An Invitation to my 120th Birthday Celebration.

Having taught 39 years, my last words to my students on the final day of my career were: "You're all invited to my 120th Birthday.
Celebrate it by skiing with me."

I think it was Sara who shot up her hand saying: "Wait, wait." (pausing for a quick calculation) "I'll be 77 years old!"
"Don't worry." says I, "I'll slow down for you!"

During the 40 years I've studied Anatomy and Physiology and brain research, much has been published about slowing or eliminating the negative aspects of aging. In the next few years you'll begin to hear more frequently, medical discussions about living a high quality life to 120 and beyond. Personally, I plan to squeeze up every savory drop along the way, and this be the log of that journey.

The journey: At 44 I had a mild heart attack, like a two by four, reminding me to take better care of my body. I instructed my cardiologist to: "be more aggressive with me than any patient in his history." He immediately ordered me into a program of cardio work outs 5-6 days a week.

At 59, I learned I needed to correct a Kyphosis, an over-curvature of the upper back probably from a combination of slouching and aging. Here was my first lesson about the critical importance of our backs for continuing health and well being. In 2006 I realized that I'd need to engineer a comprehensive plan to optimize the quality of my life to 120. "Never limit yourself." was a central lesson for my students.
Up until 2001, my students heard me say: "My plan is to happily and vigorously live to 120. Then I realized I'd been limiting myself so I changed the mantra to 120 AND BEYOND.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

My Friend Yuji Chapter 1

I went to Japan in search of the land of my mother's parents. Along that journey I met Sohji and his father Yuji Ishihara, a hidden genius who could solve the most impenetrable mysteries. This is about My Friend Yuji, who became my brother.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Healthspan. Once there was talk about lifespan, but here we focus on maximal HEALTHSPAN, optimizing health and well being in order to enjoy a longer lifespan without avoidable disabilities. Watch this video for clues on what can be done to protect your cognitive reserve.

What you can do to prevent Alzheimer's by Lisa Genova

Monday, January 13, 2014

I believe everyone should have at least one mentor, someone wiser, or more expert in the habits of who we are planning to become.

I'm about to take on a second mentor to guide me along this path. . .
Stay tuned.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Most of us take our health and well being for granted until . . .

Increasing low back pain over a year led to a "9 TO 10 on the Zero to 10 PAIN SCALE". Something had to be done. I'll tell you that story in a moment, but first . . .

What's the point of living a long life if we can not  luxuriate in the pleasures, no matter how great or small, all along our journey.
No one ever said from their death bed: "I wish I'd spent more time at work." So let's do something fun, something pleasurable, something to treasure, every day. Try a new recipe, do something novel for your hungry brain.  If we don't, then who will?

"It's not time for the 'S' word.  SURGERY IS THE LAST OPTION" --Willian Dillin, M.D.

I started with William Dillin, M.D. who completed the Neurosurgery and Orthopaedic Spinal Surgery Fellowship at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia in July 1985. His practice is devoted exclusively to spine surgery.
His first recommendation was physical therapy, saying surgery would only be the last option, but the condition remained progressive over a year of PT. When my pain reach 9-10, surgery became the last option. I asked my family doctor for referrals and consulted with his top three recommendations asking them about their surgical success rates. Dr. Dillin had the highest surgical success rate.
Dr. Dillin, explained that this X-ray shows 7mm of anterior (forward) displacement and misaligned lumbar vertebrae that should be positioned one directly above the other. That vertebral displacement was now putting pressure on my L-5 spinal nerve and causing inflammation, pain, and possible neurologic loss. It was now time for surgery.

The day I was to call to schedule that surgery, a friend recommended  Dr. McCowin, D.C. and Corrective Care for back problems. I scheduled a consult at her clinic (now the OC Medical and Disc Institute in Irvine)  where she practices Non-surgical treatment designed to identify and correct the underlying problems which cause pain and suffering.

There, I learned Dr. McCowin employs the Pettibon System, Corrective Care, which concentrates on muscle memory to retrain the body to hold the spine where it should be to promote lasting correction and pain relief.

PROGNOSIS: Dr. McCowin, examined my X-rays and determined that "Corrective Care" could have me back skiing by the end of December! Treatment would proceed in two phases.
I learned that I'd been holding my head 31 mm. too far forward, a position that had flattened the natural cervical neck curve. Over the years that has caused a cascading effect that has contributed to my severe lower back pain and spondylolisthesis.

TREATMENT: Phase one, physical therapy to train my brain to hold my head in the proper position and use muscle memory to keep it there. Decompression treatments would help restore intervertebral disks. Adjustments by Dr. Dunkley would physically manipulate the vertebrae and move them back toward an optimal position. Additional elements of the treatment will be added shortly.

The xray below shows my flattened cervical curve before treatment.
This corrective treatment is based upon the key principles of the Pettibon system:

~Gravity is an absolute environment to which the upright spine and posture of humans must develop and relate.
~There is an absolute optimal position for the upright spine and posture.
~Consider the skull as a vertebra. The only vertebra that knows its neurologically optimal position and has the ability to establish and maintain that posture.
~Posture is controlled neurologically. Righting reflexes and the cerebellum regulate the skull's upright position—keeping the skull upright even at the expense of displacing the lower spine.

After 20 Pettibon System visits and treatments, visible improvement can be seen in the xray below, showing a 31 mm to 18 mm. correction of the cervical curve with the ideal being 0 mm or my head positioned exactly above the vertebral column.
Comparing the two xrays illustrates more of a cervical curve in the lower photo, half way home!
My skeptical brain questions the numbers but the absence of pain tells me that the Pettibon approach is working.

July 28, 2011, I've been exercising the muscles that position the spine and using muscle memory to correct the misalignment and relieve 90% of the pain. As of January, 2012 it appears that surgical intervention is unnecessary. Great news considering:

68% SURGICAL FAILURE RATE: In a comprehensive set of studies carried out by the University of Washington School of Medicine, it was determined that the outcome of lumbar fusion performed on injured workers was worse than reported in most published case series. They found 68% of lumbar fusion patients still unable to return to work two years after surgery.

Source: Outcome of Lumbar Fusion in Washington State Workers' Compensation
Franklin, Gary M. MD, MPH; Haug, Joanna MSc; Heyer, Nicholas J. PhD; McKeefrey, S. P. MN; Picciano, Joseph F. BA

In December, I elevated my computer screen six inches (photos soon) to position the center of the screen at the same level as my eyes and places my head in an optimal position.

For those of us spending hours on a computer, sitting up straight is an critically important habit for Optimal Living to 120 and Beyond.

AVOIDING SURGERY: Optimal quality of life is part maintaining optimal physiological levels and part informed decision making. Avoiding surgery for example had benefits that were two fold:
1. a significant percentage of surgical patients do not experience reduced back pain and need follow up surgery within 5 years.
2. There are risks of permanent neurologic loss associated with anesthesia that would diminish cognitive function and negatively impact my goal of enjoying life to the maximum. Carpe diem!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One piece of equipment.


The core, (center of gravity) is where all body movement originates. This cylindrical group of muscles** should be on at low levels all the time in preparation for action and motion from simply picking up a pencil to swinging a golf club.

Using a foam roll to stabilize your core will improve your posture and protect you from low back pain and sports injuries.  Come back next week for a foam roll video that life long will maximize your quality of life, especially if you spend time in front of a computer screen.

As for 120 and Beyond,
it's my way of shattering the old paradigm pairing infirmity and aging.
Instead, let's take care of our bodies for a high quality of life for the remainder of our days. Carpe diem, Seize the day, every day.

If you've been sitting at your computer for a while,
notice the tilt of your head, the position of your back.
Remember our mother's admonition?
"Sit up straight."
If you sit up straight, notice the delta, between where you were and sitting up straight. Over a lifetime, that small difference in posture leads to that all too common back pain as we get older.

Laying with your spine on a foam roll 5 minutes a day, allows gravity to return our upper back to a more optimal posture, countering the way we round our backs as we work or sit.
We should hold our bodies as do
the Maasai, standing, sitting tall.

Little things, optimal life.

** Core muscles: transversus abdomnis, multifidus, diaphragm, and pelvic floor. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

New developments...

in medicine, exercise physiology, brain science, and physical therapy are rapidly transforming our view of how the human body can me maintained at optimal levels.  One quick example: at this very moment, you're reading, learning, you're in the process of growing brand new dendrites, the nerve branches that connect brain cells as new learning takes place. Follow this blog and you'll learn how to grow new dendrites to replace brain cells die during the natural aging process.  Prior to these developments, people aged without accelerated dendritic growth. As years passed, evidence of diminished mental capacity became visible.  No more. With mentally challenging activities like playing instruments, learning new languages, new dendrite growth is stimulated at rates that can maintain high level functioning far beyond 100.

BRAIN MAY AGE FASTER IN PEOPLE WHOSE HEARTS PUMP LESS BLOOD. American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal Report
Click on Study Highlights below to read entire article.

Study highlights:
Keeping your heart healthy may slow down brain aging.
Cardiac index, a measure of heart health, is linked to diminishing brain volume, a sign of brain aging.
Brains may age faster in people whose hearts pump less blood.

Researchers say that that aerobic and resistance training exercise is a promising strategy for combating cognitive decline and that this been shown to enhance mental performance in people as they age.

IN CONCLUSION: In order to optimize life, it's increasingly important to include exercise 3-5 times a week, for a better experience in your coming years....

Old School.

Think of the oldest person you've ever seen. Zoom in on that image. Now dissolve that old school image because a very high quality of life is now available to you, one that will allow you to hike, dance the tango, ski or engage in other physical activities on your 120th birthday and beyond while enjoying a high quality of life along the way.

The speaker, Aubrey de Grey is Chief Science Officer of the SENS Foundation (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence). SENS is one of the many sources you'll be hearing from in the years to come.

Here is a prime example of Grey's point of view.
Kevin Stone treats joint injury using the new developments in bio-medicine: reconstructing damaged tissue or replacing whole joint parts, with lab-grown ligaments and cartilage, hereby ushering in the transition from hardware prosthetics like an artificial knee to FDA approved bio replacement using your own stem cells. These developments will prevent arthritis from immobilizing millions of active people.

As you follow this blog, you'll pick up clues that will position you for a lifetime where every day is better than the last. In the clip below, Daniel Kraft, pediatric cancer doctor, introduces the idea of banking your younger, healthier stems cells for use in the future.