Janine Delaney on health and wellness
As She Turns 50, What the Insta-Star Wants You to Know About Age, Health & Wellness, Beauty, and Life.
If you want a quick hit of inspiration, have a conversation with Janine Delaney. If you know her from Instagram, you’re familiar with her ultra-fit figure, her “quirky” (and extremely difficult) workouts, and her favorite way to get cardio—jumping rope, incorporating tricky dance steps to keep herself motivated.
Instagram Fitness Sensation
Since February 2017, when Delaney joined Instagram and posted a handful of photos and videos of herself working out, the 49-year-old suburban New Yorker has amassed 2.5 million followers and a reputation for creative, often truly amazing strength-training exercises at the gym but also anywhere, it seems, she thinks might be fun—at the playground (inverted sit-ups), on vacation in Venice Beach (climbing a gymnast’s rope), and on the subway (a few quick leg lifts using the grab bars).
Inspirational Wellness Coaching...and Beyond
It took me a while to realize, though, that it wasn’t what Delaney looked like, or her Insta-success, or even her physical ability, that was so inspiring, or the reason why I’d caught myself thinking (literally) “What would Janine do?” several times after we spoke. It was her attitude—about health, age, and life—that was inspiring. And the fact that you know it’s not just words. Look at her! The proof that her positive messages work, and aren’t just sounds-good motivational fluff, is right there.
Below, a few of the takeaways from our conversation, which I hope inspire you as much as they did me. For a little context, note that in addition to her new role as an “influencer” and wellness coach, Delaney works full time as a management consultant (she has a PhD in organizational psychology) and, with her husband of 21 years, is raising two teenage daughters. She’s busy, so her overarching goals are finding the things that “give the best results, help us be efficient, make us feel good, and live a healthy life.”
You can get extreme results by being . . . moderate.
For Janine, even if you set an impossible-seeming goal for yourself (like looking like Janine!), in most cases, you don’t need to go crazy to reach it. “It’s really a misinterpretation,” Janine says, noting that when people look at her, they assume she devotes hours every day to healthy diet and exercise. “Even my friends think that. I’ll be at a party and they say, ‘Oh my god, Janine’s eating pizza.’ Or: ‘Are you at the gym three hours a day?’ No, I wish I could. It’s more like an hour a day.”
She adds: “It’s really consistency that’s fueled my life. So I don’t have to be super strict with myself. And really no one should strive for that. Being super strict, you have less longevity. You’re going to eventually give up. To the extent you can create order and moderation in your life, you’re going to be more successful.”
If you stray off course from your goal, that’s O.K. Just don’t go too far down the wrong road.
When we discussed the topic of working toward a “beach body” in the spring after gaining weight over the winter, Janine winced. Allowing yourself to have wild swings in behavior—even positive ones—over the long term can cause a self-defeating yo-yo effect. “‘Now molting season is over. Now it’s time to shred’—what? That makes me crazy. It’s important to take care of yourself all year round,” Janine says. “Sometimes I cheat and do what I want, but I never go too far down that path—I always level myself off.”
Especially if you have an office job, sometimes you can go down the wrong path just by sitting still: “You may get carried away—and I do this, too—literally sitting in my office for 10 hours. It’s so bad,” Janine says. “Don’t fall into the pattern of not leaving your desk. You owe it to yourself to get your body moving.”
Take your life outdoors.
A sufferer of seasonal affective disorder (when a lack of vitamin D over the winter can cause depression and other health problems), Janine tries to do as much as she can outdoors—which doesn’t necessarily mean sitting out in the sun. Simply spending a lot of time in the fresh air, she says, can improve your overall wellbeing and provide a natural endorphin increase and motivation boost. “You can exercise outside, but when you’re not doing that, you can find a lot of other things to do outside—have your family dinner outside, or catch up with your husband after work outside instead of sitting on the couch,” she says.
When it comes to food, make sure there are no surprises.
“Eat things where you’re very clear about their ingredients,” Janine says. “Pizza even isn’t that bad: you know what’s in it.” But that dip at the party? Avoid. “Even if it’s a fat-free dip, it may have a lot of things you don’t want, like sugar, which converts to fat.” Janine tends to eat very simply: a protein, carb, and vegetable (organic as often as possible—again, so there are no surprises about what’s in it).
When it comes to exercise, keep yourself entertained.
“I started to jump rope when I was 43—I didn’t do it as a kid,” Janine explains. “The reason I did was I wanted to do cardio, and I don’t like to run—I find it really boring.” She similarly joined a women’s soccer team at 40—her first team sport. She was terrible, she says, because she didn’t have the foot skills, but because of her fitness level, she was the fastest runner, so she wasn’t cut from the team.
If you don’t have time for the complete self-care you seek, keep the ball in the air with simple improvisations.
Between spa visits, Janine maintains self-care at home with simple tricks: applying olive oil to her hair overnight once a week to avoid dryness from sunlight or swimming (she uses a special pillowcase), making sugar and salt scrubs (mixed with honey) to exfoliate, and using aromatherapy as a quick way to decompress. The point, she says, is just to stay on track, even if you don’t have time for a full treatment at home or in the spa.
Age alone isn’t a barrier.
“You’ll be surprised how much your body can do,” Janine says. For many people, she believes, the biggest reason for physical decline as they get older is simply because they stop putting in an effort, not because they’re getting old.
Fitness is ultimately about what you feel like.
“I started on social media because I was really tired of seeing people who are focusing on the aesthetic part of being fit,” Janine tells us. “To me, fitness is about feeling great. I have teenage girls. I wanted them to understand that exercise and healthy food is important not necessarily so they can look good in a bikini. I wanted them to understand that Mommy is 50. Mommy can outrun any 30-year-old because she takes care of herself. I want them to know that the goal is to have a good life—to be able to live longer and have a better quality of life.
Try not to fit in.
“When I was younger, I didn’t really fit in. And I was O.K. with that. It was more important for me to be myself than to be invited to the party,” Janine says. She says she tells her daughters, “Fitting in is boring—it really means you’re like everyone else. The only way you’ll be unique is if you’re true to what you want for yourself.” In Janine’s case: age-defying health and wellness.
JANINE’S PICKS AT THE RED DOOR:
The Hot Stones enhancement ($25): An optional addition to any massage, natural stones are used to add heat and smooth pressure to the body, which allows the massage therapist to reach deeper muscles.
Exfoliating treatments: Exfoliation techniques vary depending on how much time you have for a treatment. In the 20-minute Body Glow Exfoliation ($70), technicians offer dry-glove exfoliation, followed by cooling cucumber, rosemary, and witch hazel to lock in moisture. The 50-minute Refresher exfoliation ($140) incorporates a fresh olive-oil body scrub to encourage cell renewal and a body massage to relax muscles beneath. Detox exfoliation ($220) is available in 80-minute body treatments. A scrub and wrap use sea salt, seaweed, amino acids, and vitamins to draw out toxins, promote skin regeneration, and reduce inflammation. This treatment also includes a scalp massage and a targeted body massage.
Aromatherapy Associates Essential Oils Set ($60 for a set of 10): To de-stress, Janine says she uses Aromatherapy Associates’ expertly blended oils in lots of different ways: “I drop one on my pillow, so I smell it when I sleep,” and uses other oils on her wrist, holding them up to her nose to help with headaches.
Color Up Therapeutics Body Lotion, 200mg organic CBD ($45): Anti-aging and anti-inflammatory, this body lotion is a rich, fast-absorbing blend of CBD, jojoba oil, cocoa butter, and collagen-boosting hempseed oil.