Today I take a break from the series on the Masters of Enlightenment, to share with you this story that was in today’s, Jan. 24, 2011, New York Times.
Jack passed away yesterday, Jan. 23, 2011, at the ripe age of 96, so as a tribute to him, I thought it would be best to republish the story from the NY Times.
Jack LaLanne, Founder of Modern Fitness Movement, Dies at 96
By RICHARD GOLDSTEIN
Jack LaLanne, whose obsession with grueling workouts and good nutrition, complemented by a salesman’s gift, brought him recognition as the founder of the modern physical fitness movement, died Sunday afternoon at his home in Morro Bay, Calif. He was 96.
The cause was respiratory failure resulting from pneumonia, said his son Dan Doyle.
A self-described emotional and physical wreck while growing up in the San Francisco area, Mr. LaLanne began turning his life around, as he often told it, after hearing a talk on proper diet when he was 15.
He started working out with weights when they were an oddity, and in 1936 he opened the prototype for the fitness spas to come — a gym, juice bar and health food store — in an old office building in Oakland.
“People thought I was a charlatan and a nut,” he remembered. “The doctors were against me — they said that working out with weights would give people heart attacks and they would lose their sex drive.” But Mr. LaLanne persevered, and he found a national pulpit in the age of television.
“The Jack LaLanne Show” made its debut in 1951 as a local program in the San Francisco area, then went nationwide on daytime television in 1959. His short-sleeved jumpsuit showing off his impressive biceps, his props often limited to a broomstick, a chair and a rubber cord, Mr. LaLanne pranced through his exercise routines, most notably his fingertip push-ups.
He built an audience by first drawing in children who saw his white German shepherd, Happy, perform tricks.
“My show was so personal, I made it feel like you and I were the only ones there,” he told Knight-Ridder Newspapers in 1995. “And I’d say: ‘Boys and girls, come here. Uncle Jack wants to tell you something. You go get Mother or Daddy, Grandmother, Grandfather, whoever is in the house. You go get them, and you make sure they exercise with me.’ ”
His show continued into the mid-1980s.
“He was perfect for the intimacy of television,” Robert Thompson, a professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University, told The San Jose Mercury News in 2004. “This guy had some of the same stuff that Oprah has and Johnny Carson had — the ability to insinuate themselves in the domestic space of people’s lives.”
Long before Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda and the Atkins diet, Mr. LaLanne was a national celebrity, preaching regular exercise and proper diet. Expanding on his television popularity, he opened dozens of fitness studios under his name, later licensing them to Bally.
He invented the forerunners of modern exercise machines like leg-extension and pulley devices. He marketed a Power Juicer to blend raw vegetables and fruits and a Glamour Stretcher cord, and he sold exercise videos and fitness books. He invited women to join his health clubs and told the elderly and the disabled that they could exercise despite their limitations.
At 60 he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat. At 70, handcuffed and shackled again, he towed 70 boats, carrying a total of 70 people, a mile and a half through Long Beach Harbor.
He ate two meals a day and shunned snacks.
Breakfast, following his morning workout, usually included several hard-boiled egg whites, a cup of broth, oatmeal with soy milk and seasonal fruit. For dinner he took his wife, Elaine, to restaurants that knew what he wanted: a salad with raw vegetables and egg whites along with fish — often salmon — and a mixture of red and white wine. He sometimes allowed himself a roast turkey sandwich, but never a cup of coffee.
Mr. LaLanne said he performed his exercises until he experienced “muscle fatigue,” lifting weights until it was impossible for him to continue. It produced results and, as he put it, “the ego in me” made the effort worthwhile.
The son of French immigrants, Jack LaLanne was born in San Francisco on Sept. 26, 1914, and spent his early years on his parents’ sheep farm in Bakersfield, Calif. By the time he was 15, the family having moved to the Bay Area, he was pimply and nearsighted, craved junk food and had dropped out of high school. That is when his mother took him to a women’s club for a talk by Paul C. Bragg, a well-known speaker on health and nutrition.
That talk, Mr. LaLanne often said, turned his life around. He began experimenting with weights at the Berkeley Y.M.C.A., tossed aside cakes and cookies and studied Gray’s Anatomy to learn about the body’s muscles. He graduated from a chiropractic school, but instead of practicing that profession he became a pitchman for good health.
He opened his first health studio when he was 21, and a decade and a half later he turned to television. He was first sponsored by the creator of a longevity pill, a 90-year-old man, but it sold poorly and he obtained Yami Yogurt as his new sponsor. “It tasted terrible, so I mixed it with prune juice and fruits,” he told The New York Times in 2004. “Nobody thought about it until then. We made the guy a millionaire.”
Mr. LaLanne, 5-foot-6 and 150 pounds or so with a 30-inch waist, maintained that he disliked working out. He said he kept at it strictly to feel fit and stay healthy. He built two gyms and a pool at his home in Morro Bay, and began each day, into his 90s, with two hours of workouts: weight lifting followed by a swim against an artificial current or in place, tied to a belt.
“The Jack LaLanne Show” may have run its course in the mid-1980s, but it had a second life in reruns on ESPN Classic. “We have over 3,000 shows,” Mr. LaLanne said in 2004. “I own everything.”
In September 2007, “Jack LaLanne Live!” made its debut on the online VoiceAmerica Health and Wellness Radio Network. He appeared on it with his wife and his nephew Chris LaLanne, a personal trainer.
In addition to Dan Doyle, he is survived by his wife, Elaine; their son, Jon; and a daughter, Yvonne.
Mr. LaLanne promoted himself and his calling into his final years, often accompanied at events by his wife, a physical fitness convert but hardly a fanatic. He brimmed with optimism and restated a host of aphorisms for an active and fit life.
“I can’t die,” he most famously liked to say. “It would ruin my image.”
You’ll instantly recognize the music – it’s the Beatles’ “When I’m 64.” Of course, from a longevity perspective, 64 is still just a babe in arms, but I guess when the Beatles first wrote the song, since they were in their early 20’s, 64 seemed really old.
But as you’ve seen from all the masters of longevity featured during this series, 64 years of age is just the beginning.
So enjoy the above video, and don’t forget to sing along while you learn the top ten ways to live a long life. All of them, in case you haven’t figured it out by now, are also ways to live a Low Density Lifestyle.
In other words, as I’ve pointed out during this series, if you live a Low Density Lifestyle, you’re also going to be a master of longevity, just like all the folks profiled in this series.
See you next time with a new series…this next one will be on Relationships, Love and Sex – now those are some hot-button issues.
On the tiny island of Ikaria, off the coast of Greece, there is much to learn about living a long and healthy life, because a large percentage of the population of this island do so.
During the course of this series on Longevity, I have introduced you to various people who have lived a long and vital life, from the late Joe Rollino, to Jack Lalanne, yoga teacher Bette Calman, Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, and Mimi Kirk (whose three-part exclusive interview with me ended yesterday), among others.
But with the above video, you can be introduced to an entire population of people, as opposed to individuals.
The above video is based on the work of Dan Buettner and the Blue Zones team, researchers who have identified certain regions of the world where people live longer.
They found that in Ikaria, and especially in the northeastern end of the island, that over one-third of everyone in the northeastern end reaches age 90. They suffer 20% less cancer and half the rate of heart disease. And there’s virtually no dementia.
In other words, they’re living the good years many people are missing. Years we could possibly have by just adjusting a few simple habits, including:
1. Wild Greens – Greens are abundant in fields and roadsides, Ikarians frequently eat wild green salads and pies. Some contain more antioxidants than green tea or wine.
2. Herbal Teas – The common herbal teas consumed here contain compounds that lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart disease and dementia.
3. Low sense of time urgency – Feeling less obligation to one’s schedule and day is shown to lower heart-harming stress hormones.
4. Daily naps – Taking a 30-minute nap at least five times a week can decrease the risk of heart attack by 35 percent.
5. Mountain living – Here, every trip out of the house occasions a mini workout. People get their daily exercise without thinking about it. Studies show the mountain people have lower cardio vascular disease.
6. Strong sense of community – Family and village support create strong social connections, which are proven to promote longevity.
7. Goat’s milk – 80 percent of all people over 90 have consumed goat’s milk many times per week throughout their life. It is rich in blood-pressure lowering tryptophan and antibacterial compounds.
8. Ikarian diet – The Ikarian variation of Mediterranean Diet is high in vegetables, beans, and low in meat and sugar. Uniquely, though, it’s lower in grains and fish, but high in potatoes.
In the U.S., cancer costs almost $250 billion per year, heart disease another approximately $500 billion and dementia yet another $175 billion. If people of the U.S. could live Ikaria’s lifestyle, rates could be cut in half and half a trillion dollars could be saved.
People of Ikaria are clearly living a Low Density Lifestyle, and living long and vital lives because of it. There’s a lot of life lessons for living a long life that we can learn from the people of Ikaria, Greece, if only we can heed the call.
One of the biggest lessons to be learned is that living a High Density Lifestyle will surely affect the quality of your life both in terms of health and your lifespan.
Today is the last installment of the three-part exclusive interview I recently did with Mimi Kirk, the 71-year-old winner of PETA’s sexiest female vegetarian over 50 award.
Mimi has a lot of valid things to say about health and wellness, and she’s an incredible role model for anyone of any age. Just watching her in this and the previous two interviews can teach you a lot about being and becoming healthy.
Mimi’s interview fits in well with this series on Longevity, because, although Mimi is far younger than all of the other masters of longevity I have profiled in this series, what she discusses is clearly the secrets to living a long and vital life.
As you watch the above video, you’ll hear Mimi talk about:
***why it’s not genes and family history that dictate whether you’ll be sick as you age
***why medications can be toxic to your health and why they’re not the answer to getting healthy
***why developing good health is simple
***why she loves eating a raw foods diet
***what her favorite creative pastimes are
***her upcoming book, “How to Be Healthy and Hot At Any Age.”
***why her sex drive is strong
***that she feels incredibly healthy and full of life
***what she does to keep her skin youthful and vital (hint: she’s never used botox or plastic surgery)
***how people can connect with her and find out what she’s up to. (here’s how to get to her Facebook page: Mimi Kirk’s Facebook page.)
So, I hope you enjoyed the interview I did with Mimi Kirk, and got a lot out of it. I surely did.
I’ll be back tomorrow with another article in this series on Longevity, so see you then.
Today I continue with the second part of a three-part exclusive interview I recently did with Mimi Kirk, who is no ordinary 71 year old. In 2009, when she was 70, Mimi was voted by PETA as the sexiest vegetarian female over 50.
If you didn’t see the first part of the interview with Mimi Kirk, don’t forget to review it by clicking on this link:
An Interview with Mimi Kirk, Part 1
The interview was conducted over skype with only one technical snafu – about halfway through today’s interview Mimi’s screen froze, so you’ll see me wait about 10 seconds until Mimi’s screen unfroze. After that the interview continued without a hitch.
As you watch the above video, you’ll hear Mimi talk about:
***why to become healthy you need to become empowered and take responsibility for your health
***how she manages to wear out her boyfriend, who’s 19 years younger than she is
***why the way you think, your attitude about life, your happiness, and your ability to laugh are also crucial to health, along with diet
***what holds people back from changing their diet and making healthy lifestyle choices
***how she manages to live a stress-free life
***what the common threads are amongst people who live long lives
***how to start living a healthier lifestyle
***why eating meat and dairy is unhealthy
***that she takes no medications, and also takes no supplements
***why she shops primarily at farmer’s markets
Mimi Kirk has a lot to say, and all of it is valid. I think you’ll agree with me, as you watch this video, that Mimi is an incredible inspiration to all of us.
Tomorrow I’ll be back with the last installment of this three-part interview, so don’t forget to tune in tomorrow…
A few months ago, I wrote an article on the Low Density Lifestyle site about Mimi Kirk, and today I present the first part of an exclusive three-part interview I did with her.
Mimi was voted in 2009 by PETA as the sexiest vegetarian female over 50, which is an honor of and by itself. What makes it even more amazing is that Mimi was 70 years old at the time! (She’s now 71.)
You may want to read the article again before watching the above video on Mimi Kirk, the sexiest vegetarian over 50.
Mimi and I conducted the interview over skype, and I recorded the video. I will give you the three-part interview one installment at a time, in order to give it to you in bite size chunks.
As you watch the above video, you’ll hear Mimi talk about:
***how she won the award
***why she became a vegetarian
***why she’s now a raw food vegan and how eating that way has made a dramatic improvement in her health
***a typical food day for her
***what she does if she goes out to dinner or travels
***her 52-year-old boyfriend’s eating habits and how she got him to change his ways
***her personal nutritional philosophy
Mimi is truly an inspiration, not only because she won the award, but because she is so healthy and vibrant. She’s a true model of longevity, and a model of someone living a Low Density Lifestyle.
Don’t forget to tune in next time for installment number two…
George Leonard was 86 years old when he passed away on Jan. 6, 2010 after a long illness at his home in Mill Valley, CA.
Although Leonard didn’t live as long as some of the other masters of longevity featured in this series on longevity, he still lived a long, vital and rich life, for George Leonard was a cultural icon who left a lasting mark on the world.
He was also an icon of a Low Density Lifestyle world.
I can’t say I knew him, although he did endorse my book, Quantum-Integral Medicine: Towards a New Science of Healing and Human Potential. I had been a long-time admirer of his work, so I sent him my book in galley form, and he was kind enough to write a ringing endorsement. After that, we had some email contact, and I spoke to him once on the phone when I was in L.A. while I was on a book tour.
But for the most part, my admiration of George Leonard was from a distance.
He was a writer, editor, and educator who wrote extensively about education and human potential. He was President Emeritus (and one of the founders) of the Esalen Institute, past-president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, President of ITP International, and a former editor of Look Magazine.
He also was an aikido sensei, held a fifth degree black belt in aikido, and co-founded the Aikido of Tamalpais dojo in Corte Madera, California.
His specialty was human potential, and in that vein he authored many books on the subject, including The Way of Aikido: Life Lessons from an American Sensei, Education and Ecstasy, The Transformation, The Silent Pulse, The End of Sex, Walking on the Edge of the World, Mastery, and The Life We Are Given.
Anybody who has an interest in personal growth, be it the development of physical health, emotional well-being or spiritual development, has George Leonard to thank for helping to bring the human potential movement to the forefront of consciousness.
In fact, George Leonard is considered, along with his good friend Michael Murphy, as one of the founders of the human potential movement.
Born and raised in the deep south, after graduating college and then serving in the Air Force as an intelligence officer, Leonard got a job as an editor at Look magazine in 1953. He became the first to predict the tumult and idealism of the ’60s when he wrote a January 1961 cover article called “Youth of the Sixties: The Explosive Generation.” A year later he predicted, accurately, that the youth movements would first manifest themselves in California.
At the same time, he found himself wanting to become a part of the changes he had foretold. Shedding the conventions of objectivity in his reporting, he became a voice for an emerging new consciousness.
In 1965 Leonard met Michael Murphy, a co-founder of Esalen, in San Francisco, where Esalen was opening a learning center. Soon Leonard was visiting Esalen’s main campus, a seaside complex in the redwood-studded area of central California known as Big Sur.
“Explosion, catharsis, adventure” were the words Mr. Leonard used to describe his first impressions in an interview with U.S. News & World Report in 1992.
He went on to become the president of the institute’s trustees for many years and was an important figure in expanding its concerns to include issues of social justice.
Because Leonard was raised in the deep south in the 1920’s and 1930’s, he had seen firsthand the horrors of racism, and wanted to make sure that the fledgling human potential movement that he was spearheading also had a place for social awareness and justice.
Because he brought a certain degree of intellectual rigor and gravitas to his work, Leonard made sure that this burgeoning movement had focus, purpose and a deeper meaning to it.
Jeffrey J. Kripal, a biographer of Leonard and a historian of the human potential movement, said that the human potential movement that was significantly shaped by Esalen was more intellectually grounded than the hippie culture of a few years later. Dr. Kripal called Esalen “a high-end movement that helped generate the counterculture.”
We can thank George Leonard for this: he had a depth and breadth of mind that allowed him to help shape the human potential movement in a forceful way, and with it bring a new renaissance that spurred a blossoming of culture.
And with this, it helped plant the seeds for the development of a new consciousness, one that we see coming to fruition in this day and age.
Being a visionary and a pioneer, George Leonard was also at the forefront of this new consciousness and awareness. In recent times, he and Michael Murphy started a program called Integral Transformative Practice, which on their website, www.itp-life.com, they define as:
Integral Transformative Practice (ITP) calls us to a high adventure:
Through the positive transformation of ourselves,
our relationships, our society.
It is integral in that it integrates body, mind, heart, and soul.
It is transformative in that it produces positive change.
It is a practice that involves a long-term, well researched program.
So goodbye George Leonard, you were indeed a master of longevity. It is people like you, visionaries who are far-reaching in the lasting effect they have on others - and may I add, people who live a Low Density Lifestyle – that have made this world an incredibly beautiful place to live.
It is time for each one of us to step up and fill his shoes.
Last year I wrote an article about Jerry Thill, who at the time was 91 years old and rocking away. I thought I would reprise it and add some more info about Jerry, since the article I wrote was short on background information about her. Jerry is truly a longevity role model.
Jerry Thill, now 92, lives in L.A. and has been in the music scene since her teens. Over the last 60 years she has been leading all-female bands, from big-band and swing bands to jazz ensembles. She’s been on the Tonight show and on TV shows such as The Golden Girls and Married With Children.
But it was the above video, Hey Jerry, shot and produced by her musician/filmmaker friend Allee Willis last year, that gave Jerry Thill massive exposure. After all, how many nonagenarians are out doing drumming gigs on a regular basis, as Jerry still does?
Jerry currently gigs in Hollywood, CA at the El Cid restaurant. See the video below of her performing the song“Oh Yeah” at the El Cid in 2008. The song begins at the 1 minute mark of the video.
Since the Hey Jerry video first appeared on YouTube, Jerry has appeared on the cover of Modern Drummer magazine, and has been featured in other articles. Along with that she has received thousands of letters and emails, with people telling Jerry what an inspiration and role model she is.
Jerry says that, “I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people who say, ‘I’m 45, and I’m at a point in my life where I don’t know what to do, and your video inspired me, and I’m going to get off my ass and do something.’ ”
The oxygen tank Jerry has with her (you see it in the above video) is something only recent, in the last year. I assume the oxygen tank is from the occupational hazard of years of gigging in clubs and all the cigarettes that people used to smoke while listening to the music.
Jerry Thill is still going strong at 92 and is a remarkable model of longevity. We should all be rocking away when we hit her age.
Here’s Jerry’s website: http://jerriethill.com/
And don’t forget, next time you’re in Hollywood stop by the El Cid to see her.
Below is the video of her performing in 2008 at the El Cid. The music starts at the 1 minute mark of the video.
In today’s article on Longevity, meet Evelyn Blackburn: She’s a 98-year-old grandmother who is Britain’s oldest massage therapist, with 60 years in the profession.
Evelyn Blackburn was first granted her license to operate in 1949 and recently renewed it.
Mrs. Blackburn, of Pinner, north London, has treated tens of thousands of people since a friend’s sore neck prompted her to learn the techniques of massage six decades ago.
But she has kept abreast of developments, embracing alternative treatments such as cupping – made famous by celebrity enthusiast Gwyneth Paltrow – and radiesthesia, which treats people’s energy or auras.
Mrs Blackburn said, “I have massaged thousands of people over the years – from mothers and grandmothers to builders and scientists. Back when I started, I used iodine-based oil called Dragon’s Blood. Nowadays, I use the modern substitutes. You have to move with the times.
“I still maintain the best treatment is a pair of hands.
“I don’t think anything can replace massage. I have used lots of therapies and machines, but nothing is quite as effective.
“A massage is much better than all these advertised creams to put on your face and body, although the companies making the cream wouldn’t like to hear that – but it’s the truth.”
Mrs. Blackburn used to treat up to eight people a day at the clinic where she worked in Nower Hill, Harrow, but for the past 24 years has worked from home in a room adapted into a studio.
She stated that, “I started in 1949 and now I’m 98. It has been a long time but I enjoy my work because I help people feel better. I love the contact with people and sharing their problems.
“Now I take on work as it comes. I’m available seven days a week.”
Explaining how she has kept so active, she said: “While you cannot determine how long you live, I have been a vegetarian since I was 20 and never get angry and depressed. When you feel down in the dumps, you must pick yourself up.”
Evelyn Blackburn, the 98-year-old massage therapist grandmother, is another model of longevity, and a model of someone living a Low Density Lifestyle.
One of the common threads you may have noticed amongst all the people featured so far in these articles on longevity is diet: they have all either proclaimed that they are (or in the case of Joe Rollino, was) a vegetarian, or that they ate very little animal foods.
That really is a very important part of it, as eating an animal-food based diet will shorten your life, as the article I wrote not too long ago on The China Study pointed out.
Another thing all of these people have is a sense of purpose, and having a sense of purpose is something that has been shown to help contribute to longevity.
For Evelyn Blackburn, her sense of purpose is in helping people feel better, and she truly loves to be able to do so. As she said above, she’s available seven days a week.
So next time you find yourself in Pinner, in north London, give Evelyn Blackburn a call and make an appointment for a massage from her. You’ll learn a thing or two about longevity along the way.
Winifred Pristell is 70 years old and lives in the Seattle, WA area. Three days a week she gets up at 3:30am in order to be at the gym by 5am.
Winifred has a reputation to uphold. She’s a great-grandmother who they call “Heavy Metal” because she’s a competitive weightlifter with two world records and aspirations for more.
When you watch the above video, you’ll learn more about Winifred and see her in action.
But she wasn’t born into a fitness type of lifestyle, nor was she on the Longevity track. Winifred was living quite the High Density Lifestyle, and things were looking pretty bleak.
At 47, the 5-foot-5-inch-tall woman was dangerously obese, weighing 235 pounds, with a body mass index of about 40. A body mass index of 25 is considered overweight; obesity starts at 30.
Since then, she’s dropped five dress sizes. The weight just crept up on her, she says. She was working long hours, eating poorly and drinking and smoking too much.
One day while taking a bath, Pristell remembers feeling as though she was dying. She asked her daughter, Cynthia, if she would walk with her.
“I couldn’t walk but a block that first time,” she said.
Every morning the two walked together, a little farther each day. Within a year, Pristell was up to three miles, five days a week, she said. That’s about the point she walked into a gym for the first time in her life. She tried aerobic exercises, stationary bikes, and other machines and contraptions.
Years would pass before she tried free weights and more than a decade before she began lifting weights competitively at the age of 60.
At 68, Pristell set world records for her age in bench press, 176.2 pounds, and in dead lift, 270 pounds, for her age group and weight class, according to World Association of Bench Pressers & Deadlifters. And she’s set scores of other state and national records.
Because of her unhealthy background and where she is now, sometimes Winifred can be a bit blunt. On a recent day at the gym she told a teenage boy who works there that he is too fat. She’s not trying to be mean, she says. Sometimes she just says things without thinking first.
After all, she is a retired barber who was blessed with the gift of gab, so she just likes to talk it up. And she figures if she can do it, anyone can.
After all, she’s a world record holder.
“Sometimes they call me a freak,” Winifred Pristell says. “That’s OK. I like being called a freak sometimes. It’s kind of unheard of, a person being my age doing what I can do. For me, the older I’m getting, the stronger I’m becoming.”
How was it possible for Winifred to so drastically change her life? What lessons can be learned from Winifred that can help you lead a long and vital life?
- Her incredibly positive attitude: Her trainer, Andrew “Bull” Stewart says of her, “She has no limitations. Mentally, physically, she just has a spirit about her, an attitude that she can do anything.”
- Her perseverance: Three days every week she is up at 5:30am and goes to the gym to lift weights. She has integrated exercise and healthy eating habits into her normal routine of life.
- Her belief in herself: Even though she has arthritis in her hands, feet, and back, Winifred believes she can overcome her challenges. “We are all dealing with something. If you let whatever you’re dealing with control your life, you have no quality of life.”
These life lessons from Winifred Pristell are lessons that can help anybody live a long, vital and happy life. These are also the longevity lessons that we can learn from Joe Rollino, who just passed away at age 104; 95-year-old Jack Lalanne; 83-year-old Bette Calman; and 98-year-old Shigeaki Hinohara.