After several visits to the center, I am much more aware of how my diet, sleep, stress, and exercise impact the biomarkers that paint a picture of my true biological age. And that knowledge has been life changing. I’m leaner, stronger, fitter, and happier now, and energized for the next phase of my life.
Florence Comite has the perfect balance between the past and the future. She’s a cautiously optimistic open-minded skeptic. While she’s practicing a medicine of the future, she’s conservative too. Everything she does is 100 percent based in science.
I guess I was what you might call one of those high-powered executive salesman types. I was in meetings all day, and I would count on my bagel and OJ after my morning workouts to hold me through until a client dinner, which was almost always at a steak house. By then I’d have the 12-ounce filet and thebaked potato and the creamed corn and dessert because I was real hungry. For a while, I was okay living this way. It wasn’t ideal, but it was what I felt I had to do, you know?
Dr. Comite and her team had told me I was a prediabetic. My hemoglobin A1c was 5.7, and she recommended more regular snacks with more protein, especially at the start of my day. I appreciated what she was saying, but I never took action because she said I was borderline. In other words, I didn’t think things were that bad.
Eventually though, I started feeling really crappy by 11:00am. Going 4 to 5 hours, or even only 2 or 3, without eating wasn’t working anymore. At that point, I called Dr. Comite, and she sent me in for a glucose tolerance test. Sure enough, the test confirmed that I had reactive hypoglycemia. Because I was on my way to becoming a diabetic, everyone had thought my blood sugar would be too high, not too low. No one had suspected hypoglycemia, and I certainly was never tested. Now that I’ve retired, I’ve changed my lifestyle completely
Dr. Comite gave me supplements and told me why she wanted me to take them. She didn’t just say, “Take fish oil.” She told me how each supplement would impact the values on my blood tests. So, there was always a “what?” and a “why?” and a “how are we going to solve it?” The knowledge I’ve gotten from working with her enables me to stay committed. I understand what happens when I don’t. For example, I fell off the wagon with supplements. I had a busy travel schedule and ran out of them several weeks before my next scheduled blood tests. My first instinct was to go back on them quickly and cheat so I wouldn’t get in trouble. But I didn’t cheat, and you could see the difference in the blood work. To me, that was direct proof to dispel the myth around whether or not vitamins work.
In 2008, I was overweight and sluggish, and I decided to get back into shape. Everyone reaches that point where they feel like crap; then they look in the mirror and say, “I look like crap, too.” Well, I had enough crap! People told me, “John you’re just getting older, it is what it is.” That wasn’t acceptable to me. There had to be a better way.
Test results came back: I had the classic high cholesterol, high triglycerides. You can find that out by going to any doctor. But Dr. Comite focused on other markers that no one else looked at: my hormone levels, testosterone, growth hormone levels, homocysteine. All of them are factors that affect your health and how you age,
She gave me a full nutrition and fitness plan, and I stick to it (with the occasional cookie). I started to feel better and could work out harder. Within a few months, I dropped weight and my energy shot up. My weight loss, 15 pounds, isn’t the big thing. My body fat percentage dropped considerably, which means I replaced a lot of fat with muscle. The spare tire around my gut is gone. I have far more energy and feel like I have taken back the things that had slipped away when I wasn’t taking care of myself.
Here’s the best part: I’m part of a weekly soccer game, what we call the Old Timers Soccer Club, and my performance from before I started with Dr. Comite to now is night and day. You can’t even compare.
I first met Dr. Comite in Memphis at a conference of the American Nutraceutical Association. She did a lecture on her work with andropausal men, a term I had not heard before. In her case study of a man 18 years my junior, I immediately recognized myself. I decided to get my own evaluation.
I was surprised across the board. I never had such a thorough evaluation before. I’d never had such a real collaborator on my health before. I found out I had low testosterone, which I figured was the case. What I didn’t expect, however, was also having an underactive thyroid. I realized that in 15 years of annual checkups, my thyroid had never been included in the basic testing.
Both my parents died fairly young – my mother very young, and my father had medical issues and died shortly thereafter. I lost any family history that was there. I wanted to try to be preventative. One of the elements of Dr. Comite’s approach that was attractive to me was that we were going to be looking very deeply. I wasn’t just going for a regular checkup where a doctor would say: “Oh, your numbers are okay.” With Dr. Comite, we were going to be trying to prevent things from happening, and we would be looking a little bit ahead to see if there were any precursors or warning signs. That was another major key to this.
My wife’s dad has been instrumental in my business career. I worked for him for a number of years and he’s really been a mentor – well, he’s just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He is a diabetic, and that he got later in life, so it’s kind of put a little bit of a scare into us. This was a guy who took very good care of himself. He’s 83, but that’s not old today. Especially when 2 years ago he was going up stairs two at a time. So what should I be doing that I’m not doing? It’s inevitable that all of us are going to get sick and die. None of us are going to be here forever, but you want to give it the best show that you possibly can.
I’m a trainer, so I eat right and I stay in shape. I’ve appeared in ads all over New York City for a gym, advertised as the picture of health. I was training Dr. Comite and talked to her about some of the problems I was having — getting dizzy periodically, feeling thirsty all the time, and fainting. I was drinking a lot of fluid, and urinating so much that I cut back on water. When I had gone to another doctor, he thought I was dehydrated because of my intense physical activity. He wasn’t alarmed by my elevated blood sugar either because I ate five meals a day. I even passed out a few times and was brought to the ER. There, they had no idea what was wrong with me, even with multiple tests, CAT scans, too. My symptoms persisted, and Dr. Comite was hearing my frustration. After another episode when I passed out just after snacking on a protein bar at the end of a long day of golf, I told Dr. Comite, and she got me evaluated right away. When the lab test results came back, I was in for the shock of my life. I was a diabetic. Then I underwent a VO2 assessment, and the findings caused her to suspect that I had had a silent heart attack sometime in the past. Next I underwent a nuclear stress test, which confirmed the muscle damage in the inferior portion of my heart. My cholesterol was 240. I got onto her program, lost 20 points, and turned the diabetes around completely with supplements and eating the right food at the right times. I got my cholesterol down and have been repairing the damage from the heart attack.
The realization that I wasn’t what I used to be came a couple years ago when I was in the Congo tromping through the jungle. I’m a photographer. Jane Goodall was there, and she [was] 77 and kicking the [crap] out of the entire crew. All these guys couldn’t keep up with her. Throughout my career, I’d always been the strongest guy on my crew. I’d be in Dubai running up a sand dune leaving my younger assistants in the dust. But suddenly that was over for me. I’d lost that. I could feel myself failing. It was horrible. When I got my blood work back from Dr. Comite, my cortisol [stress hormone] levels surprised me. I know what it feels like to be stressed out, but I’d never seen being stressed out illustrated as a number before, chemically. My testosterone levels were low, of course, and whatever improvements I could make to my physical infrastructure through hormone treatment and exercise was my primary concern. I didn’t just want to be better. I wanted to be optimal, I’m competing with the best in the world.
I felt results right away. I had more energy, and now Dr. Comite tells me that I’ve essentially reversed the aging process in most of my measurable tests. Travel is still the biggest obstacle for me. I avoid junk foods that are easily accessible, like in hotel mini-bars. Also, I’ve never had a steady, normal schedule. In my work, I have to keep a second suitcase packed at all times because I don’t know when or where I’m going next. So I work very hard to eat right and stay on the program no matter where I am. I rededicated myself to the good things I had already been doing while including the newer ideas from Dr. Comite and her staff, such as adding intervals to my workouts. My God, has that helped me! I am now out on a shoot and not even feeling it.
Very knowledgeable! Up to date on everything ground breaking. She’s amazing!