Random thoughts on a variety of subjects
By Sam Redman
It is so sad to learn that Jack LaLanne has died. I liked him a lot.
But, I had already felt this same sadness several months ago when I saw a snapshot of him sitting with his son, in a full multi-megapixel photo taken perhaps six months ago in a restaurant near his home in California, showing him in close up crystalline detail. When I saw the photo, I had commented that I was very disappointed to discover that he, at age ninety-five, looked very much like many other men whom I have known who have been fortunate enough to make it into their mid-nineties, nothing spectacular and certainly not a model of the secrets of the preservation of youth. He definitely appeared (from the photo) capable enough to be sitting on his own in a public place without assistance and even bright eyed and happy. But he looked like a typical 95 year old (even somewhat frail) and really not any better than many other similarly active nonagenarians I have known. What was shocking to me (as someone who has been fascinated with LaLanne’s health guru empire over the years) was that he didn’t look like anyone who had discovered answers to the hidden mysteries or the methods of preserving the radiance and energy of youth.
A nice photo of Jack LaLanne in his nineties:
Now the reason for my dismay stemmed from having seen photos and videos of him in his seventies, which did give that “youthful secret” impression to a great extent. However, as I approach the “golden” age of 70 myself (just turned 69 a few months ago), from my own “health trip” experiences and having met and talked with many very healthy people in their seventies, who simply exercise moderately and follow a medically acceptable dietary regimen, I find that looking similar to the way Jack LaLanne appeared at that age, achieving (or maintaining) a somewhat youthful robustness, is quite common and easily attainable. Actually many of those I have met could pass for men in their fifties if they chose to maintain such a deception. Of course, a lot of their state of being (and my own health) may be not be due to good health practices, but the benefits of favorable genetics and the good fortune of not being exposed to environmental situations which could cause debilitating and crippling illnesses.
And while I have observed and known these dynamic, youthful septuagenarians, I have yet to know anyone in their mid to late nineties who, although appearing pleasantly healthy and capable, didn’t look their age (the way Jack LaLanne looked in that recent photo).
A great image of Jack LaLanne at 71:
So, as I said, I was saddened then… because, like some others have posted, I have always wished the best for him and was always hopeful that somehow Jack had truly discovered that fountain of youth and that he would still show that age defying robustness in his nineties (and into his hundreds) and be looking like he did in his seventies. But, he didn’t; he looked very old (just like you might expect of someone his age).
I still believe that it is very wise to follow good health measures, living moderately and exercising appropriately, because I have experienced those benefits myself (and people often say… “I can’t believe you are almost seventy,” although perhaps they are just stroking my ego). But, from what I have seen in those who make it into their eighties and nineties, it seems apparent that practicing all the disciplines (at least what is currently known) doesn’t yet provide a way to avoid the inevitable ravages of old age. Jack LaLanne’s experience has been quite a senescence reality check for me.
Although really, I suppose that such an epiphany is just another step in what some people call, “discovering one’s own mortality.”