This is Who I Am

Welcome! My name is Al Van Abbema. I was born on a farm in northwest Iowa in 1936. I was nine years old when World War II ended. By the time I left for the Marine Corps in 1954 my mother had given birth to thirteen of us. Eleven of us are still living, all over 55 years old, and all in pretty good health.

In our growing up years we had measles, chicken pox, mumps and whooping cough. Many of us had all of them. Another large family in our neighborhood was quarantined an entire summer with small pox. I had a classmate with polio. During the winter our house was never entirely free of colds or flu. By today's criteria our diet was unhealthy; potatoes and gravy five or six times a week and lots of cookies, pastries, and deserts. My parents bought white flour and white sugar in 100 pound bags. Everything was home cooked and annual canning was a major undertaking. In that era it was a mother's goal to 'put some meat on those bones'. Animal fat, sugar, and starch from flour served that purpose well.

How did we survive all the disease and heavy diet? I think there are two reasons. First, we were calorie burners. No couch potatoes (no TV)! In a large family everyone had chores to do beginning at an early age. It was crowded in our house so we played outside, summer and winter, all day and often well after dark. Indoor entertainment was mainly reading and sleep came easily and early. The second thing is that I'm sure our immune systems were stronger and healthier. I believe that challenging the immune system, like weight lifting, makes it stronger and we challenged ours. In spite of never ending sickness, flu and colds I don't recall ever taking prescription drugs and the only supplement I remember is cod liver oil...liquid...every day in the winter time.

I give you this background to illustrate the sharp contrast in health lifestyles I have witnessed in my lifetime. I lived in a time when obesity was a rarity, especially among children, and not an epidemic. Processed foods from boxes and cans were the exception and not the rule. Doctors prescribed drugs only after all other treatment failed and not as a first option.

I am now 73 years old, happy, and healthy. I have three children and seven grandchildren. I live a very simple life in a small motor home. The southwest Arizona desert is my winter home and the mountains of Colorado, Utah and Arizona my summer home. I walk 3 or 4 miles a day (a lot of it barefoot), ride bike, work out with weights and do yoga type stretching exercises. I eat fresh foods. The only thing I buy in cans is fish and beans and the only thing I buy in boxes is high fiber cereal. I am not implying that preserved foods are bad for you. In fact preservation, particularly canning actually enhances some foods. I just prefer fresh. I have not had white sugar or white flower in my cupboard for over ten years. I put real effort into staying healthy and feeling good.

I am not a health professional. My background is in manufacturing engineering. What I present on this website comes from experience and lots of research. My main focus is that each person should take total responsibility for his or her own health. The body is a miraculous creation whose natural condition is wellness. I recognize that modern medicine has improved and saved many lives but I think that invasive procedures and pharmaceuticals should be final resorts and not priority treatment. If each of us put as much effort into our physical, mental, and spiritual wellness as we do into making money we would be a super race. Nothing is more important than feeling good. Enjoy the journey.
As Featured On EzineArticles

Return to Vitality After 60 Homepage