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’s 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 the junk foods that are easily accessible like in hotel minibars. 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. The hormone improvement and the interval training have helped bring it all back.
–Vincent M., age 53, photographer
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 pounds, 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.
—Livingston M., age 59, personal trainer
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 preventive. 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 check up 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 was 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 shot that you possibly can.
—John H., age 57, general contractor
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.
—John B., age 55, vice president, global head of business development
I’m a doctor. I was reading a lot online about hCG as a way to stimulate T, when I had my own hormonal levels drawn. I found out my T was on the low side, and so I got some hCG and I started treating myself. It was 500 units, three times a week. So, first of all: Why was I doing this? I was feeling kind of lethargic. My mood was low. I didn’t have clinical depression. I had a lack of energy. All of us tend to struggle a little bit with weight or body fat percentage. That’s normal. I am running a very busy cosmetic practice, 60 to 70 hours a week. It was not that I wasn’t functioning, but it’s just that I felt blah. Trying hCG myself wasn’t necessarily experimental. There’s nothing unusual about the use of hCG. I just wanted to decide first if I thought it worked. When I began taking hCG, I noticed my mood was a little elevated. When I redrew my levels, there were some improvements. I did enough of it to believe that it worked, after which I said to myself: What the hell are you doing? This really isn’t your specialty. Why don’t you get someone to monitor you and optimize you? I came across Florence’s information and I read the article “Vigor Quest” in the New York Times. The reason I chose Florence was her background in reproductive endocrinology. Her qualifications for age management are really ideal. Taken together, Florence’s program gave me a youthfulness, but vigor even more than youthfulness. I’ve worked out before; I still work out. My workouts are more productive. I’ve got more muscle mass. Of all the improvements, the best one is probably in my head, meaning my mood. And I think that comes back to testosterone more than anything. I would be less than candid with you if I didn’t say that I think it’s 70 percent hormonal manipulation.
—Michael R., MD, age 56, surgeon
If you were to ask a successful person what’s his goal, it’s always to try and be better. It’s not necessarily to try and make more money. If you have enough money, you don’t have to define yourself by making money. It’s to be better. Be better at the things that you do. Be better at how you treat people. And you don’t lose your patience because you’re able to deal with stress better. You just become better. Better at everything. Being able to feel younger, I’m better. I’m not stressing over the aches and pains, the throwing my back out, the hurting myself, the stuff that I watch happen every day because people just don’t take care of themselves.
If you think about it, this is the commitment: Can you take five pills a day? How long does it take to take five pills a day? Thirty seconds. If you need to take a shot [of hCG ], and learn how to do it yourself, how long does that take? Five minutes. Now we’re at 5 1⁄2 minutes. Now work out for a total of 3 hours a week. For slightly over 3 hours a week, you can have this. You can be better. Three hours a week. That’s your whole commitment.
—Joe N., age 55, real estate company owner
Debate has already commenced as to what, exactly, Precision Medicine will deliver. Some are focusing almost exclusively on the genomic aspect of this field to the exclusion of, for example, the lifestyle and family history factors that make up the unique totality of each human being.
Dr. Comite’s New York Times Letter to the Editor offers a glimpse of her vision of a field dedicated to the proposition that your health span can equal your life span.
This fascinating New York Times article describes how modern medicine determines “standard of care” as defined by evidence, which overlooks individual variation. There is no “1 size fits all,” yet conventional medicine still operates as though we are all alike. Dr. Comite initiated the practice of personalized Precision Medicine over 20 years ago, recognizing that not even identical twins are exactly the same. She believes strongly that our health span should keep up with longevity. To achieve this goal, it is vital to analyze individuals by incorporating many factors, from lifestyle to genomics, to direct our health destiny. This article calls for a change within healthcare. We absolutely agree – a personalized, precision approach is the future of medicine.Read More