If you've been fortunate to have spent time in England, the article becomes even more humorous. Anyway, it's a good read and a good laugh and may, who knows, motivate some to set health and fitness goals.
For those of you looking for a funny article on fitness, go to the site of The New Yorker magazine - www.newyorker.com. In the June 30, 2014, issue you'll find a memorable story by David Sedaris, Stepping Out, about his experience with the fitness wrist band called Fitbit. Designed to measure how many steps you take daily, Fitbit challenges the sedentary to become active, a worthy goal in today's society where obesity weighs (Sorry for the pun) mightily on our heavy national debt, which becomes heavier with each pound gained. God only knows how many pounds we collectively gain each second.
If you've been fortunate to have spent time in England, the article becomes even more humorous. Anyway, it's a good read and a good laugh and may, who knows, motivate some to set health and fitness goals.
As those of you who read this blog know, LifeNuts is more than healthy eating and exercise, both of which are difficult if you don’t have the time or money. Working three jobs to pay the bills doesn’t leave much time for exercise. And, even though buying unhealthy food is often more expensive than buying healthy food, the poor in America are often much more obese than those more affluent. Go figure.
So a few financial tips today.
1. Develop a budget and start saving. Discipline yourself. Many, many people with good jobs end up in debt. Why? They simply want to keep up with the Joneses, they don’t have a budget, with high incomes they get easy credit, and they spend more than they make. When they reach their 60s, they’ve lost that energy of youth and they realize they
must keep working whether they want to or not. The Boomer generation is a good example: most have more debt than assets.
2. Start a power account, which is money you don’t touch, money for retirement, as you transition into another part of your life. I recommend putting 10-30 percent of your income into this
account each month.
3. Learn the investment game and invest in only what you understand. If you like real estate investing, study it and start at the bottom. Maybe buy a small house; fix it up; and rent it. Learn
how to repair it. If you like the stock market, mutual funds, or ETFs, learn about them.
4. You don’t need a Ph.D. to become a successful investor or a millionaire. I like the example of the
millionaire mommy next door. A high school grad, working as a night waitress, she took charge of her life. Google her for the website. She set goals and reached them, even though it took awhile.
5. If you trust your money to an investment specialist, good luck. I’ve known many who have lost serious dollars to these “professionals.” They get paid on how much you invest, not on how much
of a return they make for you. That’s right: if they lose money, they still get a percentage of your portfolio. What a racket! And, most don’t beat the S&P 500 index. You can buy Vanguard’s ETF or their Index 500 fund, with a miniscule charge, and do better than most paid money managers. It’s
6. Avoid investment sharks. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There have been and there will always be get-rich-quick deals. P.T. Barnum commented on “suckers” being born
every minute. Don’t be one. When famous money managers got caught (Madoff, Stanford), their client list became public: well-known celebrities, athletes, prominent citizens. They got greedy, wanting a good return each year, and heard about these guys from their celebrity friends. And, they were “too busy” to manage their own money. Trust me, buying a Vanguard index fund is a no-brainer.
7. Invest monthly and invest well. Read about how Warren Buffet was successful. He wasn’t a day trader. He didn’t sell when the market tanked. He won’t be around forever but his legacy will. Read the book, The Intelligent Investor. Buffet didn’t write it but it’s his favorite.
Good luck. I’ll be back in July or August. It’s been a busy summer.
Yesterday 52-year-old Iain MacGregor, a caddy for a European Tour golf
professional, collapsed on their last hole and died. Heart attack. Moderately
obese fellow. Everyone shocked.
This morning on the Golf Channel news program, PGA Tour official, Mark
Russell, commented on an obscure rule – in reference to Justin Rose and the
weekend tournament. Mr. Russell is also moderately obese and is often seen on golf telecasts. Other rules officials have similar waistlines.
Also this morning I read an article in the May issue of Golf Digest: “It’s True: Golf Makes You Live Longer.” The article referred to a Swedish report that studies golf-federation data and government death certificates to compare golfers and non-golfers who died in a 15-month stretch. They discovered that golfers lived five years longer than non-golfers.
The article also referred to 111-year-old Ethan Shelton, the oldest known golfer in the world. He plays golf about a dozen times a year. But Ethan’s life didn’t involve golf until he was 72, the age when he took up the sport. He was a barber and founded Shelton Farms in Michigan and had seven children. So golf bloomed late in Ethan’s busy life.
Why would golf add years to life? Sociability. Living an isolated life leads to an early death. And, golf provides purpose in life, what the Japanese call ikigai, a strong factor in their long lives. And maybe exercise, although that’s stretching the band somewhat. The Swedish study mentioned walking. Well, most golfers in the US take golf carts. And most of them are overweight or obese. Most in the UK and Ireland walk. Some carry their own bags. So, yes, that kind of golf gives some aerobic benefit. But not much.
Consider our caddy, the 52-year-old, who dropped dead during the tournament. He carried a bag weighing 40 to 50 pounds over at least four miles each day. Those miles often involve climbing hills. If you count two practice rounds and four tournament rounds, Iain did this six days a week, which is far more activity than the average recreational golfer gets, especially if using a golf cart. Yet, he died, a full 30 years before the average male in Monaco dies.
He was obese. Yet, another example of the battle between obesity and heart function. The runner-author Jim Fixx reasoned that he could enjoy his fat-laden cheeseburgers as much as he wanted as long as he could run a marathon in under four hours. Dr. Nathan Pritikin cautioned that a high-fat diet would lead to arterial plaques, which could dislodge during extreme exercise and get
stuck in the heart or brain, causing a heart attack or stroke. Fixx died, as Pritikin predicted, during a long training run. Massive heart attack. That was in 1984, seven years after he wrote the best seller, The Complete Book of Running. He was 51.
What have we learned in the last 30 years? Did Jim’s death teach us anything? That running can cause heart attacks? That running is bad for you? That saturated fat is bad for your arteries? Apparently Americans, and a lot of Europeans, didn’t learn too much. Today less than one
percent of the population has finished a marathon, that despite a running boom. And, in America, the country that spends more per capita on health care and yet ranks 35th in life expectancy, nearly 80 percent are overweight or obese. We like our fatty foods, our salt, and our sugar. And our waistlines reflect our diet and our lack of exercise.
In the Golf Digest article, there was a single quote on eating: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Michael Pollan, a “food activist,” recommended a “mostly” plant-based diet. But that was it – a solitary reference to one of the most important factors in longevity. Pollan, a professor of
journalism at Berkeley, writes books on food but has missed the target on a long, healthy life when he advocates fats. All centenarian studies, and there are now many of them, show that these populations eat a plant-based diet – for one reason or another. Research studies confirm this. For a more in-depth look at this, listen to a DVD, called Forks Over Knives, featuring one of America’s most brilliant medical researchers, Dr. Neal Barnard.
To complete this blog, I’ll mention benefits of running (or any intense aerobic activity), taken from the May issue of Runners World, which I read yesterday while waiting for my wife as she shopped for shoes and dresses, a true act of love on my part. She said that having me with her for this two-hour session was her best mother’s day present ever. So what can running do for you?
1. Burn calories and lose pounds.
2. Live longer. Even 30 minutes of aerobic running a day, five days a week, is significant.
3. Avoid cancer.
4. Feel happier. You’ll sleep better and have better concentration.
5. Beat senility. Yes, running increases circulation in the brain and prevents brain shrinkage, proven by Scottish scientists who took MRIs of 700 people they’ve been tracking since the 1940s. They’ll repeat the MRIs and publish again. Journal of Neurology.
6. Protect knees and bones. Oh yeah, studies show that serious runners have less joint dysfunction than minimal runners or walkers. Sorry to disappoint all of you who think runners will wind up on crutches when they’re old.
LifeNuts advocates six days a week of intense aerobic exercise. But, if you’re obese, you must proceed slowly and, especially if you’re taking medications, be monitored by a physician. If you’re in the 80 percent of overweight or obese Americans, you should realize that your arteries contain
dangerous plaques, which exercise and a plant-based diet can reverse. Nothing else works. If pills worked, you wouldn’t see any fat doctors. If diets worked, people would stay on them. The only thing that works is a complete lifestyle change. Start now before you wind up like Mr. MacGregor.
I recently read an article in a dental magazine – yes, though retired I still read them – about seven “simple” steps to get in shape.
1. De-junk your house. Get rid of the junk food. A hundred extra calories per day can lead to an annual gain of 10 pounds. Yuck.
2. Count your steps. Walk. He recommends a goal of 10,000 steps per day. This is a good start. LifeNuts recommends six hours of intense aerobic exercise each week. Start slowly.
3. Eat slowly. OK but eating meat and dairy is a more important issue. And eating five small meals a day helps, too.
4. Water. Drink, drink, drink. Lots of this low calorie refreshment.
5. Sleep. Seven to eight is good. Less than seven leads to weight gain. Not tired, try working out on your lunch hour or before work.
6. Muscle. If we don’t do strength training, we’ll lose muscle mass gradually. This also burns calories.
7. Mind games. Luminosity is worth it.
Other important issues in staying healthy are maintaining close relationships with your friends and loved ones and managing stress well. Of course, with a good financial foundation, all this is difficult. Which leads me once again to the discussion of health and money.
In watching the CNBC early morning show, Squawk Box, I am amazed that over 90 percent of the guests are either overweight or obese. These guests are usually extremely financially successful and range in age from their 20s to their 80s. Since they can easily afford a personal trainer, why don’t they hire one? They know that their obesity is a problem, yet they choose that lifestyle. Perhaps they schedule themselves so tightly that there’s no time for exercise or healthy eating. You know, it’s nearly impossible to eat healthily at restaurants. Chefs and restaurateurs know that Americans love salt, sugar, and fat. That’s their key to making meals “taste” good.
I also read another magazine, Men’s Health, published by Rodale, a health and fitness publishing company. The article, What’s Really Making Us Fat? – in the March issue, implied that genetics may play a factor in obesity. Maybe. But, there’s no question that exercise and a plant-based diet can override any genetical code that leads to being overweight. Same thing for avoiding mental deterioration, as well documented in Dr. Barnard’s book, Power Foods for the Brain. I chuckled when I saw a column praising cheese next to the end of the “fat” article. Americans consume 33 pounds of cheese each year and most of it sticks to their belly, hips, or butt. And they love it. Well, why not? Cheese contains opiates, highly addictive drugs. Food manufacturers and most chefs understand this addiction. But few people are aware.
The bottom line, again this year, is that we Americans continue to expand at the waistline, despite being one of the most affluent countries in the world. An unhealthy lifestyle is hard to change but LifeNuts is trying. Talk to your mayor about it. You can make a difference.
While I was exercising today and flipping the remote between CNBC and the local news, I saw a brief blurb on a study that showed the high risk that meat and
dairy consumers have of contracting cancer and dying earlier than those who eat a plant-based diet. While this is not news to me, it was to the young female anchor who giggled as she confessed that she ate meat and dairy. The study also compared the cancer risk of eating meat and dairy to smoking cigarettes.
Intrigued, I searched for this news article and found it, thanks to Dr.
Google. CBS released it.
The study, like so many others, involved researchers. Big deal. So I looked at the journal, Cell Metabolism. http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/current
As you can see, it’s a sophisticated publication with articles written by scientists from around the world, not some anecdotal magazine. Peer reviewed articles. I’m guessing most don’t garner publicity but this one did.
I also found the comments following the article relevant. From reading them, you get an insight into the American lifestyle: we know it’s bad for us, but we like it. One comment was enlightening. THENS explained his or her weight loss and other health benefits after switching off meat and dairy, a change made by watching NetFlix version of Forks over Knives.
LifeNuts combines many lifestyle factors – food choices, exercise, financial and stress management, and others – into a community-based program. It’s the only way I can envision American health changing. Without peer pressure, we will continue to grow old and decrepid instead of enjoying our golden years. Everyday 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 and qualify for Medicare. This will continue for the next 18 years. As I’ve explained in previous blogs, boomers represent the most obese segment of our society. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what this will do to our national debt. God help our children and grandchildren as we saddle them with this.
What can you do? Switch to the LifeNuts lifestyle and spread the word. If you really want to be a hero, take the idea to your mayor or city council.
Since LifeNuts involves many aspects of lifestyle, today’s blog will
give three vignettes: obesity on an airplane, luminating the brain, and credit
When Laura and I visited Florida a few weeks ago, a happy respite from
winter doldrums, we flew on a small US Airways jet to Charlotte. The plane had two seats on each side of the aisle.
After we were seated, I noticed an extremely obese young man sit in the
row in front of us – on the opposite side. I had a good view of him. Every part of him was gigantic and he barely fit in the seat next to the window. Wow, I wondered, Who would be stuck sitting next to him? And there she came, waddling down the aisle, at the least a
three-hundred pounder. Lord, she was massive.
The only way she could fit into the seat, next to her husband or boyfriend, was if he put his large arm around her, allowing her side to be tight against his. Even with that, half of her right thigh extended into the aisle, which didn’t seem to surprise or upset her. Then the seat belt, that compulsory part of flying. About 20 percent of people in cars don’t use seatbelts, but airplanes don’t give you a choice. Buckle up.
How could she? No way, I thought. The flight attendant, seeing the problem, left and came back with the solution: a seat belt extension, an extra belt that fastened into to hers. And it worked. No expression on her face. No thank-you to the flight attendant. You've got to take care of me. It's not my fault I'm so obese.
Now, these two were young, probably in their late 20s. Their total weight had to be 600 pounds, twice as much as most other twosomes on the plane. Yet they paid the same fare for the airlines to haul them. What medical problems would come their way? How did they get so big, so quickly in their young lives? Did they have high blood pressure. Diabetes? So many questions. But don’t ask. They are the new America: we’re fat and we don’t care.
My solution: charge them more for medical insurance premiums. Many health care insurers are doing this. Airlines: charge them extra for their obesity. After all, it costs the airlines more in gas to carry their weight. There are few penalties for obesity today … except for the many diseases that will
Luminosity is a company, located in silicon valley, that offers brain-training games online. http://www.lumosity.com/about
Over the years they’ve accumulated data from 50 million users in 160 different countries and they collaborate with 36 universities in data analysis. Yes, memory can be improved with mental exercises but Scottish researchers found that those who exercise vigorously several times a week had less brain shrinkage than those more sedentary people who pursued intellectual avenues. Remember that blog?
Another factor is diet. Dr. Barnard’s book, Power Foods for the Brain, documents studies that show the relationship with meat and dairy intake and Alzheimer’s disease. It would be helpful if both the Scottish researchers and those working with Lumos Labs would look at diet’s role in mental
The third part of today comes from a recent article in Barron’s, one focusing on the economic recovery or lack of it. When the crisis hit in 2008-2009, American pocketbooks were taken to task, revealing massive debt and minimal net worth. Immediately we began to pay off our debts, to curtail
mindless spending. Guess what, household debt decreased – almost overnight. But that was five years ago. How quickly we forget what got us in trouble.
Now, Americans are slowing sinking into the quicksand of debt – borrowing – to finance their lifestyle. To keep up with the Joneses. Or whomever. Credit cards, auto loans, mortgages. Will next year see more of this? Probably. Even divorces, which fell to a 40-year low in 2009, are increasing.
It costs money for a divorce, you know.
No one wants to see a repeat of that financial crisis. So, do your part. Spend less, save more. Invest wisely. Ron Baron and Tom Barrack, two self-made billionaires, a generation removed from poor immigrants, appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box this week. Learn the investing game. Watch Buffet next Monday on SB. I’ll comment more about this in the next blog.
A recent (Jan. 4) article in the New York Times, Why Everyone Seems to Have Cancer, led me to write this column. The author pointed out that heart disease had a much higher likelihood than cancer in causing death 50 years ago. Now, it seems, cancer has nearly overtaken its rival, heart disease. He admits that cancer researchers have made progress, especially in treating childhood cancers, which we’ll ignore here since children haven’t had the chance to “enjoy” a lifetime of an unhealthy lifestyle.
Mr. Johnson remarks that “heart disease and cancer are primarily diseases of aging.” But are they? If a person smokes two packs of cigarettes a day, eats as much saturated fat as he or she can cram into his or her mouth, and sits for five hours a day watching television (the average for Americans), will his or her risk of cancer or heart disease cause a “premature” death? That is, a death before the average age reached by Americans, which is 78. Lifestyle, not aging, is the issue here.
And lifestyle is not merely diet and exercise. It encompasses emotional health, financial stability, stress management as well. A fit person (one whose BMI is in the low 20s and whose heart and lung function is exceptional) who suffers with negative emotions (fear, anger, frustration, jealousy, sadness) has lower immune protection against bacterial infections, viral infections, and cancer cells, which most of us have in our tissues, somewhere or other. A study of 3,000 older people demonstrates this concept perfectly. All had been in long-term satisfying marriages and had gone through the death of the spouse. A highly significant number of surviving spouses (mostly in their 70s and 80s) developed cancer within six months of the spouse’s demise.
Researchers have shown that negative emotions will lower the presence of NK cells (natural killer white blood cells) in the blood stream. This fairly recent (20 years) research escapes press coverage, despite its importance. Without adequate protection, supplied by these cells, we become at risk. So it
pays to follow the LifeNuts lifestyle and learn to be happy.
The other issue that the author dodges is obesity, whose incidence has tripled since the 1950s. Obesity deserves more than one sentence, Mr. Johnson, since it contributes significantly to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Yet, it grows like a snowball rolling downhill each year and with it grows our national debt. If we can reverse obesity, as community-based LifeNuts hopes to do, we can prevent premature deaths due to the diseases caused by obesity.
Will a plant-based diet play a major role in preventing obesity? You betcha. In fact, this diet has been proven to override the genes that contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease that Mr. Johnson states is the wild card in this cancer equation. In his book, Power Foods for the Brain, Dr. Neal Barnard explains how a healthy diet, exercise, and mental workouts can prevent this terrible disease.
Mr. Johnson wants to uplift the reader with his news that American life expectancy has increased from 1910 when it was in the mid-50s to today when it is 78.3. But he ignores the fact that the baby boomer generation, now beginning to turn 65 and qualify for Medicare, is our fattest generation and getting fatter each year, which, believe it or not, is going to decrease our average lifespan. He fails to draw attention to the life expectancy of the Japanese (nearly 84) and to their essentially plant-based diet and small-portioned meals. Our youngest generations are also obese (and getting fatter) which means that they, too, will have shorter lives and will likely succumb to heart disease, diabetes, and, Mr. Johnson’s nemesis, cancer. And, on another positive note, they’ll be the proud recipients of the massive national debt that we pass on to them.
LifeNuts hopes to reverse this trend, city by city, suburb by suburb, but, now after the first year’s effort, its message has fallen on deaf ears. Government mandates are failing and cities aren’t doing so well either, even though they offer many exercise options for residents. Maybe one town, somewhere and somehow, will start the program. We can only hope.
According to statistics from most developed countries, obesity has surpassed smoking as the biggest health care crisis. Obesity and its three main sister diseases, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are increasing annually, adding to our gigantic national budget deficit, which we Boomers pass on, perhaps unknowingly, to our children and our grandchildren.
In a July (2013) blog I reported my fascination with Dr. Neal Barnard’s
book, Power Foods for the Brain, and his remarkable research showing that a plant-based diet and intense exercise can reverse the genetic tendency towards dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease that afflict so many.
I’d like to mention another book he’s written, which I feel is even more important than Power Foods. Breaking the Food Seduction, published in 2003, explains why Americans are addicted to so many foods that eventually cause weight gain, obesity, and disease. The book opened my eyes. I recommend it as a core foundation to changing to a LifeNuts lifestyle – and enjoying your old age instead of griping and moaning about your pains, pill, and medical problems.
I’ll give a few highlights. First, American researchers have found that children (many of whom are overweight these days) have the beginnings of artery blockage before finishing high school. Obese adults in their 20s often have high blood pressure – related to this blockage, which becomes the basis of an early heart attack or stroke.
Cheese addiction? Yes, chefs know that Americans love cheese and they put it on all salads (you can request no cheese when you order) and on many dishes. From 1975 to 1999 cheese consumption doubled. Now the average American consumes 33 pounds of it each year. Why, you ask. Opiates. Yes, the same drug found in opium. It’s addicting, right? Yes it is. The milk protein, casein, breaks down when digested into casomorphins, a host of opiates. A cup of cow’s milk contains six grams of casein, skim milk contains more, and cheese is the mother lode of casein. So, it’s not just the taste, texture, or smell of cheese that intoxicates us – it’s the opiate stimulation of dopamine in our brain. That “good mood” feeling, as some food manufacturers and fast food places like to use in their marketing. Yes, cheese lovers are opiate addicts. Sorry to be so blunt, but most are not aware of this. And cheese consumption increases every year.
Meat addiction? Many people who lived in the Great Depression could not afford meat; they were stuck with fruits and vegetables. Few were obese in those dark days. And now, cultures that National Geographic has studied over the past 20 years – you know, the ones where lots of people live into their 90s and 100s – have the same diet, perhaps mainly because they, too, could not afford meat in their early years. Of course, they also “moved” much more than our American couch potatoes who watch an average of five hours of television a day.
Today, most can afford to consume meat daily, even if it’s a Big Mac or a roast beef sandwich, and Americans have come to view a meal as not complete without a meat serving. Why? Meat causes the release of opiates in your brain, which stimulates a strong release of insulin, which in turn triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, which makes us feel good. Good enough to include meat
in every meal. Meat, cheese, and fish all cause this release of insulin. So, once again, Americans unknowingly are addicts. And, as a debt ridden nation, we, our children, and our grandchildren pay the price. Restaurant owners, fast food franchises, and chefs understand that they must satisfy consumers’ cravings and their offerings relate directly to the demand for cheese and meat.
Do you think white meat is better than red meat? Think again. Chicken has nearly as much cholesterol and fat as lean beef. Fish? Anywhere from 15 to 30 percent of fish fat is basically artery-clogging saturated fat.
So why is the American diet filled with so many unhealthy choices? The meat and dairy industries are strong supporters of the American Dietetic Association and the American Medical Association. Very strong. They also lobby extensively in Washington, especially towards the USDA. Despite this lobbying, the government recently changed the menus in low-income area schools to offer only healthy choices. Guess what? The kids turned up their noses. They didn’t like the taste of fruits, pasta, and veggies. So officials brought back the meat and cheese. Nice try, anyway.
That’s why LifeNuts aims to change the culture of a community, be it a town of 500 or 500,000. If a family and, along with it, a community begins to adopt a plant based diet and an intensive exercise programs, the pounds will melt away, health care costs will drop, and people will become more productive since they now have more energy.
What can you do? For starters, read Dr. Barnard’s book to understand your addictions. And then
change. He claims your taste buds will change in about three weeks and you’ll break your opiate addiction. Well, it may take four to six weeks or maybe a bit longer; so don’t be discouraged. The pounds will be shed and you’ll fit into clothes you wore when you were a teenager. Trust me, I know. I’ve lost 50 pounds since I began this journey several years ago and my waist is the same as when I was 25, which was over 40 years ago. A LifeNuts lifestyle is worth it!
As we begin 2014, I’d like to focus on the financial side of LifeNuts, a part of our lifestyle perhaps not as important as intense exercise, eating habits, and relationships but important nonetheless. Having to work long hours or in two or three jobs often translates into poor eating habits, little exercise, and obesity … and its related diseases.
Last Friday we watched “The Wolf” movie – mostly out of curiosity about
the real life character, Jordan Belfort, a person I term “an investment shark.”
An article in Barron’s explained that in the 1990s Jordan’s firm, Stratton Oakmont, bilked investors out of $300 million – including a local man, John Kilroy, a Pizza Hut franchisee who lost a lot of his life savings to this man. One of the fascinating aspects of this is that Belfort, after serving about two years in jail for his fraud, has emerged as a motivational speaker (to help you close the deal) and is currently trying to land a reality TV show. Despite selling two memoir books and making close to
a million dollars for the movie rights, he still owes ordinary people like Kilroy (Maineville, Ohio) over $100 million and has paid very little. Jordan is the quintessential con man and investment shark and, through the movie, he offers lessons to all of us in our daily financial management. LifeNuts excel in this arena, which gives them time to exercise and do the other important things in life. But most people are not interested in investing or do not have sufficient funds to invest. I hear all kinds of excuses: too time consuming, too difficult to understand, too afraid.
A writer has documented the movie and Belfort’s life, which is worth reading: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/moviemom/2013/12/the-real-story-jordan-belfort-the-wolf-of-wall-street.html# . Interestingly, Belfort’s website claims that corporations pay 50 grand for his motivational speeches, yet a U.S. attorney listed only $24,000 in that type of income since 2007. Again, he’s an unabashed master promoter and a compulsive liar, always willing to take
a sucker’s money.
For perhaps a more realistic view, especially about the current condition of the investment sharks, read an essay by the ex-wife of Jordan’s best friend: http://nypost.com/2013/12/09/i-was-the-wife-of-a-wall-street-wolf/ . From this, it’s fairly obvious that these sharks have hidden vast sums of money in off-shore accounts or in Switzerland. But will they get caught?
Now, if you decide to watch this movie, be prepared for the worst of Hollywood. The director, per his usual style, made the movie too long and too full of sex, drugs, and violence, which is a shame because it could have been an epic in illustrating the ways that con men operate. Instead, it’s a way for the director and his company to make money, exemplifying the Hollywood modus
operandi: inject sex, drugs, and violence and people will watch. But the worst part of this was the film studio paying nearly a million to Belfort for the movie rights.
Lesson #1. If an investment deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Bernie Madoff and Allen Sanford attracted high profile clients, ranging from well-known celebrities, sports stars, and business owners, by word-of-mouth. Clients bragged to each other about the annual high returns and so their friends, also wanting to get that 20% annual return, trusted and invested. After all, if their friends were doing OK, it must be safe to get in the water. Henrik Stenson, the high profile golfer, lost nearly all of his retirement to Sanford. Fortunately for Stenson, his huge comeback in 2013 allowed him to amass another fortune. Hopefully he’ll keep a closer eye on it.
Lesson #2. Financial sharks like to prey upon young to middle-aged professionals, those who are earning a good income and have money to invest but little time to spend on investing research. I remember the phone calls to my office, which occasionally would reach me, from sharks with New York accents, offering investment vehicles. They often told my receptionist that they were old
friends of mine, trying to reconnect. And they tried and tried again. But I never invested with them. I now wonder if some of those calls came from Stratton Oakmont.
Lesson #3. Someone you know and trust might lure you into a business proposition. In the movie, Three Days of the Condor, the lead actor, Robert Redford, is cautioned to watch out for an
invitation from a passing car, the window rolled down, and a trusted friend inside. He listens to the advice. But some fall prey to those they trust. Many decades ago, I listened to a relative, another young professional, cheerfully bragging that he did not pay any income tax as a result of having myriad tax shelters, which were in vogue in the 1980s. I watched him year after year and
finally I dove into the fire and got burned - financially. Yes, I bought tax shelters ... from sharks.
Once one of his sharks wanted me to invest in gemstones, something I knew nothing about. He was persuasive and became visibly upset when I declined. I was lucky. My relative was not. He continued in this area of high risk and eventually got into serious trouble. I had to pay back taxes and some penalties. His loss was much higher: divorce, loss of his practice, loss of professional
license, and jail time.
A patient of mine, many years ago, offered me a chance to become an investor in a nursing home purchase. Guaranteed 20% annual return, he claimed. I said I’d check the figures with my accountant but, despite his excellent sales pitch, I never invested. As the years passed, he’d tell me what a deal I missed with big ROI (return on investment). Eventually he and his wife divorced and he dropped out of sight. A few years later his ex-wife told me that the nursing home investors lost
And, being a golfer, I was tempted by a classmate of mine (Yes, someone I knew and trusted) to become a founding investor in a new golf course. Only 50 grand and take it out of your IRA. Well, my friend invested 50K but I again declined, which was a little difficult for two reasons: there’s the friendship and classmate factor and there’s the I’ve-got-as-much-money-as-you-do attitude. But I had enough discipline to decline. The golf course was built and I played on it with my friend. Very nice. But a few years later, the summer drought brought massive watering bills and investors had to chip in more money. Decades later, he admits that investment was an awful mistake. Sometimes you have to say no.
Lesson #4. Eventually I figured out that I would learn as much as I could about investing, sort of like the Millionaire Mommy Next Door, whose website I have recommended. And, after having made my share of mistakes, I began to learn and, through vehicles of mutual funds and stocks, I reached my goal of financial independence in my early 50s. When you grow old, working because you love it is much different than working because you have to financially.
Lesson #5. Become your own investment manager. Money in itself offers a chance to exchange goods or services but too little of it can cause serious problems. LifeNuts, in the book and website, offers many examples of people who have learned how to invest. And, yes, it takes time to learn. And you’ll make mistakes along the way. If a young female high school graduate, working as a
night waitress and living paycheck to paycheck, can learn investing and become a millionaire before reaching 40, then so can you. The Millionaire Mommy proves that the investing business is not as complex as some would have us believe.
Lesson #6. I like to think that sharks like Jordan Belfort are the exception to the rule. Most money managers are ethical and competent. But the majority of them don’t beat the average stock market annual return. Sad, but true. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consult or invest with one. Just come to the table with your homework done: know what your goals are, know which companies or mutual funds you like, know what your tolerance for risk is. By all means, read the book, The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. It’s a classic and is highly recommended by an investor who read it when he was a young man. Warren Buffet has done pretty well by following Graham’s advice. You will, too. Good luck.
Today the New York Times published an article about a University of Illinois researcher, Dr. Fred Kummerow, who in 1957 found that arteries get clogged with plaques if they accumulate trans fats. Now over 50 years later, the FDA has proposed a rule that will eliminate using trans fats in foods.
T his professor, who eats mostly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, is still going strong at 99 even though he eats red meat and eggs occasionally. Make note: his job as a health scientist plays a key role in his longevity, perhaps more so than his diet.
The Times reported that he had artery blockage at age 89 and required bypass surgery. Could this have been related to his consumption of eggs, butter, red meat, and whole milk, which he drinks daily? A lot of evidence points to this association. And another question: Is he aerobically fit? LifeNuts combine a plant-based diet, intense aerobic exercise, healthy relationships, and wise financial stress management for a long life.
Dr. Fred's work also receives funding from the Weston Price Foundation, known for their diet of animal protein. So, perhaps there’s another connection here. Personally, I would recommend avoiding animal protein of any variety. There’s simply too much evidence out there that shows the connection of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer with this type of diet.
At any rate, his longevity definitely points to a powerful ikigai, the Japanese term for purpose in life. There is no word for retirement in their language.
At this festive time of year, LifeNuts wishes each of you and your loved ones a happy, safe, blessed, and healthy holiday. Looking forward to sharing much with you in 2014.