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10 Inspirational Older Women We Love

Carmen Dell'Orefice

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At 80 years old, Carmen Dell'Orefice is the world's oldest supermodel. Born in New York to Hungarian and Italian parents, Dell'Orefice got her start modeling at 13 when she was spotted while riding the bus to a ballet class. Soon after, she appeared on the cover of Vogue, and the rest, as they say, was history.

Ernestine Shepherd

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Few people are in better shape than Ernestine Shepherd. Named the world's oldest female bodybuilder by the Guinness Book of World Records, Shepherd is up at 3 a.m. every day to lift weights, run, and do a cardio workout. She's also a personal trainer, professional model, and author. The 75-year-old definitely proves that when it comes to your health, age is just a number!

Tamae Watanabe

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In 2005, Tamae Watananbe, a citizen of Japan, broke her back. The 73-year-old climber feared she'd never climb another mountain again. Two weeks ago on May 19th, she became the oldest woman to ever climb Mount Everest. That same day, more than 200 climbers were aiming for the top of the mountain. Four climbers died, in what is now considered one of the deadliest days on the mountain.

She has no plans to slow down—she told CBS news that she'd like to help younger female climbers take up climbing high mountains.

Betty White

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Do we really need a reason to admire Betty White? It's seriously hard to believe that White is in her 90s. From SNL appearances to starring in movies, to her role on Hot in Cleveland, her career is enjoying a second wind that doesn't look like it's about to stop any time soon. We only hope we can be half as energetic, funny, and upbeat as White is when we're her age.

Diana Nyad

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On August, 7th, 2011, 61-year-old Diana Nyad, one of the world's greatest long-distance swimmers, dived into the waters of Havana, Cuba, and prepared to swim the 103 miles it would take to reach Florida. Two days later, due to asthma and ocean conditions, she had to abandon her goal. But the swimmer wasn't discouraged.

"It was a bitter pill to swallow," she told CNN. "But the lesson is to live your life with passion, show your will, and be proud of yourself when you go bed at night."

Nyad hasn't given up hope. Despite the fact that it took two years to train as well as several months to get permission from both the American and Cuban governments, she's said she plans to try again sometime in 2012. We wish her the best of luck!

Sister Madonna Buder

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Nuns don't normally make the news. Sister Madonna Buder is not like most nuns. Well-known in the fitness community as the "Iron Nun," the 82-year-old Missouri native has completed more than 325 triathlons, including 45 Ironman distances. In fact, at the 2006 Hawaii Iron Man, she became the oldest woman to ever complete the race, finishing with a time of 16:59:03.

In October of 2011, she completed yet another Ironman in under 17 hours. We can't wait to see what 2012 brings for this inspirational female athlete!

Christie Brinkley

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Who hasn't heard of supermodel Christie Brinkley? It's hard to believe that it was 28 years ago that she first appeared on the cover of SHAPE. Although she's best known for appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue three times consecutively, the 58-year-old model has also had the longest-running contract with Cover Girl of any supermodel, and she's an environmental, animal rights, and political activist. Oh, and did we mention she's an actress too?

Helen Mirren

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C'mon, it's Dame Helen Mirren! What's not to admire about her? Not only was she voted as having the best body of the year in 2011, but the actress posed nude for New York Magazine in 2010. While we know that not everyone will agree with or approve of her choice to pose naked, we can't help but love her more for having the confidence to grin and bare it—in front of millions of readers.

Hedda Bolgar

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For most of us, working until we die doesn't seem like much fun or something we should look forward to. Not so for 102-year-old Hedda Bolgar. The Austrian-born Bolgar works as a therapist in Los Angeles, where's she's resided since she had to flee Austria when Hitler invaded.

In 2011, Bolgar was honored in Washington with one of two "Outstanding Oldest Worker Awards." Although she says she's "slowed down a bit," she still sees four patients a week, works with local psychotherapy clinics for clients who can't afford it elsewhere, and she recently appeared in a documentary entitled The Beauty of Aging.

What's her secret to such longevity? She recently told The L.A. Times she was simply "too busy to die."

Gladys Knight

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Gladys Knight may not have taken home the mirror ball trophy on this season's Dancing with the Stars, but she told US Weekly that she won something bigger: She lost 60 pounds!

The 67-year-old singer credits her weight loss in part to the encouragement of her DWTS partner Tristan McManus and to the Freshology meal service, as well as healthy snacks like fruit and power bars. We applaud Knight for reminding us that you're never too old to take charge of your health!