Growing Old With Gusto Weekly Roundup!

Patriots Lean Into Seniors

The Patriots have started an exercise program geared to a new audience- Seniors!  The CBS Morning Show aired a segment today showing their popular player, Ronk meeting some 60+ people to present a program that emphasizes being fit for life!  # 87 was a huge hit and noted, “It’s all about giving back”.


what If You Could Age Backward A year?????

An author, Lauren Kessler, did just that and lived to write about it!  Her year long journey of trying to turn back the hands of time resulted in her writing a book entitled, “Counter-clockwise: My year of Hypnosis, Dark Chocolate and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-aging”

Her year long escape involved enduring bikram(hot) yoga sessions, attending clinics on anti-aging, consulting with happiness coaches, self-compassion trainers, climbing, boxing, and eating unknown vegetables until she hit the wall!

This wall refers to the wall of recognition that lifestyle can be more influential than genetics.  She refers to this as “secondary aging” and one for which she feels we have control. Primary aging refers to cellular disintegration.

Lifestyle refers to how you live each day; sleep, diet and exercise, where you live, what you do for work, and your attitude towards yourself and others.  She learned from a psychologist about a concept called the ” biology of belief or hope”.  This refers to how your body responds to your brain thinking in a young way. The claim is that if you think young, manual dexterity, memory and vision can improve!  I know I have met people in my life you are young at 80 or old at 50!

The major takeaways that Ms. Kessler learned from her year of living backward, was that it’s not about the number associated with your life- it’s having the physical, intellectual, and creative abilities associated with your younger self.  She came away feeling renewed and holding a new vitality for moving ahead as a mid-life woman with a passion for living!  She is a fabulous example of someone growing old with gusto!


The Obesity Paradox!

This headline in today’s Chicago Tribune captured my attention as I sipped my second cup of coffee.  Recent research is questioning whether being obese is really connected to a higher risk of death from cardiac disease, stroke or type 2 diabetes.  Cardiologist, Carl Lavie was treating patients for heart failure and learning that those who were obese were living longer than patients who were midly overweight or thin!

Americans are religiously obsessed with weight. Another interesting finding of Lavie’s is the lack of increased obesity since 2008.

What About Disease And Heaviness?

Dr. Lavie’s reports that his patients who were lean “had almost double the mortality rate of those described as overweight and obese”. He did further research on this subject and found a Swedish study of 64,000 people with heart disease. The study found that underweight patients “upped their risk of death by a factor of 3.”  The authors of the study contend that telling patients to lose weight after a heart disease diagnosis might not be a good recommendation.  The conclusions from many of these studies on this topic are

that once someone falls into the category of being overweight, it appears that being healthy is not equated with weight loss.  Heavier people are more likely to survive the ravages of disease!  This scenario has been noticed so frequently that it has been dubbed “The

Obesity Paradox”.          How Useful is BMI for Older People?

Body Mass Index is NOT useful.  It’s incorrect usage has made it universally unreliable and inaccurate.  For example, a person with an overweight BMI may be metabolically healthier than a normal weight person because they are more physically fit. Also, if an overweight person gains muscle their BMI worsens!  Also, Lavie feels that the BMI has misdirected guidelines in use with the elderly. Research shows that obesity in older people is associated with lower – not higher- risk of death.

A nutritionist at the University of California, Davis and Dr. Lavie agree that paying attention to a persons weight as a barometer of their health is incorrect.   There is scant evidence that you gain much by losing weight.

Does this his mean I can visit the donut vault without guilt?  What do you think?

“Gratitude is Happiness Doubled By Wonder”

I recently an interesting lecture in Northern California on the way gratitude can affect our health.  It was presented by a professor who has studied the role of gratitude in a scientific way.  The findings were incredibly interesting and I’d like to share them with you.  The lecture began with the following statistic: 8-33% of people who practice gratitude feel more alive, are more joyful and exercise more!  People who know them say they are more healthful.   Positive emotions have long been reported in medical journals as being associated with lower rates of morbidity, and less severe symptoms and levels of pain.  Gratitude, in a nutshell, has the power to heal, energize and change lived.

This researcher set out to answer these three questions:


1.  Are there grateful people?

2.  Can gratitude be cultivated on a regular basis?

3.  What are the affects of it on, happiness, health and well being?

He mentions a British author, Chesterton, who lived his life being constantly grateful. He gave the following gem of a quote by him,

“Gratitude is Happiness Doubled By Wonder”


Our lecturer proceeded to conduct an experiment on gratitude by doing a test chad.  He had two groups of people keep a journal for various amounts of time. One group wrote down five things they were grateful for each day and one group wrote about their hassles in their everyday lives.  They were all asked to  rate thirty different emotions, sleep habits and physical well being characteristics.  The results from those who kept gratitude journals were amazing. The following list encompasses many of the findings:

– happier

– take better care of their health

– inspires more generosity

– get along with people better

– better eating habits

– less lonely

– better relationships with doctors

– more compliant with medications


Grateful people recall more positive events from their past and neutral events are viewed as beneficial.

“Gratitude is the memory of the heart” French saying


How Does Gratitude Work With Physicians?

It was determined that doctors are surprised to be thanked, like being appreciated by their patients, and having grateful patients is associated with greater meaning and less patient care burnout.   Expressions of gratitude fosters better relationships between doctors and nurses, too!


How Does Gratitude Help You in A Skin Deep Way?

The following are all connected to being grateful:

– improved biomarkers

– cell aging is better

– telomeres don’t unravel as quickly

– lowers blood pressure

– higher levels of good cholesterol

– lower levels of lousy cholesterol

– better cardiac outcomes


What are the Obstacles To Gratitude?


Persistent negativity, entitlement, fear of dependency and focus on the self are the well known barriers to gratitude.

The lecturer suggests uniting a gratitude letter to someone from your life that you’ve never thanked.  Go visit the person and read the letter. Be consistent, specific and include something of a surprise that happened.




He claims that “life is an invitation to gratitude and that it’s a choice.  You already have all the tools you need.”


He ended by saying he corresponds with a 93year old woman who started practicing gratitude at 88. She changed her life, wants to live to 100 and believes that gratitude will get her there,

A real life example of growing old with gusto!


Surprises Await if You Take These Tips from 90+ People!!

CBS and 60 Minutes recently reported some surprising factoids on ways we can. Live longer after investigating groups of people aged 90+!  I’d like to share these nuggets with you and see if you are as surprised as I was when hearing about it.  The people who are currently healthy post 90 years of age have the following in common:


1.  They don’t worry or obsess about their health

2.  They eat dessert!

3.  Vitamins seem to make little or no difference in their health

4.  Moderate drinking is correlated with a longer life.  10-15% have a reduced risk of death compared to non drinkers.

5.  It’s not good to be skinny when you are old.  People who gain some weight each decade live longer.  Gaining 5 pounds from age 60 on seems to guarantee longevity!

6.  Exercise is very important.  These people are moving around 45 minutes a day.

7.  Connecting to people consistently also helps people live longer.

8.  40% of people diagnosed with dementia don’t have Alzheimer’s .

Mighty Mouse To The Rescue of The Elderly?

Mighty Mouse may be just the right creature for the elderly to embrace.  You may be wondering how in the world can Might Mouse help out an older person?  The Wall Street Journal recently ran an interesting article about how the discovery in 1997 of genetically engineered mice and their Mighty Mouse capabilities.    The research has Pharma hopping to it as it shows how the use of drugs may help the elderly walk again and rebuild muscle tissue in a variety of diseases.

Novartis in conjunction with a biotech company, MorphoSys AG, has the most advanced of these drugs.  Sanofi, Eli Lilly, Glaxo-SmithKline, Pfizer are also working on these types of drugs. They are all in clinical or early stage testing with the first up for approval in 2016.

How does this all work?  Apparently, Myoststin is a protein that occurs naturally in our bodies and curbs muscle growth. The drug acts by blocking it, or the sites where it is detected and thereby has the potential to rebuild muscle.

Experts report that muscle wasting is a major cause of health deterioration in the elderly.  Bill Evans, a specialist in aging and muscle metabolism at Glaxo claims, ” However you cut it, muscle wasting has an impact on function in a very, very large patient population.  It could affect 15-20% of the population over the age of 65 or 70.”

Experts are enthusiastic at how far scientists have come and feel they must have seen some good results to drive their moving forward.  However, there are obstacles in the way.  Some people view losing muscle as part of the aging process and don’t see it as a disease.  Pharma has concerns that revolve around recruiting the elderly for expensive clinical trials.

The potential benefits seem to outweigh the downsides. Some think the drugs could be used to fight off obesity and treat type 2 diabetes.  The building of more muscle increase the need for more calories and patients can burn off more calories. We all lift weights in hopes of increasing our metabolism so this does make sense!  The build up of muscle will also increase the storage area for sugars that may otherwise land in the pancreas or liver.

So, one more potential tool in the arsenal for growing old with gusto!  And with more muscle to fuel it!