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June 15, 2014 in Blog, Exercise

We just finished our June “YNY TOTAL IMMERSION WEEK” at the

Aspen Club (there’s another in late September) and it was perhaps the best yet.

Golden June weather that you only get in the shoulder seasons out there… fifteen

delightful guests… and the best program ever.  We are getting better at this, by

heaven, and the guests mostly go home with stars in their eyes.  And a ton of new

information and new resolve.  Jen Sacheck alone is worth the price of admission… as

is Bill Fabrocini.  They are serious thinkers about diet and exercise and, increasingly,

great presenters.  Fun too.  One of my basic ideas, back when YNY was being born,

was to have “destination and immersion” weeks like this.  HATE to boast, but I was

right.  And, of course, blessed beyond all reason in my partner, Michael Fox, owner of

the Aspen Club.  We do this stuff hand in glove.  A joy.

YNY Immersion Week High

June 4, 2014 in Blog, Connection, Exercise, Nutrition

Waking up in Paradise again (a hotel in Aspen with amazing views of the mountains – and

decent coffee). It’s Day Three of one of our YNY Total Immersion Weeks for people who

want to join the Revolution in Aging and truly learn the core stuff in Younger Next Year and

Thinner This Year. This is SUCH a kick in the pants. I am still learning like crazy (about

how to avoid a bad back, for life… how to really do critical strength training correctly… how

to live frankly) and our 15 guests sure are too. This place is so beautiful and the people

who come to these things are so terrific… not bad for “work.”

Sorry for the long infomercial, but I can’t help myself. This is major fun and I am so lucky –

as more than one guest has remarked – to have carved out a small role in The Revolution

(which is so satisfying) and doing stuff like this. Pretty good. Chris


May 13, 2014 in Blog, Connection

Had my annual physical with Harry a couple of days ago. Such a pleasure.Mostly because it’s fun to spend some time with him in general but also because he has such good judgment about all kinds of things. Including me. First, of course,there was the pleasant news that I am still in near-perfect health: this regimen does work, by heaven. Blood pressure a pleasing 117 over 75 which is just fine for an old boy. Other measures were in line with that.

Then it was the talking time.  Less good. I told him that I was stewing because  I seemed to be slowing down a tad… was more likely to have a down day after a crisis or heavy travel.  And was  more than a little depressed after the recent deaths of some pals, including a really close one. Was this the beginning of the end of my long, cheerful and optimistic life, I fretted. Is the darkness setting in?

Harry, the dear, was impatient but kind. “Don’t be dumb, for heaven’s sake.” he said, bluntly: “What in the world did you expect? Of course you’re slowing down a bit. Of course you feel sad, for a long time, at the death of close friends. This isn’t Little Mary Sunshine. There is hard stuff, and there will be more of it. But you will surely get back to yourself. Think of it: You don’t have any serious health issues at 80, which is a miracle. You don’t hurt, you get to do stuff, and your energy is as good as mine. Good grief! Bear in mind that masters athletes – swimmers, skiers, whatever – get a little slower every year. That IS the deal. You know that. But you in particular are still yourself. Doing doing things. Gee whizz.

Fine, I said… I’ll stop whining. But I am in my 80′s now. How about death?  When will  I die?

I don’t know, Harry said. But there’s a realistic shot at living into your nineties, doing all the stuff your doing right now.

True? I asked, though I’d heard it before.

True, he said… gave me a pat… sent me on my way. Nice man, that Harry. Knows some stuff, too.


One Pill Makes You Larger, And One Pill Makes You Small

March 17, 2014 in Notes

By: Jennifer Sacheck

As a nation we thrive on quick fixes, so it’s not surprising that more than half of all Americans take some type of dietary supplement — creating a staggering $30 BILLION industry.

And here’s the kicker: supplements are basically doing nothing to make us healthier. Supplement users do not live longer, or die of dreadful illnesses at a lesser rate, than non-supplement users with similar lifestyles. In fact, supplement use may be doing us harm.

The thousands of dietary supplements on the market — including multi-vitamins, individual mega-doses of vitamins and minerals, ayurvedic remedies, herbals, protein powders, etc. — will not keep you from getting wrinkles or cancer. And the most common supplement of them all, a daily multi-vitamin, is not an insurance policy. While people who take a daily multi-vitamin may be healthier than those who don’t, the multi-vitamin is not the reason: it turns out that most multi-vitamin users already have a more well-balanced diet, and are more physically active, than those who don’t. These healthy people don’t need extra vitamins and minerals; by taking them, they simply end up with what we call “expensive urine.”

What’s more, taking supplements cannot replace the naturally occurring combination of nutritious factors found in FOOD. In fact, if you rely too heavily on supplements, you miss out on a ton of nutrition. Synthesized pills can never substitute for whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Food also has a multitude of other non-essential nutrients that offer health benefits such as flavonoids, carotenoids, FIBER, and many other substances that supplements just don’t contain — and that likely work to prevent chronic disease. These nutrients come in foods in natural combinations, many of which we’re still discovering. A pill simply can’t do that. So, to take just one example, skip the fish oil; eat FISH instead.

That’s how supplements are not helping us. But how are they potentially harming us? Watch for a supplement’s claim to fame: this one increases energy, that one enhances performance. Lose weight! Reduce body fat! Relieve symptoms of fatigue and stress! And, of course, the holy grail: take a pill and you can eliminate signs of aging! Oh yes, these supplements are “all-natural.” How, exactly, do we know that these supplements work? We don’t. There is no evidence that most supplements have any of the positive effects their marketers tout — and yet it’s perfectly legal for their marketers to make such pronouncements. Supplement manufacturers can say anything they want about their product, as long as they don’t claim to prevent a specific disease.

Here’s the stark reality. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) treats dietary supplements under the general umbrella of “foods,” just like it would an apple — even though supplements clearly are not food. So, as “food,” supplements aren’t as tightly regulated as drugs and medications are, EVEN THOUGH many users treat supplements as a cure for an ailment — i.e., a drug. The FDA is not empowered to closely monitor a supplement’s contents unless there’s evidence that the supplement is dangerous — and even then, the FDA simply doesn’t have the sheer people-power to monitor all supplements on the market. So what slips through the cracks? False labels (for instance, a bottle of vitamin D labeled as 1000 IU per pill might instead contain 10,000 IU per pill). And contamination — YES, CONTAMINATION — with substances such as lead, mercury, anabolic steroids, etc., leading to serious side-effects and sometimes even death.

Here’s what you should do. Focus on a healthy well-balanced diet and only take a supplement if you have a diagnosed clinical deficiency. And if you must take a supplement, make sure that you buy it from a reputable manufacturer — and try to buy only supplements bearing the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) seal, which indicates random off-the-shelf testing has been conducted to insure integrity, purity, and safe manufacturing. Just don’t be surprised if you don’t find this seal often; as the New York Times recently reported, fewer than 1 percent of the 55,000 supplements on the market bear this label. So buyer beware. And remember that even with a seal, no pill is a magic bullet.



Insulin And Exercise

March 17, 2014 in Notes

Now that you know the basics of insulin and blood sugar, we’re going to talk about a variation…a nice one. Turns out that when we exercise, we cause a fundamental shift in the way our muscles take in glucose. Which makes things much, much better.

Here’s how it works: The muscles still need some insulin to signal the GLUT4 receptors (the darling “buttercups” ) to come to the surface of the muscle cells. But they don’t need near as much. In fact, muscle contraction alone (exercise) causes a cascade of signals inside the cells that pushes the buttercups to the surface, allowing the muscles to take up glucose without any insulin at all. What’s more, muscles that are used to exercising become more “insulin sensitive”—essentially, they need less insulin overall. Your take-home message for the day: Go work out and we won’t have to cut your legs off!


The second message: Don’t drink your calories. There are two great reasons.

First, squeezing fruit and grinding up vegetables into “smoothies” breaks down the fiber. That is exactly what we do not want. In addition, liquids have a much lower “satiety factor” than solid food. You can drink a ton of cola, fruit juice or gin-and-tonics—with a ton of calories—and not feel full. Disaster!

Smoothies and juices are much in vogue these days, as are so-called sports drinks. Bad idea, especially the sports drinks, which you don’t need unless you’re planning to run a marathon or two. Eat real fruit and vegetables instead, and drink water. Your buttercups will thank you.


Vitamin D: Everything You NEED To Know

March 17, 2014 in Notes

What you need to know about Vitamin D:

1. We’ve heard a lot about the “power of Vitamin D,” but what is vitamin D anyway and why all the hype? Simply put, vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin—“essential” because our bodies need it for maintenance and repair and “fat-soluble” because we store excess amounts of it in our fat tissue.

2. Vitamin D has become a hot topic for its apparent protective effects against diabetes, heart disease and cancer, as well as its potential to enhance immune function. Recent studies have also indicated that if you’re overweight or obese, you are more likely to be vitamin D deficient. Now, vitamin D deficiency doesn’t cause people to be overweight. Quite the contrary: your fat tissue just likes to hold onto the vitamin D, making it unavailable when your body needs it.


3. Our greatest source of vitamin D is not from our diets, but from the sun. Sun exposure for as little as 10 to 15 minutes a day provides about 80 to 100 percent of our daily vitamin D needs. In colder climates north of 42° latitude (like in Boston), though, we synthesize absolutely no vitamin D from sun exposure between the months of November and March. The angle of the sun is simply too low to convert the vitamin D precursor that is found in your skin to its active form. Plus, as you get older, your skin becomes less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D, so even if you do get some sun exposure (say, with a midwinter trip to Florida or Los Angeles), you could still be low.


4. Not only is vitamin D sometimes tough to get from the sun in winter, there aren’t many great food sources either. Fatty fish, fortified milk, cereals, and orange juice have some vitamin D, but not enough to meet the latest dietary recommendation of 600 IU/d per day (or 800 IU/d for those over 70).

5. All of this means that for most of us, particularly those of us who live at northern latitudes, our vitamin D levels start to decline in October and reach their lowest levels in March. That makes March the perfect time to get your vitamin D levels tested to see if you are deficient.

6. So, should you take a supplement? This is one of those rare cases where I would suggest considering it. First, ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels—do this today if you think you might be. If you’re deficient, he or she will recommend a supplement. If you can’t get to the doctor right away, a safe daily dose would be 1,000 IU/d (you can find this at your local grocery store). Just don’t take more unless it’s under the guidance of a health care professional.



Challenge: Making A Healthy Dinner Menu For Ten Or More

March 17, 2014 in Notes

Here is an idea for a dinner party that is sane and healthy on the one hand and not coercive on the other. The meal is an invisible compromise… tons of great vegetables and a great salad, so that anyone who cares can comfortably go all veg. But there is also a terrific tenderloin roast (cooked medium rare in less than 30 minutes at 500 degrees) for the others. And — I am ashamed to add — white baguettes and butter on the table.

The veg:

1) Farro with some chopped green onion in it: simply boil farro for 13-15 minutes, to desired texture, drain. Add the green onions. If you can’t find faro, use brown rice. Or fingerling potatoes.

2) Carrots with ginger. Peel, slice and cook carrots until done-totaste (al dente!)… In separate pan, melt a little bit of butter, add some chopped ginger and a teaspoon of brown sugar (the whole thing is only a couple of tablespoons… to add slight taste); add to carrot and stir. Everyone loves these.

3) Baby tomatoes. This is super easy and surprisingly successful. Adds a very different taste and tomatoes are super good for you. Get a couple of boxes of baby tomatoes (miraculously, they have a real tomato taste, year ‘round). Pop ‘em in a frying pan with a little olive oil and melted butter. Cook (barely) and serve at last moment. This is almost a garnish but a wonderful one.

4) Fresh spinach. If you can find it, it’ll be good, at any time of year. Rinse a lot! Cut off stems and boil BRIEFLY in hot water. Add a dab of butter. Rush to table. Only get a little of this… it’s an idea, not a plate-filler.

5) Salad, always the same for me: Boston or bibb lettuce, well cleaned; avocado, more green onions, some endive if you can find it, all tossed in a light French dressing (minced shallots, a little mustard, olive oil, white wine vinegar and a little salt and pepper; the ratio of olive oil to vinegar is a slightly high 3 or 4 to one). Whip up and dress salad at last moment.

Okay, everything but the meat and the farro has to be done at the last moment. That, kids, is a terrific meal… several wonderful things for every taste.

Here’s the big thing. You’re highlighting the veg a lot here… not bullying anyone but presenting the vegetables differently. Lots of ‘em. Some get it, some don’t. Some will go almost all veg… use the meat as a garnish.

Oh… add enough good red wine and no one will know what they’re doing or care. Bon appetit!


Tips For Healthy Eating

March 13, 2014 in Notes

By: Monica Bhide

Nutrition research is constantly changing, but one thing remains the same: if you want to be healthy, you have to eat your vegetables, say Tammy Shames and Lyssie Lakatos, nutritionists and certified personal trainers (and authors of the just-released Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy and Beauty.)

“When you ask someone what they think they need to do to improve their health, they always admit it’s to eat more veggies. But no one seems to do it,” says Tammy. So she and her sister decided they would make it easy: Write a cookbook with chapters (and recipes) devoted specifically to a health or beauty goal.


Feeling stressed? Try one of the recipes in the “Stress Relieving and Tension Taming” chapter. Tummy trouble? Check out the chapter on “Beat the Bloat and Clean the Pipes.”

Vegetables are an excellent way to pack in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber with very few calories, Tammy says. She recommends eating a variety to reap the benefits each has to offer:  Tomatoes—high in vitamin C, lycopene and carotene—are terrific for beautiful skin. Spaghetti squash is notable for lifting your spirits, thanks to its folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin C and tryptophan. And bok choy and beets are the go-to vegetables if you had too many cocktails the night before.

Recipe adapted from The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy, and Beauty by Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, and Lyssie Lakatos, RDN (Skirt!, January 2014)

Recipe and photograph used with permission


February 2, 2014 in Blog, Connection, Exercise, Nutrition

As the supply starts to get a bit low, I tend to look at good days with particular affection and gratitude. Here’s a beauty.

On  the road last week and again next. But wonderful, free weekend…fine Sunday.

Slept late, after a good meal  Saturday night with pals  at a favorite restaurant. The Sunday Times has been at the door since six. Get that, make coffee… get some berries and granola. Hilly comes in… half asleep… looking amazing as always. One of a million, undeserved breaks.  Chat, do the puzzle… plan the day. The plan? Do nothing.

Actually, we pull ourselves together and go to a 10:30 Spin Class at Flywheel. The place is jammed… over sixty people. Mostly women in their thirties. Fit, into it and attractive.  I promise myself not to go nuts but can’t help it.

I am the oldest person in the room by a factor of three. There are walkers or monitors who look out for people in trouble. When I walk in, they light up like Christmas.  I get off at one point to get ear plugs. A monitor rushes over. When I come back she tries to physically  help me onto the bike… poor old fellow. I snarl at her: Go away!  Later, she apologizes to Hilary; “I didn’t mean to insult your father.” Hilary says not to worry, it’s all his fault, he’s  a grump. She is sweet, as always. But ends: He’s not my father,  by the way he’s my husband. The poor girl is speechless.   It  is only with great effort that I do not tell her that the electronic score card in the spin room shows that I was “The third strongest girl.” So crazy about myself. As always.

Outside, we take off the wet, bottom layer… go to the Frick Museum for a terrific exhibit of small  bronzes. Manageable crowds in this,  one of the most intimate, important museums in the world. Then on to super lunch at another good bistro. Home to sit up to neck in deep tub for a while… fool with email. Pull self together, go to pal’s house for the SUPERBOWL.  Life is sweet.  A little short, to be sure, but awfully, awfully sweet.

If you liked the books, and you enjoy the blog…we’re certain you’ll love our newsletter. Click here for more information on the Younger Next Year Newsletter!


January 29, 2014 in Blog


The other day I did a blog about cold weather (“Enough Already!”) about the horrible cold spells we’ve been having and how – at some point – you don’t go out the door to exercise any more. You crawl under the bed and the hell with it. Made great sense.

That very afternoon ,I am ashamed to say, the temperature “soared” to 9 degrees. Then, by heaven, 12 degrees. Hilly and I looked at each other shyly… said, What the hell… and got our stuff and headed out the door. Dressed like esquimaux (sic?) and threw our skis in the back of the car in the blizzard. Oh, I forgot: one reason it was getting warmer is that there was a blizzard. It’s always warmer when it snows.

We drove to a local lake which, we learned, had ice 7 inches thick, thanks to the remarkable cold snap. Good… it’ll surely hold us. Off we went, in the horizontal snow, around the lake. gliding along like Laplanders. Huffing like trains. Blind as snow geese, feeling our way over the snow-covered ice. The snow was coming down at the rate of an inch an hour, on the invisible lake. 

We weren’t the only crazy people around… there were ice fishermen too. They were really dressed for it, because they don’t move.  We were on ‘em before we knew it,  three young guys sitting on little stools, in the blinding snow. Nice surprise. They were pleasant… and they were having a great day… fish biting like crazy. Sweet, badly crazy people, like us,  who couldn’t have been kinder. They warned us about a couple of thermal spots we should avoid… open water. Wished us well and off we shimmered.  Into the snow, across the ice.

It was a teeny bit cold because of the wind.  Okay, gelid. And the snow started to pile up on my mink, fur hat. No problem. The skiing was perfect…glide after glide over the flat surface. And it was stunningly beautiful… a Breugel painting of skaters but  more stark. We only stayed out for an hour… but had an amazing workout… soaked in sweat. Went home and had long soaks in the big tub…then the fire in the living room of the big Victorian. Enough, already. But… we came back for the next two days, too… temperature in the low 10’s. And they were the best days of the winter so far. SO wonderful to be out in this weather. Especially when the temperature soars to 12 degrees. Easy peasey.  ‘Cause we’re crazy.

Oh… and we’re going to New Orleans for a few days today… thaw out.

If you liked the books, and you enjoy the blog…we’re certain you’ll love our newsletter. Click here for more information on the Younger Next Year Newsletter!