Crash Program in Anti-Aging

How much younger can you get in 40 days? Three women with common health problems added a total of 17 years to their lives by reinventing their diets, exercise routines and stress management techniques.

By Nancy Stedman
Rosa DaGraca after 40 days
Photograph: Sophie Olmsted

At the beginning of the program, Elise was excited but nervous. “I’m worried that I won’t have the fortitude to do this for 40 days,” she said. On top of her general concern, she soon realized she would have to spend the first 10 days of the program in Atlanta help-ing her mother cope with chemotherapy. In the end she got through the rough patch without binge eating, which in-creased her confidence. “In the past I would have gone for the sweets, but I pushed back the desire. Instead I ate a low-calorie snack,” she said.  

Food has always played an impor-tant part in Elise’s relationship with her husband, an excellent cook who pre-pares all the family meals. The problem is that Michael, now re-tired and weighing 298 pounds, smothered every dish in fat and oil.

But about halfway through the 40 days, Michael got with the program. “He decided I was not going to be the only person in the house losing weight. He joined a gym. He started making lower-calorie meals,” Elise said. Now they shop for groceries together and encourage each other to eat healthier food at restaurants.

By the end of 40 days, Elise had dropped 17 pounds, which put her more than a third of the way to reaching her ultimate goal of losing 50. “I feel better, I have more energy, and needless to say, I look fabulous!” Elise said. Why does she think she’ll reach—and stay at—her goal weight this time? She points to the supplements, the support of friends and family, and her newfound determination to succeed.

Roberta Lee, MD, vice chair, Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center, Continuum Center for Health & Healing, in New York City, coordinated the 40-day program for our three participants. An integrative med-i-cine expert, Lee believes not just in treating a patient’s symptoms but also in improving her overall wellness. The participants’ first meetings with Lee lasted over an hour. The women were also advised by Jeff Young, an exercise physiologist and consultant to the center, and staff nutritionist Mary Beth Augustine, RD. To gauge the women’s progress, More partnered with the Principal Wellness Company, a Des Moines–based corporate wellness organization, which tested our guinea pigs before and after the program. For estimating each woman’s improved longevity, we enlisted Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer and chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute and coauthor, with Mehmet Oz, MD, of the best-selling You: Staying Young. Forty days, of course, is just the beginning for a wellness program. “Even more benefits will come as these women continue with their new lifestyles,” Roizen says.

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