Your bones are a big aspect of your health to consider and treat well as you age, especially as a woman.
Too many of us are being diagnosed with brittle, weak bones – osteoporosis – in our later years, without having any idea that we headed down that path.
There are a number of factors that influence our risk of developing osteoporosis, such as gender, family history, ethnicity, and alcohol consumption. Of course, calcium intake is a major factor, too, which is why we took five with Maureen Partridge, mother of popular Australian fitness personality Michelle Bridges.
What motivated you to create something that benefits the bones and not, say, heart health?
A few years ago I was diagnosed with early osteoporosis and realised how important it is to look after your bone health, so this is the main focus of my meal and exercise plan. Like many people I assumed I was getting enough calcium, but I’ve recently discovered that the average intake in Australian women is 25-40% lower than recommended. I created this seven day meal and exercise plan to encourage everyone to take simple steps to boost their bone health. It includes my favourite, simple, calcium rich recipes, inspired by the Pauls PhysiCAL milk range, and a variety of weight-bearing exercises – making it easy to look after your bone health.
How did you feel to be diagnosed with early osteoporosis?
I was a little surprised because I hadn’t noticed any symptoms, I just thought that being in my early 60s and having a family history of the condition I should get myself checked. I’m really relieved I did because I have been able to make the right changes to my diet and exercise regime to look after my bone health going forwards. It hasn’t changed the way I live my life; I’m as active, busy and happy as I’ve always been.
Did your daughter Michelle pick up her love for health and fitness from you, or is it something you take from each other?
Being active is something we definitely take from each other – even if Michelle now does a bit more exercise than I do! When Michelle was growing up we used to go swimming together as a family, and I’ve also loved going for an early morning walk and doing yoga. When I was diagnosed with osteoporosis in my early 60s Michelle encouraged me to get into the gym and lift weights, as weight-bearing exercise is really important for boosting bone health, whereas before I tended to do more water aerobics. This is reflected in my meal and exercise plan, which includes aerobics, body pump and body balance classes as exercise suggestions.
What do you enjoy most about cooking?
I most enjoy cooking the food that I love to eat – healthy, fresh and home cooked but also simple, generally using just a few ingredients because I live a busy and active life so don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen. My meal and exercise plan includes some of my favourite recipes, many of which you can freeze, meaning you always have a tasty and healthy meal to pull out of the freezer when life gets busy.
What are your top tips to incorporate more calcium into your diet?
With my meal plan I’ve tried to show how simple (and tasty) it is to include more calcium in your diet. My plan includes seven delicious, fresh and easy recipes incorporating milk, which provides 100% of your daily calcium needs in just two glasses. Favourties include baked Little Raspberry Custards, which I used to cook for Michelle’s Nana. I make these with low fat milk so they are a great way to boost your calcium intake and feel like a bit of a treat. Another favourite is the Zucchini, Corn & Chickpea Fritter topped with a delicious fresh veggie salsa for a tasty and healthy lunch. I also love to whizz up my smoothie before heading to the gym, which provides lots of calcium, vitamins and minerals – perfect to fuel my workout.
You can click here to download Maureen’s bone health boosting meal and exercise plan and recipes.