Live to 100? No thanks!

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

Today’s guest post comes to you from the engaging blog called PinkUnderBelly, written by Nancy Hicks, “a sassy Texas girl dealing with breast cancer and its messy aftermath.”  Her messy aftermath is substantial: diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in April 2010 at age 40, a bilateral mastectomy within three weeks of diagnosis, a nasty infection three weeks post-op, which led to four more hospitalizations and two more surgeries.

While Nancy’s blog focuses on breast cancer, her message on living until age 100 will ring true for many of us heart patients, too – republished here with her kind permission:   

“I get a handy-dandy email in my inbox every day from Oprah’s magazine. I like her magazine and always find something useful, whether a book review or an article about a do-gooder in some random far-flung part of the world. Because Oprah is queen of the world and can cover whatever stories or topics she chooses, you never see ridiculous headlines or teasers on the cover of her magazine, like what we see on so many magazines. Sometimes I’m downright embarrassed by them while waiting in line at the grocery store: do we need to know that Hilary is cheating on Bill with a lesbian lover? Do you really want to guess which celeb’s backside is completely covered in cellulite but only partially covered by a yellow bikini? I’m never embarrassed by the cover of O Magazine.

“So today’s email had Dr. Oz’s tips on 10 things you can do to live to 100 — or beyond.


“I’m all for healthy living, but I most definitely do not want to live to be 100 — or beyond. I’m exhausted just thinking about that.

“Perhaps living to 100 — or beyond — but never growing old, feeble, and/or dependent on others wouldn’t be too bad, but given my not one, but two bouts with cancer, coupled with my degenerating joints, I’m guessing that won’t be in the cards for me. If I live to be 100 — or beyond — but my knees won’t bend and I’m stuck in a wheelchair, or even worse in bed, relying on others to care for me, I’m going to be hopping mad.

“Maybe I’m taking Dr. Oz too literally. Does he really think that by following his 10 tips, we can live to be 100? I dunno, but here are his suggestions.

1. Eat red foods. The examples he give are beets, which relax blood vessels, and red cabbage, which protects against cancer. I love, love, love beets, so perhaps my blood vessels are relaxed. However, I clearly did not eat enough red cabbage, as it most definitely did not protect me from cancer.

2. Drink a cup of black tea. It’s supposed to boost survival rates of those who suffer a heart attack by 28 percent. Ok, I admit that stats like these confuse me. Does this mean that black-tea drinkers who have a heart attack are 28 percent more likely to not die from the heart attack, or 28 percent les likely to have a heart attack in the first place? I’m confused, but I do drink a lot of iced tea, so hopefully I’m covered either way.

3. Dial one phone number from memory every day. Not using speed dial or your cell phone’s memory exercises the brain’s “chunking” ability. By grouping info into chunks, you can keep your brain active and alert. I think working a crossword puzzle does the same thing, but don’t quote me on that.

4. Use the first stall in a public restroom. Okay, I do this whenever I am stuck and must use a public restroom, although I avoid public restrooms at all cost. Being the good germophobe that I am, I already knew this trick. See, most people seek privacy in a public restroom, so they tend to use the farthest stalls. More use equals more bacteria, which freaks me out. Now I’m wishing I hadn’t shared this tip, though, as I predict a rush on my preferred first stall.  Some days I wonder how I’m able to leave the house at all.

5. Take the stairs, two at a time. We all know that taking the stairs instead of the elevator is preferable for good health, but Dr. Oz says take that a step further — literally — and take two stairs at a time. Easy for him to say, with his long legs. I’ll try it, even though my legs aren’t long, but I’ll probably have to use the handrail, which I’m pretty sure is covered in germs. Never mind.

6. Stretch after you shower. Stretching is good. Tight muscles and tendons are bad (says the girl who hates to stretch). Once your muscles are good and heated from the shower, it’s easier to stretch them, and stretching promotes good posture and helps decrease muscle soreness from taking the stairs two in one go.

7. Hold your breath. Dr. Oz touts this as a mini workout for your lungs, and something that can be done anytime, anywhere. He recommends holding your breath for 10 seconds, then blowing it out through pursed lips, which activates all the little nooks & crannies in our lungs. I tend to hold my breath while using a public restroom, so as long as I blow it out through pursed lips, I guess I’m good.

8. Do the reverse warrior. Dr. Oz does a lot of yoga, and if he says the reverse warrior is the most important pose, I believe him. Click here to see how to do it. This pose strengthens the legs, increases flexibility in the spine, and stretches the hips, inner thighs, and groin. Get to it, y’all.

9. Chew your food 20 times. Grandma said it first, but Dr. Oz tells us why: not only does it slow us down and helps us avoid eating like a pack of wild animals, it can decrease our risk of diabetes. Horking down food too fast leads to overeating, which can lead to obesity, which can lead to diabetes. Dr. Oz says if you don’t want to count out how many times you chew, get into the habit of putting your fork down in between bites.

10. Cut your cravings in half. Instead of trying to deny your cravings, Dr. Oz recommends giving in to them, but only by half. So instead of gobbling down a bag of potato chips, eat half the bag. Instead of devouring the carton of ice cream, just eat half of it. Actually, the example he gave was a cookie. One cookie. Which he wants you to break in half. So I’m guessing he would counsel me to go ahead and pour myself a glass of champagne, but to only drink half of it.

“Yet another reason to not live to be 100 — or beyond. I want the whole glass!”

© 2012 PinkUnderBelly



Q: Would you like to live to 100?

12 thoughts on “Live to 100? No thanks!

  1. Well, I would like to live till 96. By that time, Madeleine, my beloved grand-daughter will be 25 and I would have had the time to tell a few extra things that maybe useful. I also expect that she can handle missing her Pappy. Oh I forgot, I am now 76 and come the time to leave, I will initiate that myself.


  2. I guess I’m relatively optimistic. I wonder if attitudes towards getting older depend on what we experienced with our own parents. My father (a smoker and alcohol consumer since adolescence) died of esophageal cancer at 65. My mother (non-smoker and very rare drinker) died at 91 with a few physical complaints (knee arthritis) and (apparently) full mental capacities. Assuming my mind gets no worse than occasional forgetfulness, I want to live as long as I can. There’s always another book I want to read!

    Thanks for the post, Carolyn. It’s very interesting to see how different people answer this question.


    1. Excellent points, Jan. Your mother’s experience is likely what we’d all strive for if we could guarantee that we’d enjoy good physical health and mental sharpness AND have the people we care about nearby – but there is NO guarantee of that no matter how many “red foods” we eat today. I spent the past 10 years visiting my elderly friend Ruth in her longterm care residence after she survived a massive stroke. Ruth was a brilliant and charming woman, educated at the Sorbonne in Paris, master storyteller, teacher, ballroom dancer and qi gong practitioner all her life. But watching her and the other frail elderly residents there slumped in their wheelchairs staring for hours at the big aquariums lining the corridors was horrifying to me. Nothing to look forward to except applesauce at tea time. Yikes.

      So I cringe when Dr. Oz (and worse, his plastic surgery pals whom he trots onstage to demonstrate injections of wrinkle-fighting biotoxins into the willing faces of his studio audience) starts in with his anti-aging miracles – as if “eating red foods” could actually stave off the inevitable progress towards aging and death.


  3. My Aunt Bea in Kansas was a sharp, lively, independent and opinionated woman of long-lived Quebec stock, and she was 96 when she told me that it drove her crazy when other people said: “You’ll live to be a hundred! 110!”

    As far as Bea was concerned, she had had a good life, but most of what had made life good was over. Her husband had been dead for 15 years; every year more of her friends were gone. She followed what was happening in the world; cherished her independence; lived in her own house and balanced her own checkbook right up until 98 when a series of strokes finally forced her into assisted living. Even then, she stayed on top of her affairs.

    As others got more and more excited about her coming milestone, she insisted that she did not care one whit about reaching one hundred. She was ready to go. And last Christmas morning, when I got the call that Bea had died 6 days shy of her 100th birthday, I thought to her: “You showed them!”


    1. Thanks so much for sharing your Aunt Bea’s story, Kathleen. When others surrounding her were getting more and more excited about her 100th coming up, they clearly weren’t getting her insistence that the milestone meant nothing to her, considering the losses you list and more importantly, the overall quality of her life by then.


  4. YES! I want to live so long the gov. sends some one to my house to make sure I’m really alive! Not of course if I can’t tell the guy to kiss my rosy pink bum. I don’t want to be a veggie in a bed; on the other hand being a feisty old lady still getting around and sounding off ….sure!


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