Fitness Success Stories
MY HEALTH SURPRISE
I am sixty (60) years old and love exercise and being active.
I am a big believer in Clarence Bass--we both have law degrees--and have read many of his books and incorporated many of his ideas and principles in my daily life. I exercise 5 days a week, walk every day with my dogs and eat relatively healthy, and have done so for a long time. I thought I had everything in good order.
Until July of last year.
I found a growth on my scalp and went to my dermatologist to have it checked. The growth was totally benign, but the dermatologist suggested a full body, skin exam.
While doing the exam she was very quiet. Suddenly, she asked how long I've had the growth on my right triceps. I answered flippantly, "I don't know what's behind me.”
She called the growth "very suspicious," but I was still quite indifferent.
She took a biopsy.
Ten days later she called me personally. The growth was a melanoma--and serious.
How can that be? I'm healthy and do everything right.
My world turned upside down.
I was scared.
Within days, I was consulting with a cancer surgeon.
An upbeat amazing doctor, she met with me for a long time, took a detailed history and told me the unwanted visitor had to go. I would need major surgery.
She would have to go into my right armpit and remove lymph nodes, three to be precise, to see if the melanoma had spread to my lymphatic system.
Now I was really scared.
In the days leading up to the surgery, I exercised more than ever and ate properly.
The surgery was a complete success. The lymph nodes removed were all normal and healthy and there was no spread of the cancer in any way. While the surgery removed the melanoma completely, checkups every three months insured that it didn't show up again.
All good, but the most satisfying news was yet to come.
* * *
My surgeon told me that my lifestyle was a Godsend.
I not only came thorough the surgery with flying colors, my immune system was strong. Since no one knows how long the melanoma was on my arm, my immune system did a great job preventing any spread.
She told me that my exercise routine, healthy eating, and healthy lifestyle saved the day for me.
Needless to say, I am back to exercising and eating well.
Folks, please exercise, eat well, and live healthy. Read Clarence Bass’s books. They made the difference for me. Those books gave me a roadmap on a great journey that helped me overcome a deadly cancer.
Blessings and good health to all.
Oliver J. Langstadt
February 1, 2021
Mom Shows How to Avoid Falling
Thank you for asking me to write my Mom's Success Story.
I hope it will inspire and inform others on how performing as little as one exercise for 2 minutes, once a week, can literally be life changing in your senior years. We should, of course, be exercising for more than 2 minutes a week. Exercise should be a life long endeavor. But this is good news for those with limited exercise capacity, or those averse to exercising for whatever reason.
My Mom, Sheila, has always had a positive outlook on life, and has never really let anything knock her down for too long. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and skin cancer when she was 65 in 2000. They caught it early, she had surgery and radiation therapy, and life went on. In 2007, my Dad passed away. They had been married for 49 years. While it took some time to adjust, she has always said “you have to do what you can, while you can." She continued making the best of life. She loves to travel and try new things, such as ziplining [an aerial runway suspended on a cable] and riding horse back in the mountains in her 70's, and more recently she tried stand up paddle boarding and helmet diving at age 79 and 80.
Then life threw something at her, which made it more difficult to do the things she enjoyed. She started falling. At first they were occasional, usually when she was outside going for a walk. By the time she was 83, they were more frequent and started to happen in the house. The last fall she had, her leg buckled and she fell hitting her face on the kitchen counter. The emergency room doctor at the hospital ran some tests, and while she was banged up, thankfully she was okay. Mom had been to physiotherapy in the past, but it did not seem to be the answer. The way things were going, she was going to end up needing a walker. There was always the worry for me that she was going to fracture her hip, and that often does not end well.
I have had an interest in health and fitness since joining the local YMCA nearly 40 years ago as a teenager, and have read countless studies and articles over the years. I knew Mom's legs were weak, likely due to age related muscle loss, something that happens to all of us. I also knew this could be reversed with strength training. Whatever exercise she did, it needed to be something she could do at home with minimal equipment. As it turns out, the bodyweight chair squat was ideal, and it closely matches regular daily activities such as walking and getting up and out of a chair.
Mom had never done any strength training before, and was rather averse to it. But she was more averse to losing her independence and ability to do the things she enjoyed. So, after getting her doctor's okay, I convinced her to do one set of chair squats using a kitchen chair, with a shoulder width stance and her arms out in front of her for balance. She stood up from a seated position and then sat down again, repeating until she could not do anymore in a controlled manner, once a week. (We warned her to stop if she had any chest pain, dizziness, or nausea.)
She continued doing the one set of chair squats once a week, gradually increasing the number of repetitions as she progressed. As time went on she did squats without a chair, or holding a 10lb weight plate.
It has been nearly 2 years since Mom started doing squats. She has never had a fall! She does not need a walker, or cane, and has retained her independence and ability to enjoy life to the fullest.
All this from 2 minutes of exercise a week! Of course if one is frail and/or in their senior years, a loved one or friend should supervise them while doing the squats, as I did with my Mom. Also, it is important to breathe in while sitting down and exhale when standing up; holding your breath can cause dizziness.
Lastly, one needs to consume a balanced diet with high quality protein in every meal, to help build muscle and increase strength. A doctor or dietitian can advise on this.
Always consult with your doctor before starting to exercise or changing your diet.
* * *
Mom was so motivated by the new found strength in her legs, that 9 months ago, in her 85th year, she started doing a full body resistance training workout centered around multi-joint exercises once a week. Two months later, on a different day, she started a once weekly cardio workout, based on the Graded Exercise Protocol (GXP), described in Richard Winett's Master Trainer.
Like she always says “you have to do what you can, while you can.”
Continued health, and success to you all,
Phil Nicholls, Hamilton,
February 1, 2021
I started lifting weights in 1983, the year we moved from Germany to Canada. In 1984, I started reading your column in M&F and subsequently ordered your book Ripped, along with a tank top and shorts.
I have been following your fitness journey since and needless to say, you have been quite an inspiration for my health and fitness training goals.
At almost 54, slightly older than you when I first read about you, I saw your recent interview on Rx Muscle and am glad to see you are doing well.
My wife Dorothy and I are traveling the Southwest US on the way to Mexico in our self converted and contained home on wheels, a former FedEx delivery truck. We are likely passing through Albuquerque in April, on our way back to Ontario. I am wondering if you would be interested in meeting with us?
Kindest regards and best wishes,
* * *
Hello Again Clarence,
We made it into Mexico without any problems, crossing at Lukeville AZ. Since then the world has gone crazy with the shutdowns; we don't know when we will be able to head back to Ontario, nor do we think there is any benefit for us to be there, given the local situation.
So far everything is still pretty sane here in San Carlos, extra precautions are taken, but our grocery choices and supplies remain available. Everything still feels safe, everyone is still courteous and kind. The south of Mexico is a different story with local uprisings. Except for protests at the Nogales border, Sonora seems to be just fine.
We were looking forward to meeting with you and Carol. Although you weren't my initial inspiration to start weight lifting, you were the major inspiration for my direction in fitness training. I loved seeing your progress through the years, as maintaining physical performance and functional longevity has become my priority.
I am not sure when we will travel back north, so I thought I'd send pictures of our FedEx house on wheels and my exercise set up.
Kindest regards and best wishes,
with son Dharius
May 1, 2020
Ripped Enterprises, P.O. Box 51236, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87181-1236
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