Jackie Lou Blanco: Fit and Flourishing in Her Fifties
What’s Jackie Lou Blanco’s secret to parenting adult children and becoming a flourishing fitspiration among many moms?
When parents are looking for proof that one can be in their fifties, witty, and flourishing, they only need to look at Jackie Lou Blanco—veteran actress, mother of three, and grandmother of two. She embraces her age cheerfully and accepts how things are for her now, especially as a fitspiration. “It’s something we need to accept when we’re in the 50s and 60s. We get more tired, our recovery is slower, we’re not getting the results we want. We need to realize that our bodies are different from what they were in our 20s and 30s. There will be a lot of changes that happen.”
These changes can be frustrating—something Jackie is dealing with herself, particularly when striving to stay fit and healthy. “We need to accept and work with what we have, so it becomes less frustrating. Age is really a factor. I think you need to cut yourself some slack when it takes a little longer than you need it to.”
Every parent has to start from somewhere
If there is one thing parenting and working out have in common, it’s that everyone has to start somewhere. “I think it really depends on the level of fitness you’re in. If you’ve been sedentary your whole life and you’re starting out or you’re just picking up from where you left off. If you’re just starting to work out in your 50s, best to consult your doctor. That way, you won’t get any injuries. But you can also get a coach or whatever you need to start because the other party will know what to do,” Jackie advises.
The important thing about starting out is that exercising is something anyone can do. Whether it’s walking or using a stationary bike, it needs to be taken slowly. “If you want to walk and you’re just starting out, start with a five-minute walk at a regular pace. Then, increase as you get stronger. But if you’re not starting from zero, you’ll know your capacity and be responsible and continue doing what you’ve started.”
It’s often the commitment that’s the problem
With a busy schedule and family responsibilities, how does Jackie Lou Blanco still commit time and effort to staying fit and sticking to a routine? “I think it’s because it has already become a part of my lifestyle,” she shares. “And working out helps oil the joints at my age. I know it’ll help me when I get much older. It’s not so much about getting the perfect body but having a functional body. I mean, you can look good and have all the curves in the right places but still get tired after chasing your grandchildren. But having a functional body is what motivates me. I want to be able to move with my grandchildren. Not just sit down and watch them.”
Besides wanting to experience life with her two grandchildren, Jackie finds motivation when her body also complains that it doesn’t get its daily stretch. “I’m at that point where my lower back hurts when I don’t move. Because our bodies are not meant to sit in a corner and not do anything. Working out has also been my form of self-care. To have that hour when I’m just thinking about myself and my body is already self-care.”
Despite her many commitments, Jackie makes sure not to overwhelm herself. “I prepare things the night before so that I can just wake up, have my quiet time and coffee, and then go through my day.”
Bodies are not the only things that change
Every mother knows that parenting—especially when living life with their adult children—usually has to deal with a lot of spontaneous planning. As children grow older, they do things on their own. Jackie remembers the days when she and her kids used to work out together. “My youngest is usually the one who works out with me. She’s the adventurous one. Like she would tell me, ‘Mom, let’s try this.’ But Rikki Mae” — Jackie’s second child — “enjoys the adrenaline from doing sports. She plays basketball and other sports.”
With her three kids all grown up, Jackie deals with the change that all parents fear facing: their children growing into adults and pursuing their own things. “Since they’re all doing their own thing, they don’t need to tell you everything. They can make decisions on their own.”
It may be frustrating to a parent of an adult child when the advice they give flies over their heads. But it’s part of the struggle because, as Jackie says while smiling, “At the end of the day, they’ll either follow it or they won’t.” And she trusts that she’s taught them the right values to make their choices.
On top of this, keeping lines open is vital in her relationships with them. “At least you’ll know where they’re at. And if you do, more or less, you know what you can advise them and how it can be given. I’m blessed that I have a good relationship with my children that they can tell me anything and everything—even the stuff I don’t want to hear. But that’s the only way you can be of help to them. You know what’s actually happening to them.”
Sometimes, it’s all about finding what they don’t say
Similar to how workouts need people to listen to their bodies, the same goes for parents who have adult children as they struggle to find out what they are not saying. “You kind of have to learn how to read between the lines,” Jackie explains. “Sometimes, it’s hard but you have to take a step back and learn how to let them be.”
Unfortunately, letting children be will always be a parent’s greatest struggle. Letting go of a child they’ve raised for so long still proves to be so difficult that today, some adult children still stay in their parents’ house past their 30s! But a child growing up is inevitable. Something that Jackie had accepted long before. “By accepting it before it happens, it becomes easier. At least when it happened, it’s more like, ‘O eto na ‘to.'”
However, remembering how she was once that age helped ease the transition. To have the liberty to make mistakes and to decide things for herself. “There will be days that I find out that my advice wasn’t needed. And that I should have just kept quiet and allowed things to happen.”
She acknowledges that being a parent sometimes triggers an urge to solve things for their kids. “But you realize that they’re not that age anymore. They need to think for themselves and you’re just their safety net.”
Parents grow when their kids grow, too!
It is normal for parents to worry that their age may be catching up to them. But Jackie Lou Blanco proves that age can be just a number whether for working out or parenting. That does not mean denying it but rather—accepting and being conscious that it will happen and that’s something everyone has to work with. After all, Jackie is right: we only have one body. “It’s counting on us. And if we want to honor God with our bodies, we need to treat it well. One way we can treat it well is by moving around.”
The same thing goes for parenting adult children. It’s a realization that Jackie shares with every modern-day mom or dad dealing with adult kids. “I need to take a step back and allow them to live their own lives. And just be there when they need you.”
Words KEVYN GOHU-CATINGUB
Photography JHARWIN CASTANEDA
Hair and Makeup ANN PARBA
Styling ROSHNI MIRPURI and SIYA DARYANI for THE CLOSET CULTURE
Shoot Coordination ANTHONY MENDOZA
Sittings Editor GRETCHEN GATAN FRAGADA
Shot on location at SEDA RESIDENCES MAKATI