Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go back in time—to recapture the vigor and looks you had at a time when you were younger? And if you suffer from a disease, imagine what it would be like to reverse the course of that disease.
Perhaps you could stop taking an expensive medication or protect against hereditary ailments that run in your family and spend time enjoying life more.
This is not the stuff of science fiction, but the reality that many members of LivingTheCRWay.com experience. While there are no guarantees, this is what many LivingTheCRWay members are living: They have learned how to put the science of calorie restriction (CR) into practice in their lives—in a way that fits their temperaments and needs.
This article describes individuals who have made remarkable strides in extending healthy life span by reducing calorie intake.
What if you are young—late teens or early twenties, for example? How would you like to preserve your ability to think and function at youthful levels many years longer than you had ever thought possible?
Just the right time to meet Anthony Graziano, a 25-year-old self-employed Web marketer and consultant in metropolitan New Jersey with wide-ranging interests, from science and health to philosophy, psychology, and fashion. Anthony's story is not one of before and after but rather one of unusual insight: At age 15 he noticed that he felt better when he ate less, so he decided to eat less more purposefully.
At that age Anthony measured 5'9.5" and weighed 160 pounds, giving him a body mass index (BMI*) of 23.3—perfectly healthy. "While I could have summed up my goals as 'live long and prosper,' I did especially value cognitive enhancement—not fully understood or realized at age 15 but subtly noticed and sought out—including substantial elevations in overall mood. And who am I kidding? Pure vanity: I loved to look good. Feeling better and looking better feed an infinite loop of sorts—aspiring toward constant improvement of both by any means available after acquiring the knowledge to do so."
"As for attaining my goals, I feel that every cleared hurdle is the starting point for the next one. I've attained all that I've attained, and I consider that complete success for what it is and an unshakable foundation for further progress."
We asked Anthony what aspects of the CR Way™ help him the most regarding the lifestyle itself:
- "As is recommended, I intentionally exercise moderately, splitting my time between strength training and low intensity aerobics with brief high-intensity bursts."
- "For me, stress management is an automatic background process. Close your eyes and focus your mind (and thus your actions) properly and the stress will wash away as effortlessly as rinsing dirt from one's hands."
- "Regular, sound sleep is near-perfect."
- "I have always looked for the science behind the benefits of any activity that I pursue for my health. I relate very strongly to this aspect of the CR Way™."
"My response to the overall nature of the lifestyle started upon finding Paul and Meredith's CR Way™: Wow! For the first time, here's an approach that reflects 'getting it' and really understanding things with full integration very seldom seen—the kind of mental integration I felt I had, was constantly working to improve, and desperately wanted to see more of in others: I'd found it!"
We then asked Anthony about his current CR goals and how his height and weight has changed since age 15. "I am 5'11" and 145 pounds, so my BMI is 20.2 now. I'm always observing the current research and looking for ways to improve upon things. Current goals at this point involve maintaining as best I can and for as long as I can my present state of robust, excellent health and mental well-being. Central to this is maintaining and enhancing my cognitive capabilities. Based on my reading of the literature and personal experimentation, the most important factor for this involves keeping the overall rate of calorie absorption slow—with the absolute amounts somewhat lower as well."
"Everyone focuses on the various 'indexes' for carbohydrates. The same concept applies to fats and proteins. A high-nutrient, moderately reduced-calorie diet, with reduction across the macronutrients, has granted me a higher level of mental acuity than I ever thought possible. It seems to me that many people live with a level of 'brain fog' that is essentially accepted as normal. Occasionally they experience bursts of clarity; 'one of my better days.' Increase the intensity of that clarity further still and imagine having that as your constant state of awareness! That is how I feel, and I think Life Extension® readers can too."
Now, we'd like to introduce Wendy Silverman. She is the married mother of three boys—including twins in nursery school—while also being a top New York publishing executive. Wendy is an appealing person to meet, and to tell you her success story, we asked her some questions:
What was your BMI before starting to practice the CR Way™? "Two years after I had the (four-year-old) twins, my BMI was still 31 (this is considered medically obese). That's when I started the CR Way™—a year and a half ago."
What were your initial goals? "My very clear goal was to eat whole foods—which, in turn, would improve my weight and health. I had this goal before learning about CR. And I've attained this goal 100%. I've been eating just about all unprocessed foods: I'm healthier than ever, and my BMI is now 21.7, tops."
What aspects of the CR Way™ have helped you most? "To start at the beginning: I love that instead of rigidity, the CR Way™ specializes in flexibility, saying that it's best if we each develop the CR Way™ our way. So I started by simply telling myself to eat as much as I wanted of foods with only one ingredient. When you look at food that way, you really notice just how many ingredients are needlessly added."
"Now, looking back, I am so humbled by what I have accomplished and learned from practicing the CR Way™. Unlike at any other time in my life, I am very clear today about the effects that different foods have on my body and health. I have read The CR Way™ about five times and continue to pick it up for a refresher whenever I forget something."
What are your current CR Way™ goals? "I would like to maintain my health and happiness—which is almost a given when you follow the CR Way™. I am confident that I will always follow this path, so my goals are to continue to improve upon the healthy stats (lab test results) I have already attained."
Wendy went on to tell us that she finds the reactions of others quite interesting: "I often hear 'I could never eat that,' or 'I enjoy food too much,' or 'You are getting too thin.' The truth is that I am enjoying food more than I ever have in my life—really experiencing it. And my weight is completely in the normal range: I'm just thinner than lots of other people. On the other hand, I am constantly being asked what I am doing, and people take great interest in my answer. And they buy The CR Way™ when I tell them about it."
Our third success story is from Bhavani Lorraine Nelson of Lenox, MA, an inspiring spiritual teacher of meditation, stress management, and the healing power of sound. At 70 years young, she leads workshops at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and around the globe. She is also a Distinguished Toastmaster in Toastmasters International. She tells us her story:
"I was heavy from childhood, but always fairly fit. Like many, I struggled with my weight 'issue' and would periodically slim down on a particular eating regimen—some more healthful than others—then, with stressors probably not so unique to me, the weight would come back, and then some."
"Between 2005 and 2008, I experienced three leg-fracture accidents that put me in a wheelchair for long periods of inactivity. That wreaked havoc on my muscle strength and bone density, and caused an unhealthy weight gain. In early 2009 my BMI was 45.3 (this is medically classified as morbidly obese) and my fat percentage, which to me is an even more important metric of health, was 47% on a DEXA scan. But in March of that year, I began doing better with my eating habits, and in May I started serious weightlifting, guided by a trainer."
"I had been curious for years about the research done on CR with animals and then with humans, and had thought about trying that approach. I was looking for a program that was sound scientifically—something that produced optimum health for a lifetime, not a diet to go 'on' for weight loss and then go 'off.' I researched the topic on the Internet and found the CR Society and various books, including The CR Way™ by Paul McGlothin and Meredith Averill, which I purchased."
"Then I discovered that by joining the LivingTheCRWay website as a paying member, I could have Paul and Meredith as my personal CR lifestyle trainers, and that changed everything. Through full access to the website and their telephone conferences, I soon got that there was a lot more to an effective CR lifestyle than simply limiting calories."
"In the fall and winter of 2009, I began incorporating more CR Way™ principles and in January 2010 began taking advantage of Paul and Meredith's Living The CR Way™ teleconferences, which made a huge difference for me. Not only was I benefiting from the knowledge in the book, but I got to join a community of people who are on a similar journey."
"What I appreciate about Paul and Meredith is that they are not just 'up' on all the current research in this field, they are the subjects of much of the research and have initiated some of it, so you know you are getting the latest findings."
"I also benefit from hearing others' questions and comments on the calls. And they remind me that I'm part of a world-wide community of people who are interested in pursuing this way of healthful living for health and longevity."
"I'm certainly not perfect in following all the principles of the CR Way™, but Paul and Meredith always graciously say that we should each live the CR Way™ in our own way. Talking with them and with the whole group on the Living The CR Way™ teleconferences has become a wonderful part of my CR Way™ life."
"My initial goal was to get strong and healthfully fit again. I didn't have an exact goal for my weight, though I did have a series of small goals to mark milestones on my way. I knew that the more healthfully I ate and the more consistently I worked out, the more my body would find its way to its preferred healthful weight. I was more concerned with my body fat percentage. I was and still am aiming for a fat percentage of 22%."
"In September 2010, 18 months after beginning my weight-loss journey and a year after beginning to travel the CR Way™, I achieved a weight loss of 100 pounds. At this point I've lost another ten, and have totally attained my goal of being strong again and healthfully fit. I now hop up curbs and climb stairs easily. Along the way I bade farewell to blood pressure- and cholesterol-lowering medications and my biomarkers are now pretty terrific. My current BMI is 26.4 and my percentage of fat from the latest DEXA scan is 29%."
Bhavani Lorraine Nelson, Before picture: Bhavani at 264 lbs. After picture: Bhavani currently at 154 lbs.
"With a few physical setbacks—sprained feet from mountain climbing and now a torn rotator cuff to deal with, my weight loss has stalled for the moment, but my goal is to keep eating the best way I can and exercising wisely so that the body can continue its journey to maximum health."
"I believe one of the reasons I was able to succeed and can look forward to continued success with my eating plan is that the CR Way™ provides a different mindset. I'm not 'dieting.' Instead I'm eating in a way that makes me really healthy—and may even enable me to live longer. With all the latest research information provided by Paul and Meredith, I feel I've brought my way of being with food into the 21st century. It's a great joy. The results are visible—and I feel terrific!"
The before pictures show her at 264 pounds and the (current) after photos at 154.
With that inspiration, consider the life-changing results gained by Dr. Greg Fickert, dental surgeon in his forties from Birmingham, UK:
What was your BMI before starting the CR Way™? And what were your initial goals? "In mid-January 2009 my BMI was 26.2. I've always been interested in good health. My experience with marathon running led me to believe that I was over-exercising, and it occurred to me that the CR Way™ might have a lot to teach me."
How closely would you say that you have attained your goals? "Very closely: I'm in the best health of my adult life. Besides getting my weight to a healthy level, I no longer suffer from osteoarthritis. Before living the CR Way™, stair climbing required both feet to be on a step before going to the next one."
What aspects of the CR Way™ have helped you most? "I especially appreciate the lifestyle's foundation of science."
What is your BMI now? And what are your current CR Way™ goals? "My weight stabilized that same year in early November at a BMI of 21.8. My natural goal became to maintain my improved health and get even healthier."
When we first met Greg, it became clear that he had several foods in his diet that were not optimal. He also probably was exercising too much to activate CR biochemistry. Rather than say "Don't do this" and "Don't do that," we just introduced basic CR Way™ principles to Greg and he took it from there. Greg was smart: He tested his biomarkers regularly (see "The CR Way™ Benchmarks Panel"),1 making sure that his dietary changes had the desired effect. And, perhaps most important, he did not try to make huge dietary changes at first. Rather, he moved at his own pace, letting go of certain foods when he was ready. This is so important: The CR Way™ is most effective when people design a CR program that works for them—one that they can stick with. Chapter 3 of The CR Way™, "CR As You Like It"2 can be a place to start.
Greg was kind enough to give us permission to share his results. (See chart below.)
Motivating observations from Greg: "The positive effects of the less easily quantifiable results interests me most, e.g., mood status, libido, energy, stress management, for example. In addition, I keep waking up earlier than usual. In my "pre-CR" life this would be due to stress. Now it results from increased energy. I am sure my memory has improved as I seem able to recall and quote scientific papers, telephone numbers, names, and the like. At 46, I expected my eyesight to slowly deteriorate but it has actually IMPROVED! All these benefits cannot be coincidences."
Greg is a highly motivated, accomplished individual in his personal life. Seeing him carry that into his CR practice—achieving a great deal in a short time—is wonderful. We imagine that he will enjoy even more benefits in the years to come, amazing his friends and family with his youthful life as the years roll by.
These successes can forecast yours. The CR Way™ is about practicing calorie restriction "as you like it." It encourages molding proven CR science to individual needs.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.
* Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure that relates one's weight to height: The normal range starts at 18.5; overweight at 25; and obesity at 30.
To learn more about the CR Way™ or the CR Society International, visit www.LivingTheCRWay.com or www.CRSociety.org.