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Holding Back The Years

Sisters with age-defying looks

This exceptional sister challenges the laws of nature with her age-defying looks. Yeah, she’s got great genes. She eats well and exercises. But for Valkyr Branker, living the life she loves and being generous are the main ingredients to looking and feeling great at any age.

Valkyr Branker

Bio: Retired manager of environmental safety for NBC TV; personal trainer; mother of one; grandmother of four.

Turning point: “I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1980. The cancer actually gave me a new perspective on staying healthy. After a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, I was sent to Pilates classes for rehabilitation and was instantly hooked. This prompted me to become a certified fitness specialist in 1986. Upon retirement I became a personal trainer.”

Diet and exercise: I stick to a low-carbohydrate diet. It works for me. I also participate in a lot of biking tours. And there’s a spa in Guadalajara, Mexico—Rio Caliente—where I’ve vacationed for years. After I got my fitness-specialist certification, I would sometimes teach some of the guests there for fun. The owner loved this. Once I retired, she asked me to come aboard as a seasonal instructor. Now I go down annually for four weeks to teach the guests.”

Self-preservation strategy: “Watch your health, and listen to your body. Get your checkups and your mammograms, and don’t forget to monitor your bone density.”