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|Interview with Jack LaLanne on Aging Well
Legendary Fitness Expert, Health Pioneer, Diet and Nutrition Innovator (1914-2011)
When he was 91 years old, this famous fitness pioneer shared insights on how to live a long and healthy life. Jack LaLanne was living testimony to the value of regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle. His clear message is that before 50 or after 50, it's never too late to get in shape.
Interview by Janice Hughes and Dennis Hughes, Share Guide Publishers
Share Guide: At age 91, you are a great inspiration to those of us who hope to age well.
Jack LaLanne: You have to work at living, period. You’ve got to train like you are training for an athletic event. Most older people just give up. They think, “I’m too old for that,” because they have an ache here or a pain there. Life is a pain in the butt; you’ve got to work at it.
Share Guide: Are you still exercising daily yourself?
Jack LaLanne: Yes, two hours every day.
Share Guide: And you eat only natural foods?
Jack LaLanne: If man makes it, I don’t eat it! You need to make good health a hobby. Would you get your dog up in the morning and give him a cup of coffee, a cigarette, and a doughnut? Well, how about human beings? They get up in the morning with a cup of coffee and a doughnut and they wonder why they are sick and tired and fat. Just ten seconds on the lips and a lifetime on the hips!
Share Guide: In our last interview, you stated that nutrition is Queen and exercise is King. Do you still feel this way?
Jack LaLanne: More than ever. You can exercise vigorously and eat junk and get by. But you can’t eat perfectly and not exercise. Look at many athletes today; they are human garbage cans. They eat anything, but they exercise so hard they burn it up. But why not exercise and put the right fuel in too?
Share Guide: Have you modified your exercise program since you were younger?
Jack LaLanne: Nope, zero. It’s harder now; I can’t do things that I did when I was 20, but I do the best I can with the equipment I have. I work out two hours every day and exercise until muscle failure. And I change my program every 30 days as always.
Share Guide: Do you exercise mostly with free weights?
Jack LaLanne: I do everything. I do chin ups and push ups and my pulling machines; I do the weights and I swim in the pool.
Share Guide: Is your family long lived? Do you think heredity plays a part in it at all?
Jack LaLanne: Well, my Dad died at age 50. I can’t control heredity, so I don’t think about it. Why do people die early? Because they break nature’s laws. The only thing you inherit is the darn appetite from your folks. Americans eat all this junk, all this fast food, and most eat more calories between meals than they do at mealtime.
Share Guide: Haven’t you said that you never snack?
Jack LaLanne: Never. Only water between meals.
Share Guide: Do you take supplements regularly?
Jack LaLanne: I take 40 or 50 supplements a day. I’ve been doing it for years and years. And I don’t eat processed foods. You ever read the labels on that stuff? You can’t read it, because they’ve got so many preservatives, and artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, all of that junk, it’s incredible. And people put that junk in their bodies. It’s like my new Corvette; would I put water in the gas tank? No!
Share Guide: Are there any specific supplements you’ve added on as you got older?
Jack LaLanne: Nope. I take everything from A to Z. What’s the difference if you’re five years old or if you are a 100 years old? You’re body is like an automobile; it needs certain fuel. You’re a human machine which needs certain vitamins and minerals and enzymes. People say there should be certain things for older people, but that’s a bunch of bull.
Share Guide: So you’re saying it’s more about being ageless rather than aging well?
Jack LaLanne: God helps those that help themselves.
Share Guide: You wrote in your book Revitalize Your Life that posture reveals as much about you as your face. Can you explain this?
Jack LaLanne: Posture has to do with how you feel. If you are feeling lousy, you tend to slump. You’ve got to have pride. Keep your waist in, your chest up, and look straight ahead. Be happy you are alive! Get up in the morning and say, “Thank God I’m here again.”
Share Guide: So part of posture comes from mental attitude?
Jack LaLanne: Right, it comes from how you feel. There are two things that people have in their lives that will never fail: pride and discipline. That’s what we’ve got to teach kids in school. This is what my buddy Arnold Schwarzenegger is working on. He’s going to make it mandatory for physical education to be taught in the schools, and he is going to take all the junk out of the cafeterias, and put in some good healthy food.
Share Guide: Have you been in touch with him since he became governor?
Jack LaLanne: Oh, absolutely. I’m on the Governor’s Council for Physical Fitness.
Share Guide: What do you think about the current low-carb craze?
Jack LaLanne: It’s a bunch of bull! If God, or nature, or whatever you want to call it didn’t want you to mix carbohydrates, starches and fats, you’d never have a grain, you’d never have a vegetable or a fruit, would you? What’s in a grain? It’s got carbohydrates, starches, fats, sugar. It’s got everything in it. Why does nature do that? One guy says don’t mix carbohydrates, and the other guy says don’t mix protein with it; it’s all a bunch of lard, something to sell a book. And the poor public is so confused, they don’t know what to do. That’s why I give my lectures.
Share Guide: Some people say that if you walk regularly for 30 minutes every day, that’s a good enough amount of exercise. What do you think?
Jack LaLanne: Walking is good, but that’s just one part of it. You’ve got 660 muscles in your body, so you’ve got to do a certain amount of strength exercise. The doctors say that if you are 80, 90 years old, you need to build muscle. How do you build muscle? Not by walking. You’ve got to work with the weights, and you’ve got to do bigger exercise, like swimming vigorously. Also, you’ve got to change your program every 30 days, and do something different.
Share Guide: Don’t you have a new cookbook coming out?
Yes, I’m working on it right now. It will have tested and proven recipes, and natural things you can do at home.
Share Guide: You believe that a little bit of red wine with dinner is okay, right?
Jack LaLanne: Yes. Doctors say that one or two glasses of wine a day is okay. But they don’t tell you drink a gallon! Look at the French people, one of the longest lived people on this earth. They have wine for lunch and for dinner, but they don’t get drunk. You know, if you can’t have something that gives you a little pleasure in life, then what the heck is the good of living?
Share Guide: But you don’t recommend beer?
Jack LaLanne: The trouble with beer is that people don’t drink it moderately. They’ll have five or six bottles of beer, and then you’ve got 500 or 600 extra calories. If you have one or two, that is fine, but most people don’t stop at that.
Share Guide: Do you take prescription medications?
Jack LaLanne: Nope. Zero!
Share Guide: No human growth hormone or any other stuff like that?
Jack LaLanne: No! Do you know how many people are in trouble with taking all these hormones? Look at some of the athletes, taking all those steroids. It’s terrible.
Share Guide: You never did that in your body building days, did you?
Jack LaLanne: No, never. When I was entering Mr. America and other contests, all that junk was just becoming available. I wouldn’t do that—no way.
Share Guide: Do you still avoid dairy products?
I have zero. However, if you want to have a glass of skim milk once in a while, or a little yogurt, that’s fine. But people eat cream and butter and cheese…my God, there is all that FAT, which is big trouble. There are more people that die prematurely from fats than from anything else. That’s where you get your kidney trouble and your heart trouble, and your incapacity to be able to do things, which takes away your drive for living.
Share Guide: Do you do any juice fasts for detox?
Jack LaLanne: I do, but I only do it for a couple of days. I used to do it for 10 days.
Share Guide: You advocate holistic medicine, don’t you?
Jack LaLanne: Absolutely. Even doctors are accepting it more now. I say stick with Mother Nature as much as possible. Herbs are great. I will say that doctors are doing a lot of wonderful things with some of these medications, and they really help some terminally ill people, but too many rely on that. You know, people over eat and they don’t exercise and they get fat. Then they go to the doctor and they want a shot to make them healthy. It doesn’t work that way. Everybody wants a shortcut, but there are no shortcuts. I wish there were. You see some of these commercials, 3 minutes a day is all you need. Oh brother! I wish it was that simple.
Share Guide: What is the maximum that the human body is designed to live?
Jack LaLanne: At least 120, maybe up to 150. Every 10 or so years, the average life expectancy goes up 2–3 years. It’s up to around 76 now. In the past it was only 50 or even 40. Look at how many people are living to be 100 now; that’s nothing. You know, I can’t afford to die—it would be bad for my image!
Share Guide: Anything else you want to say to our readers?
Jack LaLanne: Anything in life is possible, if you make it happen. Help the most important person on this earth: YOU.
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