.Live Long, Finish Strong – Attaining Maximum FUNCTIONAL Longevity
Steve’s Secrets to Living a Long and Healthy Life:
A man visiting at a local neighbor’s house for three days parks his brand new Corvette sports car in their driveway. I notice this because during the course of my life, I have owned two of these vehicles, and appreciate the design aesthetics. The sparkling red thoroughbred finds the man cleaning and polishing it daily, sometimes up to an hour at a time, meticulously grooming every possible area that is visible to onlookers.
The owner is in his early thirties, the same age as the folks who own the house. His actions with the Corvette seem to indicate he is proud of his automobile, and wants to give it the best care possible. I am sure he also maintains the engine and all parts with equal fervor. The car is in superior condition compared to its owner. The man is shirtless in the warm sun, wearing shorts and flip-flops, as he pampers his car. A very large belly protrudes over the top of his pants, giving the appearance of a woman nine months pregnant. All the while, this man is puffing on a cigarette, which is replaced with another once burned down to the nub.
There is no doubt that this man takes better care, by a huge order of magnitude, of his prized race car than he does of his own physical body. This scene I watch from the kitchen window, while washing dishes, for three days during his visit across the street is typical of the larger picture of American male behavior. There is nothing askew about it, and we have all witnessed similar episodes many times during our lives. This man represents an overwhelming percentage of affluent Western males. He is so average that hardly anyone sees anything amiss regarding him. He is what we might term as normal. Today, having an unhealthy percentage of one’s body as bulbous fat is considered normal.
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I am not normal, as I am sure most of you might accept if you’ve been reading my stuff over the years. Of course, who is to say what normal really is? I see normal as what the largest percentage of any given population is or does in relation to what is being studied. My base of reference is primarily the first-world country in which I have found myself residing since my reported birth in the middle of the twentieth century: United States. I say “reported birth” because I have absolutely no recollection of it, and am basing the event totally on what is called “hearsay” in the justice system courts.
For the purpose of this page full of information, I am clearly not normal, so far off the accepted paradigm in fact that I would be considered by many as missing some needed screws to keep my head together. So be it. I like living on the edge – there are less people out here (kind of like riding a trike cross country). I wish to discuss my longevity model, as many folks have mentioned that they are interested in learning ways to improve their health, fitness, and overall feeling of being a vital human being, and have asked that I elaborate.
The main thing to keep in mind however as you read this page is that what I am going to say, although based wholly on known science and medicine, is far too radical for the majority of people to even consider following. Few readers will think to themselves that they are going to rush headlong into doing what I do on my quest for maximum functional longevity – most will consider the price to be paid as far too high, and would rather pass away many years earlier, and in poor health, than institute modifications needed to remain robust and full of useful life. Additionally, nearly everyone I know, and also see during the course of my daily life, believes fully that their maladies and conditions are “age related” so there is nothing they can do about it, a fascinating psychological mindset I personally refer to as the Age Crutch (inaccurate, yet traditionally accepted).
What will not appear here? That’s easy. The volumes of science and medicine behind the longevity model will not be presented, as it would require a very large book, or more accurately, a series of books devoted to the underlying studies. Only the most dedicated “health nuts” would even consider reading it all. Most would consider it boring, with little or no application for their lifestyles. Well, I have been reading this stuff all of my adult life, in great detail, as my desire to remain fully functional for as long as I can, to realize my body’s full longevity potential, is exceptionally high, and my respect for life is fully dedicated to maximizing it, starting with my own body (readers of my book Bioform will understand the mindset behind my behavior more completely).
Those who have known me for the past 4+ decades have sometimes remarked that my strategies and choices have changed many times over the span. They view the changes as confusion or lack of direction. They are correct in their initial observation of change, but not about the reason for it. With new knowledge being discovered over time, and new studies being published regularly, I have adjusted accordingly. If something that was once thought to be factual and useful is later proven to be unfounded or detrimental to longevity, then I modify my path as needed to continue to improve based upon reliable evidence (or at least the most reliable available at the time). My goal is maximum functional longevity, and to remain on that path requires the ability to remain flexible.
What is maximum functional longevity? Well, it is briefly defined in my head as living in a vital state, fully functional as a human being, for as long as my body is able, while applying the most recent findings that support it. Functional is a key word here! There are those who live to 90 years, an age thought truly old by most people, yet the final 15 years of that life have been lived in a state of rapidly degrading health, such as osteoporosis, arterial occlusions, inability to walk without a walking device, back pain, arthritis, high blood pressure, mini strokes (TIAs), chest pains, heart attacks, diabetes, loss of memory, and a whole host of many other physical conditions that make the person far from fully functional. What fun is living to 90 in an assisted living facility watching your life slip away? Alive, yes – fully functional, no!
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Maximizing one’s functional longevity is kind of like taking a human powered overland trike journey – there is nothing easy about it! These paths require one’s full determination and dedication. These paths are RADICAL departures from the expected norms. You have to really want these things profoundly to make them happen. Why? Because it requires an amount of effort few are willing to expend, so they don’t. But then, once people get scared by diagnoses that indicate significant problems with life-ending potential, they typically think all is lost, it is too late to do anything about it, and their age is the reason, so why fight it? Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you shall die. That is not my way. This page will present my extremely RADICAL way, not the only way of course, but a way forward that works very well, and provides documented and significant chances of success.
Maximum functional longevity choices do differ from overland trike journeys mentioned in my comparison in the preceding paragraph in that if one is successful at voluntarily adopting a way of living that is respectful of life, it actually becomes incredibly easy to maintain, a second-nature sort of thing. Trike journeys, while they do become easier mentally with successive rides, remain challenging from a physical standpoint. I have found the benefits of healthy living and respecting life to far outweigh any aspects of living that are not within the scope of my existence (such as eating a big piece of sugary chocolate cake, which, in my head, is not even the least bit desirable).
What do I mean with this notion of being respectful of life? On the surface, that doesn’t seem to fit into this presentation. Here is how I see it: The typical person, who is seriously overweight with bodyfat, who does not work out and exercise, who mostly eats foods known to cause long-term health deficits, who is usually sleep deprived, and generally who rarely if ever gives any serious thought to maximum functional longevity, is not respecting life. This person’s body is living proof of such disrespect. Developing a body that will fail many years, or often decades, before it would if cared for properly, is simply disrespecting the gift of one’s life, which allows them to be here in the first place.
For those who find life’s answers and direction in the ancient Christian teachings found in the Bible, this respect is made quite clear, leaving no option to act otherwise. In 1Corinthians 6:19-20, is found the requirement expected of all believers, commanding that they honor their body: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Now that is heavy duty stuff! Glorify God in your body! As I ponder the many believers I know, I wonder if they are even aware of this directive, which is directly to the point of caring for the physical human body.
I say life is a gift. Does this have religious overtones? Not at all. Regardless of whether a person is a theist or not, whether one believes a supernatural being presented a gift of life, or natural events of life presented the gift without sentience, it is indeed still a gift. It is precious to protect and enjoy what we have received, no matter how it came to be. To say that it is okay to let one’s body slide into a premature state of degradation is not respecting the body, and in its greater sense, the life in that body, which is life. True, one usually does not consciously state or think such a thing, but by ignoring that which destroys life, and allowing it to proceed unchecked, the identical negative consequences result, just through not taking positive actions to prevent it.
We learn habits early in life, and once deeply embedded in our heads, they are next to impossible to modify or break. It is far easier, as has been proven for centuries in countless thousands of millions of humans, to simply create stories to support what is wanted or desired, which is generally the easy way out, one that absolves a person of personal responsibility. For example, getting fat with age is inevitable, strokes and heart attacks are everyone’s lot in life, dementia is unavoidable, high blood pressure is normal and taking medications for it is fine, osteoporosis is a fact of life whether we like it or not, life expectancy is only 78 years based on Biblical teaching (although the old testament mentions 120 years) so to expect more is unreasonable, and the list goes on and on. Once I have convinced myself of these things, I can then accept my obesity, high blood pressure, and chest pain even though only in my sixties.
Well, okay, we all have our own little puppet shows playing in our heads, presenting the epic drama of how life is (what I term relative reality), and most of us follow the teachings of these thoughts on strings without question. We buy into commercial marketing hype about this product or that, not even realizing those big money boys are manipulating the show. We like the ride of doing whatever we wish with no regard for tomorrow. It is not my intent to spoil the show playing in your head, a presentation you have become very used to over your life, one that is so comfortable that to rethink everything now is absurd. After all, the multitudes can’t be wrong! This stuff is all true. I am okay.
My intention is to present the puppet show that is currently playing in my temporal head to those who have asked to know how I have been successful at avoiding all the maladies thought to be normal in first-world countries. This is what I enjoy about writing, either online or in books – it is passive. In other words, if the reader gets angry at what I’m saying (an ego based reaction when one’s show is challenged), it’s then a simple and instantaneous matter of ceasing to read the little letters and words on the page. There is no need to keep reading here if you are perceiving my thoughts as arrogant or wrong. Actually, my thoughts really don’t matter at all in the long term, as none of us will be around for long anyway, whether we live only to age 57 or 117. It’s just the quality and enjoyment factor while we are here that is affected by lifestyle.
Hmm, sounds like a sermon so far, so I best get to the point I suppose. Just consider this protracted prelude as the coach’s pep talk before the big game-changing plays about to happen out on the field of life. At least you have some idea of what my relative reality is saying to me, how life is being displayed atop my shoulders, and how my insignificant thoughts are leading me to help those who have asked for it. I used to own a fitness club in the 1980s, so this stuff comes naturally. I am available for those who wish to walk a different path from the majority, or can be ignored for those who find comfort in their present show.
So, what I am going to finally do here is lay out how I live, in all its grand and glorious insanity, knowing full well that maybe, just maybe, one person in a thousand will seriously consider these strategies for maximizing functional longevity, that special person who wants to keep living for a very long time, for perhaps another 40 years past when others have painfully and agonizingly checked out of the ride of life. Study after study of centenarians and super centenarians have confirmed that the body is indeed capable of existing fully functional up until about two weeks out from one’s death date, a far cry from the long and unacceptable route taken by nearly everyone else. And since it is now known that even when considering genetics, we have the ability to “turn off” genes that have otherwise produced life threatening consequences in other family members, and this control extends roughly to the tune of two-thirds of this component, thus improving our odds. That is to say, only about a third of the genetic factor, which many people commonly blame for their “helplessness”, is unable to be altered. I like those odds!
Sure, I’m going to leave this sentient body just like everyone else, but I intend on enjoying it to the end because: 1) I really love living, 2) I believe that I have an obligation to respect the gift of life, and 3) I really really do not want to spend the final years and decades of my life as I have witnessed time and again in my own family, my friends, and the population in general. I do not wish to have my chest cut open with bolt cutters. Among many other examples, my mom’s six-way bypass surgery at age 72 was not what I wanted for myself, and my dad’s demise at 57 was likewise unacceptable, and … well, almost everyone else who left the scene in what I consider less than happy ways will not be my way.
I was told (by those older than me) when in my twenties to just wait until I am in my thirties. Then, in my thirties, I was told to just wait until I hit my forties. In my forties, I was told to just wait until I reach my fifties. Not surprisingly, I was then told to wait until my sixties. And guess what! Yep, sure enough, now in my mid sixties, I still have folks telling me to wait until I reach my late sixties and then my seventies. How long will this go on? That is easy to answer! It will continue until all those people who believe all the typical health misconceptions (the Age Crutch) are dead, until there is no one older than myself to predict all the things that are going to go awry with me when I reach this or that age. I find it difficult to believe I am still being told this nonsense. I guess that by now, my condition is beginning to speak volumes to those who think we have no choices with age.
Speaking about age, there are two ways to assess each of us. One is with chronological years, and one with biological years – or, markers of time versus markers of biology. A person can be 70 chronological years, but possess the bio-markers of a human who is chronologically only 40 years old. Conversely, a person may be only 40 chronological years of age (actual time since birth), yet possess the bio-markers of a 70 year old. These bio-markers are measurements of our overall health and fitness. People who pass away in their fifties or sixties, due to having a body that revealed biological deterioration of someone decades older, are common. Only a minority of folks in first-world affluent nations like Australia, Great Britain, Europe, and America maintain healthy bio-markers as their chronological age increases. Fewer still are those with bio-markers of people far younger chronologically than they are. This is ALL up to you!
What do I tell others who ask about maintaining health and vitality regardless of one’s age? Just what I am writing here today! I am spreading the message that what you have learned about the Age Crutch is flat wrong, and that you can indeed remain vibrant and robust into your 70s, 80s, 90s, 100s, 110s, and beyond. I have personally backpacked with folks in their 80s and 90s at high Colorado altitudes, who are hiking just as well as I am. Hmm, that tells me something!
Oops, sorry for continuing the sermon! Time to get down off my podium and just start revealing all the nutty things I do everyday to live well. If you are still with me here, you are either incredibly curious as to how far my insanity will go, or you genuinely wish to change your life to one of robust and vibrant health that leads to maximum functional longevity!
The body is an amazing entity that will rise up to the challenges offered it. In one sense, the body is incredibly hard to kill off, as evidenced by folks who smoke cigarettes for years or are obese, but on the other hand, the body can go in a flash from a clot splitting off and closing up a main artery to the brain or heart – unexpected and quick. We can turn around years of unwise habits if we wish, and are willing to alter our ways, if we do so before we reach that magical point of no return, and since that point is difficult to determine, it is best to begin NOW! After all, now is all we ever have anyway!
My reported birth as a human was the midpoint of the twentieth century, thus I am now at the age when honored and accepted belief paradigms say a whole host of “age related” maladies should be crippling my vitality. This is not occurring to me, and I believe it is directly related to the lifestyle choices I have made throughout my existence so far. Here I will tell what those choices are, perhaps providing minimal justification now and then, but certainly not going into any great detail in an attempt to teach what countless scientific and medical studies have repeatedly demonstrated, sometimes for decades. Does disagreement exist within the realm of experts? Sure, but through years of sifting through the evidence in my personal quest for maximum functional longevity, I have reached conclusions that are thus far working quite splendidly in my own life, so believe I am on the right track.
I am a human powered triker. I recently acquired the fastest production tricycle available. I am racing around on it and having the time of my life, when other trikers are convinced this is not possible. I am not having chest pains at any level of exertion, even when I push the limits of full speed ahead. Sure, I get winded eventually and enter into oxygen debt, but the system is strong, and becomes stronger with each ride. That which does not kill me makes me stronger! Yes, this works for me, as learned well through my bodybuilding from the age of 17, working out, and active lifestyle during all ages in this body. A few years ago I had a full stress test performed at a medical facility. The purpose of this Balke Protocol assessment is to monitor the development of an athlete’s general endurance (VO2 max). It is a prime indicator of one’s overall fitness. I scored in accordance to men in their late teens and early twenties. This is an example of those bio-markers I spoke of earlier.
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I sleep 8 to 10 hours nightly, even though it is commonly thought that with age, we can “get by” with less time, typically 6 hours in the heads of many folks. We all make our own choices, and we all meet with our consequences of those choices. I am not sleep deprived. I do not fall asleep during the day or in the evening during a movie. I am not tired during the day. I have multiple sessions of REM sleep (rapid eye movement), where deep dreaming occurs. I drink one liter of water each night – the bottle is full when I retire, and the final bit of water still remaining upon arising is immediately consumed. This requires multiple bathroom breaks throughout the night because I do not eat salty foods, nor do I salt my food, but even with these supposed awakened interruptions, I quickly fall back into REM states. In fact, I have found that since opting to drink a liter of water each night that I have many more vivid dreams throughout the night. It seems counter-intuitive, but that is my story! Beta Amyloid is a waste product that forms as a result of daily brain functioning. One major reason why we sleep is so that the body can rid itself of the toxic substance each night. Insufficient nightly sleep leads to an excess of beta Amyloid, a build-up that is linked to early-onset dementia. By sleeping 8-10 hours nightly, the beta Amyloid is exiled from the brain, excreted as the toxic waste that it is.
I also drink one liter of water at least during each day (daylight hours), in addition to the liter at night. Often, I drink a liter and a half, or two liters during the day, depending on my activity level. One liter however is minimum if I am sitting at a computer typing, as I am doing now. This liquid is in addition to any other liquids I may drink, such as organic soy milk with non-GMO beans, herbal tea, or decaffeinated white tea. The body functions at a cellular level, and since we are water-based beings, it is critical for maximal cell functioning that water be regularly consumed. Why do older people typically get all dried up in their skin with sunken eyes? Well, part of the story is that they are dehydrating themselves, commonly because they prefer not to visit the bathroom very often for a multitude of reasons. I have read that the human brain is 80% water, so what happens if we are dehydrated each day? What suffers?
If we are to function efficiently, we must be fully hydrated with pure water. That much is basic. What happens to runners in hot climates? Their muscles begin to shut down. Their core temperatures begin to heat up. We can survive for a long time without food, but if we are deprived of water and liquids for a couple of days, we are on a path of extermination. I believe this simple solution of drinking water is foundational for all health and longevity concerns. It sounds too simplistic, yet it has profound long-term effects on our lives. Water intake is at the core of our existence. We are water based beings. With insufficient amounts, all bodily functions degrade rapidly, and greatly accelerated signs of older age appear. Bio-markers deteriorate as chronological age increases.
What do I not drink? Here is a short list: soda pop, fruit juices, beer, wine, fruit drinks, coffee, caffeinated tea, cow milk, or any commercially prepared liquid that is not conducive to extending my life. I used to drink considerable amounts of pure fruit juices, but now instead opt for the actual fruits, which are superior and do not overload my system with huge amounts of natural sugars (one glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, for example, is composed of 6-8 oranges). Fruit juices lack compounds found in the actual fruit, and also have proven effects that are not optimal for best health. I used to drink copious amounts of cow milk during my twenties and thirties when competing in bodybuilding competitions, but no longer do so (hormones, antibiotics, diseases, visions of cross-species nursing, etc). I get my large supply of antioxidants from natural sources (blueberries, plums, etc) rather than wine, and I have no desire to experience the osteoporosis and arthritis (among many other maladies) that result from sodas and highly acidic animal-based diets.
Regarding the drinking of coffee, something I have never done because I was never fond of the taste even as a teenager, I will speak about momentarily in this paragraph. I feel it warrants a little investigation due to how my perceptions differ from the masses. In my studies, I have read several discussions, some of which were authored by doctors, that support the drinking of coffee on a daily basis, even several cups per day. I have read with interest the justifications for coffee consumption, yet have still not discovered any legitimate reasons for doing so. My perception is that the justifications for coffee are simply that … justifications written by folks who wish to support an addictive habit followed by most of the world’s population. Any benefits derived from coffee consumption are minimal in the best of light, and can be had much more efficiently from other healthful eating and lifestyle solutions, ones that do not shorten human life.
Wow, how can I say that? Shorten life? Well, here is my take on this, rebellious as it may be: The human heart is a muscle with a finite number of beats, and this seemingly perpetual pump that keeps us alive eventually tires and stops, assuming nothing else kills the body sooner. Vigorous exercise during one’s life uses extra beats of the heart, as it pumps faster to supply the body during exertion, but these extra beats translate into a slower resting heart rate, with the net result of the heart beating slower when not exercising, extending our given (or finite) number of beats for a longer duration. Increased heart speed is beneficial when experienced during exercise, and leads to significantly longer life.
In contrast, chemically speeding up one’s heart with a cardiac stimulant has no such beneficial consequence, leading to using up one’s allotted finite number of beats quicker. There is no upside here. If I know factually that my heart will stop beating one day once it reaches a point of exhaustion, why would I choose to exhaust it sooner through the regular use of chemical cardiac stimulants that provide no life extension qualities, but only provide life shortening qualities? I would not make such a choice. Taste of coffee aside, an acquired taste for most anyway, helped along by the addictive qualities of caffeine, I do not drink a substance that, for every cup, temporarily narrows my arteries, raises my blood pressure, and speeds up my heart chemically. This does not make sense to me. If one plugs in numbers (increased heart rate differential x number of years) approximate ideas of this can be made visible. Coffee will not extend my life, but will indeed shorten it, thus I do not use this addictive cardiac stimulant in my longevity model.
Coffee discussion brings forth another critical aspect of nutrition and maximum functional longevity, and that is one of human body pH, which is either assisted or hindered by the balance of acidic and alkaline foods we ingest. The human body maintains a slightly alkaline pH of 7.365 (on a scale of 1-14, where lower than 7 is acidic, and higher than 7 is alkaline). Coffee is highly acidic, which helps to send the body into an acidic state, which can lead to acidosis. This is not desirable, as the body will do whatever necessary to maintain its naturally alkaline state, which includes leaching calcium from bone tissue to extinguish the acidic fire. It is important to maintain a dietary intake of at least 60% alkaline foods versus 40% acidic. Some advocate an alkaline intake of 80%.
Cancers grow in acidic environments. I prefer not to acquire cancer. Most cancer patients test between 4-5 pH. Cancers die in alkaline environments, or perhaps more succinctly, they do not initiate in the natural alkaline state of the body. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is highly acidic, and most citizens of first-world affluent societies are continually dumping massive amounts of acidic foods into their bodies, providing an environmental situation where cancers eventually grow and thrive. Cancer is not the only so-called “incurable” disease that flourishes in the acidic human body. Most maladies currently known in today’s societies can be overcome simply by abandoning the typical modern diet of dead animals and animal products, while also abandoning all the highly processed junk foods that are ubiquitous these days. So, let’s move on to how my maximum functional longevity model reflects this, and other, ideas:
At the core of my dietary aspect of living are some key words: plant-based, organic, vegan, non-GMO (genetically modified organisms), unprocessed, unrefined, natural, low sodium, low sugars, monounsaturated fats, omega fatty acid ratios, and, well, the list goes on and on, (including the eye on alkalinity) and for many readers, may have little or no meaning without explanations. Even attempting to discuss all this lifestyle information on one page is a real challenge, so just consider these paragraphs basic guidelines that form a launch pad for folks truly concerned about changing their habits in the name of longevity – and make no mistake: These things are habits learned over a lifetime from childhood. Once one’s inner desire to live long and strong exceeds one’s desire to simply follow the status quo to an early grave, change will happen and results will become apparent. These changes do not equate to self deprivation once mastered!
Modification of my dietary habits occurred over time, a span of several years as a matter of fact. This is because new science is learned over time, necessitating changes by those who are serious about maximizing their health, and also because one must adapt mentally to changes, essentially unlearning common unhealthy dietary dictates taught when younger. The human mind grows physiologically and psychologically addicted to certain eating habits, so one’s motivation to change direction must be mighty powerful if one wishes to be successful at the endeavor. This is often not easy, and it is never overnight, but I make choices based on what will keep me functioning at full tilt for all my years.
Organic is a watchword for me. Is everything I eat organic? No, but when organic options exist, I now opt for them. The use of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, hormones, and other chemicals, designed with the primary purpose of maximizing profits for producers of mass food supply, runs counter to my belief in the natural goodness of natural foods unaltered by human manipulations. Organic is my goal, reached when able or practical, but not set in stone 100% of the time. This is a worthy goal to seek for maximum functional longevity. Would I spray an apple with a can of Raid from the supermarket and then eat the apple? Of course not, but that’s essentially what humans do when they eat foods poisoned by neurotoxins and other deadly chemicals.
Along with organic comes this issue of genetically modified organisms, a popular and highly profitable direction taken by the huge multinational agricultural and biotech chemical corporations (with Monsanto leading the way). Seeds of foods are genetically modified for a variety of reasons, one of which is to commonly make them “Round-Up ready” so that when the common poison is sprayed upon the growing plant, it does not damage the plant. If a product is organic, it is also non-GMO, but if a product is non-GMO, it is not necessarily organic (often is however). Read labels carefully! As for my body, the goal is organic AND non-GMO whenever possible. Canada and the United States are two of the few remaining first world countries that do not require transparent GMO labeling laws. As a person who studies all that I eat, I buy food that is organic, so I know I am not getting these in my body, but most folks have no clue about this. Fortunately, legitimate health conscious companies are transparent, and state that no GMOs are present in their products. If a product does not state on the label that it is organic, then I take it to mean that it is not organic, because healthy companies are proud to advertise their use of organic food.
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Vegan is another watchword. A vegan diet is plant-based. Vegan means eating no animals, or anything excreted from animals, such as milk for the animal’s offspring or eggs of the animal’s sexual reproduction cycle. This is different from the word vegetarian, which means eating no muscle tissue of dead animals, but allowing the consumption of animal’s infant milk and eggs. Years ago I used to eat copious amounts of dead animals, but now I have opted for live plants, realizing the value of sprouted vegetables and grains.
My Omega-3 fatty acids are now acquired through vegetable sources such as chia seeds, hemp powder, and flax sources. This comes in the form of ALA rather than the DHA and EPA found in fish oils, and in much lower amounts, however the human body converts and utilizes the amount of ALA needed for it sustenance into the DHA and EPA forms. Fish oils are past history. At this point in my life, I no longer pour oils into my body, such as the use of olive oil on my foods, for example. If I want all the benefits of olives, I eat olives, not refined and super concentrated oil forms, which are extremely fattening and not conducive to maximizing my lifespan. Use the real whole food rather than the refined oils of the food. Many oils, including expensive olive oils, go rancid prior to our use of them, something else to ponder. Oils, including olive, cause a rather immediate condition referred to as Hyperlipidemia, which is an abnormally elevated level of blood lipids or lipoproteins, also resulting in a thickening of the blood. This is not good for cardiovascular health, especially for folks with occluded arteries.
One way of looking at this Omega-3 intake question is this: Why eat a dead fish to acquire the Omega-3 nutrients, which essentially is using the fish to filter our Omega-3? I now just cut out the middle-man altogether, and get my Omega-3 nutrients at the original source. Fish are not a source of Omega-3 of themselves, but rather are storehouses for the nutrient, which ends up in their bodyfat. My view is that going to the plant source (as the fish did) is healthier and more logical than getting it from a dead animal who went to the source for me. There are oceanic (water) and land-based Omega-3 sources, an example of water based source being spirulina.
Since this is essentially only a primer page of the most basic information, I highly encourage you to read everything you can about how the Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the brain, heart, and body, and how they maximize your chances at fully functional life. In fact, I recommend that motivated readers research all this knowledge independently to understand it more completely. The caveat of course, is that manufacturers of products will toss out information that, while perhaps technically accurate, is not part of a lifestyle that leads to maximum functional longevity. Money talks in the world of humans, thus claims that are not in your best interests. What is difficult for most folks I have worked with over the years is separating out what is real and what is hype, but only the most determined investigator will have the patience to reach this level of assessment unfortunately, as advertisers are very slick in their presentations on television and on their packaging!
Case in point? Companies always tout the good news on their products, and through conscious omission, lead unsuspecting buyers into a false state of confidence. I will use tortilla chips as just one of hundreds of examples. For many years, I used to scarf up tortilla chips and salsa, one of my favorite things. As I learned about the deadly consequences of eating fried foods, it became apparent that I needed to modify my thoughts if I did not wish to end up on the cardiologist’s cutting table, so I made the slow (and challenging) transition away from my habitual gluttony of chips. I’ve been clean now since 1999.
What tortilla chip company is going to say that their chips are fried, not baked, and that fried foods where oil is superheated are deadly for the human body? Right! What do they say on their products? Things like this: organic, blue corn, high protein, Omega-6 oils, and everything that is technically accurate and sounds beneficial to the average Joe or Josephine who is doing the grocery shopping just before dinner. I fell for this for many long years! That’s what sales and advertising are all about, selling the product – they don’t care about your health! They care about their image and income. And these folks are experts at what they do! Need proof? Just look in your cupboard. If you are a normal person in an affluent country, your cupboard is a storehouse of deadly components, most of which are seriously shortening your life.
I purchase very few food products with Omega-6 oils, such as sunflower, safflower, or corn, all of which have a very high ratio of Omega-6 (inflammatory response and auto-immune issues) to Omega-3 (anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits). It is believed our primitive ancestors existed with a natural level of 1:1 (Omega-6 to Omega-3). The typical Western diet now consists of a highly unnatural ratio of 16:1 to 20:1, which has led to a huge surge in many longevity related consequences (study this to know the specifics, as a book could be written on this topic alone). Companies use the oils listed above because they are inexpensive, and you’ll find them in most common packaged and canned foods – most are also genetically modified. I avoid them when possible, opting for the holy grail of food oils known as olive (never canola oil, which is a genetically modified hybrid, even though it has a favorable 6:3 ratio). If I buy a product that has oil as an ingredient, it must be olive, but even there, I greatly minimize oil consumption in all commercially prepared foods that I eat. I use no bottled oils at home, including cooking. I cook with water as necessary, never oil anymore.
For an idea, the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio in corn oil (genetically modified, by the way) is a highly concentrated 46:1, whereas fish oil is 1:7, olive oil is 3:13, and flax oil is 1:3. I look for minimal Omega-6 numbers and maximal Omega-3 numbers. Do not get your Omega-6 fatty acids in oils (too concentrated for good health), but rather in the actual food, such as sunflower seeds instead of sunflower oil. This information is critical for maximum heart health, perhaps one of the most pressing issues in today’s society. Avoid all oils like the plague, even the typically coveted olive oil. It does not benefit maximum functional longevity, rather just the opposite (although, there are many who will dispute that statement for a variety of reasons – my little personal puppet show in my head does not usually go with popular opinion on most aspects of life).
Unprocessed, unrefined, and natural are a few other key watchwords in the lifestyle choices I have made for years. My goal is to eat as close to nature as I am able. As an example, when I eat bread, I opt for a product such as a natural sprouted grain rather than a highly refined wheat bread. I recall as a kid watching Weber bread commercials on television, which touted their white bread as enriched with vitamins and minerals. This was correct. They did enrich it, but only after they removed many times what was already in the grain naturally, so while the hype sounded good, the product was biologically dead (they removed 21 vital nutrients and put back in 5, thus the technicality of correctness). This white bread just smushed up when held in the fingers, whereas a high quality sprouted bread is rugged when holding it in a sandwich. If you want a simple way to judge breads, hold a loaf of highly refined Weber’s (if they still make it) in your left hand at the store, and a completely natural sprouted grain bread in your right. One is considerably heavier in weight than the other. Guess which one! The heavy one is vital, the light one is clinically dead and worthless to your body. Do not let money decide your choice!
My bread of choice is sprouted and live whole organic grain.
Dead bread need not be refrigerated. Live sprouted grain bread needs refrigeration, and is found in the freezer section of your supermarket. Dead bread is cheap. Live bread is costly. What is your life worth to you? How do you wish your life adventure to play out? Dead bread, like dead animals, is not conducive to MFL.
Essentially, my mantra for maximum functional longevity when it comes to what I put in my mouth and swallow is this: whole food, plant-based (starches, vegetables, fruits), organic, and just like nature has presented to us in our world. Quick note: when I refer to starch, this equates to things like rice, sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, legumes, and other typical staple foods like corn, wheat, and grains. Starches are the most common carbohydrate source found in the human diet, and this term is used to cover this kind of essential nutrition. Convenience in modern societies has led away from whole natural foods to highly processed “foods”, simply relying upon mega food producers, which are interested primarily in the bottom dollar line (but even the conventional food companies are seeing that money is to be made by catering to all us “health nuts”, even if they don’t believe it themselves, so they are expanding their manufacturing of healthy alternatives). An example? Coca-Cola bought the health food company Odwalla some years back – Odwalla sold out for the money, and from that time forward, I have never had another Odwalla product, and I used to be a regular customer of the company – for me, principle is important. Another example is that of Tom’s of Maine, which sold out to a major toothpaste company not too long ago, so now we must watch to see if they start hedging ingredients for the sake of higher profits, a typical consequence.
Vitamin and mineral pill supplements are a prime example of how convenience trumps health. This is a $26 billion annual business. By super-concentrating vitamins and minerals into pills for the convenience of our hurried and lazy society, products are created that cause a massive nutritional imbalance because the elements are way out of proportion compared to how they occur naturally in whole foods. The body’s immune system sees these unnaturally isolated, and typically artificial, elements as foreign, and treats them as invaders. A diet based on achieving maximum functional longevity supplies all the vitamin and mineral needs without having to suffer the consequences of huge nutrient imbalances. Traditional modern thought in the USA is this: “It’s okay to eat the diet of affluence (animals and animal products) because I take vitamin pills and pour olive oil on my foods.” This type of thinking simply reflects profound lack of meaningful longevity education.
Those on the path of maximum functional longevity must be label detectives while shopping at the supermarket. I become intimately aware of every label of potential grocery items until I know which ones support life according to my maximum functional longevity model and which ones are cheap imitations designed by uncaring companies out to make a buck. Well, actually, the organic and health conscious companies are still gouging customers because they know we health oriented people will pay for this stuff, but at least we are getting something that will keep us out of surgeon’s rooms and nursing homes. The good news is that with the current popular surge for healthy and organic products, more mainstream grocers are stocking organic and healthy products as choices, thereby bringing the prices down through market dynamics of supply and demand. Most major supermarket chains now have their own proprietary label of organic products, which can be found throughout the store. Does organic always mean the best simply because of the word? No (something can be organic yet still loaded up with Omega-6 oils and refined sugars for example), but it is often a solid indicator that you are on the right track in your label detective sleuthing.
One quick side-thought here: When the “gluten-free” bandwagon began not too long ago, even I found myself thinking that, wow, maybe I better avoid this component of wheat, barley, and rye grains – there must be something wrong with it because of the increasing number of food companies heralding their products as being gluten-free, even so-called “health food” companies. Well, I eventually educated myself, and learned that less than 1% (yes, one) of the American population is gluten intolerant, an immune condition that arises in celiac disease. Okay, it’s good celiac sufferers now are having more options from the food industry, but due to this gluten-free advertising, most folks believe that being gluten-free is somehow better for them because hardly anyone knows anything about celiac disease and how rare it truly is. Over 99% of us have no issues whatsoever with gluten, so avoidance is usually unnecessary. Avoiding gluten means avoiding wheat, barley, and rye, which not only is difficult to do, but also not recommended because whole vital grains are the bedrock of excellent health and longevity! Besides, I love to eat wheat, barley, and rye! There are many products these days that say “gluten free” for things that never have gluten in them in the first place.
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I eat three meals per day on typical days. If I am out on a day-long trike ride, I eat energy protein bars not containing isolated soy protein, and I have three 26 ounce Specialized Purist water bottles on the trike. At home, things are pretty well set into a known course based on maximum nutrition and health benefits. I never skip breakfast after arising from my 8-10 hour night’s sleep, something that is typical in rushed Western culture. Nor do I drink a cup of coffee to wash down my highly processed doughnut, as I listen to the latest horrible news on the radio and smoke a cigarette. Mental and emotional tranquility are also essential aspects of maximizing functional longevity, and clearly, an addiction to deadly carcinogenic smoke inhaled purposefully is one significant indicator that a person simply does not respect life. My dad was such an addict of nicotine, and for it, checked out of life at 57. My dad provided me an outstanding example of what not to do, albeit a very sad method of learning!
About 20 minutes prior to breakfast, I have a scoop of wheatgrass powder and one scoop of Raw Meal mixed with plain filtered water. By taking this drink on an empty stomach, the powerful and life-promoting nutrients of organic raw whole foods are quickly absorbed into my body’s system. The slightly fresh grassy taste of the wheatgrass is tempered with the meal. I encourage you to learn about wheatgrass and whole food supplements for yourself. This is where my search for meaningful knowledge has led me. Whole foods are the gold standard for me now!
a nutritionally powerful duo to jump-start the day
For breakfast, nearly every day, except when out camping or on an overland trike journey, I do the following: Into a small saucepan, I place a half cup of old fashioned oats, and enough water to immerse them. Then I place it on the stove to come to a boil. While that is happening, I prepare the non-cooked ingredients in my eating bowl, into which I will be pouring the oatmeal once cooked. Into the bowl, I place the following: half cup of raisins, one teaspoon of cinnamon, one scoop of chia seeds, one rounded teaspoon of oat bran, one rounded teaspoon of wheat bran, and two heaping teaspoons of Hemp Hearts. I mix it all around, and then wait for the oatmeal. Once the oatmeal is boiling and slightly thick, I pour it into the mixed ingredients in the bowl, and thoroughly stir it all together. The oatmeal is still somewhat runny because the ingredients in the bowl will thicken it up considerably. I also eat one dried plum while waiting.
Nutritional information about hemp hearts comes from here: “Averaging at 22.5% complete raw food protein, hemp hearts are a great staple in any plant based diet. Hemp protein sources are much healthier and much more assimilable then beef (which is of an equivalent protein percentage) or other animal sourced protein. It also contains significantly less saturated fat and has poly-unsaturated fats in it’s place (as well as carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals). Hemp protein is composed of 65% globular edestin which is considered the most easily digestible form of protein found in the food chain (animal proteins are usually very hard to digest and in the case of casein, which makes up 87% of cow’s milk protein). The other 35% of hemp protein is albumin, which is also another very easily digestible form.“
Canadian Hemp Hearts – click image to visit this company’s website, or HERE to acquire on Amazon.
NOTE: Hemp Hearts are shelled hemp seeds, in other words, the seed with the outer tiny shell removed. Hemp Hearts are soft with a naturally nutty flavor, and are pleasurable to eat, even by themselves. Hemp seeds, on the other hand, are bitter to the taste, and the tiny outer shells, while not a danger to the teeth, do not enhance in any way the enjoyment of a meal. Both Hemp Hearts and hemp seeds have identical nutritional value, but I love to eat Hemp Hearts in my oatmeal and lunch creations, as they add to the experience. Hemp seeds detract from the experience – I only needed to try the seeds once to realize this difference. Hemp Hearts cost 3 pennies per gram, whereas hemp seeds cost 1.47 pennies per gram, yet saving money is not worth it in this instance. Get the shelled seeds, called hearts, if you prefer a more positive eating experience!
I fully understand that my daily breakfast comes off sounding totally bizarre to the average person! Yes, I grasp that concept very well. However, my guiding light is maximum functional longevity, and I therefore do what is necessary to achieve it. Every single ingredient in this morning breakfast is there for a very specific reason of maximizing my health and supporting life. With sufficient study of nutrition personally, you can come to understand the underlying principles at play here, and how these ingredients put you on the path to the ultra long haul in life, but for the purposes of this brief article, I will simply say that years of reading have led me to these choices as some of the best I can make for a power packed first meal of the day. My intent is not to convert you to my path, but merely to inform you of my path if you are at all interested.
Several mornings each week, I also include a blender drink with whole fruit, or some cut fresh fruit, along with a scoop of green vegetable powder. These other choices are usually consumed after I finish the bowl of oatmeal. The blender drink contains items such as kale, baby carrots, banana, blueberries, hemp seeds, cinnamon, apricots, raspberries, hemp protein powder, sunflower seeds, and soy yogurt, all in a liquid base of organic, non GMO soy milk. Not all these ingredients are in each drink of course, but these are examples, with different combinations. On days I do not have a blender drink, I usually have a bowl full of fresh cut oranges, grapefruit, blueberries, and banana – all with no sugar added, of course. In fact, there is no sugar (or salt) to be found in the house. Whole foods are the foundations for what I eat!
For lunch when home, I have another dried plum (called prunes by some) just before eating. I eat an organic dried plum (not preserved with potassium sorbate, which is standard these days) at the beginning of each meal daily, a strategy I have employed for years now for the superior anti-oxidant effects of prunes, which are near the top of the ORAC scale (along with blueberries, cranberries, and many other natural foods). Quick lesson: dried plums and wheat bran are outstanding elements for keeping one’s pipes flowing smoothly too, almost ensuring that I will never suffer from colorectal cancer or other maladies of typical Western diets. Many years ago, I stopped eating dead cow muscle (beef) once I learned that it often begins a putrification process while still being passed through the human digestive tract (kind of grossed me out to think about that). Humans, unlike carnivorous animals, do not have the necessary digestive chemicals to handle dead animals. Nor do we have the teeth and tongue taste receptors of a carnivore. This is a whole topic of extreme interest in itself.
Lunch finds me continuing with what I have found to be nutritionally sound for my body and its maximum functional longevity. As with my dietary evolution over the years, lunch has transcended former rigid belief models, and become what I describe here. As my knowledge grows, my evolution moves forward. As with breakfast, I begin with one dried plum (sorbate-free) for its high antioxidant benefit. Next, I have one slice of whole grain sprouted bread (shown above) with organic crunchy almond butter (almonds only) on top. From there, I dig into a bowl of mixed ingredients: one cup of blueberries, one cup of cranberries, sometimes a little pineapple, a scoop of Raw Meal powder, a small portion of home-toasted rolled oats, raisins, sunflower seeds, and coconut (my private little granola recipe), and a wee bit of organic unsweetened soy milk to mix it all up (Westsoy – only organic soybeans and filtered water, no added vitamin fortifications or sugars). I keep highly refined and devitalized products out of my mouth. Again, whole foods are my gold standard for longevity.
Click image to visit the Westsoy website.
My breakfasts and lunches are typically the same each day I am home, as I have designed them to provide the benefits for maximum functional longevity I seek. Dinner sees a plethora of fresh steamed vegetables used throughout the week, organic when available, which is becoming more accepted now in supermarkets. Veggies include such things as broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, peas, kale, Swiss chard, red cabbage, red onions, avocados, or non-GMO corn if available. Main dishes are made with any number of variously combined ingredients, including, but not limited to: long grain brown rice, numerous bean types, soy tempeh, soy tofu, and whole grain pastas. Organic fresh vegetable soups are an excellent choice for super nutrition (not canned soups, but freshly made). My guiding light is plant-based whole foods, starches, vegetables, and fruits. No dead animals or animal infant milk products find their way into my body these days.
Remember I talked about loving tortilla chips, and how I gave them up “cold turkey” years ago? Well, I couldn’t simply walk away from the salsa and guacamole aspect of it all, so I just substituted rye flatbreads for the chips, made with only rye and water, baked (not fried), and salt free. This still allows me to have delicious avocados and healthy salsa, but in an exceptionally healthy manner. On nights when I indulge in this delight, I typically have it as a prelude to a later dinner, much like at a Mexican restaurant. Avocados are loaded with healthy benefits. There are always healthy and life supportive alternatives to our traditionally learned eating habits! Here is a book that I recommend as a starting point for someone new to healthy and life-supportive foods (click image to learn more):
Every dinner also includes garlic, but here is how I do it to maximize the effectiveness of the important compounds in garlic that promote superior health and deliver longevity supportive aspects: I do not cook the garlic, as it renders its less effective. Fifteen minutes out from when the dinner is ready to eat, I finely dice up one or two cloves of fresh garlic on a small wooden cutting board (do not confuse this with the bulb, which is the single large garlic conglomerate that is broken apart into the smaller cloves). Then I let it sit at room temperature for the 15 minutes while the dinner is finishing being prepared. At this point, I scrape the tiny pieces of the life-promoting garlic onto the food and mix it in (especially easy if it is a casserole dish). If finely diced, I am not even aware of it in the food. Read what you can about garlic, and learn why I include this as one of my superfoods. This choice is not governed by subsequent breath, as my health and longevity are far more important than if anyone might find me offensive, but after dinner, I am rarely around anyone anyway, so it really doesn’t matter – by morning, I’m back to my normal sweet-smelling self! BTW: garlic is very alkaline too, helping pH balance.
Probably like almost anyone else, I love to have a dessert now and then. But, as you may well understand by this point in the presentation here, even dessert supports my maximum functional longevity model of living, regardless of what it is. On rare occasion, I will have a soy based ice cream, which is made from organic soy beans rather than cow’s milk. This may sound less than inviting to most readers, but, depending on the brand, can be as delicious as any typically accepted cow cream product. They are not all created equal, but most nowadays have mastered the taste and texture aspects of traditional ice cream, because the companies that couldn’t went out of business.
Ice cream is not a usual dessert for me though. More frequently, when I do opt for a dessert, it is involved with soy yogurt, berries, nuts, and even on occasion atop a small piece of cake. Cake? No way! Yes way! My version of cake is not normal, just as I am not normal. Any cake I eat is not the spongy bio-dead mess covered in thick saturated fat icing – no! Cake that finds its way into my mouth is just like bread that occasionally finds its way into me: heavy, solid, and nutrient dense, with healthy natural sprouted grains, and things like fresh cranberries embedded. Anything I eat, with the rare occasion of when I am triking on a long overland journey and burning 5,000-7,000 calories each day, is well documented to keep all my living years healthy and vital. I take all this very seriously, but it is now very easy for me to do so, with no stress involved, because it is an ingrained part of my very existence here in this bioform I call me.
One reason I am writing this article is because people have requested to learn about healthy long-living strategies and leaving their maladies behind, but typically, folks do not know where to begin their journey of change. There is so much conflicting information out there, often tossed into the mix by commercial entities with financial agendas, that truly, it can seem overwhelming to most people. I suspect that the common thought is that if a product is found in a supermarket, it must somehow be safe and healthy because the government allowed it to be there. Well, maybe in a perfect world, but we are not in one here! The vast majority of products found in stores are not on my list of longevity supporting things to be putting into my mouth! Being a conscientious label detective is mandatory!
The governments of Earth still allow cigarettes and cigars to be sold – and few people nowadays with a modicum of wisdom would even doubt the death sentence they spell for addicted users. The government of the country where I live (a self-proclaimed democracy, but in reality a plutocracy) told its citizens for years between 1951 and 1963 that the atom bombs they were blowing up in this country were not to be feared, but thousands have died as a result of the deception. So much for what governments allow into marketplaces, and for placing trust in these entities! Only you are responsible for you! Do not take anything on faith, including what I am writing to you here! It is essential to fully educate yourself for your own goals and needs. Faith-based living is asking for trouble!
Eating is a major factor in any maximum functional longevity model, of this there is absolutely no doubt. If following your old habits of indulgence is more important to you than living a long and fully functional life, then so be it – everyone makes their own decisions and reaps their own individual consequences, often long-standing and unpleasant. Cancers, stroke, heart attacks, diseases, bone disintegration, obesity, arthritis, osteoporosis, and many other unnamed maladies are the norm in America, the land of the fat and home of the bedridden, but they need not be. It is common to think that these things will never happen to me, but hey, they will if one follows what the masses are following! You can make your own choice to walk a different path right here and now. Once adopted and adapted, you will never look back. On hindsight, the rewards far outweigh the initial sacrifices!
Essentially, what I put in my mouth and swallow are whole foods from the plant kingdom – not highly processed elements of what used to be real food, but instead are now simply devitalized commercial products masquerading as healthful products, products that the typical affluent human will erroneously believe are useful to the body. Organic and GMO-free are the gold standards by which I evaluate. Complex carbohydrates in the form of staple starches (beans, rice, grains, etc), vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds are my path. Animals and products derived from animals have been stricken from my “acceptable” list. The evidence of maximum functional longevity clearly does NOT support a carnivorous diet in the slightest degree. One cannot live truly long and finish truly strong as a carnivore.
If you study demographic maps of many human diseases and serious maladies of this planet, it becomes readily apparent that the United States, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Europe, and the Scandinavian countries lead the way in long-term physical suffering and early deaths when compared to the rest of the world – by a HUGE order of magnitude. And as people in traditionally healthy regions of the planet adopt the typical western diet, they jump right into the agony with the other affluent humans who die at an average age of only 78 years. We believe that 80 is a ripe old age simply because most of us are dead by then. Criterion based referencing absolutely does not support this, but norm based referencing obviously does! By educating ourselves on the REAL facts, rather than relying on television, radio, and other sound bytes produced by laymen, we take the first legitimate steps towards maximum functional longevity. I wish my adventure as “me” to proceed fully vital and healthy until it’s time to expire! Human lifespan is short enough in the best of light.
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Another aspect of a maximum functional longevity life model is physical exercise. Most first world affluent Western countries are mostly populated by unhealthy overweight people, about three quarters of the population according to estimates, but I tend to believe it is higher than that from what I see every day around me. This is the result of these individuals ingesting more calories every day than they are expending in bodily activities. Just like a bank account, where your account grows if you put more in than you take out, your fatness grows if you stuff more food into your mouth than the body can utilize. If you feed your machine the same number of calories every day that you burn up, then you are stable (not necessarily healthy, but stable from a bodyweight standpoint at least). If you feed your machine fewer calories every day than you burn up, such as on an overland trike journey with camp food, then you lose weight (I lose between 10-15 pounds on a three week trike trek). It’s all about caloric balance here. If you are on a “credit card” trike journey, money no object, staying in motels and eating at fine restaurants, I suppose you could actually gain weight, because after a day of pedaling, a triker is ravenously starved! Any food will do!
So, it goes without saying that you must engage regularly in physical bodily exercise, a variety being a good choice to keep your motivation high. Already by riding a human powered recumbent tadpole tricycle, you are way ahead of the normal couch-potato mentality prevalent in spoiled rich countries with every convenience. At least some of the time, you are actually choosing to do with your body what your petroleum power plant of the automobile does most of the time, and by doing so, you are not destroying the air you and I breathe, and you are simultaneously heaping a bunch of life extending benefits upon yourself. For trike riding to really make a difference, it must be measured and regular.
By this, I mean not simply going for an occasional neighborhood jaunt every now and then, a few miles on level ground, at a casual relaxed pace. Sure, anything is clearly better than sitting at a computer or watching a DVD, but triking needs to rise above this level to bring about a noticeable improvement in physical conditioning. A good place to start is picking two days each week, with at least one day in between them, and commit to rides of at least 10 miles on each occasion. Ten miles on a trike is manageable, and if ridden with at least some sprints mixed in, can lead to improvement. This is a start, of course, and as you improve in strength and aerobic capability, the distance can be increased, the speed can be ratcheted up, and the hill activity can be more frequent. Listen to your body, and when ready, keep adding a little more, not so quickly that you injure a muscle or ligament, or that you become discouraged, but just enough to keep you motivated to get out there again and see if you can better your prior ride. Use yourself as the measure, not someone else who may be more accomplished. This will keep your head on straight.
Just as some folks are hooked on a couple of tennis games each week, or running the roads on foot, your trike provides not only the exercise, but also a comfortable way to enjoy a lot of scenery in the process. And, you don’t receive the blunt trauma of feet slamming down on pavement – triking is a circular exercise that, similar to swimming, is far less traumatic to the joints than other choices. Plus, if you stop now and then to rest in town, you can actually meet many folks who will want to learn all about your three wheels. Riding your trike in the real world sure beats riding a recumbent stationary bike in an overcrowded gym full of grunting sweaty people watching CNN on blaring overhead screens while gasping for air in the inefficient facility ventilation system, with wails emitting from the daycare room.
Where I live, just as where you live, there are many fun and exciting trike routes just waiting to be discovered. Day rides of 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 miles are out there, and once you find a few really sweet loops, you can measure the progress over the weeks and months. I have a 30 mile round-trip route on predominantly level ground along a river, which is the perfect training ground and testing facility for my abilities to improve my cardiovascular system and strength potential. I can cruise along on this ride in a relaxed mode of 20 miles per hour, or ramp it up to near 30 or more in varied durations of sprints. If I just want to leisurely enjoy the spectacular forested and river scenery, a casual 15 miles per hour will be just the ticket.
There are also mountain rides in my area, and probably in yours too. One is a 51 mile loop inland along the river, then up and over a summit of the Coast Range, giving every type of terrain conceivable. This is a fun ride, despite its areas of really steep challenge, because the serenity and remoteness is superb, a real mind-clearing experience that allows me to return home mentally refreshed and physically worked. This loop most definitely beats any gym exercise machine going! I have fun and extend my life all at once! I eat well that night, and sleep like a baby for the next 10 hours! Trikes are awesome tools for maximum functional longevity – and you already ride one! How cool is that?
If you are really super duper into triking, you could ride three or even four times per week, and if you are sleeping well and eating properly, this will truly make a real difference if carried on regularly for many years. Combining fun into exercise is what makes a person actually WANT to exercise, rather than it becoming a deal where you think: “Oh gee, I HAVE to go to the gym now, but I’d rather be doing something else!”
Long before I got into this adult triking, I was engaged in another activity that I also loved, and that is bodybuilding, working out with weights, or what some call weight training. This I started at 17, having been the victim of a high school bully named Bob who made it his business to ruin my day whenever he saw me. But that negative motivation that initially propelled me headlong into the sport turned into something else all its own in very short order, because I found out I loved the quick and dramatic results in seeing my formerly soft body become rock hard and powerful. By the time my ten-year high school reunion came around on the famous Queen Mary ocean liner docked in Long Beach, California, I was big and strong as a bear, and could have easily cleaned Bob’s clock – he sat at another table, still his skinny self. I gazed upon the pitiful wimp of a man who used to make my life miserable, and just laughed inside. Living well is the best revenge!
As I type this, I am in my 50th year of seriously hoisting the iron against Earth’s gravity, and no matter how strong I get, gravity still wins out eventually. But that is a very good thing because it is precisely the resistance that makes me strong and supports my maximum functional longevity model of being. Just like the resistance on the trike pedaling makes me stronger and faster, so do those old dumb weights that are always laughing at me for picking them up and moving them around it weird ways! I just keep doing the same stuff, keeping variety high to keep interest high, because after this many years, one might assume I’d be bored stiff. Well, I’d rather be bored stiff than stiff as a board in a coffin, but the truth of the matter is that I am not bored stiff! Truly, I love the feeling all this exercise provides, and feeling great all the time, always full of energy, is my expected and desired way of life. It is not a chore for me at all, and the results speak for themselves. I love living, and respecting life means living fully in a body that is fully functional.
I often joke around and tell folks a little thought in my head: “That which does not kill me makes me stronger!” It’s true. In nearly 50 years, I’ve lifted literally thousands of tons of weight (gads, I need to do some calculating for fun), and it has not only made me physically powerful, but also mentally powerful, as the discipline required to maintain a regimen over long time spans is considerable. I also believe that which does not make you stronger kills you, the inverse of the original thought. Nutritionally worthless food at the market does not contribute to making me stronger, and yes, eventually it would kill me, as it does countless throngs of people in our cultures every year. Sitting at a computer all day long, or watching television as one’s primary recreational activity, does not make one stronger, but it sure contributes to an early demise if a regular part of life.
Well, crazy as I am, with my curiosity getting the better of me, I have actually just finished some mental computing with numbers, plugging in approximate poundages lifted during workouts, number of workouts per week, etcetera, to provide my head a ball park figure of how much weight I’ve lifted in these 50 years of more than 8,300 workout sessions (and this is just to date now, with much more yet ahead). I now workout 3 days each week, but for more than a decade I worked out 5 days per week. Taking into account the totality of my weight training history, here are the approximate numbers for our amusement:
During my 50 year history with barbells, dumbbells, and weight machines, I have hoisted roughly 140,000,000 pounds, or 70,000 tons of weight. The Titanic luxury liner that sank in 1912 weighed slightly more than 46,000 tons, so I have lifted the equivalent of one and a half Titanics thus far. Adult African elephants, the world’s largest land animal, can weigh in at 10,000 pounds (5 tons), so I’ve lifted the equivalent of about 14,000 adult African elephants during these 50 years. That which does not kill me makes me stronger, and I’m still alive and improving! Yep, this insanity does indeed work – for me, you, or anyone.
What is the reasoning behind my working out with weights all these years? The primary goal is to keep the human musculature powerful and the skeletal frame that supports it strong. The secondary goal is to maintain a favorable bodyfat percentage for life, which is made easier as we grow older because muscle tissue burns calories much more efficiently than fat tissue. The final goal is to feel vibrant and robust at all stages of my life, an overall, and largely indescribable, sense of immense well being.
Powerful muscles simply make life easier in many respects, while providing mental confidence. Strong bones are densely packed bones, and keep a body standing up straight. Weight trained bones that are fed nutritionally appropriate foods do not succumb to osteoporosis at any age, and the powerful musculature, especially the massive spinal erector muscles on either side of the spinal column, keep the back upright even if the bone structures were to become somehow weakened. Weight training is an essential package in my model of maximum functional longevity because it forms the basis of my physical temple, upon which all else is built. A strong foundation allows for a house that will not succumb to the ravages of time. It is never too late to begin a weight training routine with expert guidance. I have helped hundreds of people of all ages and physical abilities with this, especially during my years of gym ownership in the 1980s, and have personally seen the results time and again, and witnessed folks transform themselves into what they never thought possible.
So, what do I do with the weights each and every week (unless I am on an overland trike journey or other camping trip)? Well, that has changed over the years, through the decades that I have devoted myself to the sport, as my goals have slowly shifted during the span of time. Originally, my aim was just to be the biggest and baddest musclehead in the gym, to lift the most weight, build the largest muscles, and impress the most people who would see me strutting around. Bodybuilding does go to a younger man’s head because the results seem like they will never end, and the accolades are extremely ego inflating during one’s twenties and thirties especially, when self identity and esteem are still being built.
Okay, but those years of egomania eventually end for most of us, as they have for me, and now I have modified my routine to focus on maximum functional longevity instead of maximum power and size. During years past, it was very easy to recognize my larger than normal musculature even when fully dressed, as it is impossible to hide an 18.5 inch upper arm, a 48 inch chest, and a 34 inch waist, but nowadays, my bodybuilding is probably not readily apparent to a casual observer when I am in clothes, as I am not so large anymore, and I now wear looser clothing for comfort. My current weight hovers around 160-165 pounds, whereas it used to be as high as 215 pounds at my peak of strength and size. I have adapted to what keeps me healthy and fit for the long haul! My physique still retains the lines of a bodybuilder, but one more along the line of Apollo rather than Hercules.
Currently, I work out with weights three times each week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for about two hours per session (6 hours weekly). I have trained at different times of the day over the years, including starting times of 3:00 AM, 4:30 AM, 6:00 AM (allows for a full day afterwards when one is involved in building a career), and I have worked out at 4:30 PM and later, which was better from a pure strength standpoint if we consider that testosterone levels peak later in the afternoons, although my longest years of heaviest training were done prior to morning’s dawn. Currently, I begin my workouts near 10:00 AM, and then follow them with a nutritious lunch.
For most of my physical culture career, hobby, or lifestyle (however you see it), I have worked out at commercial gyms, including the one I personally owned and operated for several years in southern California, but for the past few years, I have opted to train at my small home gym because it is always immediately available, requires no transit time to arrive, and is free from human distractions, or ego temptations of impressing others. My current equipment setup is very simple and compact, but serves my ongoing purposes very well nonetheless. You really don’t need that much equipment to remain fit and strong!
Years ago, if I were to look forward in time somehow and see how I train now, I would have termed it wimpy, but hey, nowadays, I am in superior overall physical condition compared to back then, especially when it comes to physical endurance ability, so I am pleased to be a wimp! The mentally uplifting aspects of bodybuilding are awesome, thus my upbeat attitude with my new pumping iron model. I’m still a musclehead, just not as big. The muscles are all still obviously there, but simply a little smaller in girth.
I have one Total Gym 700 Club multi-station piece of equipment, the company endorsed by movie stars Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley for many years. I have found this mini unit to be quite effective, and it is certainly very versatile in what exercises can be performed on it. Really, most people would do just fine with this single piece of exercise equipment and nothing else! And the newer models are even fancier than mine, which I’ve had for several years now. This thing is indestructible, and the new ones are even better! It works using my bodyweight as resistance, and can be adjusted for added challenge simply by increasing the incline of the sliding bench. I also have 50 pounds of iron plates that slide onto the sides of the Total Gym to further add resistance for some exercises.
This is one component of my overall physical training arsenal.
With my extensive weight training background, I wanted more options than even the Total Gym provides, so I added a few things, all of which combined fit easily into an 8×12 foot area. I have one BodyGear adjustable workout bench by Hoist, which allows me to go from flat to incline. With this bench, I also have dumbbells, which I consider superior to barbells now because they allow for a free range of joint movement rather than being locked-in by a barbell. My current dumbbell cache includes 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 pound pairs, which cover most exercises. I do find myself in need of heavier pairs for back and chest exercises sometimes, so may opt to acquire another set or two of heavier bells in the future. I also have a 24 pound BodyBar for a variety of exercises where a light bar would be used across the shoulders. This bar is padded for total comfort – much better than a plain steel bar! I also have one easy-curl bar, which weighs in at 60 pounds.
BELOW: My private home fitness center as of October 17, 2017:
After 50 years of bodybuilding, I figured it was time to expand and update my gym! The above two photos show a 5-50 pound commercial-grade dumbbell set, in five pound increments, along with a commercial-grade flat workout bench (my older incline bench can be seen in the background). The hex-head dumbbell set was sold.
My workouts include exercises on both the Total gym and the BodyGear bench, as well as free standing movements. Typically, I have worked the body in this order: midsection (abdominals and lower back), legs, back, chest, shoulders, triceps, and finally biceps, which goes from the strongest muscle groups to the weakest. However, I do find variety to be the spice of life, keeping my mental interest high, so I vary this regularly, sometimes leading off with shoulders to specialize in deltoid size and strength, or arms to bring them up a little more. Always though, midsection work starts it all each time.
I used to keep a record of my workout regimen on a small workout card of about 6×9 inches, along with the weight used each session. Through my twenties and early thirties I recorded all my weight activity, however, I have not done so for quite a long time now. These days, I work out intuitively, based on how my body feels, and what I wish to emphasize each workout. Once well familiar with bodybuilding principles, record keeping is really not all that critical, unless documentation is desired so others can follow the path.
My set and repetition schedule has varied all over the map during my fitness career. When working for pure size and strength, I used heavier weights for fewer reps, however now, when working for maximum functional longevity, I use lighter weights for more repetitions. Instead of doing dumbbell curls with 50-60 pounds, I now use 25-30 pounds more times. Instead of working out for 3 hours per session and resting long periods between sets so I could push maximal weights, I now workout for two hours, resting very little between sets (which is better for my overall cardiovascular system, and also allows me to remain free of joint injuries that I used to sometimes incur in past years).
I am not going to elaborate on particular exercises, how to perform them, or any other details about weight training because an entire book could easily be written about the subject, and is beyond the scope of this brief informational page. Additionally, each person presents unique needs when it comes to designing a workout regimen, thus no “boiler plate” solution fits everyone. We are all different, and at various stages of fitness (or unfitness), and must be personally assessed by an experienced physical trainer before a routine can be suggested. There is material written by experts that addresses these differences and provides ideas on how to proceed, thus I will leave the details to them.
Many fine books are already available for those of you who wish to start bodybuilding or weight training, and in fact, the best one out there in my humble opinion is written by four-time Mr. Universe Bill Pearl, a man with whom I trained for many years. He produced a book in the 1970s called Keys to the Inner Universe, a 638 page masterpiece with illustrations of hundreds of exercises. This book is easily the most complete and comprehensive manual ever published on bodybuilding and weight training. I worked with Bill for over a year on this book, photographing his every exercise, and then his illustrator made the hand drawn images for the book from the photos I originally took. If you wish to know all the secrets, get this book and you’re on your way!
In addition to my bodybuilding lifestyle, I was a runner for quite a while. On my 30th birthday, for example, I ran 44 miles one Saturday. This was shortly after my maternal grandmother passed away, so I kept mentally dedicating the run to her as the day progressed and my body was wearing down. I was not optimally suited for this run, or my many 13-26 mile training runs to prepare for it, because I was carrying a considerable amount of muscle mass for my bodybuilding competitions, but with my New Balance running shoes, and determination, I used the running to keep myself relatively fat free for the shows. After several years of serious running, I finally decided to give it up, primarily due to the known issues with the hard contact each stride. Unlike swimming that has no negative impact issues, running takes its toll as the years roll on, much like tennis has its drawbacks. No longer do I recommend high impact sports training to folks who wish to remain injury free for life. One has to seriously weigh the pros and cons of any activity if performed on an ongoing basis.
When we discuss living to one’s maximum potential, which clearly necessitates a person’s full and committed dedication with no wavering, we also have to take a very serious look at the psychological aspects of attaining maximum functional longevity, as no model of living long and finishing strong can be based solely on the physical components we have been discussing. There are those who believe, and probably correctly according to some current studies, that a mind in tumultuous turmoil involving depression and anger can have a detrimental consequence to a person’s lifespan as surely as smoking cigarettes! In other words, if I am doing all the physical stuff right, like sleeping, eating, and exercising, but still I harbor ill-will towards others, I will not reach my goal of becoming a super centenarian.
If one’s mind is messed up, the body, which is where the mind is housed, will get messed up too. If a piece of machinery has a faulty part, it is no stronger than that weakest aspect of it. The mind will bring the body down. It is imperative that we actively seek a state of inner peace always, being mindfully aware of this goal every minute of every day, constantly assessing our every thought and action until it becomes second-nature to do so, at which point, we will have evolved into a higher state of consciousness that contributes to remaining fully functional in all aspects of our existence. My Bioform book is geared specifically towards these inner mindful objectives.
Another component I’ll address here very briefly is the physical environment in which we live. Living in a crowded and polluted city will not achieve the same results towards maximum functional longevity as living in a sparsely populated rural setting where environmental toxins are not known. I have mindfully altered where I live for many years, beginning this aspect of the journey in my early thirties, realizing that the area where I was born and raised was about the worst place I could possibly imagine being for the rest of my life (southern California’s miserable Los Angeles region). So I set about making changes!
For more than 20 years now, I have been fortunate enough to call the Oregon Coast my home, and live less than one mile from the Pacific Ocean. The air here is about as pristine and healthful as I could imagine, with winds sweeping across 5,000 miles of open salty ocean prior to reaching my lungs. There is no air pollution here, except for what a relatively tiny number of resident automobiles emit daily. Smog does not exist. My skin and hair have been noticeably healthier since I moved here from the remote hinterlands of the high Colorado Rockies in 1995, where the environment seemed clean enough, but was laden with uranium radiation and radon, both secret killers no one can detect in their homes except for specific scientific measuring devices. Skin at 9,000 feet elevation with little humidity becomes dry and flaky, and hair becomes brittle and dull. Not so at the ocean!
I have lived in a variety of rural locales for more than 30 years now, and attribute much of my inner serenity to this shift in how I exist on the planet. As one lives in a secluded rural environment, the stresses of typical big city life begin to evaporate, until one very wonderful day, the mind in one’s head begins to realize that you have really changed for the better, on a very profound level. I can feel this dramatically when I talk to friends and family who still remain caught up in the web of 9-5 work till you’re dead mentality. We all make our choices. I prefer to be living simply now, no longer the slave of money and time, making my own rules. I don’t need financial riches to be happy. That is not where happiness lies!
I’m simply one extremely insignificant bioform that only thinks itself somewhat marginally important to be communicating all this information on how I live, yet my thoughts, that little puppet show in my head that exists for a flash in eternity, keeps on seeking the fountain of youth and happiness. I find that fountain in bizarre little ways most folks do not covet, but that’s okay, because I find contentment in doing so – just like I am happy to no longer own a petroleum powered vehicle, something that is not acceptable in my society, but it soothes my psyche, and that’s what ultimately matters on my meaningless (but self important) journey through what I see as “my” life. I “own” nothing – never have – but I am happy!
One final note here, a little wacky perhaps, but relevant nonetheless, and that is about how I wash my feet in the shower, and put on my shoes and socks (see, I told you it would sound bizarre). When I wash my feet, I do so standing up, one foot at a time, using both hands. What does this mean? Well, I do not support myself against the shower wall. In other words, I balance on one foot while I wash the other. The same holds for putting on socks and shoes. I stand unaided, rather than sitting in a chair, as I do this. It required some time and much dedicated practice to acquire this skill, as it is quite difficult (try it and see what happens)! What’s the point? Superb balance leads to enhanced mental sustainment, and a whole host of other good things. Yep, sounds wacky, but it’s my way.
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SUPERMAN versus LONGEVITYMAN
(original TV show words, plus the modified version)
The Adventures of Superman!
Faster than a speeding bullet.
More powerful than a locomotive.
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Look, up in the sky!
It’s a bird.
It’s a plane.
Yes, it’s Superman: strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.
Superman: who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands; and who, disguised as Clark Kent: mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice and the American way.
The Adventures of Longevityman!
Smarter than an average doctor.
More powerful than the pharmaceuticals.
Able to leap past one hundred in a natural way.
Look, out in nature!
It’s a tree.
It’s a mountain.
Yes, it’s Longevityman: strange visitor from the natural world who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of ailing humans.
Longevityman: who can add years to anyone’s life, strengthen bodies with his vast wisdom; and who, disguised as Steve Greene: mild-mannered author of socially unacceptable ideas, fights a never ending battle for health, fitness and the Natural way.
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INSPIRATIONAL HUMANS FEATURED ON GROWINGBOLDER.COM:
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BE A LABEL DETECTIVE
(written in the 1980s, and updated in the 1990s)
The old adage, “you are what you eat” is much more than just a trite little expression. Its words are the very basis of good nutrition, and form the basis for realizing maximum functional longevity. Without food and liquid, the body will die. With poor nutrition, the body will suffer greatly. With excellent nutrition the body has the potential to pass the century mark.
If we eat food with little nutritional value (junk food), we will pay the price in terms of excess weight, lack of energy, several forms of cancer, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, and a host of other maladies too numerous to mention here. On the other hand, if we eat nutritionally superior foods, we will enjoy a relatively disease free life and have plenty of pep for even very hectic days. The body can only be as strong as the foods we put in it.
The following “foods” are best eliminated from the diet: pastries, pie, cake, cookies, doughnuts, crackers, rolls, soda pop, sugared drinks, kool-aid type drinks, alcohol, ice cream, ketchup, coffee, TV dinners, white bread, candy and other items mentioned elsewhere in this article. This is to initially present the general idea. If we become label conscious when we buy food at the market, it becomes obvious what not to purchase. Simply avoid chemicals, sugar, and white flower for starters. This will not greatly restrict the diet , for there are all-natural and organic foods available to replace all of these worthless ones. Craving for these junk foods is a learned reaction beginning in early childhood. Once a taste for good foods it acquired, and the healthy benefits are felt by the body and mind, it will be an easy task to avoid the destructive items that commonly today pose as food.
We have learned that we can have healthier bodies if we exercise and eat healthy foods. There are also substances eaten by most everyone that masquerade as food, but are harmful and unhealthy for us. For maximum functional longevity, we must avoid putting these things into our bodies. How do we know if these unhealthy items that will harm us and shorten our lives are in the foods we buy at the local grocery store?
Let’s see if we can discover how to do this. Scientists, doctors, and nutritionists are always doing research to learn about what we eat and how our food affects our health and longevity. They have found out some interesting facts and have drawn some important conclusions that will indeed help us live longer.
They know that PROTEIN builds and maintains muscle, blood, hair, skin, and internal organs. It also aids in forming enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. Protein repairs muscle tissue, and is good for a weight loss program since it burns about 30% of its own calories during digestion. Protein is found in fowl, fish, meat, eggs, milk, cheese, beans, and whole grains. Proteins are called the building blocks of life. Our bodies must have protein to grow and live well.
CARBOHYDRATES supply energy and keep the body from becoming run-down and tired. They are the main source of energy for all bodily functions. On a weight loss diet, it is important to keep the carbohydrates at a moderately low level. Good sources for carbohydrates would be fresh vegetable and fruits, and whole grain breads and granola cereals, among many other foods.
FATS are the most concentrated source of energy in the body, and they are also required to remain healthy, however, they are needed only in small amounts. Each gram of fat supplies 9 calories to give us energy. Avoid using fats that remain solid at room temperature, such as lard and bacon grease. Bodyfat protects our internal organs and helps to keep us warm.
So, knowing all this, just how much of these three food substances do we need to attain and maintain health? Well, protein and carbohydrate amounts change depending on how active you are and your age, for example. A growing child may need quite a bit of these nutrients. Some experts believe an adult needs about 50 to 70 grams of protein per day. An active person will need many more carbohydrates than someone who just sits around all day and watches television or plays on the computer.
When it comes to fat though, some really important stuff has been learned that may help us live longer, if we pay attention and take it seriously, as we should.
Many scientists and doctors now agree that our diet (what we eat each day) should be no more than 30% fat. If you cut a pie into three equal pieces, 30% would be a little less than one piece. Other experts say that 20% of our diet maximum should be fat. Lots of Americans eat diets that are over 50% fat (that is one half). This is very unhealthy and leads to a significantly shortened life.
Eating too much fat will make our bodies fat and also can cause heart disease. Certainly diets high in fats can cause extra cholesterol to build up in the blood vessels of the body, which can cause a heart attack or stroke and eventually death. This can even happen to younger people in their 20s and 30s.
There are basically two kinds of fat in foods that we should know about. Understanding this will help us read and figure out our food labels. Here are the two basic types of fat:
1) SATURATED: These fats are solid at room temperature and the raise cholesterol levels in the blood, which leads to arterial occlusion over time, resulting in heart attacks, strokes, and death. Saturated fats are found in the muscle tissue of cows, lambs, and pigs, and also in items extracted from these animals such as butter, cream, whole milk, and cheese, and additionally in coconut oil palm oil, palm kernel oil, candy, ice cream, and fried foods.
2) UNSATURATED: These fats are liquid at room temperature and they reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, which is healthy for your arterial system and heart. Two types of unsaturated fat are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Unsaturated fats are found in whole grain products, sea food, poultry, and oils such as olive, sunflower, safflower, soybean, and canola.
When we look at labels on foods, we also have to beware of hydrogenated oils. These oils are added to make foods more solid (like margarine) and can be just as harmful to our bodies as saturated fats.
If something you buy at the store has both saturated and unsaturated fat in it, the saturated fat level should ideally be less than 30% of the total fat shown on the label. Ten percent or less is best. Saturated fat is not our friend – less is always preferable in the foods we eat.
FIGURING OUT LABELS
The main items listed on most labels of food under the heading of “Nutritional Information” are calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat, cholesterol, and sodium. The label also tells us if these items are sufficient to meet the government’s standards for health. In addition, the ingredient list will show if the food has things in it like refined white sugar, or other items not conducive to maximum functional longevity.
Let’s analyze a typical label. You can look at the label on a product you have there at home to compare as we do this. Our sample label is from a quick energy and high protein bar:
PROTEIN: 16 grams
CARBOHYDRATES: 56 grams
FAT: 12 grams
CHOLESTEROL: 0 milligrams
SODIUM: 80 milligrams
POTASSIUM: 650 milligrams
DIETARY FIBER: 6 grams
Remember that one gram is equivalent to 1,000 milligrams. Under the ingredients list, we find this food bar contains: malted corn and barley, nonfat milk, honey, raisins, almonds, oats, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, soy flour, wheat bran, soy oil, and coconut.
This food bar has about one-third the amount of protein necessary for the average adult according to the USA government (high in protein). The 56 grams of carbohydrate will give us energy for living and playing. The 12 grams of fat will also give us a lasting energy surge. But wait! Is this too much fat for the size of the bar? Are we in trouble already?
Well, here is how we find out: Remember, for the best health and maximum functional longevity benefits, fat should be less than 30% of all we eat. Okay, now there are 9 calories in every gram of fat, so since this bar has 12 grams of fat, we simply have to multiply 9 times 12 to find out how many calories are in 12 grams of fat:
Step 1) 9 x 12 = 108 calories from fat
Now for the next step. To find out what 30% of the total 400 calories is, we simply multiply 400 times 0.3:
Step 2) 400 x 0.3 = 120 calories
So, now we know that the largest amount of calories from fat in this bar should be 120. This is good news because we found out in Step 1 that there are only 108 calories of fat in this food bar.
If all the foods we eat each day are similar in fat content to this quick energy high protein bar (or have even less fat), we will not be eating too much fat (assuming the fat is primarily unsaturated, and preferably in the subgroup of monounsaturated).
You can find out what the actual percentage of calories from fat is in this bar by dividing 108 by 400: 1) enter 108 into your calculator, 2) tap the divide key, 3) enter 400, 4) tap the equal key for the answer (108 divided by 400 equals 0.27, or 27%. This food bar example is 27 percent fat – great for trikers on long rides).
Go back and look at the label in this example again. You will notice there is no cholesterol. Our bodies need cholesterol and our bodies make plenty of it to supply our daily needs. A lot of extra cholesterol in the food we eat can lead to an unhealthy saturation in our arteries. The American Heart Association (AHA) claims we should eat no more than 300 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol in our diets each day.
Also notice on the label that the sodium level in the food bar is 80 mg. The AHA recommends we limit sodium intake to 3,000 milligrams per day (3 grams) since they believe some people may have problems with high blood pressure if they eat too much salt (sodium). Sodium is necessary however, along with potassium, to keep our heart beating steadily. Usually we get enough sodium in our foods without ever having to use a salt shaker. Many people commonly eat far more soium than our bodies actually need.
The dietary fiber at the end of the label is good for you because it helps keep your digestive tract cleaned out, which translates into reduced risk of digestive tract cancers. Adding a heaping tablespoon of wheat bran to your cereal each morning is a significant step to avoiding digestive ailments.
One important note that should be included here is further word on roughage, known also as fiber. A major problem with the typical affluent Western style diet is a lack of significant fiber. Lack of adequate roughage in the diet can lead to constipation (very common with most folks), which can then lead to diseases, infections, and ultimately cancer. When the typical American becomes constipated, what does he do? Usually a laxative is used. He puts chemical laxatives that are not healthy into the body when, by simply including a good source of fiber, such as wheat bran on a daily basis, he would rarely, if ever, experience any constipation!
HOW MANY CALORIES DO WE NEED?
Label detective work can also help us know if we are eating too many calories, which can cause us to become overweight, fat, and obese. Three quarters of the American population is fat to a very unhealthy degree, and this number is still soaring out of control. This obesity epidemic is readily observable in all first-world affluent countries of this planet. You can avoid it.
If we eat too few calories each day, we will lose weight, and could end up feeling fatigued or sluggish. Well, just how many calories do we need on a daily basis? How do we find out? You guessed it – we have a little mathematics work that you can quickly learn to provide the answers.
First, we have to know how many calories we need to live if we did nothing all day but hang out in bed, and then just stayed there through each night. That’s rather boring, but this is how we determine our basal metabolic rate (BMR) – calorie level to sustain our bodies at complete rest.
Male humans and female humans have different ways to determine the basal metabolic rate. For males, we add a zero to their bodyweight, and to that new number, we then add double their bodyweight. The answer is the BMR for a male. For example, if a male human weighs 140 pounds, a zero added to the 140 makes 1400. To the 1400, we add 280 (140×2), which yields the answer of 1,680 calories needed each day if that male does absolutely nothing except sleep in bed around the clock.
Female humans also place a zero onto their bodyweight, but then add only their bodyweight to that number to find their BMR. For example, if a female weighs 98 pounds, a zero is added to make the number 980. To the 980, we add 98 (her bodyweight), which yields the answer of 1,078 calories needed each day if that female does absolutely nothing except sleep in bed around the clock.
Of course, no one lies in bed and sleeps 24 hours every day of the year! To these BMR caloric figures, we must also add the calories we burn off each day during our typical activies, be they physical or mental. Remember that brain activity burns a high amount of calories just thinking about things, and must not be discounted (although it’s pretty tough to calculate those numbers).
Here is a very brief table of some physical activities and how many calories they burn up per hour. You see, we burn up calories continually, thus must replace them with ingested calories from food, balancing what we expend in activities. For example, how many calories would you burn up if you walked fast for two hours? Yes, 600 calories:
ACTIVITY/CALORIES PER HOUR:
office work: 140
walking fast: 300
triking: depends on the demands of the ride – you extrapolate (on overland trike expeditions, I usually burn around 5,000 calories daily)
So, just estimate what activities you do daily, and then add those calorie numbers to your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which will then reveal a ballpark figure for how many calories you need each day. There are many tables online and books that provide a much more complete listing than what appears above.
Why is this good information to know? Well, now we can look at our food product labels to see ho many calories are in our food so we don’t go overboard and eat too many of those little critters and get fat, have heart attacks, suffer strokes, get intestinal cancers, and die early. Yep, sounds good.
Of course, for maximum functional longevity, you must remember that your calories should come from naturally wholesome organic unrefined foods rather than the deadly convenience foods typically found in traditional supermarkets. If you take label detective work seriously, you will be well on your way to redesigning your body for a life of remaining fully functional without the intervention of the pharmaceutical companies and surgeons.
Live Long – Finish Strong!
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The human body is composed of many things, but the most obvious from casual observation are muscle and fat, and the amount of one compared to the other. When we look at our own bodies, or those of someone else, we either subconsciously or consciously make a mental note of their fitness level, and this is based primarily on how much fat one has protruding about their body. A physically fit person will not seem to the casual observer to have any bodyfat (although they actually do, but it is so low that it is not obvious). An unfit person will reveal certain signs that signal this, such as a bulging midsection, ponderous thighs, or flabby arms.
One’s bodyfat measurement is a fairly reliable sign as to their overall fitness, although it can be deceiving, as visually fit people do sometimes indulge in very unhealthy practices that do not show on the outside (such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or eating junk food). Generally however, bodyfat percentage is a solid starting point for understanding one’s body and fitness level. Bodyfat percentage can be measured, and if you are interested, search online for further information. Here is a table showing differing levels:
MEN: Normal: 15% / Athlete: 6-12% / Essential: 3-6%
WOMEN: Normal: 20-22% / Athlete: 12-18% / Essential: 10-12%
The essential level is an amount that is considered necessary for the human body to carry out its daily functions in order to maintain good health. Less than essential is not conducive to maximum functional longevity. Some women who compete in bodybuilding competitions have been known to have less than the essential percentage, and certain functions cease to occur, such as the menstrual cycle.
My ongoing goal is to remain in the athletic range, and I have been successful at doing so during my adult life. This is my recommendation to you. People who we see daily that we consider to be fat have bodyfat levels exceeding the normal range. When folks reach levels of 30-50% bodyfat, they are on the fast track to an early grave, with plenty of personal agony along the way (as well as active participation in medical interventions).
Bodyfat percentage tables are often adjusted for a person’s age, which is based on the typical habit of people allowing their bodies to degrade with time, in other words, the Age Crutch mindset again. It is assumed, for example, that muscle loss in a man will increase with age due to the hormonal bath of younger years diminishing as he grows older. While this hormonal shift is true, a man who regularly and diligently trains with weights can be highly successful at maintaining a notable amount of muscle size, and in the process, keeping bodyfat levels low, thus the bodyfat percentage in an athletic range can be maintained.
Keep in mind that the lower one’s bodyfat percentage number, the easier it is to burn calories. That is to say, if you are visibly muscular with little fat, your body will utilize its caloric intake much more efficiently than if you are visibly fat. For example: Two men are sitting motionless side by side on a bench. Both are the same bodyweight and height, but their bodyfat differs. One is muscular, with a bodyfat percentage of 12%, while the other is clearly overweight, with a bodyfat percentage of 37%. The muscular man is burning calories at a significantly higher rate than the fat man because it requires far more calories to maintain muscle tissue than it does to maintain fat tissue. Lesson? Once a person is physically fit, it becomes easy to remain that way. However, for one who is not fit, the achievement of such a goal seems unattainable (but it is not in reality, only in one’s negative thoughts).
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A FEW LONGEVITY BOOKS THAT MAY INTEREST YOU:
Below are a few of the books in my personal library. All will help you on your path to maximum functional longevity. Learn what works. Follow what is proven. Discover the commonalities amongst centenarians in many studies. Click on any book to visit Amazon, where it may be purchased.
Robert Marchand sets a bicycling speed and distance record at over 100 years of age!
Where will YOU be at 100? Is it time to change some habitual ways of living?
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