What does good health mean to you?
That's the question we asked in December when we kicked off our second annual Prevention/ABC News Now Picture of Health contest. Some entrants answered eating right; others emphasized exercise or spoke of nurturing the mind and spirit.
These five women do all three and more -- plus they encourage others to do the same. They showed us that life does get better after 40, and that you can find your healthy path no matter how many twists and turns it takes to get there.
Be inspired, and then tell us: Who is the 2008 Picture of Health?
Cast your vote for who you think should be the next Picture of Health. Here's how:
1. Visit abcnewsnow.com/pictureofhealth.
2. Watch our finalists' videos and read their personal essays.
3. Vote for your favorite finalist by midnight Eastern time May 31, 2008.
The woman who gets the most votes will receive a $5,000 prize and a $5,000 donation to her charity of choice. She'll also appear on Good Morning America and in our September issue.
Maria Ruoff, 69, Shillington, PA
For Maria Ruoff, the good stuff is just beginning. "I feel good, I'm happy, and I'm grateful," says the almost 70-year-old artist. That's because for the past four decades, she has fought hard for her health.
Ruoff was only 24 when her husband passed away, leaving her with a toddler and an infant. "That's when I changed my life and got vigilant about my health," she says.
She attended seminars on nutrition, read medical books, and researched herbal supplements; she even volunteered in a health food store. "I knew echinacea before echinacea was born," she laughs.
Ruoff applied what she learned in her own home ("I banished fried foods and aerosol sprays") and passed information to her loved ones. To this day, she reads health books to stay up-to-date and puts that knowledge to good use: Just last year, she lost 50 pounds by increasing her exercise and tweaking her eating habits.
Medically, Ruoff has had her ups and downs -- cancer at age 37, Lyme disease and fibromyalgia years later -- but she keeps her spirit strong. She continues to inspire others to stay healthy through her art (her latest painting is about women and heart disease) and looks forward to spending many more years with her second husband, Dave; her children; and her four grandkids.
"I feel like I'm starting a new chapter."
EVERY DAY I...
SMILE at a stranger. "It feels wonderful to spread good things. When I smile at someone, they feel happy. And usually, they smile back."
WALK. "I do three 15-minute sessions on the treadmill throughout the day and a series of leg lifts at night. It helps ease pain from fibromyalgia and makes me strong."
PRAY. "That's how I've started my day since I got pregnant with my first child 46 years ago. It keeps my mind and spirit healthy."
Colleen Kelley, 47, Shutesbury, MA
Part of Colleen Kelley's job as an environmental educator is to teach preschoolers about nature. "I get them to explore outdoors and discover new things," says Kelley. She believes in her message; it's how she lives her life.
More from Prevention:
Meet the 5 Flat Belly Foods On some mornings, Kelley swims across a nearby lake. Other days, she'll go for a run. She also does Pilates and splits logs for her wood-burning stove.