Longevity and Vitality: Secrets and Advice for a Long and Happy Life

Lessons Judy Gaman took from her friendship with centenarian Lucille Fleming
BY Andrew Thomas TIMEMarch 18, 2020 PRINT

In the golden age of technological and medical innovation, everyone is looking for that technique or that diet that will help them live to 100.

Whether it’s a fiber optic method for treating an aneurysm or eating copious amounts of kale, there seems to be some “secret” to optimal longevity. However, it might be much simpler than we think to become that 80-year-old who is still hitting the ski slopes and crushing the crosswords.

I had an opportunity to speak with Judy Gaman about her most recent book, “Love, Life & Lucille: Lessons Learned from a Centenarian,” and how we all can live longer, healthier, and happier lives. Gaman met centenarian Lucille Fleming while doing research for her previous book, “Age to Perfection: How to Thrive to 100, Happy, Healthy and Wise.”

Gaman, 48, is the CEO of the preventative and proactive health care provider Executive Medicine of Texas, and the host of the daily 30-minute podcast, “Stay Young America,” which is an offshoot of her original radio program, “The Staying Young Radio Show.” She has been trying to help people live longer and healthier lives for the last 12 years.

Judy Gaman is the CEO of Executive Medicine Texas and host of the “Stay Young America” podcast. (Courtesy of Jaqueline Paetzold)

The Epoch Times: What topics do you cover on “Stay Young America” and what types of guests do you host?

Judy Gaman: We cover a gamut of things. We just actually did a show on the coronavirus, and other public health issues. We cover hormones, heart disease, diabetes, obviously staying young, lots of topics around longevity, and how to stay healthier as we age.

The Epoch Times: What is some of the most important advice you and your guests have offered on the show?

Ms. Gaman: I would say that when it comes to longevity, some of the things are not rocket science. It’s just that we’ve lost sight of what’s important—especially in this day in age that we live in where we have to be “on” all the time. We don’t all0w ourselves downtime. Just basically teaching people it’s OK to relax. You should be getting enough sleep. It’s also all right to say “no” when somebody offers you dessert or another glass of wine. Essentially, we’re giving them permission to say, “Yeah, I want to live healthier.”

Really, what we do is we empower people. We empower them with the ability to make choices and stand by their choices.

Then it’s also education. Having people understand the ‘why.’ If you can understand the ‘why,’ you’re more likely to live a healthier lifestyle. You’re more likely to listen to some of the advice your physician is giving you. You’re more likely to watch the things that you put in your mouth, and I don’t just mean food. We have an issue now where there’s so much information but it’s kind of half information, so they may go to the store and they may load up on a whole bunch of things and then they’re also taking a cocktail of medications and now they’ve become a chemistry project. You have to really understand your body, and you have to understand that just because something says it’s good for you doesn’t always mean it is.

Lucille Fleming lived a happy and healthy life until age 104. (Courtesy of Judy Gaman)

The Epoch Times: How did you meet Lucille, and what was that meeting like?

Ms. Gaman: I was working on a book called “Age to Perfection: How to Thrive to 100, Happy, Healthy and Wise,” and I was in the thick of the research. I had this epiphany, and I turned to my writing assistant and I said, “Hey Emily, I just had this thought. Maybe we should interview people who have lived over 100. Maybe we should go straight to the source and say, ‘What did you do? How did you do this?'”

I did not anticipate what I found, and I certainly didn’t anticipate what I found in Lucille. Emily came back to me and said, “I’ve got a handful of people for you to talk to, but there’s this one person that you are just not going to believe. I couldn’t get on her social calendar. She’s so busy. I just have this feeling about her. Let’s get this on the schedule and talk to her.” The day I met Lucille, immediately I had this unbelievable connection with her. I cannot explain it. She said she experienced the exact same thing. Neither one of us had had that feeling before. What was a very long interview turned into this incredible friendship.

The Epoch Times: Lucille helped you break your workaholism cycle. How did she do that?

Ms. Gaman: I think part of it was just having someone that you could have conversations with that were deep and about real-life issues, not things that had to be done right then.

She taught me too that we always think everything is urgent, everything is an emergency, it’s got to be done right now, so she helped me put things in perspective. There were times when things were going on in the world and she was just like, “We’ve been through this before. This isn’t the first time.” She lived through the Depression. She told these great stories about the Depression that made you kind of just go, “Wow, this little glitch we’re having is just nothing in comparison.” It was like a window to the reality of what life is really about. What it should be about. Her bright attitude changed mine.

Epoch Times Photo
Lucille Fleming (R) was able to give Judy Gaman (L) important advice and perspective on life. (Courtesy of Judy Gaman)

The Epoch Times: Why did you decide to write “Love, Life, and Lucille: Lessons Learned From a Centenarian?”

Ms. Gaman: It really boils down to the change as to why I decided to write it. In the beginning, when Lucille was alive I told her, “I think I’d like to write a book about you and about me and about our friendship.” Of course, she was all about it. She knew there was going to be a book. I didn’t realize how that book was going to end. I thought the book was done until the unfortunate events that led to her death, and then I realized, “Wow. This book is bigger than I thought.”

It wasn’t until that time after her death when I realized the most important thing she taught me was how to live longer and healthier. It really was all in there. It was no secret code.

The Epoch Times: What are some of Lucille’s most important secrets to living a long and happy life?

Ms. Gaman: When you’re tired you have to rest. We’ve kind of forgotten that. Listen to your body. Having faith. It doesn’t matter what religion you are as much as it is about having faith, and keeping up with that faith in the sense of when things get tough it’s OK to rely on it.

Her diet was very good in the sense that she loved her sweets, don’t get me wrong, but she also knew that we need to get our nutrition from things like berries. She loved blueberries. Her whole life she loved blueberries.

When you think of someone over 100, you don’t think of their exercise routine, but she had a regular exercise routine. She made sure that at the retirement home, she had the apartment that was the furthest away from the dining room so that she would be forced a couple of times a day to walk to corridors and go down to eat.

She was really good at being social, and this is something we tend to get away from. She embraced that fully. At her life celebration, the room was packed.

The cover
The cover of Judy Gaman’s book “Love, Life, & Lucille: Lessons Learned from a Centenarian.” (Courtesy of Judy Gaman)

The Epoch Times: What important lessons do you think you learned from spending time with Lucille?

Ms. Gaman: I learned that true friendship knows no age. I learned that no matter what generation we grow up in, or where we grow up in, or what socio-economic class we grow up in, the human experience is the same. We all have had that first kiss that we never forget. We all have been heartbroken by events in our life. We all been so over-the-moon excited about certain things in our life. There are certain things in that human experience that are just universal, and it was amazing to experience that with someone that old who still very much held onto those memories like they were yesterday. It was just fascinating to understand and see life through a whole different lens.

The Epoch Times: How did Lucille thrive at age 100 and live a happy life?

Ms. Gaman: She embraced life. She loved life. She bought green bananas because she fully expected that she was going to be alive to eat them. She laid out her clothes the night before. She always dressed to the nines, put her makeup on, and did her hair. I think there’s a lot to be said for that because how we feel often is a direct reflection of the efforts we put into ourselves. She was very good at putting effort into herself so that she was projecting what she wanted to be. She wanted to be vibrant. She wanted people to want to be around her, and she put so much effort into making sure she was a good role model for everybody she came across.

The Epoch Times: What surprised you the most about Lucille?

Ms. Gaman: I think her ability, honestly, to go on a book tour. I was terrified. I was like, “What if I take her and she breaks?” When she first went out with me on the book tour, I just couldn’t believe that she could keep the pace that she could keep. We often think the elderly as frail, as not having anything to say. We think that maybe they don’t have any contributions to life, but she proved all of those myths wrong. Between 100 and 104, she told me that was the time of her life. There’s always life inside of somebody, we just got to go in and find it.

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