Life Extension Magazine August 2005
By Jon VanZile
Cathi Watson does not like to preach, but sometimes it seems she cannot help herself. The 71-year-old speaker and developer of the “Ageless for Life” program is a study in exuberance, peppering her conversations with bits of wisdom, catchy phrases, and anecdotes from her past.
“It’s up to each of us to control the quality, depth, and breadth of life,” she adds. “It’s all contained in our greatest freedom, and that’s freedom of choice. I choose not to sit in a nursing home and have my kids take care of me.”
Woman of Many Roles
Cathi has earned the right to her exuberance. In a life spanning more than seven decades, she has played a remarkable number of roles: wife, mother, professional speaker, business owner, dancer, model, radio and television performer, author, and athlete, among others.
Cathi’s athletic accomplishments are particularly impressive. She has run in the 10-kilometer “Bolder, Boulder” race in Boulder, CO, a remarkable nine times since she turned 60. Since 1998, she has participated five times in the “Hustle Up the Hancock” skyscraper climb in Chicago, scaling all 1,632 stairs of the 94-floor tower. Her personal best time is just over 30 minutes.
A woman of great discipline and energy, Cathi says Life Extension products have been invaluable for more than two decades in helping safeguard her against disease and injury. A few years ago, Cathi popped a muscle in her thigh, causing a nagging pain that almost prevented her from finishing the Hancock climb in 2001. Looking for help, she turned to Life Extension’s creatine powder. Within a few weeks, the pain was gone.
Cathi has spent a lifetime devoted to exercise and nutrition. She learned the value of good nutrition and natural foods early on, growing up on a farm in Illinois, in a family that raised its own food. For Cathi and her siblings, sweets such as soda and ice cream were rare childhood treats rather than dietary staples.
As a young woman, Cathi studied ballet and became a trained dancer and model before settling down to raise children. Then, in the early 1980s, she began to learn about the value of nutritional supplements.
“In my mid-forties, I began thinking about the sunbathing I had done,” she explains. “Back then, we didn’t know anything about sunblock. It was very fashionable to have a tan.”
She started reading about supplements and soon discovered the ability of antioxidants to reverse the effects of sun damage. At the time, very few organizations were promoting the power of antioxidants to counteract harmful free radicals in the body, including the skin. The Life Extension Foundation, however, was on the leading edge of the movement.
Supported by her husband Bill, a dedicated weightlifter who was also taking antioxidants and supplements, she began with Life Extension Mix tablets and gradually added other supplements as she learned more. “Today, most people wouldn’t even believe I’ve ever been in the sun,” she says, adding, “Life Extension and I have been together longer than most marriages.”
“Ageless for Life”
Approaching the age of 50, Cathi was leading some of the most exciting years of her life. With her children grown, she developed a fitness and longevity program called Ageless for Life, which soon took off and has enjoyed remarkable success ever since. In 1997, for example, she was invited by the Malaysian government to conduct an 11-day Ageless for Life speaking tour of that southeastern Asian nation.
Cathi has been an active and successful participant in fitness challenges and beauty pageants alike. In 1998 and 1999, she was a national winner of the Beauties of America Pageant, and in 2000, she was named Ms. Illinois Senior America.
She has also been invited to give motivational speeches on cruise ships. Her uplifting talks are sprinkled with personal anecdotes and a pleasant walk through the history of fashion and fitness. Nevertheless, one thing she avoids is “carrying a torch” for a healthy lifestyle.
“I learned a long time ago there are those who want to hear about it and those who don’t,” she says. “I share it only with people who want to hear it. I like to support, encourage, and motivate the ones who are ready.”
Cathi has strong feelings about aging in America, a nation that she believes “devalues age more than any other country on earth.”
“What good is extending life if you’re strapped to a rocking chair in a nursing home, wearing a wet diaper?” she asks. “What good is living 70, 80, or 90 years if the quality of life isn’t there? Did you get to this point in life to sit in a doctor’s office?”
For Cathi, enjoying life to the fullest is central to her personal philosophy. For example, after running a 10K race, she says, “the only thing we care about is the beer we’re going to drink.”
“It’s OK to enjoy whatever you’re doing,” she adds. “But at some point, you’re going to have to stop and say, ‘I’ve got to neutralize all this damage I did.’”
Exercise and Supplements
That is where exercise and nutritional supplements come in. Cathi does not believe that aging is determined by genetics. Of course, genes play a part—about 30%, she suggests—but Cathi believes people’s lifestyle habits have an enormous influence on how they age. Those habits include daily exercise and nutritional supplements.
Cathi varies her daily exercise routine, alternately using a StairMaster®, elliptical trainer, treadmill, and weight machines. Her supplement regimen is equally varied and impressive. Over the years, she has created a personalized program that she believes flushes free radicals from the body, enhances skin quality, protects bones from osteoporosis, cleanses the bloodstream, and protects her joints from injury.
When Cathi traveled to Africa in 1984, her Life Extension supplements went with her. That experience formed the basis of a book entitled Heart of the Lion, which she offers through her personal website, www.ageless4life.com.
Cathi views her healthy lifestyle as a continuing gift not only to herself, but also to her husband, children, and grandchildren. She says that she and her husband Bill made a commitment to take care of themselves, and that her children are especially happy she has remained vibrant and healthy into her seventies.
“If I could sum up everything, it would be this: invest in yourself,” she says. “When we tell our children we’re coming out to visit, they say, ‘We’re delighted, and now we better get to bed and get our 12 hours of sleep to prepare.’ It’s energizing.”