Listen up people. As we get older, we turn into our mothers and fathers (maybe even our grandparents). The title of this post is the title of one of Gayelord Hauser’s bestselling books. Remember Gayelord? I’ve mentioned him a few times on the DailyOxford. This particular book was usually always somewhere near my mother. She read it CONSTANTLY and talked about his philosophies CONSTANTLY. The pages of the book are somewhat tattered now; sentences have been underlined; and the spine is practically falling apart. But given that my mother lived to just short of 91 years, I’m taking no chances. I’m busy studying Gayelord’s book. Look Younger, Live Longer can now be found near me.

I’ve told you that my mother and my maternal grandmother were obsessed with Gayelord’s philosophies, as was my maternal grandfather (they lived to 87 and 90 respectively). Neither my mother nor grandmother smoked or drank. My grandfather cheated a tad: he didn’t smoke but loved a brandy after dinner. All three of them would be outdoors in the early morning hours doing their bending and stretching followed by 10 minutes in the sun before 10.00am or after 3.00pm (exposing the limbs to Vitamin D). At 90 years of age, my mother could still bend over easily and touch her toes. No arthritis. No back problems. No health problems.

As I was growing up, my diet was full of juices made from spinach or beetroot; home-made yoghurt based on Gayelord’s recipes; wheat germ; blackstrap molasses; and as many vitamins as could be swallowed. I thought this was all very normal until I hit my early teens and discovered that not every mother sent their daughter to school with alfalfa sprout sandwiches or vege rissoles lightly tossed in sesame seeds.

Although I have never smoked and I don’t drink alcohol, I have a fondness for “junk food” that I have to fight against. Nothing better than ice-cream, chips, burgers and chocolate if you ask me. But I realise that these are fat-laden morsels and so, since arriving in NZ and living the sustainable life, I’ve been busy turning this around. Mind you, stuck in rural NZ, one cannot rush down to the local takeaway because it’s likely to be kilometres away.

You might be wondering about my father. Well, Dad was a bit more relaxed about the food situation but he had his own “obsessions”: he was an ex-fighter pilot and he was a Christian Scientist (please don’t confuse this with a Scientologist as some people have). The ex-fighter pilot meant that I was expected to be out of bed by 6.00am and doing 5BX exercises with Dad, who trained in Canada. The 5BX exercise program was developed for the Royal Canadian Air Force and Dad did these exercises every single morning until the day he died (at 68 years – he didn’t follow Gayelord!). This was followed by a brisk polishing of my school shoes and his work shoes – only when they were SHINY with a Capital S was I allowed to move on to breakfast. Sounds a bit like boot camp but it wasn’t. It was a very enjoyable early morning time spent between father and daughter. And since I’m an only child, bonus! No pesky siblings to get in the way of special time with Dad. I find myself out in the fresh air of the paddocks these days doing the 5Bx programme and attribute my pretty good flexibility at my advanced age to 5BX.

The Christian Scientist business meant that I was raised on the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy and for my 10th birthday (I think), Dad gave me my very own copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Dad’s treasured copy was a small blue pocket-size version given to Air Force personnel during WWII. Dad’s mother (who I never met) was a Christian Science practitioner (which basically meant she was called on to help other Christian Science believers who were sick, because Christian Scientists don’t believe in going to the doctor). I’m not sure whether it’s part of his Christian Science background but Dad was a firm believer in the power of cold weather and cold water.

I remember Dad splashing his face in the middle of winter with icy cold water (literally out of the fridge) and sleeping in a bedroom with all windows open even in the dead of winter. My mother cursed and swore because she hated cold weather. Guess what? I’m a carbon-copy of Dad. I’ve never used warm or hot water to wash my face. I far prefer colder climates and I sleep with all windows open and sleep with no electric blanket (don’t like the thought of electricity that close to me thanks). Yes, even here in the South Island where it’s much colder than Sydney. Hubby climbs into bed wrapped up like a woolly mammoth and complains about the open windows. I read somewhere recently that people who live in colder climates live longer and age more slowly – so I tell hubby this to keep him quiet. And if you couple this with restricting your calories (as Gayelord suggests) you could add more years to your life.

See? I’m turning into my parents and grandparents.

Here are two other books written by Gayelord Hauser that I'm making my way through. Both belonged to my mum and date back to the 1950s and 1960s.