The Stars of All Star McDougaller's
While packing up my sails and boards for a trip to the Pacific
Ocean for an afternoon of windsurfing I asked my father-in-law,
"Would you like to go, I have an extra board?" His
response was, "I can't swim." I continued,
"If you could swim and knew how to windsurf, would you
go at 90 years old?" Reassuringly, he said to me, as
he was sawing a piece of oak board to encase the dining room
window, "You bet. I feel so good most days I would have
no trouble." That's what I wanted to hear
that if I took good care of myself I could do the things I
wanted when in my 90s.
Health wasn't always so good for Pat and Marge Luyk
(also 90 years old). When Mary and I were first married 31
years ago, they were both about 30 pounds heavier than they
are today. Each year when they visited us in Hawaii, Pat would
ask me to do some x-rays on his intestines because he was
always in pain. Fortunately, the upper and lower GI x-rays
were always normal and after staying with us (and our healthier
diet) for about 4 days his stomach pains would disappear each
time. Mother-in-law (Marge) had lots of arthritis in those
days, which also, by no coincidence, improved each time they
visited us. They were still resistant to our mostly vegetarian
diet and each time they returned to home they resumed their
old food habits and their old aches returned.
Almost 30 years ago, I diagnosed prostate cancer during a
physical examination on Pat. I explained to them that it would
be better to ignore this finding and do nothing, but eat well.
They are people of great faith and decided that this was a
sensible course of action especially after I told them
he has a good chance of becoming incontinent after the treatment
(might have to wear a diaper or catheter), and had no chance
of living longer.
Their diet remained "on again and off again" until
the "elephant sat on Pat's chest" in 1984.
His heart attack destroyed the entire front side of his heart.
This was a teaching moment. I went to the hospital in Grand
Rapids, Michigan (from Hawaii) and clearly told his cardiologist
that we had no interest in any further tests or bypass surgery.
From the day he left the hospital they have eaten, with very
few exceptions, the McDougall Diet. They lost weight and both
became more mobile. Aside from a few small accidents, mother
remains in excellent health. Dad's prostate cancer did
give him a little trouble in 2000. We went to the urologist
because he was having some difficulty urinating. After the
examination, the doctor told me with a sad face that my father-in-law
had prostate cancer. I told him I made that diagnosis almost
30 years ago. He agreed that no treatment was the best option.
A little anti-testosterone medication has opened his system
so that his urine passes normally these days.
They are fully active and were travelers on our trip to Alaska
in June of 2002. In fact, mother cannot stop talking about
how she went kayaking at 90. They are presently spending a
few weeks with us, as they do twice a year. If you ever attend
a clinic with us in Santa Rosa and they are here, you will
meet them. Or if you go on a McDougall Adventure trip you
will enjoy their company. I love to show them off and brag
about their found health. They realize that time is precious
and that they will be passing on soon I guess that
is best reflected in the fact that they will only lease their
new cars for 2 years at a time these days.
My father and mother-in-law serve as a
reminder to me that life is worth living when we can enjoy it
in good health. At 90 years old they can do anything most 20 year
olds can do. They are also proof that it is never too late to
turn things around they did it 18 years ago when they were
young at 72 years old.
One of their main problems in life is all
of their friends have died or are in nursing homes. Fortunately,
their mental health is as good as their physical health and they
socialize with people a whole generation younger.
You may be wondering about my parents?
They are both active and healthy in their early 80s. Now how many
grandchildren can say they are enjoying all 4 grandparents, who
are alive and well? It is not just for ourselves that we must
stay healthy, but also for those precious people around us
So now is a good day to start the only
rejuvenating plan I know about a plant-based, low-fat diet
and exercise. And it is also a great day to help the ones you
love get started. Maybe changing your diet and lifestyle is not
easy but considering the enjoyment Pat and Marge Luyk get
out of life, who could argue it is not worth it?