Meet a Health Hero: Andrea Silver

"On my 39th birthday, I walked by a full-length mirror, looked in and thought, 'Who the hell is she? Where did that active, athletic, outdoorsy girl go?' I had to get her back."

» You can vote for Andrea here September 20th through 26th. Mark your calendar! 

Name: Andrea Silver

Role: Wellness partner at PGW; helps PGW employees lead healthier lives both in the workplace and outside of it.

Who or what motivates you to be healthy?
Aging gracefully. I want to continue being a strong woman, full of vigor, always improving. My health hero is Jack LaLanne – Google him! He was an extremely fit, eccentric health and fitness celebrity. Way ahead of his time, he introduced radical ideas into the mainstream, such as eating natural foods and weightlifting for women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

Describe a health- or fitness-related turning point in your life.
In my 30s, I was chubby, taking antidepressants, pain meds, and complaining regularly of carpel tunnel, restless legs, and other ailments. On my 39th birthday, I walked by a full-length mirror, looked in and thought, “Who the hell is she? Where did that active, athletic, outdoorsy girl go??” I had to get her back.

What policy would you institute to make Greater Philadelphia a healthier region?
1) Local companies and organizations need to recognize the health, productivity, and economic benefits of encouraging — not discouraging — the use of vacation and personal days. Also, employees who come to work sneezing and coughing should be sent home. That will keep a lot more people healthy. It’s also good business!

2) I am so impressed with what the City and the Bicycle Coalition have done to make this the number one bike-riding city. As a motorist, transit rider, and urban cyclist, I’d love to see one east-west street and one north-south street devoted to bicycle traffic only. I believe this would greatly reduce bike, car and pedestrian accidents. Bike lanes are great, but are often covered up because Philly is also the number one double-parking city.

What’s the most important part of your health or fitness regimen?
Quality eating and quality cheating! The truth is, healthy food does cost more — so reduce your number of mani-pedis or whatever obsession you think you can’t live without (notice I said reduce, not eliminate) and invest in your health!

As for cheating, I LOVE fries like Oprah LOVES bread. But not all fries are created equal and I don’t like to waste calories. So, I search for the best fries and plan my cheat meal. And while I’m eating them, there’s no guilt, only pleasure. I’m down to about three to four fry-cheats a year. My next goal: employ this strategy for chocolate chip cookies.

What is your number one piece of health-related advice or encouragement?
I recommend “average bears” become “try-athletes” … try everything and don’t do anything for too long. This helps avoid muscle imbalance and overused connective tissue, which are the root causes of most sports injuries. After practicing this for many years, I’m not great at any one sport, but I’m really good at a lot of them! And at 52, I still don’t have any permanent injuries or physical limitations.

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