People from their 20s to 80s reveal their secrets to aging well
We’re never too old, or too young, to age well. To help you find and follow your own healthy path, we found five people who are shining examples. Among them, there are some common threads: They avoid processed and junk food and sodas, don’t overeat, exercise regularly, take supplements, eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, and some drink fresh-squeezed juice. But each one has overcome uniquely personal challenges.
“A lot of people my age think ‘I can do whatever I want as long as I don’t gain weight,’ but weight is not the only sign of health,” says 23-year-old Sarah Ann. She shuns popular habits of her generation, such as binge drinking, eating junk food, or spending long hours playing video games. “I think I’m more concerned about staying healthy because of my background.”
Between the ages of 12 and 19, Sarah Ann was a competitive junior tennis player and spent two to four hours per day, six days a week, in training. Then, while on a tennis scholarship at the University of Miami, a stress fracture ended her athletic career.
She gained a few pounds and found exercise boring. “I struggled with it the first year,” she recalls. But she reorganized her diet, found new reasons to work out, lost the extra weight, and has never looked back. “I feel energized when I exercise,” she says, “and it’s stress relieving.” Now a graduate student at the London School of Economics, Sarah Ann enjoys a workout lasting 45 minutes to an hour, two to three times per week.
- Multi for women with extra calcium
- Effervescent vitamin C tablets in her water bottle (Try: American Health Ester-C Effervescent)
30’s Bethany Sharp
“I feel better than I did in my 20s,” says 37-year-old Bethany, a former NFL cheerleader, 2012 Mrs. Tennessee, and a spokesperson for the National Academy of Hypothyroidism (http://nahypothyroidism.org). For many years, despite following the Body for Life plan, a healthy diet of 5 to 6 small meals daily and regular exercise, she had struggled with bloating and puffiness. Then, three years ago, she was diagnosed with thyroid disease.
When local doctors in Tennessee didn’t resolve her symptoms, Bethany cast a wider net and found effective treatment at the Holtorf Medical Group in Los Angeles. After a broader hormonal assessment, she was prescribed customized treatment with nutrients and natural hormones for her thyroid, adrenal glands, and overall balance.
“Hormonal imbalances don’t just happen as you get older,” she says. In her case, problems began in her 20s, and are now finally being resolved. One surprising benefit: Her routinely healthy diet had always left her with cravings, which are now gone. “Cravings aren’t normal,” she says, “but a sign that something is off.”
- Multivitamin/mineral/enzyme formula (Try enzymatic therapy Fatigued to Fantastic! Energy Revitalization System powder)
- Vitamin D
- Sublingual B12
- B complex
- Vitamin C
- An adrenal repair formula
- Digestive enzymes
“I feel better and younger and more vibrant than I ever have,” says Kim. But five years ago, it was a different story—she had just been diagnosed with serious peripheral arterial disease, blockage in arteries to her legs that required major surgery (an aortobifemoral bypass).
Throughout most of her adult life, Kim, now 58, had eaten a healthy diet and avoided toxins, but shunned exercise and, until two years before her diagnosis, was a smoker. However, other than experiencing terrible hot flashes and some weight gain during menopause, she had seemed healthy. After discovering that smoking had severely damaged her arteries, she headed for the gym, and has never left.
Since her surgery in December 2008, Kim has consistently worked with a trainer, eats a very clean, gluten-free diet (after discovering she is gluten intolerant), and takes a wide range of supplements. Her cholesterol went from borderline high with low “good” cholesterol to healthy levels, and she takes no medications, although aspirin and cholesterol-lowering and anti-platelet drugs are “normal” for someone with her history.
Kim’s strength and body composition have changed dramatically: jean size dropped from a 10 to a 6; weight used on a leg press increased from 70 to 225 pounds; and a typical workout now includes three sets of 15 push-ups (full ones, not the girlie type on the knees). At the gym, she says, “I hang out with the big boys and do a lot of free weights.”
When going through menopause in her mid-40s:
Natural progesterone cream
- Black cohosh
- Red yeast rice
- Fish oil
- Aged Garlic Extract
- B complex
- Calcium citrate
- Fungi perfecti host defense Cordyceps
The best-selling author of Fit for Life, Harvey, now 67, is one of the longest known survivors of peripheral neuropathy, resulting from exposure to Agent Orange while serving his country in the Vietnam War. The condition is characterized by very sharp nerve pain.
“The number one factor in my success,” he says, “has been strengthening and supporting my immune system, which I have accomplished through periodic short fasts and the inclusion of far more living (raw) food than cooked food in my diet.” And he exercises regularly.
Before developing a revolutionary way of eating in the 1980s, Harvey also struggled with his weight and was a chronic yo-yo dieter. Following his own diet principles, a typical breakfast consists only of fruit. “Fruit is the one food in the human diet that does not digest in the stomach, but passes through the stomach and breaks down in the intestines where all of its goodness is released,” he says. “Therefore, fruit should only be eaten fresh, alone, and on an empty stomach, not within three hours of eating anything else.”
For other meals, he recommends salads or other fresh vegetables with either a starch (pasta, rice, bread, or a starchy vegetable) or a protein (meat, chicken, or fish), but never protein and starch in the same meal. Combining foods this way, he says, requires far less energy to digest, promotes elimination of toxins, and naturally leads to permanent weight loss. His latest book, Eat for Life: The Ultimate Weight-Loss Breakthrough, includes plenty of recipes.
- Enzymedica Digest Gold
- Enzymedica Natto-K
- Enzymedica RepairGold
- Vibrant Health Green Vibrance
- Ionized minerals from marine and coral sources
- Magnesium glycinate (chelated)
Now 86, Elaine leads a very busy life, continuing the mission of her late husband and fitness icon Jack LaLanne, who died in January 2011, at the age of 96. She speaks at many events, runs the family business, and stays strong and healthy. During the past summer, she helped to organize and played in a Jack LaLanne celebrity golf tournament with The First Tee, an organization that introduces kids to golf and teaches life skills and core values, and presented The Jack LaLanne Award to Jane Fonda at a fitness conference.
“I like to think of the three ages,” she says: “Chronological age: Actual age in years. Physical age: How you feel at present. And psychological age: How you feel mentally. I like the physical because when I feel physically young, I feel psychologically young.” Elaine doesn’t take medication and has never felt it necessary to use hormone replacement.
Her day starts with 30 to 35 minutes of exercise. Aerobics and resistance training in the pool include 60 pull-ups (using a bar over the pool), plus “man push-ups” and weight training on dry land. She eats only three meals a day. “I don’t crave anything between meals,” she says, “and I really don’t have time to stop and snack.” For tips and exercise routines, visit www.jacklalanne.com.
- A liquid multivitamin a mineral formula with amino acids, fruit and vegetable extracts, probiotics, enzymes, and plant-based essential fatty acids
- Flax oil
- Additional calcium, beta-carotene, folic acid, other B vitamins, and vitamins C, D, and E
- A joint formula with glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM (Try the vitamin shoppe Glucosamine Chondroitin with MSM)