Dr. Christine Gerbstadt
Born in 1957 in San Jose, California, Christine acknowledges that she was never a superstar in sports, however, this did not prevent her from participating in swimming, gymnastics, lacrosse, running and bicycling. Her fascination with physical fitness extended to elective participation in activities such as ice skating, ballroom dancing, tennis and racquet ball. As a teen and beyond, it was "not cool" for females to exercise. Conversely, many older women tried to dissuade Christine from engaging in athletics and begged her to stop exercising, including her mother. One of the claims that the nay sayers made was that she would develop an ugly masculine physique. As Dr. Gerbstadt points out, "I never understood the ‘waif’ look for women." She continued to exercise in spite of the resistance that others levied.
Her tenacity and unwillingness to succumb to others’ criticism also served her well in the academic arena. Christine is an anesthesiologist, a position traditionally held by men. She is also a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer. Christine studied at Penn State University, University of California at Berkley, and Medical College of Pennsylvania. She also received training from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School.
Christine modestly admits that she does not see herself as being much healthier than others her age or those chronologically older. She realizes that genetics play a significant part in the aging process and feels that she has been blessed. However, she also realizes that she worked hard to achieve her fitness and physique.
Dr. Gerbstadt maintains goals that she strives to achieve, although admits that she is not always successful. "Each week, I set out to do at minimum: 2 "full body" weight training workouts and 2 to 4 "body part" weight training sessions." Ideally, her workout sessions include four hours of weight training a week, with two hours being the accepted minimum. She also engages in cardiovascular exercises daily for 20 to 30 minutes. Some days this is extended to one to two hours. Stretching is integrated into her daily workout, both in the morning and at night and she finds that stretching at night is excellent for relaxation. As she has aged chronologically, Christine has accelerated the depth of her workouts. She realizes that her target heart rate is lower than it was 30 years ago. She tries to balance the "more is better, but easy does it" model. Her favorite physical activities are weight training and bicycling. The weight training has helped her increase strength and muscle mass, which allows her metabolism to perform at a high level. It is apparent at glance that Christine has a powerful healthy physique. She has avoided Sarcopenia or muscle deterioration, which is often inevitable in aging adults that do not perform resistance training. Bicycling is used to help her maintain a clear mind and cardio vascular efficiency. "Each week I try to get an outdoor bike ride on my road bike and/or mountain bike. I usually have a gym day of stationary bike and/or elliptical for 30 to 60 minutes or a swim of 30 to 45 minutes."
One of the strategies that Christine utilizes to promote youth is to surround herself with individuals who think young. Two of her workout friends are 95 and 87 and, as she points out, they are amazing. As most highly fit individuals have expressed, Christine echoes the sentiment that working out is 95 percent mental; "Just getting started is the hardest part of the workout." The clients she trains are from one gym, Michael’s 40+ Fitness. In addition to her 95-year-old male client, there are others from ages 40 to 90. "The purpose here is to work at the level suitable for the individual to increase muscle mass through weight bearing exercises, using machines, dumbbells and elastic bands. The focus is osteoporosis management and maintaining function through retained muscle strength."
Diet is an integral part of her youth-maintenance program. Variety and moderation are the principles she follows. "I eat high protein, low-saturated fat and otherwise, most anything else I want." She avoids fried foods and nutritionally-void snacks such as candies and sweets. She also incorporates chocolate and red wine for their antioxidant and cardiovascular benefits. She does not rely on supplements, however recommends that women over 50 get adequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D.
Christine does not accept the premise that weight gain is inevitable as one ages. She believes lack of vigilance is the reason so many gain weight in later years. Moreover, one of her pet peeves is the trend to seek a physician's intervention to find a cure for your ills. "Heal thyself of the habits that lead to disease. Sure, if someone has diabetes, he/she needs the care of a physician to help manage the disease and reduce complications, but the ultimate burden is on the individual, not the doctor." She is a firm believer that a physician should not be expected to heal someone who has lived an unhealthy lifestyle for 30 to 40 years. She is appalled by those who smoke, have lived an inactive lifestyle, maintained a poor diet and yet want someone else to undo the harm that was created by these poor habits. "That is my impression of much of western, or American medicine, and why I left my day job."
Her path has led her to help many achieve their health and fitness goals including an individual who was able to finish a marathon even though he was not a runner. She provided training to a couple who wanted to be in the best shape of their lives for their wedding day. Their goal is to continue to live a healthy lifestyle that will facilitate a healthy marriage. She points out that life is a marathon and not a sprint. Therefore, small changes are necessary through time to achieve longevity. She points to her son, whom she birthed at age 46, as being her greatest accomplishment. "Seeing him survive from 28 weeks and barely two pounds shows me anything is possible."
Dr. Gerbstadt’s DVD and website at www.nutronicshealth.com is a treatise to her beliefs. It delivers a solid message that reflects the health and nutrition knowledge she has gleaned in her quest to help others maintain good health and longevity. Each program is individualized to meet the needs of each client. She quantifies the participant's nutrition and fitness levels in order to design an optimal program that will have significant measurable outcomes. Her best advice is to "think young, act young. Perception is reality: so you are what you think you are." Obviously, Dr. Gerbstadt heeds her own advice. Her remarkable physique, strength and fitness is a testament to the dramatic benefits of diet and exercise. Moreover, her philosophy to take charge of your own health is a refreshing paradigm shift for a physician to espouse and implement in her training of others.