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Jack LaLanne & Paul C. Bragg - Spreading the Gospel of Health

Jack LaLanne tells how Paul C. Bragg started him on the road to health over 75 years ago! In California, over 75 years ago, Jack LaLanne's mother dragged her 15 year-old son to a lecture by health crusading nutritionist Paul C. Bragg. They arrived late and had to sit on the stage close to Bragg in front of some 3,000 people. This night changed Jack's Life!

Jack and Paul
Dr. Paul C. Bragg (right) Creator of Health Food Stores, and Pioneer Life Extension Specialist, with his prize student Jack LaLanne.
"My mother forced me to go," LaLanne recalls. "I had dropped out of school for almost a year. I was a sick shut-in! I wouldn't go out and see people. I had pimples and boils and I was wearing glasses. I was thin, wore a back brace and was so weak I couldn't participate in sports. I didn't want anyone to see me."

"My mother and I sat in front of 3,000 people. It had to be the most embarrassing, and humiliating time of my life. I didn't want anyone to see me, and I thought they were all looking at sickly me. Little did I know that most of them had health problems too!"

Jack and Pat

Bragg told his audience they could reverse their physical problems by eating right and living a healthy lifestyle. These words struck a needed chord in young, unhealthy LaLanne. "I was weak and sick. I used to have blinding headaches every day. I couldn't stand the pain. I wanted to get out of this body I had."

Life seemed hopeless. Dr. Bragg told us we could be born again." After the lecture, LaLanne went to Bragg's dressing room and talked for an hour with him. This was the start of a wonderful, lifelong friendship."

Jack LaLanne & Patricia Bragg celebrating Jack's 84 years of living young!
Dr. Bragg asked me, 'What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?' and I told him, 'Cakes, pies and ice cream!' He said, 'Jack, you are a walking garbage can.' That night I got down on my knees, by the side of my bed and I prayed. I didn't say, 'God, make me a Mr. America.' I said, 'Please give me the will power and intestinal fortitude to refrain from eating wrong, lifeless, dead foods when the urge comes over me. God, please give me the strength to exercise when I don't feel like it.'"

There hasn't been a jelly donut in LaLanne's life since Bragg told him, "The best part of a donut is the hole." In the 60 years since he opened his first gym in downtown Oakland, LaLanne has spread his gospel of fitness through nutrition and exercise, in lectures, a 34-year television show and with a variety of extraordinary physical feats: 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes, and swimming from Alcatraz to San Francisco in freezing ocean water while handcuffed and shackled.

On his 70th birthday, he celebrated by a mile-long swim, in which he towed 70 rowboats filled with 70 people. LaLanne pioneered Health Gyms and has a number of nutritional and exercise products on the market - all of which made him a wealthy man. But Jack LaLanne, the muscle mogul, with the 45-inch chest and the 28-inch waist, says he cares nothing for material rewards. "I never thought about making money in my life. This is a capitalistic country and if you do a good job, you will be compensated. In the future I want to open a chain of health food restaurants, write some more books and do some more television. I love inspiring people to be healthy, happy, strongerr."

LaLanne is grateful that fitness and nutrition has become no.1 in growth, with sales in the billions. He believes the emphasis on exercise and a healthy, natural diet will create a stronger, better America. With healthier citizens, we will unburden society from sickness and reduce the medical bills that are draining people's savings and causing grief.

"I talked about the dangers of white flour and sugar over 50 years ago and people thought I was some kind of fool. Now it's every doctor -'salt, white flour, sugar - killers, killers, killers'," he said, punching his couch for emphasis. "It's exciting what's happening. This is going to be the salvation of America, you watch. The incidences of drugs, alcoholism and crime on our streets will decrease in the next few years. Young people turn to drugs from eating too much sugar and refined, dead foods, and the lack of exercise. "How do you think kids get started on this deadly drug habit? It all starts with excessive consumption of white sugar, candy, soft drinks, etc. When you use too much sugar it destroys the B-complex vitamins, you can't make wise decisions, your energy's down and you're apprehensive and doubtful about your life. These are the hard facts. If you stop eating white sugar products and get on live, organic, natural foods, you will feel better immediately! Look at me, if Dr. Bragg hadn't changed my life at 15, I would have been dead at 17."

LaLanne's personal health regimen includes healthy foods, plus vitamin and mineral supplements and a big two and one half hour workout each day. He starts exercising at 5 a.m. because it's a challenge and it's tougher that way. "You know everyone thinks Jack LaLanne's a superman because he loves to work out. Getting out of a warm bed at 5 a.m. to go down to my gym in the morning. . . I could be lazy and sleep late! But when I'm through, I think Jack, congratulations - you did it again! And if I've got the will power to do that, everything else is easy by comparison."

LaLanne, father of two and happily married to Elaine, says he still has "enthusiasm and super energy for helping the world to be healthy, happy and at peace!"

Jack LaLanne, still strong at 91, attacks child obesity
Associated Press
October 29, 2005, 8:39 PM EDT

NEW YORK -- The kids in the audience had little clue that the man on stage was a fitness legend, but they were enraptured, nonetheless, with the dynamo that is Jack LaLanne.

Wearing a blue body suit and looking impossibly fit and energetic at age 91, the man who invented the TV exercise show exhorted a gathering of children at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum to get on their feet and exercise.

Within seconds he had them furiously pumping their arms in the air, shadowboxing and running in place. "Kids love to punch," explained his wife, Elaine.

Continuing his half-century old mission to make America more fit, LaLanne appeared at the museum Saturday to declare a "war on child obesity" and present a $10,000 check to The After-School Corporation, a nonprofit company that promotes fitness for children.

He also presided over an exhibition aimed at persuading parents and kids that America's fat problem could be solved if people would only exercise regularly, eat natural foods and stay away from sugary desserts.

"The food you eat today, you wear it tomorrow!" he told the crowd.

LaLanne's message hasn't changed much since 1951, when his TV exercise show began its 34-year run. And, at least on paper, it doesn't sound like anything close to the magic pill Americans are always looking for when it comes to their weight and diet.

But there is something about LaLanne's enthusiasm that gets people's attention, like the time he celebrated turning 70 by swimming across Long Beach Harbor while handcuffed, towing several boats behind him.

Dozens of autograph seekers lined up to see LaLanne after his Saturday performance, and maybe get a better look at him. Could he really look so young?

A little girl asked for his signature. LaLanne poked her belly.

"Too many cakes and pies!" he said. She smiled.

In a more private setting, LaLanne is gruffer about the state of children today.

"Well, look at them," he lamented. "Obesity is of epidemic proportions ... These kids should be eating fruits and vegetables."

He said children should get more education at an early age about how to eat and should be fed healthier food in school cafeterias.

Still, LaLanne said he's hopeful the country is turning a corner. He said it has become easier than ever to find the health foods that have been staples of his diet since the 1940s.

And, he was floored when one man, a chef, told him he'd recently lost 220 pounds.

"Can you believe that?" he said. "Well, that shows you. Anything in life is possible."

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