Tribute to Jack LaLanne

"The Jack LaLanne Show" was the longest running television exercise program.

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“I can’t die, it would ruin my image.”– Jack LaLanne who died January 23, 2011 at the age of 96. 

I was about 3 or 4 years old, my father was in college and my mother stayed at home with my baby brother and me. My mom was working on getting back on shape after the birth of my brother. Since gyms we almost unheard of in the early 70’s, especially for women, my brother was an infant, and even though I believed I could take care of him, my mother had the foresight to figure out how to exercise AT home while my brother napped.

Enter the man in the gray one piece suit with the belt. I remember watching Jack LaLanne on our black and white television, where he would use the kitchen chair and so would my mom. He would use cans from the kitchen and so did my mom. I remember a woman asking how she could keep the bottoms of her arms from “waving before she did.” I later learned that those were “triceps.”

Jack was the first person I remember talking about fitness and eating well. Soon came Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda, and now there is at least one entire channel devoted to fitness and perhaps dozens. I’m sorry to say that none of these people influenced my future career path.  

He continued to make headlines here and there when on his various birthdays he would swim in open water towing and/or carrying weight, boats, people and sometimes be handcuffed while doing these activities.

As I was watching the shows with my mother, Jack was almost 60 years old. I had no idea that he was older than my grandparents, and nearly as old as my two great-grandmothers.

They say Jack was still exercising his usual two hours a day up until last week. The man was the epitome of fitness and a motivator. Even though he was goofy in his own way (my goodness, how many leisure suits did he have?), he was an inspiration to everyone, and even more so to those people who think they are too old to exercise, let alone exercise vigorously.

“Exercise is King, nutrition is Queen, put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.” – Jack LaLanne 

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Happy Father’s Day: Make sure you have many more

Staying active helps reduce risk of chronic disease

On the day we celebrate fathers, I address one of the few things my husband and I disagree on: my husband refuses to go to the doctor for a physical and preventive screenings.

My 40-something-year-old husband is apparently healthy, based on the following:

  • Very active (cycling an average of 150 miles/week and is a competitive cyclists)
  • Eats healthy – registered dietitian for a wife
  • BMI = 24.8 with a healthy body fat percentage (I test is regularly)
  • At his last cholesterol check, his LDL was well below 100 mg/dL
  • Family history of chronic disease is non-existent. Two-grandparents died in their 90’s of natural causes and a third is still alive in her 90’s. The fourth died at an early age from an accident. His parents are mostly healthy in their late 60’s.

 

I guess I should find comfort in that my husband’s attitude is normal in the sense that he does not go to the doctor unless he is sick. But he doesn’t get sick. His only “illness” in the last 20 years has been orthopedic injuries, dog bite, and road rash. His cholesterol and glucose was checked when we got our life insurance upgraded seven years ago, and he got his tetanus booster after the dog bite in 1998. Earlier this year he got a VO2 Max testwhich he feels is as close to a physical as he needs. I check his blood pressure on occasion, and it is fine. Finally, as required by law for his job, he gets a DOT physical every 2 years, which should not even be called a physical considering no blood work is done and they don’t make him turn his head and cough.

Because men like my husband are the majority in the U.S., the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recently launched the Healthy Men campaign for getting men to get the screenings and tests that they need to cut their risk of chronic disease.

Here are the screenings they want men to get:

  1. BMI – body mass index: this ratio of height to weight is a tool to determin if you are a healthy weight, overweight, or obese. You need to know your current height (please not stretching the truth) and weight to assess your BMI. Go here to find out your BMI. http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/
  2. Cholesterol: not just your total cholesterol, but the entire profile including LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. Once men reach the age of 45 they are at higher risk for heart disease. If your father, grandfather, or a brother has already been diagnosed with heart disease, you smoke, or you are overweight or obese (based on your BMI), you are at greater risk for heart disease.
  3. Blood pressure: nearly one-third of Americans have high blood pressure and a third of them don’t know they have it. Check your blood pressure regularly and keep it in check. Excess weight, smoking and stress may increase your blood pressure.

There are several other screenings men need, including fasting blood glucose to check for diabetes, colorectal cancer (starting at age 50), prostate cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, STI’s, and many others. For more information for you or the man in your life check out the website for Healthy Men at http://www.ahrq.gov/healthymen/index.html, click on the “Get Preventive Medical Tests” to see what other tests to ask for. It also provides information on what questions to ask when going to the doctor. Unfortunately, men are less likely to ask questions once they get to the doctor.

So, Happy Father’s Day to my husband, my father (a 15 year cancer survivor thanks to my mother insisting he go to the doctor), and my father-in-law who are alive and apparently healthy. Here is hoping they are still alive and apparently healthy for next Father’s Day and many more.