“Always find something to laugh about.” – John Siudmak, MD
I want to share a conversation I recently had with my father, John. First, he is 92 years young in 2 months, active and alert, and in great health. Check out this photo from last month. In fact, he has not had a cold or flu since 1993, when he retired as a doctor. Yes, he actually remembers the date of his last cold. When he told me this, a spark in me was ignited. I decided to ask him to reveal some of his secrets for longevity. At first he laughed. Then we had a few beautiful conversations on this topic.
So here is a brief overview of some of what my father shared. Over the years, I’ve witnessed most of what he told me. There was a difference though listening to him talk about it now, realizing his lifestyle choices have been intentional all along.
Eat well and watch your weight. He usually eats two meals a day and snacks on nuts or whips up something is his new toy…a Nutribullet. For breakfast he likes a huge bowl of cereal, combining 7 grains with flax seed and wheat germ, and 4 different fruits. His other choice is oatmeal or farina together with eggs and toast. Herbal teas with lemon and honey accompany every meal to aid in his digestion. He cooks his own freshly made dinner and believes in eating a lot of salmon, salads and fresh vegetables. Occasionally before his 5:30 pm dinner, he enjoys a shot of vodka with Stilton (smelly moldy) cheese. This is surely an acquired taste food.
Stay active and keep moving daily. Get out and do things you enjoy whether it’s going to the theatre, concerts, movies or just a walk in the park. He exercises every morning for 45 minutes before breakfast. He can still do 100 one-arm curls with 25 lbs. Up until 2 years ago, he was able to leg press up to 300 lbs.
Relax. Don’t stress. Don’t complain. He is a strong advocate for sleeping 8 hours and taking a nap when he is tired. Not creating stress in the body or letting things bother him is important. He believes many people are not even aware how stress is affecting their lives. Meditation has been his answer to both relaxation and coping with stress. I have never known my father to be a complainer. He does not think constant complaining is time well spent. As Jules Renard states, “It’s not how old you are, it’s how you are old.”
Listen to music. He says the music you listen to must be pleasing to the ear. Besides being a doctor, he is also a classical pianist and plays the piano daily. Music is a mainstay in his life. He says, “I feel sorry for those who do not love and fully appreciate music.”
Continue to learn. Keep exercising the brain to stay mentally sharp. Learn something new every day. He is an avid reader and life-long learner. Managing his own stock portfolio is a daily ritual he enjoys. He researched his unknown Polish ancestry completing his family tree history with a sense of accomplishment. Meet new interesting people outside your retired profession or work. Finding out more about them and their interests he says will help improve brain functioning.
Be conscientious. He enjoys being neat and tidy, organized and positive, and takes pride in his appearance. There is no clutter in his spotless home. His self-respect shows. He frowns on being late and does not believe in rushing around or being hurried, so he is also at least 15-minutes early for everything.
Laugh. He has said on many occasions, “Always find something to laugh about.” Do nice things for others that make them smile and laugh. Even though this is last on the list, my father considered laughter and happiness to be extremely important for your outlook on life. So I share with you the late Joan Rivers’ humor. “You know why I feel older? I went to buy sexy underwear and they automatically gift wrapped it.”
I hope my father’s words of wisdom and life examples have been encouraging and supportive. I’ve come to realize how much my father has influenced my core beliefs, which in turn, has played a huge part in my life’s purpose in supporting others’ on their path toward health and wellbeing. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.