You can always pick different parents.  Well, maybe not.

Recently I was on WCCO-TV, Channel 4 in Minnesota, to appear in the popular segment done by Heather Brown, called Good Question.  This week’s question was about “How to live to 100” and I gave some tips.  Click the picture below to see the piece and see the video – but really listen to Mr. Richard Mann, the gentleman who appears in the segment.  This 101 year old guy was seen shoveling snow the other day up here in Minnesota.  He starts out with “I love my life” – I want to be like this guy so much.

Here’s the video of the segment.  Click here or on the picture to see the video.


But what can you do to live to 100 years old?  Or maybe the better question is, do you even want to live to 100?

Over the years I have given a talk/workshop to various groups of people called “How to live to 100 or die trying” in which we explore these questions.  There is lots to talk about, and so in future posts I’ll be exploring ways to live healthy, including living to 100.  After all, there are some things you can do (don’t smoke, eat right, exercise, get certain tests), but much of it is out of our control (picking your parents, for instance).

And almost more interesting to me – outside of eat this and don’t eat that, or exercise this much, or get this test but not that one – is about our mental state of mind as we age.  I close almost all my “Live to 100” talks with the advice to not worry so much about things we cannot control.  It goes something like this:

Get these done

First I explain what you should do – the list of what to get done:

  1. Women:  mammograms (guidelines for breast cancer screening here) and Pap tests (guidelines for cervical cancer screening here).
  2. Men:  prostate cancer screening maybe.  Warning – controversy alert! (guidelines for prostate cancer screening here).  It is an entire topic to go over the controversial nature of prostate cancer screening.  I’ll do that sometime in the future.
  3. Men and women: colonoscopy or other colon cancer screening (guidelines for colon cancer screening here).  Note that colonoscopy is not your only option.
  4. Know and control your blood pressure (guidelines here).
  5. Know and control your cholesterol, particularly if high risk for heart disease (good discussion here).
  6. Do not smoke.  There is not a single positive redeeming characteristic of smoking.  You should quit and you can quit. If your doctor is not telling you that, he/she is not being honest enough.
  7. Maintain a healthy weight.

Then I close my “Live to 100” talk, after explaining these things, with the following:

What else should I worry about . . . .  ?


I’m not saying that you shouldn’t see the doctor if sick, or get treatment if you have chronic diseases (heck, I make a living out of treating chronic diseases).  It doesn’t mean ignore your mental health, either.  What I mean is that we (particularly in the affluent Western world) can get so worked up over our health that we forget to be happy.  We get so stressed out about healthy living that we deny our elderly grandparents a glass of wine – even though they have enjoyed a glass of wine for 60 years.  Or we get stressed about that extra piece of cheesecake we had at the party – when we absolutely love cheesecake.  Or we just loathe exercising but we insist on trudging down to the gym to run on a treadmill for an hour a day – when we could be out walking around the city lake like we enjoy.

After all, in the words of the great philosopher Woody Allen:

“You can live to be 100 if you give up all the things that make you want to be 100″

Wise man, that Woody.