Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Fountain of Youth, Part Four - John McCallum

Taken From This Issue (April 1969) 

Parts One, Two, and Three are here:

If you've been following this rejuvenation thing -- and if you're over 40 you should be -- you'll be pretty well informed on the first three of the four segments we're considering. The four segments, you'll remember, are: 

1) nutrition,
2) weight training, 
3) vigorous social activities, and
4) running. 

In our discussion of nutrition, we stressed the elimination of all junky foods from your diet. That means no cakes, cookies, candies, steroids (sp. junkie), and so on. No soft drinks. No processed grains. No junk, period. You don't have to become a crackpot about it, but do become very, very health conscious. 

Eat as few carbohydrates as possible. Your meals should be largely first class protein foods. Use supplements in generous amounts, but again, don't turn into a crackpot or supplement addict.

Don't skimp on your diet. There's really not much point in following the program at all unless you eat appropriately. If you persist in loading your gut with sugary garbage, then you're wasting your time and it's as simple as that. 

I've got a friend named Larry Robson. He asked me to work out a nutrition program for his grandfather. The old man, he said, was eating himself into an early grave.

I went over and spoke to the old fellow. He was sixty years old, with a head like a block of concrete and as polite as a charging rhinoceros. I suggested some light protein food would make a good basis for his breakfast. 

"Mush," he snarled. "Eat it every morning. Been eating it for sixty years." 

"That's nice," I said. "But certainly . . ."

"With sugar," he snapped.

"Yes," I said. "I know. However, under the . . ." 

"Sticks to your ribs," he added. 

"I'm sure it does, Mr. Robson," I said. "But you really . . ."

He got up and brushed past me. "Scuse me, sonny," he said. "Star Trek's on. Never miss it." 

I got Larry to one side and wrote out a list of low calorie protein foods.

"Here," I said. "See if you can wean your grandfather off the mush and on to some of these." 

I went over a few days later. The old man was eating a big slab of white bread.

"What's that?" I asked him.

"Vitamin enriched," he said. "Yessir. Says so right on the label." 

I pointed to the bread. "What's that you got on it?" 

"Strawberry jam," he said" Great for energy." 

I spoke to Larry.

"I guess it's no use," he said. "You can't help him." 

"I'll help him," I said. "I'll be a pallbearer when they bury the old codger." 

We discussed weight training as the second segment of your rejuvenation program. The important thing, you'll remember, is working the large muscle groups vigorously in PHA style. Cardiovascular stimulation is the key to the whole thing. You've got to train your heart and lungs as religiously as a physique contestant trains his biceps.

Don't be concerned with pumping or cramping or any of the other tricks the muscle boys use. Your primary goal is a strong, enduring body and perfect health. You'll improve your appearance, too, but make it a secondary thing.

The third segment we discussed was vigorous social activities. Get very interested in such things as hiking, tennis, skiing, swimming, and so on. One of the best social activities, from a health standpoint, is vigorous "country dancing." That means square dances, polka, and so forth. Find something you like and enjoy it regularly. 

Just before we get into the final segment, there's three other items you should note if you're really serious about regaining and retaining your youth. 

1) Mental Stimulation. Don't let yourself stagnate mentally. Expand your intellectual horizons. Read new books. Read old books. Start new projects. Join discussion groups (this was, of course, pre-internet). Nothing will age you as fast as a closed mind. 

I've got an Uncle who's a weight lifter. He follows all the rules we've been talking about and he's an absolute marvel. A little while ago he joined a night school class in marine biology. I talked to the instructor a short time later and asked him how my uncle was making out.

"Oh, fine," he said. "He's won the whole class around to his viewpoint." 

"Did he?" I said. "That's great. I didn't realize old Harry knew so much about the world under water."   

The instructor pulled his lip back in a snarl. "You gotta be kidding," he said. "The old bugger wouldn't know a soft shelled crab from a sea serpent. He's just so christly bit nobody'll argue with him." 

2) Sleep. Don't try to get by without enough sleep. You don't have to sleep like a groundhog, but sleep enough so that you feel peppy during the time you're awake. Dragging yourself around in a sleep-starved state is one of the quickest ways to blow the whole thing.

3) Body Weight. Keep your weight down. Don't accumulate fat. Your ideal bodyweight is the least you can weigh without losing muscle tissue. Remember that you life line is in inverse ratio to your waist line. 

Now we can discuss running, the final, and probably the most important segment of your rejuvenation program. Running, more than any other single thing, will guarantee you a long, healthy, youthful life.

My Uncle Harry does a lot of running. He's always concerned about doing everything right, though, so he phoned me. We agreed to meet at the track the next day and run together. 

I got there first and stripped down to my track suit. I was walking around on the grass when I heard him wheel into the park and pull up in front of the oval. Uncle Harry drives a lavender colored Buick with a pair of Smitty mufflers and flowers painted on the doors. Half the traffic cops in town know it by sight. 

He came bounding into the oval and on to the track. Three girls walked in behind him and lined up by the bleachers. All three were blond, mini-skirted, and in their late teens.

"What's with the bubblegummers?" I asked him.   

"Friends of mine," he said.

He pranced out onto the grass and started bouncing around. "Warming up," he said. He had on soft blue track shoes, a pair of white jogging shorts, and a bright purple turtle neck with a gold chain and medallion. He leaped through the air and landed on one foot with his arms outstretched. There was a squeal of delight from the girls. "What do you think?" he said. "Do I look like an Olympic star?"

"You look more like Anna Pavlova," I said. "What's with the bouncing? We're supposed to be doing a run, not Swan Lake." 

He leaped over to the girls and sat them down in front of me. They looked like triplets. He leaned down and whispered something and they all giggled.

"C'mon, Uncle Harry," I said. "Let's get going. I've gotta get back to work." 

Uncle Harry fiddled around some more and then, finally, we started down the track. He turned his head and waved back to the girls. They came to their feet like the bench was hot and waved little lacy handkerchiefs.

"For goodness sake," I said. Do they think you're going to Vietnam or something? We'll be around again in about a minute." 

"Don't shout," he said. "They'll think they're being scorned out." 

We jogged a lap and passed the girls again. Uncle Harry raised a hand like he was giving the Papal blessing.

"What are you doing?" I said. "Waving to them or drying your nail polish?" 

We jogged around once more. Uncle Harry nodded to the girls as we passed. They gave hims a burst of applause and I gritted my teeth.

I was starting to sweat a bit. We were both running nice and easy and I could tell it was going to be a good run.

"This is the greatest, isn't it?" Uncle Harry said.

"It really is," I said. This'll do more for your health than all the pills and medicines since the beginning of time. If everybody'll start a program of progressive running, we could close up half the hospitals in the country." 

Running progression, here:

"Running and sensible weight training make a miraculous combination," I said. "You can convert middle aged men into youngsters with them." 

"What do you figure's the best distance to run?" Uncle Harry asked.

"Five miles," I said. "Anything less isn't enough and anything more isn't really necessary. Anybody that starts a running program should plan on working up to five miles per run. It seems an impossible distance at first, but almost everybody can do it." 

"What about speed?" he asked.

"A nice medium pace is best," I said. "You should try to knock off a mile every nine or ten minutes. That means your five mile run will take about 45-50 minutes. Anything slower than that is too slow." 

"It's also a good idea," I said, "to open up on the last lap so that you finish out of breath." 

"How many days a week?" 

"At least four," I said. "That'll give you the best results." 

We jogged around. I quit talking so I could concentrate on breathing. The laps fell off one by one.

"Last lap," I puffed.

Uncle Harry opened up. He crossed the line twenty feet in front of me and pulling away. We slowed up and walked a lap to cool off.

"Uncle Harry," I said. "You're amazing. How often do you run?" 

"Almost every day," he said. "At least four times a week." 

I shook my head. "I don't know why you come to me for advice," I said. "I should be coming to you." 

We finished the lap and the girls came running up to meet Uncle Harry. They fluttered around him and smoothed his hair and dabbed his forehead with their hankies.

"Why don't you come over to my pad tonight?" he said to me. "The girls will be there." 

"What's the occasion?" 

"Nothing," he said. "Just a little party. Music. Cultured conversation. You know." 

"Yeah," I said. "I know. I imagine it'll be a very healthful affair." 

"Why sure. We may even do a little country dancing." He leered at the girls. "First, that is." 


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