Silent Archimedes

Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

Book Review: 50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People

Posted by silentarchimedes on January 3, 2009

50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People

Author: Sally Beare

By Sally Beare

By Sally Beare (2006)


Catchy title. Bargain book at the local Barnes & Noble. This book was an easy choice to pick up. Who wouldn’t want a list of tips from the lifestyles of the world’s longest living people? I”m at the point in my life where youthfulness doesn’t protect me anymore from the stupid lifestyle decisions I make every now and then. The occasional chocolate cream puff or the yummy CPK garlic chicken pizza are not one-night stays in a hotel but treat my body like a three-month summer home. The staying up until 4am late nights affect more of the next day than back in college. And for all the years of fighting for independence from the parents, well, planning healthy daily diets and exercise now has become chores rather than reflex. A nice book to motivate and light a fire under an young adult passing 30 was necessary. So how did this book do?


I could not find an official webpage of Sally Beare’s or any Wikipedia or other page devoted to her. The short biography on B&N shows that her background is not in nutrition but in English, Psychology and Russian literature. After taking on several diverse jobs, she became a nutritionist only after she noticed dramatic improvements in her health after changing her diet. She has since written three books on the matter (GoodReads). She was born in England and now resides in Islamabad, Pakistan with her family.


In glancing at the title, you might quickly think that the book is simply a list of 50 secrets that were gleamed from people who lived a really long time. Although the list is obviously part of the book, it is actually only half the book. Beare has done her homework and talks in great detail about the five long-living communities that she researched for this book. Part One of the book describes the lifestyles of the Okinawans, Symians and three others, and offers insights into their similarities and reasons for long life. Part two is a listing of the 50 secrets, but each secret is accompanied by how the communities put the secret to action. The final section puts it all together and suggests recipes that would help in living these secrets.


To many people that pick up this book, the 50 secrets sticks out more than reading about the world’s longest living people. There is this assumption that people that live a long time live simple, stress-free lives. Although we know this, we don’t adhere to it because we don’t really think that is possible in America, the age of work, work, work and money, money, money. However, taking the time to read a book like this would help nonetheless because it would put your crazy busy life in perspective. The fact that the high quality of life in America does not lead to longer lives (as compared to simpler communities around the world) has to be disconcerting.

The majority of the 50 life secrets in the book are very insightful. I have heard many of them before, but to read about them with strong evidence that a certain long-living community adheres to them sinks in more. We are inundated with contradicting health suggestions on the news and Internet  that we become confused with what to follow and tune them out. We also become jaded by the confusion surrounding health advice that used to be taken as a given. For example, the efficacy of multi-vitamins has been thrown into question lately. This book does not seem like it has ulterior motives. It is simply a relay of observations by an author that did her research. I like the book for that.

I really enjoyed the first part of the book, where Beare talks about each community in detail. Most people have heard of long-living people from Okinawa, Japan, but how many have heard of the Symians in Greece, or the Hunzakuts in Pakistan? The third part of the book was also nice. Putting everything together, offering suggestions on how to put the advice to use in busy livelihoods and giving good healthy recipes.

So, how was the major part of the book? The 50 secrets? Unsurprisingly, 37 of them are diet-related. The other thirteen are lifestyle-related, such as the importance of exercise and  living a more simple and emotionally-balanced life. Most of the secrets are useful and can be done with only a little bit of consciousness when going grocery shopping. The problem I have with this section is its length. It takes 174 pages for the 50 secrets in my edition. That’s roughly 3.5 pages per secret. Now that may not seem like much, but do you really need to spend six pages on Finding Good Fats in Fish (secret 11) or seven pages on how to Choose Buckwheat, Brown Rice, and Other Whole Grains (secret 3)? The problem is actually not in the secret description, its the stories that come from the longest-living people about that particular secret. At first, this was fun reading and actually helped the validity of the list, but then it started becoming repetitive and it seemed like the author was straining to fill pages on certain secrets. For example, many secrets are closely tied to each other and stories from the communities are obviously going to be similar regarding the secrets. For example, the whole grains secret mentioned above and Have a Handful of Nuts and Seeds Daily are pretty self-explanatory. In the end, most of the diet stories have the same examples, the people use them in their meals. No need to go on and on about each one. Most of these stories should just have been left in Part One and leave Part Two solely on the secrets and the scientific evidence  behind them.


This is a good book. Although the length could have been much shorter, I respect the author for doing thorough research. Of the 37 diet secrets, I would say two-thirds of them are definitely doable right away. Some like Use Hemp and Sprout Your Own Superfoods, are unrealistic, especially for a young adult male like myself. The 13 non-diet secrets are very good because it really puts our busy lives into perspective. We realize how we have neglected the value of sleep, exercise, laughing and breathing all for what? Money? Instant gratification?

The value of the secrets and Part One of the book makes this book worthy of  8 stars.

8 out of 10 stars

Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Posted in Books, Health and Fitness, List, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Time to step back at times of bad to look at the good…

Posted by silentarchimedes on October 9, 2008

With everything so depressing in this country and the world right now, it’s time to step back in our lives and look for the good that is happening.


1. If you are a football fan, it’s football season! Especially if you are a Giants fan!

2. If you just started a loving relationship, cherish these moments where everything just seems right.

3. If you have good physical and mental health, cherish the genes and hard work you’ve put in.

4. If you just got married or engaged, enjoy the comfort that you two will face the future together.

5. If you love movies, music, and photography, enjoy the technological revolution going on now.

6. If you love the free flow of information, enjoy the internet revolution.

7. If you love autumn, enjoy the next few weeks of cooler weather, falling colorful leaves, and comfy clothes.

8. If you are a college student, enjoy your only years of irresponsible independence.

9. If you consistently play sports or exercise, enjoy its stress relief, health benefits and competition.


10. Realize that at the worst times are when heroes and financial opportunities are made.

11. Realize that the eight years of this presidency is finally almost over, and things can only get better.

12. Realize that many economists have been saying for several years that a REAL recession is good for this country in order to purge all the greed and evil that has permeated the economic system, from government to corporations to consumers.

13. Realize that this is a great opportunity for America to return to its true democratic and founding values. (Hint, hint… vote for you know who…)

14. Realize that there is still 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. Everything bad happening are just local minimums in history.

15. Realize that you are only one of over 100 billion humans that have ever graced this Earth. Does it really matter?

16. Realize that your life here on Earth (avg 70 years) is nothing compared to the age of Earth (4.5 billion years). That’s only 0.0000016%! Enjoy your time on Earth!

17. Realize that life has been so good for this country for two decades, it’s okay to retreat a bit in order to fix the system.

18. Realize that the majority of people on Earth are still worse off than you. They have more extreme short-term worries like food, shelter, clothing and diseases.

19. Realize that everything in existence is cyclical. Nature, history, emotions, economic times, etc etc…

20. Realize that you have the power to do something about it! You are not helpless and thus it’s not hopeless! Vote!


If you are reading this, cherish that you have freedom of speech and your vision.

Bless you…

Silent Archimedes 🙂

Posted in Health and Fitness, List, Opinion, Sports, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Observations: The Campus Rec Center at the Beginning of the School Year

Posted by silentarchimedes on September 9, 2008

It’s that time of year again. The beginning of the school year on college campuses all around the country. High hopes are abound…

A campus weight room

A campus weight room

For ten years and counting, I have been on a college campus. First as an undergrad, then a master’s student, and now a doctoral student. As an undergrad, the beginning of each school year is very exciting. There’s high hopes for better grades, hanging with new and old friends, maybe finding a significant other, and of course, the ambitious workout regimen.

Now as a grad student, we know better. We’ve been so beat down about high expectations and random events, that all we want is some stability and discipline in our schedules. Couple with maturity that comes with age, and you appreciate whatever comes your way in life. Going to the gym and doing my workout is now entrenched in  my busy schedule that there are no useless impractical goals at the beginning of each school year. What happens now is having the joy at watching undergrads go through their obviously high expectations in the gym in early September. Let’s see what I’ve seen of undergrads in the gym just in the past week since school has started again:

  • A boy doing lat pull-downs with a weight twice what he can accomplish. Worst form I’ve ever seen. Whole chest is caved inwards. Arms are shaking. He then moves to the back rows machine. Tries one rep, realizes it’s too light and doubles the weight. Then he does a rep, and you can see that he is struggling to pull the bar even with his chest. Commences to do only 4 reps and slams the weight. To top it off, he then gets up, turns around and flexes in the mirror. Hahahaha!
  • A guy running in the opposite direction the track. I tell him he’s going the wrong way. He tells me, no, it was this way the other day. Proceeds to almost crash into a bunch of joggers going the right way. Changes direction…
  • The funniest is seeing guys do the most complicated stretches and routines. I bet those people don’t last two weeks in the gym. Three boys, obviously working out together, hold 10 lb weights to their head, lie down and rotate in unison together for like 3 min. We’ll see how long that lasts.
  • Guys slamming the weight stack on a machine as they finish a set. I hate that! Show some etiquette!
  • Guys obviously running on the treadmills and track must faster than they can. If they really ran that speed, they would last at most 5 minutes. Guys doing mad wind sprints on a 1/10 mile track.
  • Little skinny Asian workout partners in the gym acting like they’ve been lifting for 10 years.
  • Nothing against weight-challenged people, but I haven’t seen so many of them in the gym since I saw Battle of the Yokozunas on ESPN a few years ago.



You know, the more I think about it, the more I think it’s just the guys. When I was at the gym during the summer, it’s mostly girls, grad students and old guys. People that have the discipline to keep their workouts even when really busy. The only thing most guys keep doing during the semester is play basketball. I guess it’s the whole 18-22 year old boys’ testosterone and sexual energy. It’s funny because most girls go about doing their workout, but it’s quite obvious that guys are well aware of their surroundings, the competition (other guys) and the hot girls around them. I admit, I was like that when I was an undergrad. I wish I was more mature then, but I guess that’s not nature’s way.

Well, in a month I’ll have the gym back to myself. And this annual ritual will once again go back into hiding…

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