It’s of value to think of health as that condition of the individual that makes possible the highest enjoyment of life.  Health, when thought of simply as the absence of disease, is a standard of mediocrity, but when thought of as a quality of life it is a standard of inspiration and ever-increasing achievement – Jesse F. Williams, M.D., circa 1930

Who is Mel?

Mel Zuckerman is the 90 year old founder of Canyon Ranch, a residential health spa with a philosophy of preventative strategies and optimal interventions for chronic disease management staffed by an interdisciplinary team of health and wellness providers.  He came to be inspired by Dr. Williams as he navigated his own life facing the perils encountered along the way.

About 40 years ago, Mel was on a path leading to his own demise. He was a yo-yo dieter signing himself into “fat farms”. Seeking information to evaluate his biological age, he learned at 50 that he had the bio-markers of a man in his 70’s. It was around that time that he developed the concept for Canyon Ranch, seeking a solution for himself and those he could invite to join him. As a real estate developer, he approached the banks that lent him money for his real estate development business. They turned him down because alcohol was not to be sold at his property. Cashing out his reserves, Mel and his wife, Enid, followed their dream and risked their savings to give birth to his concept of a healing, life-enhancing path to health.

At 90 years old, Mel is a living testament to what he preaches. While visiting Canyon Ranch with our client, he shared with us a story of an illness he had about 15 years ago. Mel should not have survived, but the medical team was certain that his life-style was the reason he is here today. By the time he was 65, Mel had the body of a 45 – 50 year old. He believes that his resiliency reserves give him the edge over others as he ages. What do you think?

Canyon Ranch and Complete Care Strategies

For the past 15 years, we have had the privilege of working with a special client who has unique challenges.  As an individual on the Autistic spectrum, his other health issues include, diabetes, sleep apnea, atrial fibrillation, obesity, and peripheral circulatory issues.

Several years ago, our quest to extend his life took us to trying a stay at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts.  On a path of increasing health deterioration, we were desperately exploring all options to keep him alive and intact. He was facing decreased mobility, the fear of amputation, increasing reliance on insulin, peripheral artery issues and a future care plan looking more and more bleak.

In June, our client made his 4th trip to Canyon Ranch celebrating his 70th birthday. Since his first visit, he has lost 100 pounds, he has reduced his insulin requirements substantially, his circulation and mobility has improved, and he is relating to his family and others in new ways!  (An extra bonus) What are these changes all about and are they available to everybody?

Building Resiliency Reserves for Aging

Mel’s Secret

Mels Secret is not a secret at all.  A visit to Canyon Ranch may not be available to most of us, but its findings about managing and maintaining health are well documented from many resources.  Obviously, our chronological age is a given. But, bio-markers measure our biological age and are 70 – 80% reversable! Our genome (our genes and heredity) are with us at birth but can be affected by the choices we make. Age will happen to all of us. Our heredity is a fact of life. But, Mel’s approach is to focus on what we can control. We can age with optimal function and live younger longer. We all have that choice!

Mel’s Tips (a partial list)

  • STOP SMOKING!!!
  • Exercise, Exercise, Exercise ( 3 – 4 hours each week) – Exercise reduces stress, removes glucose from the blood, is similar to taking anti-oxidants, increases muscle mass, strengthens the body, burns calories, controls weight, makes you younger on a cellular level, improves immune function, makes you smarter, may protect you cognitively, makes you happier, improves your sex life, helps with sleep
  • Get the connection between your actions and your health
  • Seek support from a friend, family member, wellness coach, or Aging Life Care Professional
  • Take home half your dinner in restaurants/eat less
  • Modify alcohol
  • Learn how to reduce stress
  • Work at something you enjoy
  • Have a purpose
  • Always be involved with family and friends
  • Play
  • Listen to your doctor
  • Be open to new ideas and keep learning
  • Learn how to manage stress especially concerning the things you can not change
  • Sleep well
  • Be a “joiner”
  • Have fun whenever possible

Conclusion:

While Mel’s suggestions are easy to list, it is not that easy to change life patterns established over time. At Complete Care Strategies, our professionals and I have had the priviledge of accompanying our clients through health crises, establishing care plans, managing chronic health challenges but also helping some of them to change life patterns one first step at a time.  The client depicted, with many challenges and limitations, is turning his life around since being open to a first step for a new path towards health. His success has also been dependent upon a loving family and our support team behind him.  Mel’s model and his first trip to Canyon Ranch triggered his first baby-step for change. Canyon Ranch is not the only way to achieve these results.  Are you ready to discover your first step? Let’s talk!

Mels Tips for Healthy Living: The Power of Possibilities by Mel Zuckerman

Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC