Jack LaLanne, born in 1914,  is world famous for body building, strength feats, and, at 95 is “extremely flexible, and has a mind and a wit as sharp as a tack.”  His wife says she has known him for 60 years and has never known him to be sick.   Why wouldn’t I want to read his new book, Live Young Forever: 12 Steps to Optimum Health, Fitness and Longevity?  He says, “We can refuse to let age run its plan of plummeting decline.”

Perhaps I can’t, by taking thought, add to my stature one cubit, but possibly – just possibly – I can make my remaining years healthier.

So I ordered this handsome  slick paper book with gorgeous photos of Jack’s perfect body.    His last famous feat was at the age of 65 when he swam Lake Oshinoko in Japan, shackled and cuffed, pulling 65 boats loaded with 6500 pounds of wood pulp. “At the age of 80 I could still perform hundreds of non-stop push-ups.  I felt no different than I had at 25.”  His waistline at 80 was 27-1/2 inches.

I looked forward to reading Jack LaLanne’s 12 steps to optimum health, hoping for some little nugget I didn’t know about, some word of wisdom to change my life for the better.  Briefly, here are his 12 steps:

1.  Motivation.  Figure out if you really want a healthy body — then go for it.  ”Seeing your own progress is the greatest motivator of all.”

2.  Keep away from killer habits – smoking, drugs, coffee and alcohol abuse, how to reduce stress.

3.  Personal care.  Hair care, skin care, dental care, eye care.

4.  Eating clean. Jack writes that  what you eat today is walking and talking tomorrow.  He says all the usual things about choosing foods that are  fresh and natural and gives sample meals.  Then came the surprise:   Jack eats out with his wife every night of the week except Monday.   And how do you get what you want when you eat out?  “Explain with gentleness that you want your fish without sauce, the vegetables have to be steamed, no butter added.  Take your baked potato without butter or sour cream.  No dressing on the salad…When you have soup it has to be broth-based as opposed to cream-based…Gravy is a no-no.  Want a dessert?  How about berries or a fresh fruit salad?”

It is clear this man is serious and disciplined!  He says he has always taken vitamins on a daily basis but makes no attempt to tell you what vitamins and/or supplements to take.   Jack  is well known for promoting juices for better health and selling his brand of juicer.  Fruit and vegetable juices are undoubtedly sources of many needed and vital nutrients.   My only question, is why not liquidize the whole item (except for peach pits, banana peels and the like) and drink the whole thing, getting all the fiber and other nutrients hiding out in the matrix surrounding the juice?  Need I add that I have written about my own Homemade V8 and kefir fruit smoothies previously.

5.  Maintain perfect posture.

6.  Do’s and Don’t of Water Drinking.  Drink lots of filtered water.

7.  The importance of stretching. LaLanne writes:  “I enjoy my stretching because I love the rewards of feeling flexible.  I’m as loose as a goose.”  He illustrates 12 stretches.   Stretch cautiously, don’t bounce, work on the more stubborn areas

8.  Find some energy.   How?   “I will take a mid-day nap of 30 minutes if I feel like it. ”

9.  Be in a steady relationship.  “My greatest joy has been loving, laughing and working alongside my beautiful Elaine for some 60 wonderful years.”  Dr. Laura Schlessinger  always says:   “Choose wisely; treat kindly.”    Jack LaLanne says the same thing: “Be kind to one another…..Choose your mate wisely…”  “If you have second thoughts about whether you could be loyal to your future spouse, then don’t get married.”

10. Work out. Jack says:  “If you are on my side of 50 you should probably start with a weight that allows you 20 reps.”  “There has to be a degree of gentleness with your first few workouts.”

11.  Never retire.

12.  Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables.  He talks in detail about various fruits and vegetables and their benefits.

The book closes  with a picture story of Jack’s life accomplishments.  I have decided this is the perfect Christmas gift for my grandson who shows some interest in body-building.   If Jack can’t inspire him, nobody can.

And what nugget have I gleaned from Jack for myself?  Only that I should do what I know I should do.    Eat what is good for me, not what appeals to my sweet tooth.  Exercise even when I don’t feel like it.  It is all so simple — and so hard.

This Jack LaLanne video is dated March, 1997:

Jack LaLanne is discipline personified.  Discipline is where we are all slackers.  Jack inspired me to do 10 minutes of gentle stretching.   Try it – you’ll be amazed at the difference in the way you feel.   Just think what could happen if you went for the whole enchilada and followed all of his 12 steps!  It is never too late to improve.





They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall still be full of sap, still green.   – Psalm 92:14