Category Archives: Longevity

You Wanted to Know: A Healthy Diet After 60

Art abstract market background fruits on a wooden background

Dr. Oz says:

It’s no secret that as we age, things change. While we alter our lives for many reasons, not all habits need to be modified. That is exactly the case when it comes to our diet, as one of my Twitter followers asked:

Should I be on a different diet once I turn 60?

The short answer is no. The same healthy eating principles that were important before you turned 60 are now arguably even more important. That’s because our health conditions tend to multiply as we age and eating well with regular exercise is the best way to stop this from happening. It doesn’t always take you back to your 20s, but sometimes it can stave off diabetes or high blood pressure for a few more years. So what are these eating rules? Here are a few to stick to.

  • Eat a balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies have consistently been associated with decreased death from a variety of diseases, not to mention you’ll feel a lot better on a diet high in both.
  • Get your fiber. Constipation and digestive troubles plague many older adults. Fruits, veggies and whole grains are a great way to get enough fiber in your diet.
  • Get enough calcium and iron. Anemia and osteoporosis are common in older adults. Meats, beans, eggs and green veggies are all high in iron. Dairy, green leafy vegetables, bony fish and soy are good sources of calcium.
  • Lower your salt. There’s been a lot of news about how much is too much, but most will agree that high amount are bad for you and salt is hidden in pretty much everything we eat. The CDC recommends you aim for less than 1,500mg.
  • Vitamin D. This vitamin is a key player in making sure you get enough calcium in your diet to keep your bones healthy. Additional research has shown that those who are severely deficient are also at risk for dementia. Eggs, oily fish and fortified soy and dairy are all good sources.
  • Get enough to drink. Dehydration can lead to dizzy spells that might lead to deadly falls in older adults. Aim to get 1.2L per day in non-alcoholic beverages, preferably water.

Drinking Sugary Soft Drinks Ages People Faster

Sugary soft drinks are taking a toll on our collective health. A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health has demonstrated the ill effects of daily consumption: Healthy adults who drank an 8-ounce sugary soft drink every day, aged by 2 years more compared to healthy adults who did not. Healthy adults who drank a 20-ounce sugary soft drink aged by 4.5 years more!

How did the scientists reach this conclusion?

By examining the Telomere length of over 5000 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted around the turn of this century.


OK, here’s the science. The cells in our body all have a nucleus with chromosomes that are replicated as the cell divides. The chromosomes, which contain genetic data, have protective end-caps called telomeres. Without the telomeres, individual chromosomes could get tangled up with each other.

With each division of the chromosomes (and the cell), the telomeres shorten a bit. When the telomeres are too short, the cell can’t divide anymore and dies.

Scientists have shown a correlation between telomere length and aging. The good (and bad) news is that telomeres are affected by external factors as well. We can lengthen them to some extent by reducing stress, sleeping more, and eating healthy food. And, as the recent study has shown, we can also accelerate the shortening of telomeres – by drinking too much sugary soda.

Interestingly, artificially sweetened sodas did not have a shortening effect on the telomeres. But there are plenty of other reasons to avoid them as well.

Read the full article here.

Survey Shows Life Regrets Can Shape Later Years

AXX_aging_1_XXThey’re either optimistic or delusional, but 89% of older adults and 84% of younger adults say they’re confident they can maintain a high quality of life throughout their senior years.

The reasons vary, but support of friends and family is at the top, followed by being happy about their living situation, being well-prepared financially, being in good health and generally being optimistic, according to a phone survey of more than 2,000 adults, half of whom are 60 and older and the other half ages 18-59.

However, the voices of the older group are tinged with regret, knowing that getting older offers fewer opportunities for “do-overs” to course-correct their lives.

What’s really surprising is that, in this survey, most regrets were from decades past, often occurring when people were in their 30s and 40s.

So you “young ‘uns” pay attention!

Findings from a new nationally representative survey in USA TODAY, suggest that while some do have regrets, many older adults also have some lessons to offer those who are younger — and aging, as well.

So you “young ‘uns” pay attention!

When asked about a preselected list of steps they wish they had taken “to plan and prepare for your senior years,” the most-cited responses illustrate just how regret also plays a role in getting older. Among them are:

  • saving more money
  • making better investments
  • taking better care of health
  • staying closer with family

“When we get older, people do a life review. They begin to think ‘I shoulda done this or saved more money or spent more time with the kids.’ At some point, you get to the realization that we’re not going to live forever,” says Louis Primavera, a psychologist at the private, New York City-based Touro College.

The survey, a joint effort by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the National Council on Aging, United Healthcare and USA TODAY, included responses from 1,000 adults 60 and older and a comparison group of 1,027, ages 18-59. Of the older group, two-thirds were 60-74.

The legions of older Americans are growing across the USA, according to a report from the U.S Census Bureau released in May, which shows the 65-and-older population is projected to reach 83.7 million by 2050 — almost double the 2012 level of 43.1 million. With such numbers, regrets about “saving more” or “staying closer with my family” can shape the quality of life in later years. So, for those now in their 20s, 30s, 40s and even 50s, they can get a glimpse of what lies ahead.

So you “young ‘uns” pay attention! (Am I repeating myself?)

USA TODAY took the pulse of Americans 60 and older on their health, quality of life, financial situation and whether their communities are prepared to serve an aging population.

“The No. 1 thing people are looking for today is really peace of mind,” says financial adviser Susan Acker of Merrill Lynch in Pittsford, N.Y. “The goal of saving more money is to reach peace of mind.”


Carsten Wrosch, a psychology professor at Concordia University in Montreal who has been collecting life regret data since 2003 among those ages 20-40 and 60-plus, has found that life regrets center around work, education and relationships. “But what’s really surprising”, he says, “is that most regrets were from decades past, often occurring when people were in their 30s and 40s.”

“We often hear one of the biggest regrets they have is that they weren’t closer with their family,” says Donna Butts, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit Generations United, but now “we’re seeing that change as the generations change.”

Wrosch says regret can become a health problem if people have no chance to repair the harm or right a wrong. “People start ruminating. They become depressed. They experience associated biological problems,” he says. “Ultimately, it makes them more vulnerable to disease.”

“Letting go actually really helps,” Wrosch says. “Let go of those regrets and find something else in life that is meaningful and can provide purposeful living.”

Former first lady Laura Bush talked about aging with USA TODAY reporter Sharon Jayson at the Dallas conference for the National Association of Areas Agencies on Aging.

For more on Prime-Time Health

Secrets From the Longest-Living Place on Earth

Longest Living place on Earth, Nagano JapanFrom AARP Bulletin, May 2014

Takami Kuroiwa looks forward to weekends — not so he can relax with a little golf or TV, but to put in 12-hour days on the family farm. His regular job as a tourism manager provides a comfortable living, but raising his own fruit and vegetables is part of a lifelong routine.

At 66, Kuroiwa has already come out of retirement once and expects to work well into his later years.

“It’s part of the lifestyle here. You work in an office and then you retire to the farm. It’s just the next stage in life,” Kuroiwa says. As it turns out, it’s a very long life.

A healthy diet, regular physical activity, extended work years and aggressive government intervention have helped the Nagano region produce the longest life expectancy in Japan, which in turn is the longest in the world. That marks a remarkable turnaround for an area that, as recently as the early 1980s, had the highest rate of strokes in Japan.

Women in Nagano prefecture, an area slightly smaller than Connecticut, can expect to live an average of 87.2 years, while men can look forward to living 80.9 years, according to the latest data from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. (In comparison, life expectancy in Connecticut averages 78.6 years for men and 82.9 for women. Hawaii has the highest life expectancy in the U.S., at 78 for men and 84.7 for women.)

The lifestyle in Nagano, home of the 1998 Winter Olympics, has also produced some of the lowest per capita medical costs in Japan. That saves consumers and taxpayers millions of dollars a year.

Officials now are hoping to export the Nagano experience to the rest of the country, and perhaps even farther.

“Nagano is unique in many ways, but there are lessons you can apply anywhere. Improve your diet, stay active, continue to work as you get older. The key is not just to live longer, but to stay healthy longer,” says Takuji Shirasawa, M.D., who teaches at the Department of Aging Control Medicine at Juntendo University in Tokyo.

Keys to a long life

Japan is one of the most rapidly aging societies in the world. A quarter of the population is age 65 or older. In Tokyo alone, some 3.1 million residents will be 65 or older by 2025, according to the health ministry.

Keeping those people healthy and productive is key to controlling costs for Japan’s national health care system and helping offset a declining birth rate.

At first glance, Nagano would seem an unlikely setting for a long and healthy life.

Tucked high in the Japanese Alps, the area experiences long and harsh winters. Arable land is limited. Surrounded by mountains, Nagano is one of the few regions of Japan without immediate access to the fresh fish and seafood that makes up much of the national diet.

Even as Japan’s economy boomed and longevity rates climbed through the postwar era, life expectancy in Nagano lagged. Men in particular suffered from high rates of heart attack and cerebral aneurysm.

Noriko Sonohara, head of the nonprofit Nagano Dietary Association, says much of the blame fell on a beloved, if unlikely, staple of the Nagano diet: pickled vegetables.

Housewives in Nagano for generations preserved all manner of homegrown produce to make up for the lack of fresh vegetables during long snowy winters, Sonohara explains. And while every village had a secret recipe for the dish, called tsukemono, all included one ingredient: copious amounts of salt. One survey found that Nagano residents on average were consuming 15.1 grams of salt per day — that’s nearly three times the daily maximum in U.S. dietary guidelines. “In wintertime, people would sit around and talk and eat tsukemono all day,” Sonohara says. “The turning point was 1981, when Nagano became number one in strokes. We decided, ‘OK, we have to do something about this.'”

A focus on diet

The first step in boosting Nagano’s life span was a campaign to reduce salt consumption and promote a healthier diet and lifestyle. Miso soup, served three times a day in many homes, became a prime target of health officials. Cases of hypertension and related illnesses began to decline shortly after, Sonohara says. The region of 2.1 million people now has some 4,500 volunteers who host seminars and clinics at supermarkets, shopping malls and community centers. They also conduct regular home visits to measure the salt content in daily meals and make dietary recommendations. “Our goal and our motives had nothing to do with becoming number one in life expectancy,” said Sonohara. “[But] individual efforts and local initiatives gradually changed the lifestyle, and that in turn lengthened the life expectancy for the region as a whole.”

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At a recent cooking demonstration in a market near Nagano’s main train station, volunteer Sumiko Hirano was preparing a dish of sesame pork with shiitake mushrooms and sliced pumpkin. The total salt per serving was 0.9 grams. But on this day, Hirano was exhorting a half-dozen shoppers, who had stopped to watch the demonstration, to reduce the use of cooking oil. For this recipe: just one teaspoon.

A licensed nutritionist, Hirano and several other volunteers also took time to dispense health advice to passersby. “At first it was difficult to convince people to change, but gradually it’s becoming easier,” says Hirano. “The government is encouraging people to maintain a healthier diet and lifestyle and organizing a lot of activities that they never had before, so that helps.”

The efforts paid off with surprising speed. By 1990, life expectancy for men had risen three years in a decade in Nagano prefecture, and 3.5 years for women. Nagano life spans continued to climb until they topped all of Japan by 2010. Rates of deaths due to cancer, heart and liver disease, and pneumonia now rank well below the national average.

The private sector gets involved

As the effects of an improved diet began to be felt, the region’s business community found ways to support a healthy lifestyle. In Matsumoto, the region’s second largest city, a bank started offering higher interest rates and incentives like weekends at Tokyo’s Disneyland for those who get medical checkups for three consecutive years. A convenience store chain has agreed to distribute health care information and host some 40 health fairs at various locations this year.

City health workers will take blood pressure readings, answer questions and distribute information on public health care services. “A lot of people never visit city hall, but they do go to convenience stores, so this is a good way to reach them,” says Matsumoto’s mayor, Akira Sugenoya, a surgeon.

Those preventive care efforts contributed to lower health care costs in Nagano, which came to about $2,488 per person in 2009. The per capita average in Japan was $3,120, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That compares with $8,233 in the United States. Japan’s national health insurance program, which covers virtually all residents, including those in intensive nursing care, is funded in part by local contributions. “Preventive medicine is much less costly than having to put people in the hospital,” Sugenoya says.

Staying active for life

Another not-so-secret key to Nagano’s remarkable longevity is a vigorous lifestyle, encouraged by local leaders.

In Matsumoto, officials have developed a network of more than 100 walking routes to encourage people to exercise. Community groups and neighborhood associations organize communal walks — not difficult in group-oriented Japan. Even in winter, clusters of residents can be found regularly walking along Matsumoto’s streets, parks and canals and around its historic medieval castle downtown. Sugenoya says the walking trails are a cost-effective way to promote health and control medical costs. “The first thing we wanted was just to get people walking. Everyone can do that. You walk, you talk, you get exercise and that helps build up a sense of community,” he says.

Japanese officials encourage people to postpone retirement or begin second careers, in part to maintain a healthy lifestyle longer.

Nagano is ahead of the curve there as well. Nearly 1 in 4 people over 65 are still in the workforce — the highest rate in Japan. “We don’t really know if people in Nagano continue to work because they are healthy, or if they are healthy because they continue to work,” says Hiroko Akiyama, a professor at the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Gerontology. “But we believe working does affect health.”

Kuroiwa says he doesn’t think about all that. He retired as village accountant a few years ago, but came back to manage a new tourism center last year. As before, his spare time goes into running his family’s small farm, where he grows apples and rice along with an array of vegetables. His parents worked regularly into their late 80s, and Kuroiwa figures he and his wife will do the same. “No one here is particularly aware that we live longer than other people. We don’t have any secret. We just go about our normal everyday lives and it just turns out that way.”

I am almost 68, have no plans to retire (why would I, when I love what I do?!), take no medication of any kind and am a fit, healthy, happy, primetime “senior”! I attribute much of that to Juice Plus+, of course – the products and the business!

The key to a long life? Vegetables – fresh ones!

For years now, the official recommendation in the USA has been to eat 7 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables every day (7 for a 4 year old girl, 13 for a normally active young man). However, in the UK the recommendation is still the old-school “5 a day”.

But that is changing. “If you want to live longer, eat a lot more than 5”, say researchers in England.

That’s how many daily servings of fruits and vegetables you should eat, according to the Health Survey for England, to more effectively reduce your risk of dying from heart disease, cancer or any other cause.

It has long been known that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables every day is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. This study, performed by researchers at University College London and published recently in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, is the first of its kind to look at a nationally representative sample and clearly link fruit and vegetable consumption with decreases in mortality from “all causes” and, specifically, from heart disease and cancer.

In the study, researchers examined the eating habits of 65,226 British people from 2001 to 2013 and found that, during the course of the study, the more daily servings of fruits and veggies a person ate, the less likely he or she was to die from heart disease, cancer or any cause. Those who ate seven or more servings a day experienced a 31 percent reduction in death from heart disease, a 25 percent reduction in death from cancer and a 42 percent reduction in death from any cause.

“This research clearly shows that there is no point in stopping at five a day. Seven or even 10 would save a lot more lives. It provides useful messages for public health practitioners and policy makers,” said Simon Capewell, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University – who led the research.

Eating fewer servings of produce daily still had clear benefits, though not as pronounced as eating seven or more. For example, eating one to three servings a day resulted in a 14 percent reduction in death from any cause, eating three to five servings resulted in a 29 percent reduction in death, and five to seven daily servings reduced the risk of dying by 36 percent.

The researchers also adjusted their findings for factors such as age, sex, smoking status, body mass index, alcohol use and physical activity, suggesting that no matter what your health status or age, there are clear benefits to increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption.

The study also looked at the kind of produce that conferred the most health benefits, and fresh vegetables won hands down, with each daily portion of fresh veggies resulting in a 16 percent reduction in mortality, followed by salad conferring a 13 percent reduction with each daily portion and fresh fruit a distant third, with a 4 percent reduction in mortality.


The study found no health benefit from fruit juice, and canned and frozen fruit actually appeared to increase the risk of death during the study, likely due to the high amounts of sugar in these products.

The lessons from this groundbreaking research are pretty clear. Vegetables are best, and the more, the better. Fresh fruit offers some benefits, though not as much as vegetables. However, for variety and enjoyment of your diet, they are a good choice.

In one of the more than 30 published studies of Juice Plus+, the MD Anderson Cancer Center demonstrated that adding Juice Plus+ and the Juice Plus+ Complete whole-food based shake mix helped ovarian cancer patients achieve a 10-a-day regimen of fruit and vegetable consumption, with significant health benefits resulting.

Eating More Vegetables Can Almost Halve Your Risk of Dying

Fruit makes a difference too, but fresh veggies have a larger effect .

We’ve all been told to eat our vegetables, and even if we don’t like it, we know they’re good for us. But a new study shows just how good for our longevity they may be.

7-13-servingsSeven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day can lower your risk of dying by an astonishing 42%, according to a new study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The more fruits and vegetables the participants ate, the less likely they were to die at any age, and the protective benefit increased with consumption.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends anywhere between one to two cups of fruit daily and one to three cups of vegetables daily, depending on age and gender. This equates to 7 servings for a girl aged 4 and 13 servings for a young adult male. Their slogan follows, “Fruit and veggies — more matters.”

When compared with consuming less than one portion of fruit and vegetables a day, the risk of death by any cause was reduced by 14% by eating one to three portions; 29% for three to five portions; 36% for five to seven portions; and 42% for seven or more. Eating seven or more portions also specifically reduced the risk of dying from cancer by 25%, and heart disease by 31%.

168837404“The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age,” lead study author Oyinlola Oyebode, of University College London’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, said in a statement. “Vegetables have a larger effect than fruit, but fruit still makes a real difference. If you’re happy to snack on carrots or other vegetables, then that is a great choice, but if you fancy something sweeter, a banana or any fruit will also do you good.”

The study is the first to associate eating fruits and vegetables with all-cause, cancer and heart-disease deaths in a nationally representative population, and to quantify the benefits by portions. Researchers looked at results from the Health Survey for England between 2001 and 2013, which detailed the eating habits of 65,226 people.

Read the full article … and Bridge the Gap with Juice Plus+.

Dr. David Katz in Vail

katz2Last night we were privileged to have Dr. David Katz present his “Sense, Science and Supplementation” talk here in Vail, Colorado.

We heard a similar talk at our last Juice Plus+ Conference in Orlando, but somehow in a smaller room – more intimate, to an over-packed room – his message was even more powerful.

David L. Katz, M.D. is a forward-thinking doctor, who specializes in the areas of food, diet and nutrition. He is a renowned expert on the power of lifestyle medicine and is considered the poet laureate of medical doctors. His oratory, though, only elevates the substantive content of his passion, which is America’s collective health and individual enduring vitality.

Dr. Katz has a big heart: he is dedicated turning the tide of obesity, especially in children; to helping people better understand nutrition, and his method hits home thanks to universal analogies and a true passion for improving health across all segments of society.

“Realistically, we must invoke both environmental reform and personal responsibility to promote health,” Katz said. “After all, if in our enthusiasm for environmental determinism we renounce personal responsibility altogether, we risk both ineffectiveness and irrelevance for failing to consider that you can lead people to carrot juice but you can’t make them drink, any more than you can make them use stairs instead of elevators, rakes instead of leaf blowers or soccer balls rather than video games.”

Dr. Katz told us: “The blend of science and sense is fundamentally important to the future of mankind and to the solvency of our nation.” There are Inevitable gaps in science; these need to be filled with good sense.

“Mostly plant-based diets add years to your life and life to your years.” He quoted Michael Pollen: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

He asked “How do we get from here to there?”

Katz_Vail“Here” is a place of sickness. We cannot stay “Here”: we are on path to destruction and our health-care system is doing nothing to change that. Some examples are these:

  • 1½% of us eat the daily recommended fruits and vegetables each day (9-13 servings for adults).
  • More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese.
  • More than one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.
  • There are 27 million diabetics  in the US today. It is predicted that 1 in 3 will be diabetic by the middle of the century, that is 100 million people!
  • There has been a 35% increase of strokes in 11-14 year olds.

I could keep going, but you already get the picture.

We all need to work together to get from “Here” to “There” – a place of real health. There are practical, hands-on ways to get there; they can even reverse your genetic destiny; “DNA is not your destiny … dinner is your destiny.”

“You can reshuffle the genetic deck in your favor with healthful behaviors — enough to reduce the likelihood of a bad outcome by 80%. No medicine or medical intervention can even come close to delivering results like that. Not even close.”

The changes needed are ones we can all make:

  • eat well
  • be physically active
  • stop smoking (if you do)
  • maintain a healthy weight

disease proofWith some very simple lifestyle changes we CAN make a difference in our health and our longevity. In his new book, DISEASE PROOF, Dr. Katz shows that 80% of disease can be prevented; he shares the very skill set on which he and his family rely, to enjoy lifestyle as medicine.

Dr. Katz is a strong advocate for whole food supplementation. He stressed that Juice Plus+ can make a big difference;  “Juice Plus+ is a blend of good science and good sense.  It’s like a (good) gateway drug to a healthier lifestyle!” He added that the

Here are more articles by Dr. Katz:

Founding Director of Yale University’s Preventative Cancer Center and Associate Professor (adjunct) at the Yale University School of Medicine, David Katz, M.D. is a two-time diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine. He is board-certified in Preventative Medicine/Public Health. Dr. Katz is a clinical instructor on medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, editor-in-Chief of the journal Childhood Obesity and President Elect of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He is also Founder and President of the non-profit, Turning the Tide Foundation, and Medical Director for the Integrative Medicine Center at Griffin Hospital. Dr. Katz has published over 150 scientific articles, 1,000 newspaper articles and authored or co-authored 15 books. He has also worked with media outlets such as ABC News, Good Morning America, The New York Times, O the Oprah Magazine, The Huffington Post, and US News and World Report. Dr. Katz and his wife Catherine live in CT; they have 5 children.

Lesson #6 on Living Longer and Staying Sharp

This article in Parade Magazine (Dec. 28, 2013)  both humbled me and inspired me. So much so that I am serializing her lessons here in my blog. This is the last one.

Ninety-four-year-old Olga Kotelko, a retired schoolteacher from West Vancouver, Canada, could be the poster child for late bloomers. Seventeen years ago, at 77, she entered her first “masters” track and field competition, for participants age 35 and over. At 85, she knocked off nearly 20 world records in a single year. Today, she is the only woman in the world over 90 still long-jumping and high-jumping competitively.

Now for the final of six smart habits of super agers. Here Olga’s Lesson #5.

Lesson #6: Lighten Up

People get stressed out over the smallest things,” Olga says. The fact that she doesn’t is as much a matter of choice as temperament. “Honestly, I don’t have the time.”

Not long ago, at an Illinois airport, as Olga moved toward security, other passengers ­began removing their shoes. But Olga didn’t. A sign said that you didn’t have to if you were over 75.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” a security agent asked Olga. “How old are you?”

“Ninety-three,” she replied.

The agent gaped at her. “You’re joking,” she said.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. You’re … how old?”


“What’s your secret?” she ­finally asked.

“Enjoy life!” Olga replied.

The agent nodded as a grin infiltrated her face. Then she turned to her supervisor, somewhere behind the barrier, and announced, “I quit!”

Here is Olga herself – be inspired!

 Olga’s Lesson #5.

Lesson #5 on Living Longer and Staying Sharp

This article in Parade Magazine (Dec. 28, 2013)  both humbled me and inspired me. So much so that I am serializing her lessons here in my blog.

Ninety-four-year-old Olga Kotelko, a retired schoolteacher from West Vancouver, Canada, could be the poster child for late bloomers. Seventeen years ago, at 77, she entered her first “masters” track and field competition, for participants age 35 and over. At 85, she knocked off nearly 20 world records in a single year. Today, she is the only woman in the world over 90 still long-jumping and high-jumping competitively.

Now for the fifth of six smart habits of super agers. Here Olga’s Lesson #4.

Lesson #5: Cultivate a Sense of Progress

We all need the feeling that in some small ways we’re improving—or at least not backsliding—whether at the gym, at our jobs, or in our relationships. Without periodic doses of what psychologist Teresa Amabile, Ph.D., calls “small wins,” our morale craters.

The Legacy: A competitive volleyball player, Olga’s granddaughter Alesa Rabson, 23, enjoys a lush genetic inheritance. “Grandma has taught me there’s no excuse to be lazy,” she says.

Trouble is, chalking up wins becomes more difficult from midlife on, when it’s easy to feel like you’re getting slower and weaker by the day. Fortunately, there’s a remedy. The trick is to ­reframe progress so that it becomes a relative measure, not an absolute one. In other words, to move the yardsticks as you age.

This is something that masters track does ingeniously. Olga’s results are “age-graded,” meaning they are adjusted to account for the expected decline of the human body. And Olga applies the “move the yardsticks” strategy off the track as well. For instance, she still says yes to many social requests but not to all— increasing her fulfillment by cherry-picking the best life has to offer.

Here is Olga herself – be inspired!

Olga’s Lesson #4. Return tomorrow for Olga’s Lesson #6.

Lesson #4 on Living Longer and Staying Sharp

This article in Parade Magazine (Dec. 28, 2013) both humbled me and inspired me. So much so that I am serializing her lessons here in my blog.

Ninety-four-year-old Olga Kotelko, a retired schoolteacher from West Vancouver, Canada, could be the poster child for late bloomers. Seventeen years ago, at 77, she entered her first “masters” track and field competition, for participants age 35 and over. At 85, she knocked off nearly 20 world records in a single year. Today, she is the only woman in the world over 90 still long-jumping and high-jumping competitively.

Now for the fourth of six smart habits of super agers. Here is Olga’s Lesson #3.

Lesson #4: Be a Creature of Habit

Olga’s running buddy, Christa Bortignon, 76, has set seven world records this year en route to the 2013 World Female Masters Athlete award. Without Olga as a mentor, she says, “I wouldn’t have even known masters track existed.”

There is no book, you will notice, called The Seven Ephemeral Whims of Highly Successful People. The reason: Habits work.

“What you have to do is just get yourself to the track,” says Christa . There, she’ll dial up Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 on the iPod, circle the track twice, then jog it once.

It’s as if Christa is turning the tumblers on a lock: Those small familiar actions cue the body that it’s showtime. “Your muscles have a memory,” she says. “They know.”

Under stress, people tend to fall back on routines—whether healthy or unhealthy. In a recent experiment, University of Southern California psychologist Wendy Wood, Ph.D., one of the world’s top experts in habit formation, found that students around exam time slipped into autopilot. It was habits—not cravings, as you might expect—that determined their food choices, for better or worse.

Olga’s own weekly calendar is ­anchored in rituals. Her mornings typically include a stretching routine; she adheres to a predictable bedtime. If it’s Tuesday, she is out bowling; if it’s Thursday, she is likely making pierogi in the basement of her church.

Here is Olga herself – be inspired!

Olga’s Lesson #3. Return tomorrow for Olga’s Lesson #5.