So far this year, Battista Locatelli has charged up nine mountains and back.
On his last expedition, a rigorous trail in Zion National Park, Utah, “Battista was a big surprise to many of the hikers on the route. He was laughing, singing, and chatting every one up in Italian, German, and French, and leaving people one-quarter his age in the dust,” marvels Battista’s son-in-law and fellow hiker, Todd.
Even more surprising, this gregarious octogenarian has a history of heart disease. Ten years ago, he endured quadruple bypass surgery and a 30-day stay in the hospital due to complications.
But today, this owner of a popular Las Vegas restaurant named Battista’s Hole In the Wall is going strong, and loving life. With typical enthusiasm, he told Pritikin Perspective, “I got up this morning, I felt like King Kong. I could climb the Empire State Building and grab that little airplane and fling it down, and say, ‘Arrivederci!’” Battista’s days often begin with lifting weights, walking six miles, and flying his own plane – all before 6:30 am breakfast.
Battista credits his longevity and vitality to his faithful adherence to the eating and exercise guidelines of the Pritikin Program. Just about every year since 2003, he has returned to the Pritikin Longevity Center in Florida for a refresher.
What Battista may not recognize is that he should probably also give credit to his positive outlook on life.
Personality and living to 100
Recently, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology affirmed the health-enhancing benefits of an optimistic personality. Their study, published in the journal Aging, concluded that a positive outlook might contribute significantly to longevity. *
Analyzing the personalities of more than 500 people age 95 and older, the scientists found that “most were outgoing, optimistic and easygoing. They considered laughter an important part of life and had a large social network. They expressed emotions openly rather than bottling them up.”
And the emotions and thoughts they expressed tended to be positive, not negative.
Nurture vs. nature
But a key question is, which comes first? Is it a healthy body, which fuels a healthier mind? Or a healthy mind, which steers us in the direction of healthier lifestyle choices and a healthier body?
In short, Pritikin participants learn to enhance the personality characteristics that typify Battista and the centenarians in the Einstein-Ferkauf study. And they learn that physical and emotional well-being are mutually beneficial.
Summing up: You are not only what you eat, but also what you think and feel. Be happy to be healthy, and be healthy to be happy.
And the next time you’re in Vegas, stop by Battista’s Hole In the Wall restaurant, just a half block from the Bellagio, and you might be lucky enough to catch Battista belting out an Italian tune or two to his patrons. “Mamma mia!” declares Battista. “My voice has come back brilliant! Thank you, everyone at Pritikin!”
Thank you, Battista, for all the joy you bring us.
* Aging, 2012; 4: 359.