Earl Bechtel


I grew up on a farm in Ohio and we raised cattle, pigs and chickens. Every meal included meat and dairy. My mother was a great cook, so every meal also included dessert – home-based cookies, pies, and cakes.

I was athletic, which is one of the reasons why I didn’t gain weight on this diet. I played football at Ohio State University for legendary coach Woody Hayes; this allowed my meat-based diet to continue through college and after.

My theory was that as long as I exercised and worked up a really good sweat, I could eat and drink whatever I wanted to. So, I’d start the day with 3-4 cups of coffee and some cigarettes. I’d play handball every day and right after, I’d eat a cheeseburger, French Fries and a milkshake, with more cigarettes as a chaser. Over the years, I put on some weight; my eating habits were the same but I was not exercising as much, and it showed.

I was fortunate to be invited to the very first Wellness 101 class taught in Dr. Pam Popper’s home. I really was interested in learning about nutrition, and I started changing my diet. As I look back, I was lucky because other than my expanding waistline, I didn’t have any major health issues. I look at my family now and realize that I could be like them. I have a brother who had carotid artery surgery and is dealing with kidney problems; a sister with health problems, and my brother was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. I, on the other hand, don’t take any drugs at the age of 77 and I weigh only 5 pounds more than I did when I played college football!

About three years ago, I remarried and my new wife and I eat a pretty healthy plant-based diet with lots of rice, vegetables, and fruit. I learned how to make oil-free stir-fry and we make our own delicious pizzas without meat and cheese.

My quality of life is terrific. I work out at a fitness center close to my house a few times per week, travel, spend time with my grandkids, and I’m a professional foot reflexologist, which I love!

My diet is not perfect, but I really treasure the fact that Dr. Pam and The Wellness Forum are there to support me and keep me on track. I am particularly grateful for my life when I attend funeral services – lots of people in my age range are dying and I’m really living!

Most people don’t believe I’m 77; I feel like I’m only 16, and I think this is the way humans are supposed to age.