. – Deborah Thompson remembers when she first heard directly from one of her role models in the 70’s: Comedian, civil rights activist and healthy living crusader Richard “Dick” Gregory.

In May 2018, Gregory brought his landmark comedy routine to the Comedy Zone in Jacksonville. While many know Gregory as a civil-rights activist and a comedian who brought racially charged humor to the mainstream, Thompson remembers his emphasis on healthy living and weight control.

Thompson works out regularly, watches what she eats and like Gregory, she fasts three days each month.

“Concentrate on you,” Thompson says. “watch what you put into your body and your body’s reaction to what goes inside.” “It’s a lifestyle”

Is it working?  Well, at age 72 this March, she is fit, active, and not on any regularly prescribed medications.  Here’s what works for Thompson:

  • Make working out an easy habit to follow. Thompson favors working out at home using videos for regular exercise routine. “Carve out the first hour of your day and let that set the tone. People make excuses not to go to the gym.”
  • Following good nutritional practices. After hearing from figures, she respects talking about the importance of nutrition, Thompson was influenced by “Heal Thyself for Health and Longevity,” by Queen Afua.  She regularly makes fresh carrot, cucumber, spinach and celery juices with her own juicer after her daily workout, she also makes healthy eating a lifestyle and a feature of holiday meals and her birthday parties.
  • Find what motivates you. For Thompson, one motivating factor is the excitement of moving, new workout clothing, and light equipment. She enjoys bodyweight aerobic exercises, as well as the medicine, Bozu and exercise balls, the aerobic step, kettlebells, etc.
  • Find a role model. Thompson has several role models. One was her mother. During her childhood in segregated Alabama, her mother walked her to school daily and was later told by her doctor that this simple movement was helping her with diabetes.

Today, her workouts include cardiovascular and core exercises.  She sees benefits from watching what she eats and drinks.

“I used to suffer from migraine headaches and asthma,” Thompson says.  “So, I left out cow’s milk, and chocolate and other mucus forming elements.  I use no refined salt or sugar.  I eliminated beef or pork, and eat light meats; seafoods, chicken and turkey.  The heavier the meat, the worse it is for you to digest. I’m not a doctor, I’m not a nurse, I just do common-sense things. And it works, so I keep doing it.”

AARP agrees.  AARP Jacksonville local leader Justine Conley is working with BoomerSenior Expos to offer healthy lifestyle information and resources at the Active Living Expo from 10 am – 2 pm on March 30 at the Adam Herbert Center at UNF, 12000 Alumni Drive, Jacksonville FL 32224.

“At AARP in Jacksonville, our volunteers and members are so energized by the potential of healthy, active living,” Conley said. “All of us see the benefits and potential of this way of living.”

For practical, easy-to-use tips on healthy living, go to https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/.