I want to be Jack LaLanne

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You’d think by the age of 93 you’d be ready to kick back, take stock of things and reminisce a little. Not Jack LaLanne. The so-called “Godfather of Fitness” is still going full-throttle.

“Everybody thinks about the good old days,” the former host of "The Jack LaLanne Show," a TV exercise program, told me this week over the phone from his company in Morro Bay, CA. “The hell with the good old days! The good old days are right this second! Life’s exciting. Life’s wonderful. Life’s an athletic event!”

That has certainly been the case for LaLanne, who introduced weight lifting to the masses. The indomitable LaLanne has performed feats of strength since 1954. It was then, at the age of 40, that he swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, underwater, with 140 lbs. of equipment, including two air tanks. Other acts of physical fortitude included swimming handcuffed from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf and setting a world record of 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes on TV.

For his 95th birthday in 2009, LaLanne, who has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, hopes to swim 20 miles to Santa Catalina Island from the California coast.

He does these stunts, he said, to prove his philosophy regarding the importance of eating well and exercising, a concept that was, ironically, considered somewhat unhealthy back in the 1930s and 40s. (Encouraging women to lift weights? Egads!)

“Everything, I had to do, I had to prove it,” said LaLanne who prides himself on a diet of raw vegetables, whole grains, brown rice, and only all-natural, fresh everything else. “On my 70th birthday, I towed 70 boats. (People think) this guy must be doing something right.”

How right he is. This guy doesn’t take any medications, only dozens of vitamins and minerals a day, he said. He starts his day with an hour-and-a-half workout: lifting weights for an hour and swimming for half an hour. He also has a handful of promotions, including for his world-famous Power Juicer, Target and Dakim, whose mission is to use cognitive stimulation to improve the quality of life for active seniors. Oh, yeah, and he also just came out with a book, “Fiscal Fitness.” It’s about the importance of physical and financial well-being.

Perhaps more impressive than any of his physical achievements is his attitude. I certainly wasn’t expecting an infectiously upbeat, slightly sassy nonagenarian -- he called me a sex goddess -- for the 30-minute phone interview.

I offered to him that it’s easy to get down as we age, and lose some of that verve for life.

“They don’t have the vitality because they’re lazy!” he shouts. “They get it in their brain that they’re old. If you think you’re an old worn-out poop that’s what you’re going to be. Don’t think of age!”

I don’t know about you, but I’m a believer.

For more on LaLanne, go to his Web site: www.jacklalanne.com.

Some LaLanne-isms:

“Anything in life is possible if you make it happen.”

“Your waistline is your lifeline.”

“If man makes it, don’t eat it.”

“If it tastes good, spit out.”

“Ten seconds on the lips and a lifetime on the hips.”

“Exercise is King; nutrition is Queen. Put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.”
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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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