An Intentional Approach to M&M’s: Janice Finch’s Fit After Fifty Story

by Alison McIrvin
Men and woman in hiking gear smile at the camera surrounded with mountains and forests

At 58 years of age and after a lifetime of intentional fitness, Janice Finch has discovered the trick to enjoying her favorite M&M’s and cookies without looking like one herself.

Janice was a top state sprinter in high school and college. Clearly, she adopted a lifestyle of fitness and activities early on. However, in her senior year at the University of Washington, she experienced some knee issues off the track while playing tennis. The pain was not enough to sideline her for the season, but over the years, the twinges and pain increased.

Although Janice continued running and weight training after her collegiate track years, in her 40s, knee pain forced her to modify her fitness approach. She started running less, focusing more on nonimpact forms of cardio and other exercises you can do with a knee injury.

A visit to an orthopedic surgeon in her late 40s was a revelation. The doctor had reviewed her X-rays prior to meeting Janice, and due to the condition of her knees, was expecting someone obese and much older. Janice’s right knee was showing signs of cartilage loss. Although the doctor advised no more running, at that point, Janice couldn’t give it up completely.

Finally, in her 50s, Janice was forced to completely cut out running and all other high-impact cardio. She was still able to enjoy the benefits of aerobic exercise with an elliptical machine, and continued weight training for her upper body and total body tone and strength. Janice continues to exercise daily, focusing on stretching out tight IT bands and walking local trails with friends.

Janice’s medical approach was one cortisone shot, which did help for a while, and a serum injection, which didn’t seem to make a difference. In addition to her own workouts at home, her biggest successes have been with chiropractors, especially when they do strength work on her muscles to correct posture and gait. What started out as twice-weekly visits is now a monthly maintenance program, and it seems to be doing the trick. On a trip to China, Janice tried acupuncture and it was encouraging, but she hasn’t added it to her possible techniques.

Janice credits the exercises she has learned as well as her stretching routine for gait improvement and a much better range of motion.

Continuing her intentional approach to fitness has allowed Janice to traipse around Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China, talk walking trips in Europe and Costa Rica, and hike the Canadian Rockies.

Woman wearing hiking gear and smiling at the camera while standing above ancient buildingsWoman sitting on stairs taking a break from hiking the Great Wall of China

A painful tweak in her left knee nine months ago made just going downstairs unassisted a months-long problem. A return to the chiropractor got Janice back on track and relatively pain-free for her normal activities.

Nutritionally, Janice switched to certain supplements that address inflammation at the cellular level, as well as other anti-inflammatories. Janice is evaluating an anti-inflammatory diet, but in the meantime, she eats meats, carbs, fruits, veggies, and — of course — M&M’s. Avoiding dairy and carbs is a part of her focus. At this point, Aleve doesn’t have to be an element of her pre- or post-exercise treatment.

Hacks that work:

  • Trekking poles for hiking and walking
  • A knee brace for longer walks to provide warmth and support
  • Salinas patches for achy areas
  • Other like-minded fitness friends
  • M&Ms as needed

Recognizing that her overall well-being and ability to live life fully are directly tied to her mobility and fitness, Janice has determined that exercise will always be a part of her daily routine. Once her joints and muscles begin to curtail to a greater extent, she is willing to consider surgery; but for now, she’s managing.

Janice sums up her approach best: “My ideal workout regimen has definitely changed as I approach 60, but in general, I feel I’m able to keep my caloric intake and fitness output in balance. I can still eat my M&M’s and cookies and not look like one!”

Woman smiling while water-skiing in a lake aloneWoman smiling and waving to the camera while wakeboarding in a lake

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