August 2004, "Just Like Old Times"
She's 39, but a new fitness-assessment test says she's 52. Marina Rust attempts to turn back the clock.
By Marina Rust
E suggests I meet with Jana Klauer, M.D., to personalize my nutrition plan. I take my test results to the doctor's Park Avenue office, and she peruses the printouts.
"What did you eat for breakfast today?"
"Scrambled eggs with salsa."
"Using omega-3 eggs? Omega-3 eggs are very special: The chickens are fed flaxseed, and there are 150 mg. of omega-3 per yolk." Klauer explains the difference between HDL (good) and LDL (artery-clogging) cholesterol. I am lucky that genetics has provided me a low LDL level, but I need to raise my HDL by increasing aerobic activity and consuming more omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed, she says, is rich in omega-3s, and since I like oatmeal, it would be nice if I sprinkled ground flax on it in the morning. (Ground is important; whole seeds pass through the system unabsorbed.) I can also shave three to four years off my body age by taking omega-3's in the form of fish or fish-oil capsules. While baked or broiled fish bores me, why not have sashimi, which I like? As for my risk of colon cancer, I need calcium, which I'm not getting by pouring milk on raisin bran. I should eat dairy separately, Klauer instructs; the cereal's fiber impedes calcium absorption. (As does iron; Philly cheese-steak pizza is less healthy than I'd rationalized.) The nonfat-yogurt smoothies I blend for my daughter are an ideal snack for me, too. Ditto her part-skim-mozzarella sticks. I should be getting as much calcium as possible also to prevent osteoporosis. I can eat beef, but the naturally raised kind, as the cattle graze and are fed grains rich in-yes-omega-3s.
Over the next few weeks, I eat Nu-Kitchen, incorporating Klauer's suggestions of yogurt shakes and sashimi. I'm at a party where I say no to a silver tray of miniature hamburgers that may or may not be from naturally raised beef. The tray comes around again, and there is only one burger left, but five empty buns. "The Atkins effect," says the waiter.
Under E's team-training concept, one of the three trainers works me out three times a week. They've targeted my weakest areas, "mixing it up," explains trainer Marcello, expounding on high reps, split squats, VO2 capacity, and something about Archimedes principle. I tune out and just do it.
At three weeks, I still haven't take a class or gone near the pool, but I haven't missed a single appointment. I guess that's why personal training works.
Another benefit of the strength training: My masseuse is on vacation, and I barely notice-my usual back and neck stiffness is gone. The diet must be working, too; I've kept off those four pounds.
At the end of the month, it's time to retest. Suzanne runs me through the same questionnaires and physical tests as before. I come out 38, one year less than my chronological age. I'm down ten years-or fourteen, depending on whether we trust my dated blood counts. There are significant changes in my strength and body-fat assessments, but the best news, strangely, is that I've raised my cardiovascular capacity from "very poor" to "poor" and reached the twenty-fifth percentile. Suzanne is delighted: "For one month, that's great!"
Walking home through the park, I worry that my organic bananas might be adding too much fiber to my smoothies, impeding the absorption of calcium. How much fiber in a banana, and how would I make a smoothie without one? I need to call Dr. Klauer. That night, at home, static lunges-uh-oh, is the weight supposed to be on my front foot or back? Where is Marcello?
I see I have a lot to learn. I guess this is what it's like to feel young.