As the end of 2023 approaches, it is natural and expected that we think about future goals, new challenges, and the transformations we expect to experience. Although remaining ambitious and maintaining a strong will to improve is crucial, we can’t overlook that we will also be a year older. Therefore, focusing on improving our health, longevity, and vitality should be treated with the same emphasis as our personal and professional growth goals.
Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to all of our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners, wherever you may be in the world. This is your host, Steve Shallenberger. Welcome to the Becoming Your Best podcast show. This is a great time of year, as we end the year and get ready to move into another year. It’s a time of reflection, a time of observation. Recently, just last week, I listened to the Audible book “Do What Matters Most.” This is a book that I co-authored together with my son, Rob. It’s really interesting because the power of this book is in the principles, definitely not in us. Although we are fortunate to put the words in a certain way that may be helpful. But it was absolutely—I’ve gotta say—inspiring and transformational for me. I love to listen to that and “Becoming Your Best: The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders.” And start with a vision in our book on how to effectively plan, create solutions, and take action. As I do so, it just really gets me refocused. But that really happened in spades with “Do What Matters Most” this time, and inspired me to think about my vision and my annual goals, which is the perfect time as we end up and reflect on how we did and the year we’re in now, and as I look forward to the next year. And one of the things I thought about was health, longevity, and vitality. I did a podcast on this particular subject a few years ago when I actually had the opportunity in 2019 to do in-depth research on this subject: health, longevity, vitality, and defying aging. How do we do that? Is that really possible? Well, I had the opportunity to meet with four individuals in person and actually extend that research even more over the last few years. So, this podcast today is going to bring you up to speed, but maybe like me, last week, just having the chance to listen and think about these issues will be inspiring and add to a transformation in your own life.
So as we do this, we’ll really think about some of the things that will help us to increase our energy, vitality levels, strength, and really our overall health. So here are some of the reflections and research that I’ve done. Of course, more recently, there is a book released by Tony Robbins, who co-authored that with Peter Diamandis, MD, and Robert Hariri, PhD, MD — a fascinating book. It really talks about modern-day science and technology that’s available to us right now, and that can extend our life. And that has to do with stem cells, literally organic organ regeneration, growing organs that we have the capacity to do, and also gene therapy and CRISPR, which has to do with stem cell and DNA engineering and splicing, if you will. All of these things, a fascinating book. So much of this is available now, certainly worth listening to and looking at that. Also, I’m going to add to our discussion, the work of Ron Williams, seven-time Mr. Natural Universe. We’ll talk about some of the things that he’s done. So what I’m going to do is give highlight of the essence that I’ve taken from each one of these world-class experts on health and longevity.
The first one is one that I met in 1983, Dr. Russell Jaffe. He really, in our visit together, all those years ago—now, 40 years ago—he talked about having a strong sympathetic and parasympathetic balance. So sympathetic is what gives us the drive, the energy to get things done. But that can be worn out. That’s the engine, that’s the battery that drives us forward. The parasympathetic is what allows us to recharge that battery. So he talked about ways that we could recharge the battery: meditation, particularly taking us through an exercise that was deeper meditation. There are different types of meditation, of course. Some of those you can do in one or just two minutes by closing your eyes, sitting back in your chair, and taking deep breaths. And then a minute or two later, you are refreshed, you’re refocused.
Well, he went into a deeper meditation where you go to a secure place, close your eyes, and get relaxed. When you arrive at this place, this safe, happy, secure place, there’s one of three rooms that you can go to: your inner healer. He talked about and showed the evidence, the research, of how much the body understands about itself, especially when you listen to it. So, the inner healer — you go in and just listen to your body and it will tell you how you’re doing and give you a heads up on things. Or you can go into the inner counselor and seek counseling advice for issues and concerns that you have. You can even have people, both living and deceased, sitting in the room to give you help. In addition to that, there’s the inner self-awareness—just being aware of things that affect your life. This kind of meditation gives you peace and direction. And when you come out, whether it’s eight minutes, 10 minutes, or 15 minutes later, you’ve got clarity of where you’re going, those things that he would say, are what strengthen your parasympathetic system. The other things that Dr. Jaffe indicated are imperative to regenerate the sympathetic system, which gives you the power to do what you do, is a healthy sleep—a good sleep. Also, since our visit, Dr. Jaffe has been working on integrative health. So, pulling all of these factors together.
Now, what I’d like to invite each of us to do is to think about these ongoing threads that are going to have an impact in our lives. What is the regimen that you can add to what you’re currently doing? What thoughts or ideas can you add to your research, to your thinking, and help you set up a regimen that will provide you with greater health, longevity, and vitality? And so, that’s the invitation for this podcast today.
We’ve talked about Dr. Jaffe. Here’s another one, Dr. Mao Shing Ni. We had the opportunity to spend an entire day with him. And since then, I’ve met with him a number of times. He’s marvelous, headquartered in Santa Monica, California. He is an MD, and also a 38th-generation healer of Eastern medicine. He is a brilliant fellow, but very practical, and he’s got some great insights. His dad is 106, and Dr. Mao is actively practicing and really does have great health and vitality. I love visiting with him. Here are some of the recommendations that he would offer and how to achieve these things in our lives. One is to have a regular food and diet regimen. He recommends having intermittent fasting: going from your night meal to your breakfast, let 12 to 14 hours pass, and no water three hours before bedtime, and stop eating before you’re full. Just really great, practical, simple things. I have been practicing this for several years now since I’ve had the chance to be together with him and meet with him. And that’s been really helpful. Now, here are some other things: tend towards a plant-based diet. We’ve certainly heard this; smoothies are a great source of this, and especially with fiber.
Now, I might add that since I’ve done this research, there are also movies and shows that you can watch, such as “The Blue Zone,” where they take you around and interview communities of centenarians, where there are high populations of people who have lived to 100 years old. You’re going to find that many of the things they illustrate in these different episodes are right in line with what we’re talking about today. There are two big parts to our health: one is genetics, we have what we have, but the second part, which also has a huge impact, would be our lifestyle, the practices, and the regimens that we put in place. So, when you start putting all these pieces together, that’s the end game for you is to come up with what works for you, get it clear, and make those a habit.
Let’s go on with Dr. Mal. In addition to what we’ve talked about with him, he recommends maintaining a purpose for living, including strong relationships; enjoy the journey. I love that advice. Another from him is to learn to efficiently flow with your energy and that of others. I’ve seen him, and he really tries to do that as well. Another is to have regular checkups with your doctors. He provides an annual health baseline and really tracks all key indicators, and actually takes the tests that are needed: pictures of your various organs, and calcium tests, which show the propensity or possibility of cardiac health or cardiac arrest, the sick part that you might need to pay attention to. But these are baseline things that are not hard to keep track of. So that’s what we mean by having regular checkups. And know your key medical stats needed for good health. That’s part of what will be taught to you. And then, regularly reading good books will extend your life by three years. So when we met with Dr. Mao, it was a group of close associates; we spent one day with him in Puerto Vallarta. But before we came, he had us take a 100-question assessment of our health and our habits. These all were tied to algorithms which would determine your death date: when are you going to die? At what age? When he came and joined us, he handed out the results from our assessment, saying, “You’re going to die at this age, that age, that age.” It was great. And then he said, “But I’m here to tell you today how you can extend your life by 10 years beyond whatever that is.” That’s exactly what these are designed to do. One thing, for example, that he shared—I took down 35 things that he recommended—one is to take a look at the weight of your car. And if it’s less than 5000 pounds, consider getting a heavier car. Because if you’re in an accident, the sheer laws of physics are: if you’re driving a lighter car, you’re going to be the loser in an accident, especially against a heavier vehicle. So, I went right out and bought a car that was over 5000 pounds. And I’ve been in two accidents: somebody hit me broadside, another person from the side. And in both cases, that really made a difference. I was blessed to just walk away; they were jarring accidents.
The next one is Dr. Mehmet Oz. He is a TV personality. Here are the things that he recommended you can do to have greater health and longevity: keep your blood pressure ideal, which is between 115 over 75. Another thing he recommended is to exercise, on average, 30 minutes a day. Another: have a healthy diet that’s easy to love. Another: have stress control and get regular, adequate sleep. I like this next one: curtail addictions. So, whether it’s sugar, alcohol, drugs, or whatever it might be, curtail your addictions. And last of all: your heart needs a reason to keep beating. So, now you start seeing these common themes that flow through these world-class experts who all approach it from different directions but come to many of the same conclusions.
The next one is Dr. Majid Fotuhi. I met him in Singapore. He is a refugee from Iran. This was many years ago, during the Shah’s reign. When he left Iran, he was a young boy. He ended up at Harvard Medical School, and as a sophomore, he was invited to join the Harvard Medical School faculty. This is a brilliant man; he spent his whole career studying this subject. And I love being together with him and learning from him. Here are his recommendations. He talked a lot about the brain. He actually brought a brain on stage and talked about the hippocampus, that it looks like a little seahorse. That’s the shape of it, and it is what regulates brain health and body health. The larger it is, the more healthy we are; the smaller it is, the more challenged we are with our health and longevity. Then, he talks about the things that can affect the size of your hippocampus. Here are those things: get fit. He talked about the things that enlarge the hippocampus, but also the things that cause it to shrink. And he said obesity is one of the things that causes it to shrink. So, by getting fit, he said, if you walk one mile three times a week, which most people can do, that will increase the size of your hippocampus by 23%. Another one is to generally follow a Mediterranean-type diet. Another is to have omega-3 supplements. Learn new things; he said that learning golf, for example, or a new language increases the size of your hippocampus by 21%. He said that stress and lack of sleep cause your hippocampus to shrink a significant amount. What I was interested in is that he said from 50 years on, your hippocampus shrinks by half a percent a year. And he said that you can change that by doing these things. The next thing is to sleep well. He said this is a huge factor in body health and lifespan. Next is to meditate and take time to be at peace. I love these. And the last one—ding, ding, ding—do any of these sound familiar? It’s to have a purpose. These are excellent.
Now, I mentioned that I spent a little time sharing with you some of the comments about Ron Williams. Ron Williams is amazing. He is a seven-time natural Mr. Universe — no steroids. I have become close friends with Ron. Ron has a number of things that you can find online on YouTube. But he has a number of things he would recommend. One, of course, is along the lines of these other individuals, is to have a healthy diet. He recommended in every meal that you would have three things represented in your meal: carbs, essential fatty acids, and proteins. So, on every single meal you have, be sure those three things are represented. The example that he gave from his research is if you eat an apple just by itself, and that is a carb, then, within 20 minutes, your body absorbs it and it goes straight into fat. On the other hand, if you eat that same apple along with a protein and the essential fatty acid, which can be almonds, or the protein can be an egg or other things you can find. Almonds are a great source of essential fatty acids and have some protein. But you put those three together, eat that same apple, it takes your body four hours to digest that food and it goes straight to metabolism. So, the type of way that you eat is important. Also, I loved his exercise regimen that he has uniquely shared from his experience. And he really recommends both cardiovascular exercises but also strength conditioning exercise. He recommends one of the best ways to do it is through bands. In other words, bands where you have resistance, and it’s easier on your muscles. I love this. He introduced this to me a number of years ago. I had Ron as a podcast guest. And during the show, I asked him, I said, “Ron, I’d like to lose 10 pounds. I’ve wanted to lose 10 pounds for a long time. Maybe some of our listeners share this goal. What’s your advice?” And he gave some advice similar to what we’re talking about today, what I just shared in one way or done. I said, “Ron, really, I’d like to lose 10 pounds.” And he said, “I’ll call you tomorrow.” He called me the next day and he said, “Well, you don’t have to lose 10 pounds.” And I was thrilled and I was overjoyed. He says, “You’ve got to lose 25 pounds.” Oh, my! Well, anyhow, he prescribed the nutritional diet, that’s along the lines that we’ve just talked about, really more plant-based, but lean meats, so not exclusive of some meats, and always having the carbs, essential fatty acids, and the protein.
So, that was one part of it. The other was regular exercise, and I love that. It’s now been six or seven years since we started that, and yes, I did lose the 25 pounds within a few months. Everything came in line, my blood pressure came in line, how I felt, my energy levels, it’s now been six or seven years and I still keep my weight down in that very same range. So, I’ll always be grateful for Ron for these recommendations.
So, there we have it, my friends, these are the things that I wanted to share with you. As you think about them, look at the common themes for the type of food that you eat, Mediterranean type, plant-based. These are not absolutes, you can certainly take breaks and it takes a while to get into it, and there are exceptions, but this is the general rule. But definitely regular exercise and make it exercise that you love. Make your diet one that you love, so that it is sustainable. And then, especially really focus on getting regular sleep, seven to eight hours is a rule, there are a small percentage of our population, 3% to 4%, that can get by on a few hours of sleep each night. I don’t fall within that category. So, get good sleep, but definitely have a purpose. And definitely keep learning. Just like you’re listening to a podcast today. That is a perfect example, reading books on average, at least once a month, do subjects that stimulate your mind and cause that hippocampus to grow.
So, I hope that you have found some ideas that are inspirational and helpful to you. Our invitation to you is now get this down on paper, create your few items that you want to work on, and make those a routine in your life. Some time ago, we talked about it Becoming Your Best morning routine. These just all fit together. When you’re doing your exercise, you can also listen to Audible books, and these things go together. So, you are amazing. We’re so grateful for you. You inspire us. And I admire your efforts to become your best. And I assure you that as you do that, not only does it help you to have greater happiness and joy and prosperity to be at your best, but you also touch so many people for good. So, I thank you for that. And this is Steve Shallenberger, signing off, wishing you the best.
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