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6 Keys to Longevity: Pro-Aging vs Anti-Aging

Aging isn’t a bad thing. Instead of trying to find the best anti-aging solutions, consider instead living a more pro-aging lifestyle. Consider a life of longevity. This week, Dr. Sandi discusses all the ways she embraces longevity and how she remains pro-aging in a world of anti-aging.

Dr. Sandi shares her 6 keys to longevity. These keys help to bolster the mind and body as you age. Through functional movement, social connections, diet, and more, you can age well and avoid some of the common issues that can develop as you age. From micro-connections to resistance training to staying curious, see how you can easily add these actions into your daily routine.

Episode Highlights

  • Understand the benefits of building and maintaining social connections.
  • Learn the connection between aging, protein, and resistance training.
  • See how staying curious can help you find meaningful work in your later years.
  • Check out additional resources on these topics from industry experts, JJ Virgin, Mark Hyman, Gabrielle Lyons, and Debra Atkinson.
Sandra Scheinbaum, Ph.D., IFMCP

Meet the Host

Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum

Founder and CEO of FMCA


Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum spent nearly five decades making healthcare and education more holistic and innovative. With a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, Sandi specialized in positive psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy, and mind-body medicine, and served as a teacher and the director of a clinic for Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD). She is a pioneer in her field, having implemented programs such as the use of neurofeedback with patients and becoming the first-ever psychologist to earn certification through The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM).

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Episode Transcript

Welcome to “Health Coach Talk.” Today is a solo episode. Why am I doing a solo episode? I have been asked to talk about longevity. I am going to be turning 74 next month, and I have been thinking a lot about aging. So, I thought I would share what I think is key, and I am calling this pro-aging, not anti-aging.

We’re going to talk today about what I think is key to what I am referring to as pro-aging. We hear a lot about anti-aging, but this would be the perspective that there’s something really bad about aging. And I am taking a viewpoint that aging brings wisdom, aging brings greater perspective, and you can age well, so that you don’t suffer from the many, many chronic conditions, unfortunately, that plague us, that we are at risk for as we grow older.

So, let’s begin. Let’s begin at the top. And all of these things I’m going to talk about are ones that I have thought about in my own life, and that’s why I’m sharing them. But it also correlates with what research is not telling us.

So, curiosity. Curiosity is a character strength. This comes from positive psychology. Curiosity is categorized as one of the wisdom strengths. We all have them. You see this when we look at young children. They are so curious about the world around them.

I have twin grandkids that are about a year and a half now. And how are they curious? Well, everything goes in their mouth. They’re exploring the world that way. They’re exploring through touch. Everything is new for the first time, and it’s a sense of awe and wonder and, “I want to know more.”

So, in order to learn, you first begin with curiosity, “I’m curious to know. I’m curious to learn.” And so it can be learning and acquiring new knowledge. For example, before I started to record this podcast, I was curious. I had heard that a phone can be used really well, mounted to your laptop as a camera. So, that’s what I tried to do and learn new things about it. So, when I’ve mastered that, it’s like, “Yes, I learned something.” But it starts with curiosity, “I’m curious about…”

One of the main ways that we can apply curiosity is not just learning about facts but facts about people and learning, in other words, new people, meeting new people. And that leads to number two, which is building social connections.

I’ve heard people in my age bracket say, “I have friends. I don’t need to go out and meet new people. I’m not interested in meeting new people at my age.” That would be a red flag because having these new experiences, finding connections with new people is exciting. It is being really full of vitality, and never knowing what that encounter will lead to as you have these new friends.

So, I am constantly looking at building these relationships. It’s why I love going to conferences, to events, to local community events, and finding people and talking with them about who they are and building these relationships. When we lose interest, again, when we’re not curious and we lose interest in the people who we might be potentially connecting with, that is a red flag.

The number one concern amongst so many older adults is loneliness, people feeling lonely. Now, that doesn’t mean that there’s not a value in solitude. I was an only child, and I love solitude. I love times when I’m alone. And you can feel lonely in a crowd, but having connections with people is so, so important. In fact, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, who is a noted positive psychology researcher, talks about these as these micro connections.

So, in other words, you go to the store, you go to a grocery store, and you start having a conversation with somebody in the checkout line, or you just even smile at somebody, and you strike up a conversation. You might be at a park and you start talking to a mom who has a young child, and that connection… That happened to me. I was at the farmer’s market the other day, and we were waiting in line to pay. And there was a young mom, and she had a child turning two, and we had a great conversation. And so we didn’t exchange our names or our contact information, but it’s just those, kind of, microbursts of connection that are really positive. And so it doesn’t have to be forming a brand-new friendship for life.  It can be just meeting people, talking to people, and feeling that sense of connection.

The next one is something that I am adamant about—lifting heavy things. So, we need to be able to lift heavy things. I was at the grocery store the other day, and typically people will ask you, “Do you need help out of your car or to your car with your bags of groceries?” And I actually ask them to pack it heavy because I want something heavy. And as soon as they’ve packed my groceries, put it in the cart, I take it out of the cart and carry the bags myself to the car. I don’t use the cart because I want that experience of just functional movement, being able to lift the bag in and out of the car, for example.

So, we tend to lose that. And a big, big concern, as you know, is sarcopenia as people get older. So, when people ask me what my fitness routine is like, first on the list is now lifting heavy weights. And so I do resistance training, and I look at the most efficient type of resistance training.

JJ Virgin has a lot of information on her podcast “Well Beyond 40” and looking at these compound movements where you’re doing push-ups and pull-ups, so you do a push, a pull. You do something for your quads, your glutes, lunges, squats. They’re very efficient. So, I try and do those. I just work them into my routine.

So, in addition to actually lifting weights every day when I’m waiting for my coffee to finish brewing, I do 10 to 20 air squats. I do 100 push-ups a day. I do pull-ups with a TRX where I really am focusing on grip strength. In fact, I have these grippers that I keep at my desk when I’m in a meeting, for example, or checking email. I will use these grippers because grip strength is really important, and we tend to lose grip strength, and that’s a warning sign. As we’re getting older, we want to be able to open lids and jars and maintain that grip strength. So, I focus on that as well.

And so lifting heavy, for me, is three, four times a week, having one day devoted more to legs, the other day will be more upper body, and trying to do these compound movements, where I will do a squat and then combine it with an overhead lift, for example. And if this is intimidating, as it is for so many women my age, to get a trainer or there are a lot of programs online.

Again, you can start small with just your body weight. I tend to go to the gym, and it’s really upsetting. I will see women my age who are doing cardio, which is fine, but it turns out we don’t need as much cardio. We need more of the resistance training because we are losing muscle as we age.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon is an expert on this. She developed Muscle Centric Medicine. You can look at her work and “Forever Strong.” It’s a great resource, if you are a health coach, really helping clients to understand the importance of resistance training as you get older.

And along with that is protein. I was a vegan for many years, and I didn’t thrive. And I see a lot of women my age who are not getting anywhere near the amount of protein that they need. Now, for me, it’s one gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight. And so I’m trying to go more than what my current weight is.

And so I will start my day with at least 50 grams of protein. I do a loaded smoothie where I will start with sheep’s milk, goat’s milk unsweetened, and then I will add some whey protein powder, often goat’s milk whey protein powder, which is what Dr. Mark Hyman likes. I might add some collagen peptides to that, so that I’m getting a heavy dose of protein often with hemp seeds, flax seeds, for example, chia seeds to get a bit more protein. And I add it up to around 50 grams.

And then for lunch, I used to have a salad for lunch and not much protein. Probably I’d have some nuts and things and go, “That’s an adequate source of protein.” Well, it was not. And many people will think even… They’ll order eggs. And some people are still ordering egg white omelets for example, and they’ll make, like, two eggs. Well, an egg has six grams of protein. That’s not nearly enough if you’re going to do that for breakfast, for example.

So, I know JJ Virgin talks about, like, having two eggs and then adding more egg whites or other people say four eggs, even five eggs for a meal. Now, that sounds like a whole lot. And as women, we were not raised in that era. That would be for, like, the crazy bodybuilder who might have that much protein, but older women need as much protein as an elite bodybuilder.

And so this is a hard concept to wrap your head around. I go out with my contemporaries, and they are not ordering a full entrée necessarily. They might order a salad with just little slices of chicken but not nearly enough. And so it’s really crucial for me.

I have transitioned to animal protein years ago because I realized that I could not get what I needed with a plant-based diet. I still eat lots of plants, but I turned to animal protein because that’s the only way I can get in an adequate amount of protein.

Talking about adequate, adequate sleep. We tend to compromise our sleep. I came of age in the era where it was considered a strength to say you’ve hardly slept and you were working round the clock. And so I have made a conscious effort to lights out.

And my husband is more of a night owl. He will stay up really late, and he’ll be watching television and that’s it. I just have a time between 10 and 10:30 where I want to be in bed. And I track it with an Oura Ring. I have to wear it on my thumb because my fingers are too small for the Oura Ring, and it tells… It’s very insightful. If you’re a coach, you can help your clients to use something like this or really show them the research on the importance of sleep, enough time to get deep sleep and REM sleep, which tends to be more problematic. As we age, we can’t get enough particularly deep sleep. So, quality sleep, I prioritize sleep.

There’s another area that I want to talk about, and that has to do with work, meaningful work. You know, 65 was the proverbial retirement age. It’s when social security benefits kicked in. Most people would retire at that age. I founded FMCA when I was 65 because I had a mission to train health coaches. And I see people who are working, and they are my age, and they are vibrant. They are connected to a meaning and purpose.

I know people in their 80s and even 90s who are still working, and they are enjoying…it’s what keeps them going. We have students at FMCA who are in their 80s. We have one couple in their 80s. They took the program together. We have a woman, a graduate who was in a retirement community, and she went through our program. Her mission is now to help people with cognitive decline.

So, there’s so many ways that it is beneficial to work. It is exercise for your brain. In the work that I do, I have to stay on top of learning new things, learning new things that have to do with operation, new technologies, new software. And so it is an exercise for your brain, but it is also a way to connect with others and connect to a purpose that is higher than you. And when you have that higher meaning, that is something that is pro-aging.

We find that having a second career like being a health coach can do that so well. And that’s why we have people who had careers, perhaps they were teachers, they were corporate bankers, they were medical doctors or they hadn’t worked, now they are coming to health coaching because it is highly tied to meaning and purpose.

As you get older, what I’m finding is that your perspective is so much better because you’ve lived so long that you have seen things that you can really apply that wisdom to support others and share your experiences. It’s almost like a mentoring position where you will be looked upon with somebody who can really be of that service to share your experience, to share your wisdom, and to really help others to lead happier, healthier lives.

We are talking to people who are in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and they can prepare for their future self. When they are my age and they’re not doing their current work, they will have health coaching.

And in my day, I grew up in the 50s and 60s, and it was my mom and she was like, “Oh, go into teaching, that’s a career you could always fall back on.” Well, today health coaching is that career that you can use at this time in your life. When you perhaps are retired or you’re winding down from your work or you want something that is more connected to meaning, you want to serve others, we’re finding that health coaches can be it.

So, these are what I have identified, how I live my life, and it is by no means exhausted. But stay curious, curious about the world around you. I want to learn new things. Love of learning. These strengths don’t go away. I loved learning in high school, and I still love learning new things. So, being curious and building these social connections.

I have friends, I have connections of all ages. And so when I’m in a group with people who are much younger, I don’t feel old. I feel really wanting to be with these people, getting to know them. And so feeling, again, that…it helps you to feel vibrant and alive.

And what else is helping feeling alive? It is exercise. It is non-negotiable, particularly lifting heavy things. I feel so good. I did a deadlift the other day, and I go up in one-pound increments. I have a system called Tonal that allows you to do that safely.

And so all I want to do is one, you know, one rep max. And I was able to get up to 81 pounds, which for me was good. And my goal is to keep adding to that, so I can lift my body weight eventually. But doing that hard, hard movement where you can barely lift it, that’s where you need to go, not these little, light three and five-pound weights.

And a wonderful person who can give you information about that is Debra Atkinson, Flipping Fifty. We will share in the show notes these resources. She has a lot of programs for women and men as well who want to do resistance training. And then eat lots of protein and making sure you are doing that protein first. And it’s starting with protein. Get your meals first. You fill up on that, and then you go to the carbs and fats, for example. Getting adequate sleep. And finally doing meaningful work.

So, that’s it for my solo episode. We will be back on “Health Coach Talk” with more guests to explore the world of health coaching. Bye for now.