Elaine Doll-Dunn, Psy.D.

As in Jack. My hero. We first got TV in Harding County in 1961. Well, other people may have had it, but out on the ranch my first set was a gift from the kid’s great uncle; he thought it would be a treat for country kids to get a taste of life outside the rural scope. Nice plan, but the “snow” was about the only thing we got clearly, and it took lots of imagination even to envision the professional wrestlers’ gymnastic gyrations. But we persevered, and ultimately, what with rabbit ears, strategically wound tinfoil, and precariously positioned antennas on the second story of the old ranch house; were able to dimly view “I Love Lucy”, John Glenn’s triumph, and the fitness regimen of Jack LaLanne. I was as in awe of him then as I am today, and I’m certain he was the inspiration that has kept me at some facet of fitness since I was a young woman.

Being a fit child and young adult didn’t count, that for me was part of survival. Country school, running games, riding five miles back and forth to school each day… (I did too…) and ranch work on weekends, fit did just happen. But widowed and with four under four in tow, I was often relegated to the house and the sedentary chores of a busy mother. Folding diapers is not aerobic, chasing kids is only a sprint workout, and fresh baked bread and hot chocolate chip cookies are a mandate for the ranch community. (Of course I sampled!)

So when Jack LaLanne appeared through the gently shifting T.V. blizzard, I put the kids and cooking on hold, shoved the pile of diapers back in the basket, and exercised in my tiny living room----confident that the effects of cookies, cinnamon rolls and crusty loaves were then erased from my thighs like those of Jack’s svelte wife, Elaine. (It was great entertainment for the kids, too, but that’s another story.)

I had forgotten that regimen in my life until the September 27th issue of USA Today had a tribute to the 90 year old pectoral perfection guru. Regarded by many as the “godfather of fitness”, Jack is as spry and energetic as many 50-year-olds. He has modeled and maintained the idea of eating right and staying fit from 1951 to the present; his show was on the air from 1951 until 1984.

LaLanne has always been straight with America about what it takes to be fit—hard work and commitment. No “six-minute abs” for him, “You’ve got to eat right, exercise and have goals and challenges. Exercise is King; nutrition is queen. Put ‘em together and you’ve got a kingdom!” (The guy was no slouch at the turn of phrase, either!) In his trademark skintight jumpsuit, he never made it look easy, but he did make it look do-able, and he made it look fun! He was always having a good time; smiling, setting new goals, and making us believe that our health and beauty was at our own finger tips…er…energy level.

“You’ve got to work at living—99 and 9/10 of Americans work at dying!” He would say with a cadence part old-time preacher and part carnival barker. “If man made it, avoid it!” “Get off your seat, on your feet!” “Retiring isn’t an option, that’s the death knell. Who cares about what you used to do?”

Jack’s day is more than any of us has to do, although it isn’t that outlandish. A little modification and we can pack our longevity suitcase for the long haul…I never aspired to tugging seven ships out of the bay anyhow. His exercise output and food intake are as follows:

Two-hour work-out: Six to eight a.m.
Breakfast: Power drink with 50 grams of soy protein, whole-grain cereal.
Lunch: Fruit, four egg whites, soup (not cream-based).
Dinner: Ten vegetables, salad, soup (not cream-based), whole-wheat pita, 3-4 ounces of fish, one or two glasses of wine.
I could live with that, but he hasn’t had dessert since 1929, I need an occasional dessert. You can have a treat now and again and still maintain at 120.

So what this means to me, is that living ‘well’—literally—may equate with living long. And if not, at least the potential of living what time we have with the most energy and vibrancy we can. Consider some area role models. Phyllis O’Conner in Rapid City, I think she is 93 now, still bikes 17 miles twice a week, teaches water aerobics five days a week, walks at least three miles on the days she doesn’t bike, and stays active volunteering in the community. I always look forward to her strong directives to “Drink up!” at the six mile aid station in the Mount Rushmore Marathon. She says, “Use these (points to her legs), stay off this (pats her butt), to keep this!” (Taps her head.) Pretty simple concept.

Helen Kline of California, is 82 years old and beat me by a full hour in the MORE Marathon in New York City. Hey! And I had a good day!

Wally Little Wound and Homer Hastings, both near 60---Wally on one side, Homer the other---usually win their age group and whup many younger than they are in the process.

Norm Frank of Florida holds the world record for marathons run….I think he is at 892; Norm is 73 years old..
For the rest of us, get up in the morning and do something aerobic, eat a high protein, low carbohydrate (non-sweet) breakfast, snack at ten and two on protein, lunch is a green salad with protein, a reasonable dinner of protein, sweet potato, green vegetable, and a small snack before snooze time. Yeah, and a glass of wine is a good thing. Makes you not gobble your food. Walking the dog in the evening is icing on the cake…extra miles and a relaxing sunset. This isn’t gonna be bad at all.

Thanks, Jack.

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