First, the best of times. Today, defying his age, the severe hills, and the unrelenting sun and heat, Mike Fremont, at 93, set a world record in the difficult Cincinnati Flying Pig half-marathon (13.1 miles). Even though it was hot (into the 70s) and even though it was tough running up many hills, Fremont was determined to finish – to show that old age does not have to be spent in nursing homes or assisted living institutions. His time was 3:54:00, good enough to place first in his age bracket, which means he will receive a coveted Pig trophy.
A genetic freak, you think? Hardly. He nearly died decades ago when, at age 70, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer – metastasized to lymph nodes – and was given three months to live. Determined to beat the cancer, Mike changed his lifestyle, gave up meat and dairy products and reduced his stress level, and, without any chemo or radiation, he shrank the tumor and survived. So, no, Mr. Fremont is not a quirk of nature (His family’s health history was not the best). Rather, he attributes his longevity and vitality to a plant-based diet and purpose-filled living.
In fact, his life has been so dramatically vibrant that it serves as the model for LifeNuts, a program that helps people and their communities to save money by lowering health care expenses.
How does Mike do it? Why are his mind and body so alert and responsive? How did he break the world marathon record when he was 90? The answers can be found in his blogs at lifenuts.org where there is also a YouTube video of him setting the marathon (26.2 miles) world record at Huntington, West Virginia, in November, 2012.
“It was tough out there today,” Mike said, “and I almost passed out, but kept going. I finished but had a bad time.” A bad time means the runner felt he could have finished with a faster time. No wonder: by 10:30 the temperature had climbed into the 70s. The winning marathon times were relatively slow and many runners dropped out, due to overheating. Meanwhile, a 93-year-old quietly set a world record. Yes, this was Dickens’s age of wisdom.
On the other hand, here’s the worst of times. In Omaha, Nebraska, the billionaire Warren Buffet, now 84, held court for his company’s annual meeting. He reported a ten percent increase in profit (a cool $5.16 billion), which pleased the 40,000 participant investors. The USA Today article mentioned that Buffet loves his work (an important part of LifeNuts) and remains in good health. Really? He’s obese and he’s had prostate cancer. Good health? Maybe according to his definition. Not mine. Why is he still alive? He’s rich enough to afford costly medications and visits to physicians to counteract his lifestyle. What’s wrong with his lifestyle?
Well, he’s a big fan of sugar-laden Coca-Cola and other unhealthy foods made by companies that his company has stock in. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with promoting your products. We Americans love our independence and our ability to grow businesses and prosper. But when someone like Buffet, who is idolized by many, pokes fun at healthy eating and, furthermore, consumes Coca Cola drinks (39 grams of sugar) several times a day, it sends the wrong message to America, a country that spends more per capita on health care than any other developed country and yet ranks 36th in life expectancy. Our national debt grows and our health care burden plays a big part in it – sadly.
“A fourth of all my calories come from Coca-Cola. I’m one quarter Coca-Cola,” Buffet explained. He continued, “If I would have been eating broccoli and Brussels sprouts, I wouldn’t have lived as long. I wouldn’t be happy.” He then ate a piece of candy from another company that he owns. Great advice, Warren. If you ate vegetables instead of getting calories from refined sugar, you might not be so obese and you might be able to run. Well, maybe a 5K.
I wonder if he would be thoughtful enough to share his advice with the children of Omaha grade schools – if, indeed, his diet is so wonderful. Tell the kids to drink lots of Cokes daily. Eat candy and ice cream for breakfast. Sadly again, childhood obesity worsens each year. Don’t believe me? Visit any sixth grade and look around.
Yes, when we rich Americans wallow in obesity and its related diseases – cancer, diabetes, and heart disease – and we ingloriously rank 36th in longevity in the world, we clearly are doing something wrong. LifeNuts gets virtually no publicity; Buffet gets tons of it. Yes, it was the worst of times and the age of foolishness. Well written, Charles Dickens.