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Diet & Exercise with Dr. Steven Masley

Copyright Times Publishing Co., Jan 10, 2006, by Janet K. Keeler (St. Petersburg)

Dr. Steven Masley says we can look younger if only we would do three things: eat better, exercise and relax.

His three-pillar approach to good health and longevity is detailed in Ten Years Younger: The Amazing Ten-Week Plan to Look Better, Feel Better and Turn Back the Clock (Broadway, $23.95). Masley, 50, family practitioner and medical director of the Carillon Executive Health Program of St. Anthony's Hospital in St. Petersburg, says Americans are getting older faster, plus making themselves vulnerable to disease, by eating the wrong foods in great amounts and then sitting on the couch too much.

The results aren't pretty: We're overweight, overtired and not nearly as good-looking as we could be. Plus, he says, our sex lives are lackluster.

We can cure most of what ails us by eating more lean protein and fiber, plus lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. And don't forget a few vigorous laps around the neighborhood. It's not rocket science, he says, just the science of longevity.

Recently, we posed these questions to the doctor:

What is aging us prematurely?

There are several factors that accelerate aging. One is low-carb diets. You lose muscle and fat quickly and that makes you flabby. Muscle mass is one of the biggest predictors of who will look young in their golden years. Low-carb by definition is low-nutrient.

Inactivity is another aging accelerator. If you're inactive, you lose fitness. When people lose fitness, they lose mental quickness. Your skin looks worse, you think worse, your muscles are sagging and your waistline is growing.

Which pillar is the easiest to stay with?

The diet has been the easiest part. People feel better the first week, they are sleeping better and on the weekend they don't need a nap. The two things that help suppress appetite are healthy, lean protein and fiber. When you feel so good, it's not hard to stay with it.

What's a good indicator of success?

The worst indicator is weight. The best is body fat percentage, size of waistline and strength. I have one client on the program who went down 4 inches in his waist but didn't lose much weight because he gained muscle.

There are a lot of diet programs out there, why do so many fail?

Because people feel terrible when they are dieting. They have low- energy, are constipated, their sex drives drop and they have bad breath. Who's going to stick with that? The best predictor of weight control over a period of time is not diet, it's exercise. I find it irresponsible that all these diet books don't emphasize this. The best predictor of being independent into your golden years is your muscle mass.

When people come to you, what do you tell them is the first step?

Goals. I ask them what do you want to accomplish in life - health, physical and professional. Usually they need more energy, more mental stamina. Most people want to be trimmer but the key is to eat well and manage your stress.

What happens at the end of 10 weeks?

You feel great and the epilogue is that you stick with it. People have forgotten how wonderful they can feel. They'll say I haven't felt this good in 10 years, and that's what gave me the idea for the name of the book.

People are used to feeling lousy. Their doctors tell them, "What do you expect at your age?" I expect my 80-year-olds to feel great, be working part time, traveling and chasing grandchildren.

Who are the most motivated clients?

Business executives are very motivated because they work 50 to 60 hours a week and they have to feel better. They need energy. I am seeing whole companies now, and suddenly you have the whole upper management skipping the doughnuts and showing up at the gym.

Do you follow what you preach?

Absolutely and I feel great. I am happy to get up. I work all day, I come home and I feel terrific for my family.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at (727) 893-8586 or krieta@sptimes.com. Her blog, Stir Crazy, is www.sptimes.com/blogs/ food.

IF YOU GO

Dr. Steven Masley's "Turn Back the Clock: Discover How to Become 10 Years Younger" lectures focus on how to use dietary recommendations, exercise, stress management and supplements to look and feel younger. The lectures are free and open to the public:

- Wednesday, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., conference rooms A and B in the Carillon Outpatient Center, 900 Carillon Parkway, St. Petersburg (in the Carillon office park).

- Thursday, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., St. Anthony's Hospital Auditorium, 1200 Seventh Ave. N, St. Petersburg.

Reservations are required. Please call (727) 825-1111 to register. Go to www.stanthonys.com to find out more about the Turn Back the Clock program, including a 10-week course beginning Jan. 23. Masley's Web site is www.drmasley.com.

SWEET 16 VITALITY FOODS

Dr. Steven Masley says the following foods are especially good for your heart and circulation, plus they energize metabolism and support bones and skin.

- Green leafy vegetables

- Lean protein

- Seafood

- Beans and legumes

- Soy

- Whole grains

- Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, kale)

- Berries

- Nuts

- Flaxseed

- Fresh garlic

- Fresh herbs and spices

- Green tea

- Nonfat yogurt

- Red wine

- Cocoa and dark chocolate

- JANET K. KEELER

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