Life Extension Magazine July 2011
A Strong Life at Any Age
By Jon Finkel
At 59 years old, Dr. Jeffry Life felt like a middle-aged man tumbling gut first into a limited, lethargic old age. “My joints and muscles ached, I had shortness of breath whenever I climbed just one flight of stairs, my clothes were tight, and my stomach was huge.” Physically, Dr. Life was in decline. Internally, the outlook wasn’t much better. His cholesterol scores were dangerously high and he was on his way to becoming a type 2 diabetic. He was also suffering from low self-esteem and erectile dysfunction. Then, one day, as Dr. Life describes it, he “took a long, hard look in the mirror…and realized that if [he] didn’t begin focusing on his own health, there would be no future.”
When Dr. Life decided to take control of his health, he wasn’t coming from a strong athletic background. He had been a Masters swimmer years before, but he got caught up with his medical practice, and as happens with most people, little by little he started letting his health deteriorate. The first thing he did was revamp his diet, which over the years began trending toward fast food and high-fat, high-carbohydrate meals.
“I put myself on a low-glycemic/low-fat diet,” Dr. Life says. “It was a bodybuilder’s diet. They were way ahead of everybody else. It was all about how to gain muscle mass and drop fat. Most people who were exercising were simply following the conventional rules of a low-fat diet, but that isn’t the best approach.”
Between the exercise and the new diet, Dr. Life began to see results almost right away.
“I was dropping fat pretty rapidly,” he says. “I was surprised, really.”
In addition to the eating and exercise, Dr. Life began taking supplements to augment his overall health regimen. He took a multivitamin as well as creatine, fish oil, hydroxymethylbutyrate (HMB), and protein shakes.
The routine worked, and Dr. Life became the Grand Champion in the 1998 Body-for-LIFE contest. The before and after pictures of Dr. Life are remarkable to look at to this day—from bulky and puffy to rock solid and ripped in less than six months.
Passing it on
Dr. Life was so pleased with the results of his regimen and felt so good that he decided to incorporate the lessons he learned in his own body transformation into his medical practice.
“When I won the contest I was doing family practice in northeast Pennsylvania,” Life says. “The patient population was simply not receptive to changing things. It wasn’t until I moved to Las Vegas and started doing age management that I found clients who were willing to listen. My patients in Nevada really want to lose body fat. Most try to stick to the program and have certain levels of success. Some are super successful. All have improvements in their health.”
One of the staples of the supplement regimen that Dr. Life preaches to his clients is the use of whey protein.
“In my medical practice, I’m big on pretty hefty protein intakes,” he explains. “Elderly people don’t take in enough protein and they start to become frail. Muscle loss is considered to be part of the aging process, but it doesn’t have to be. Aging is not inevitable. You can actually do things that will prevent muscle loss, like take whey. My patients demonstrate this on a daily basis. And I do too. I’ve put on over 4 pounds of muscle in the past year. People don’t realize that one of the main reasons the elderly end up in nursing homes is muscle loss, and this can be corrected.”
Getting Stuck and Breaking Through
Dr. Life stuck with his new program for several years, but at age 64, he hit a plateau—then began sliding back.
“I stopped gaining muscle and started losing energy,” he says. “I just thought that I was finally getting older. I was thinking like traditional physicians think, which meant that I figured I had to give in to getting weaker, losing muscle mass, and getting fatter.”
The confusing part for Dr. Life was that in order to counter this slide, he began training harder than ever, but he wasn’t seeing the results. Around this time, he came across a brochure in Las Vegas about a medical meeting that dealt with the role exercise and nutrition played in correcting hormonal deficiencies.
After attending that meeting, Dr. Life began wondering about his own hormone levels.
“I had my own hormones checked and found out I was profoundly deficient in testosterone and DHEA (and growth hormone),” he said. “I was surprised, but relieved. The deficiencies explained my losing muscle mass, strength, and endurance, and why I was also accumulating body fat and battling low energy levels.”
Prior to starting a hormone supplement plan, Dr. Life says he studied up on the concept tremendously. He recalls that at the time it was thought that these hormones put people at greater risk for getting cancer. What he discovered was that the people with the lowest levels of hormones have the greatest risk. The conventional wisdom that he’d heard was wrong.
“Once I started supplementing, within a week, I was feeling better,” Dr. Life says. “Two weeks later I was gaining strength again.”
Practicing What You Preach
Six years after winning the Body-for-LIFE contest, Dr. Life decided to have some photos taken to prove to his patients that he lived the life he talked about. The photos are almost too striking to believe. Life, now 72-years-old, has the muscle mass of a man half his age.
“It has been 13 years since I started this journey of transformation,” Life says. “What’s so exciting is that not only do I feel great, I’ve been able to improve my physique over the years. I have been able to stay lean, reduce my cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, reduce blood sugar levels, and avoid diabetes.”
Even more important is that Dr. Life and his cardiologist believe that had he not entered into this exercise and nutrition program, he would not be here today. But it hasn’t been easy.
In the beginning, Dr. Life admits that the physical training was very difficult and he was sore. Once the soreness went away, however, the idea of working out fueled him, and he looks forward to each of his training sessions. The nutrition side is where he really had to make a commitment and stick to it.
“The hardest concept I had to grasp, and that I have to explain to people, is that you can lose body fat and gain muscle mass without starving,” he says. “If you starve, you’ll lose both, but it’s harder to lose body fat. Coupled with this concept was the idea that I had to get across to people that small, frequent meals are better than two big meals a day.”
One of the keys to Dr. Life’s success was that he decided that he had to plan out each and every one of his meals. The easiest way to fall off a healthy eating regimen is to constantly have to figure out what you’re going to eat next. When you do this, you’re more likely to make a quick, wrong decision.
“Planning ahead and having nutritious food on you at all times is the only way to succeed,” he says. “When I travel, I carry around a cooler with me of healthy food. If you leave for the day and you don’t know where you’re going to eat, you will fail.”
When it comes to maintaining your health, failure is not an option, which is why he wrote the book: The Life Plan: How Any Man Can Achieve Lasting Health, Great Sex, and a Stronger, Leaner Body.
The book is the culmination of all that Dr. Life has learned in his quest for health and fitness. Its basic goal is to prevent disease, rather than fix it—a concept that Life Extension® readers are very familiar with.
Editor’s note: Dr. Life uses human growth hormone because his blood tests showed he was very deficient. There is conflicting data regarding the use of human growth hormone with some concerns that excess growth hormone elevates insulin-like growth factor-1 and may increase cancer risk. Some who practice calorie restriction seek to reduce excess protein intake in order to lower insulin-like growth factor-1. High protein intake can also impair kidney and/or liver function in patients with pre-existing kidney and/or liver disease.
To order Dr. Life’s new book, The Life Plan, call 1-800-544-4440.