After 17 years coanchoring Good Morning America, Lunden, then 46, was asked to retire from the show—an event that fueled 1998’s A Bend in the Road Is Not the End of the Road, which PW found “perky and positive.” Her 10 books have tackled topics of personal relevance: nutrition for children and adults, the health connection between mind and body, her experience with breast cancer. As she gears up for the March release of her 11th, Why Did I Come into This Room? (Forefront), about wellness and aging, she relishes her ongoing role as a translator and disseminator of information.
What got you interested in writing about health?
I started with Healthy Cooking , and it came to me that I’d better wake up and take control of myself if I wanted to be running in races in 30 years and not watching from the sidelines. The fact that the book was a success made me wonder: if healthy living can make a difference with the outside of a body, what can it do with the inside?
How does your new book discuss both inside and outside?
It’s divided into three parts: “Mind,” “Body,” and “Soul.” The largest part of book is “Soul,” and that explores happiness and gratitude and the power of planning an exciting life—not only going to the gym and to the doctor.
What do you want your readers to understand about aging?
This book morphed from the time I started writing it five or six years ago; I was originally talking about staying younger longer. Then I realized I wanted to know more about accepting aging and understanding how to better prepare for it. We’re living longer, but we question whether we’re still relevant, if we’re still able to expect certain things from ourselves. I hope when people finish reading the book, they have a completely new expectation of the coming years.
#MeToo made it possible for women to talk about a lot of things, but are we ready to talk about aging?
I think we’re there. It used to be that women would get diagnosed with breast cancer and go through treatment without telling their families—then Betty Ford talked about having breast cancer. The same thing is now happening with information about aging. I want to empower women, although 90% of this book is for men, too. Hearing from people you see on TV talking about the same worries and health symptoms you’re feeling makes people feel less alone.
How do you think the general understanding of wellness has changed since your first book?
It used to be considered body mass index and how many reps you could do. But wellness is really about our ability to have resilience in the face of life’s challenges, to let go of mistakes and regrets, to have a sense of appreciation for what we have instead of what we don’t have, and to stay connected to people. The way to predict a person’s ability to grow old happily and healthily is their sense of purpose and social connection. With our new timeline, you’ve got [an extra] 20 to 30 years to examine your life and think about your dreams and passions, and to become the person you always wanted to be.