Health Topics Then and Now


Note: When this post was first published, Oct. 29, 2010, Jack LaLanne was still alive. He died several months later on Jan. 23, 2011


In the early infancy days of television there were only three TV stations and all broadcasts were in black and white only. No 24 hour stations either. Most TV stations signed off at 1 or 2 a.m., and signed back on the next morning at 6 or 7 a.m. There were no infomercials either.

Those were the days when people were exploring what this new medium could do. There was a lot of creativity. Early on many shows were only 15 minutes in length.

These were the days of Jackie Gleason, Elvis Presley having his gyrating  hips cut off the screen, Kate Smith singing God Bless America, Pinkie Lee, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, Alfred Hitchock, Liberace, Ernie Kovacks wacky comedy, Abbot and Costello, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar and Imogene Coco,  Spike Jones, and the early British invasion of Robin Hood played by Richard Greene.

Other TV series included Our Miss Brooks, Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver, Dragnet, and The Twilight Zone.

And I haven’t even yet mentioned Lassie, The Millionaire, Mickey Mouse Club, and “What time is it? It’s Howdy Doody time.”

First time I ever saw Betty White was on the game show, Password in the early sixties. Who ever thought then she would be a super star 40 years later? And who can ever forget her Happy Homemaker on Mary Tyler Moore?

Even the worst of these programs were of far better quality than two-thirds of the pabulum on TV today.

I bring all this up because the other day when I was surfing the internets I happened across a video of the old Jack LaLanne Show. Jack LaLanne had one of the very first health, fitness, and exercise programs on TV back in those early days of black and white.

Some readers may only remember LeLanne selling and doing those Power Juicer commercials. But before he did that he had the exercise show.

I remember watching him and trying to do the exercises he showed. Quite  frankly, I much preferred (and still do) swimming. I was never into workouts. I much prefer to garden, walk, and swim.

But I decided to watch the You Tube video clip for ‘old time’s sake.’ That’s something we retired folk like to engage in once in a while. I think it must be hard-wired into the species or something. 

The video is very interesting on several different levels. One, it is not a clip of LeLanne leading his viewers in various exercises.  Instead, it is about LeLannes’s Self-Improvement Plan.

It is interesting to note just how home-made the entire production looks. Especially compared to what you would see on TV today. There is no million dollar set. There are no color twirling, revolving, spinning, and gyrating computer generated graphics with loud music punctuating every point. It is just LaLanne reading his list to his audience.         

                                                                                                                          In this short clip LaLanne is simply and only show casing his 10 Point Self-Improvement Plan.

Source: Picture from Wikipedia

No promos for expensive money-making books, videos, or tours in those days. That came to TV much later. LaLanne is simply preaching and sharing what he honestly believes. And he is 96 years old now and he still lives and believes what he preached way back then. And he looks pretty darned good for 96 years young! He even has his own Website and Blog these days.  You can visit LaLanne’s  site. Just click here.

What surprised me most though is that health issues have not really changed all that much in the intervening 40 or 50 years. LaLanne’s 10 points back in the 1950’s were the same  issues we are dealing with today.

1. Exercise  2. Nutrition  3. Positive Thinking  4. Good Habits 

5. Grooming  6. Smile  7. Posture  8. Help Others  9. Relaxation 

10. Faith

Not all that different from what magazines, books, and TV health gurus talk about today.  And even in this tiny little part of the internet and blog world right here at More Thyme Than Dough, we have discussed 6 out of 10 of LaLanne’s 10 Point Plan topics.

For instance:

In Only 5 Minutes A Day we talked about exercise and that even just 5 minutes a day walking outside is good for us. (#1)

We did a five part series on nutrition. (#2)  Click here for the last in that series.

In Glass Half Full and also in Self Talk I discussed the merits of positive thinking. (#3)

In Send in the Clowns  the importance of laughter was discussed. It was also discussed in Recession Proof Your Optimism. (#6)

And in Indulge Yourself we discussed relaxation. (#9)

I think the post on gratitude might fit in with #3 and #10 in LaLanne’s Plan.

It seems those old clichés, ‘the more things change the more they stay the same’; and ‘everything old is new again’ are really more than just clichés.

Gee. I never realized when I was a child growing up and watching Jack LaLanne on TV in the 50’s,  that in my sixth decade on this glorious green earth  I would be writing about, publishing, and discussing some of the same topics Jack LaLanne once did. Never occured to me! Never dreamed it!

Life is funny that way. You never know where the journey is going to take you.

Featured Recipe    Sugar Roasted Plums

It occurred to me the other day that I have not shared a fruit or a dessert recipe in quite some time; not since the start of fall.  So today I share both in one simple, quick and easy recipe.

There are plenty of wonderful fruits that ripen in the fall. Plums are one of my favorites. One of the nice things about this recipe is you can eat it as a dessert or as breakfast.

This is one of my favorite Martha Stewart recipes from Everyday Foods. These plums are sweeter than Halloween candy. For real!

This is what you will need for 4 people:

4 plums, halved and pitted

4 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into small pieces

3 tablespoons light-brown sugar

6 strips orange zest (½ by 3 inches each)

¼ cup fresh orange juice

Pinch of coarse salt

Here is what you do:

Preheat oven to 40 degrees.

Cut the plums and remove the pits.

Place in a medium ovenproof skillet or baking dish.

Cut your butter. I don’t know the “official” way to cut butter into small pieces. So I just slice the butter lengthwise into some rectangles. Then I cut into small pieces.

With a vegetable peeler cut 6 pieces of the rind from the orange into ½ by 3 inch slices.

Now Ms Stewart is very precise with her orange zest slices. Me? Not so much.

As you can see by the picture my orange zest slices are wider than they are long. But I figure they are not bad considering I flunked paper cutting in 5th grade.

Besides, they are not for eating. They are just there to flavor the sauce that the butter and brown sugar make.

Go ahead and juice the orange now too. You want about  ¼ cup of orange juice. Reserve.

Sprinkle the butter, sugar, orange zest, (which I now tore into smaller pieces anyway) and the salt over the plums.

Roast until very tender but still intact, 40-45 minutes.

Remove plums from the oven and now pour the orange juice over them and gently swirl to incorporate into the sauce.

Serve over country style toast or ice cream.

I butter the bread and sprinkle some cinnamon over the butter before I add a plum or two. Makes this dish doubly delicious!!!


4 plums, halved and pitted                        $1.29

4 tablespoons unsalted butter                   $0.60

3 tablespoons light-brown sugar               $0.15

1 orange:                                             $0.79

6 strips orange zest

¼ cup fresh orange juice

Pinch of coarse salt

Total cost = $2.83
Cost per person = $0.71

Such flavor, such sweetness for only $0.71

Even with the bread it is an inexpensive dessert or breakfast. Four slices of thick crusty brad only adds a total of $0.32 to this dish.

With the cost of this dish so little, you might even be able to afford some ice cream to go with it.

Bon Appetit!!!!

Quote of the Day:       Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.   Anonymous

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4 comments to Health Topics Then and Now

  • Great post, Roberta. I’m of the Howdy Doody generation myself. I had the marionette.

    What struck me about the Lalanne video was that he started by saying you had to consider the physical, the mental, and the spiritual aspects – all three. You can get all three of those today, but they tend to be compartmentalized – they come from different sources. And you certainly don’t get all three from modern medicine, which is a major influence on how we think of our health.

    This is a recent development in medicine – by recent I mean since the 19th century. Seeing human beings as whole persons located in an environment was something Western medicine inherited from the ancient Greeks. This concept is still the foundation of traditional Chinese medicine. Modern scientific medicine, however, reduces sickness to isolated parts of the body. What with the amazing, hi-tech diagnostic tools we have today, there’s hardly any need to consider the person at all.

    The benefits have been enormous in terms of saving and extending lives. But will we ever regain what’s been lost? Is anyone even arguing that we should at least try?

    • Roberta

      Very insightful comment, Jan. I missed that. Thank you for pointing this out.

      While modern medicine has achieved much, I think it is still very important to treat the whole person – physical, mental, and spiritual. I would strongly argue that we should try to treat the whole person. I think that is why alternative medicine is so popular today.

  • Virginia Urbach

    Hi, Roberta. This recipe sounds scrumptous but I think I would eat this without the bread. Maybe over waffles or pancakes for breakfast?