|LE Magazine February 1999 |
A Man Too Busy to Age
Richard D'Alberti has filled a lifetime with
new challenges, good health
Richard D'Alberti isn't about to waste time contemplating the fact that his seventieth birthday is less than two years away. For one thing, he's too busy working out and reading up on the newest supplements to hit the market.
"Who says I'm 70?" asks the former marathon runner, now turned weight lifter, and Toronto resident. "When you're shrugging 320 to 340 pounds you don't think like that. I figure I'm about 29." Which is a good thing, because his girlfriend, Nancy, is 28.
A long-standing interest in health clearly helped this native of Wales hone his age-defying skills. But being ahead of his time helped, too. He took up running, for instance, 50 years ago, a good two decades before the jogging craze hit.
Back in 1948, running was known as roadwork, and D'Alberti tried it at the suggestion of a trainer at a gym in New York City, where he worked at the time as manager of the famous Copacabana night club. Those days, his running apparel consisted of paratrooper boots and heavy army fatigues, and he remembers rarely seeing another runner during his four- or five-mile loops around Central Park.
"I always thought it was common sense to stay healthy," he says now, about his early predisposition toward physical well-being. "My first encounter with vitamins came back then, too. I took multiple vitamins, some single vitamins, I did a lot of reading about health. I was really experimenting early on."
In addition to running, D'Alberti took up skipping rope to further enhance his stamina, and then added boxing practice, punching either the heavy bag for strength and endurance, or the speed bag to improve coordination and rhythm.
Soon, he found he was adept enough at the skipping moves to draw crowds, and he began putting on regular skipping exhibitions. On nice days, he'd set up a plywood stage in Central Park and dazzle passers-by with his quadruple jumps and fancy footwork for 90 minutes at a time. The sport required the 5-foot-8 D'Alberti to maintain a super-lean physique of 135 pounds, so it wasn't long before he realized his sinewy form might lend itself to another demanding physical activity lightweight boxing.
He soon found a gym where he could apply himself, and eventually as an amateur boxer fought his way to the Golden Gloves sub-novice lightweight championship in 1952. Then, with some 40 fights under his belt, he returned to his original love, running, and rekindled what would become a 40-year relationship with the sport. During this period, he logged as many as 80 miles a week and competed in 22 marathons, including three of the fabled Boston Marathons and one New York City Marathon.
But his dedication to good health extended beyond the realm of exercise. D'Alberti says the turning point came in 1982 when Dr. Zolton Rona, a physician in Toronto, where he had moved in 1974, recommended Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw's ground-breaking book, Life Extension: A Practical Approach. That was the same year he joined the Life Extension Foundation and he's been a member ever since. Though his interest in and use of vitamins was always strong, he began to expand his daily supplement intake, adding the Foundation's multi-vitamin formulation Life Extension Mix.
Today, D'Alberti's regimen consists of the muscle builder creatine monohydrate, which he uses eight weeks on, four weeks off. His maintenance level of creatine is 5 grams both before and after his workouts, but he'll load up on 30 grams a day for five days straight to really build strength and endurance. He also takes 60 mg of coenzyme Q10, noting that it's an effective antioxidant and also enhances cardiac output.
For the past 18 years, he's taken about 340 mg a day of saw palmetto extract for prostate protection, and recommends that any male over age 40 do the same. And, he's been using 15 mg of Hydergine off and on since 1982, following Pearson's recommendation for its use as a preventative against senile dementia. Sometimes he switches to 15 mg of vinpocetine for the same reason, and may take both Hydergine and vinpocetine at once. "I was really disorganized before," he says. And now? "They help a great deal, especially with detail work."
Also for brain protection, D'Alberti takes 2 mg daily of deprenyl, which blocks the enzymes that deplete dopamine, and which is a preventive measure against Alzheimer's disease.
When he's taking a break from creatine, D'Alberti takes five grams each of arginine, lysine and glutamine, both before going to bed and in the morning prior to his workout, because of their growth hormone-releasing properties. Also, for the past 12 years he's taken 3 mg every night of melatonin: "I remember when I started taking melatonin, I felt a great sense of well-being," he says. "Now I take that for granted."
Flax seed oil in the mornings helps maintain an essential hormonal balance, and throughout the day D'Alberti draws from a long list of vitamins and supplements for general good health and mental acuity. The list includes grape seed extract (200 mg), vitamin E (800 international units), Ginkgo biloba (180 mg), chromium picolinate (600 micrograms), sodium selenite (250 mg), folic acid, vitamin B12, and others. He refers to the entire regimen as "a fluid list," which he modifies depending upon need.
Twelve years ago, for example, during a particularly stressful period, D'Alberti found himself in a rare physical low. Rona ordered an amino acid profile and finding some of the readings to be quite low, ordered a supplement overhaul. D'Alberti upped his protein intake at this time and began using the three branch-chain amino acids, plus DHEA. This did the trick.
He made the switch from marathon runner to serious weight lifter on his 60th birthday, just after he had run two back-to-back marathons in 90-degree heat. First he cut his weekly miles from 80 to fewer than 20, and he began developing the five-day-a-week workout schedule that he adheres to today. This focuses on a different muscle group each day; he'll work on his back one day, legs the next, then latissimus dorsi muscles, arms and shoulders. He later added a step machine, which he continues to enjoy, noting that it's a faster workout than running and leaves him more time for other things.
The dramatic change in exercise transformed D'Alberti into 172 pounds of muscle in just two years, all without adding so much as a centimeter to his 32-inch waist. His chest measures 42 inches.
"They say that after 25 it's very difficult to put on muscle. Well, I put it on," he says. "I think it's the supplements and my positive attitude."
Diet helps too, of course, though he insists he doesn't do anything special. After his morning workout D'Alberti throws some Life Extension Mix into the blender with filtered water, adds a little choline chloride, some Life Extension Herbal Mix and a banana, and calls it breakfast. This, he says, keeps him satisfied until lunch, which is likely to be tuna fish with lettuce and tomato on pita bread. Dinner is usually romaine lettuce with virgin olive oil, garlic and cheese, and maybe breast of chicken. Red meat is limited to once a week.
To maintain his positive outlook, he has a few tricks. Interviewed in the fall, he was eagerly awaiting the Christmas delivery of a standard poodle a long-time favorite breed to have a new companion on his twice-daily hikes through a wild ravine near his home. D'Alberti continues to be an avid reader, especially of non-fiction, and he enjoys spending time with girlfriend Nancy.
"When people talk to me on the phone, they think I'm a young guy. And I do feel very young. It's what I tell my doctor. I don't feel good...I feel excellent."
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