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Advice From a Man Who Thinks He'll Live to Be 130

A Personal Perspective: Can your mind and body really keep you from aging?

Paul Ross, with permission
Source: Paul Ross, with permission

Prajedes Morales is the owner of the Golden Crown Panaderia in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and he proudly proclaims that he is 84 years old and “one of the healthiest people in the world. I can do 85% of a back flip. My shoulders, leg muscles, and core are incredibly strong because I’m a baker. I pick up 50, 60, 70, or 80 pounds of dough from my mixer and carry it to my table. I make 30 to 40 loaves of bread by myself, and on the table, I cut it and roll it. Look at my shoulder and arm muscles. They are rocks.”

A panaderia is a Mexican bakery that makes breads, cookies, and, at Golden Crown, the specialty is biscochitos — the state cookies of New Mexico. Morales has created chocolate, cappuccino, sugar free, and gluten free biscochitos. In his own words, he laughingly says he “makes a lot of dough,” because his Mexican father told him, “You don’t work for someone. You see where there’s a need and you fill it. You’re the one who gives people jobs.” The need Morales saw was for an authentic, old-fashioned, traditional, neighborhood bakery that primarily makes things by hand. And visitors who order sandwiches and salads to eat on the patio almost always opt for his green chile bread.

When I asked Morales if he was comfortable with bragging so much about himself, he replied, “I know who I am and why. I am happy. I will live to 130. People make themselves old and sick. I only sleep four hours. So why not talk about it? I am not after money — just personal satisfaction. I’m going for longevity with happiness and health.”

After a slight pause, during which my husband Paul and I savored our turkey sandwiches on green chile bread, Morales said that his mind is 45 years old, and he will never get older than 45. “I don’t like what seniors do with their minds,” he added. I have things to do and I need another 50 years to do them. It took me three to four years to create my pizza dough. It’s the only New Mexican pizza crust in the world; it has 18 to 24 ingredients. I want everything to be nutritious. Delicious. And Beautiful. That describes what I make. And at 84, I am just getting started.”

I inquired what advice he had for others. “We’re limited by age,” he replied. “I want to break that barrier. You’d better take care of yourself to keep up with me. I’m going for 130. I live a three-minute walk from my work. I don’t have to breathe fumes or sit on a freeway. That frees me to be creative. I am my lifestyle. It’s not work. I am doing what I love. At the gym they build muscle. I am making a living from doing that. My body responds to the commands of my mind.”

“Do you ever get depressed?” I ask.

“When I’m down, I count my blessings and I’m up again. I’m at a 400-degree oven and take out the toxicity. I eat nothing that will shorten my life. I want people to live longer and be happier and have the body to do it with. Longevity is living longer than you thought. Don’t stress your body. Don’t go to the point where it breaks. I was a runner but I stopped running because it stresses me.”

I listened to every word he said, and my mind bounced back and forth between thinking he was delusional and considering him a guru of aging well. What he said was not theoretical. It was very specific, and based on his own experience. I remembered that my ex-brother-in-law, who was a highly successful doctor who helmed surgery and staff at a top hospital, told my mother when she was 90: “When you start to think of yourself as old, you’re in trouble.”

I finished my sandwich, thanked Morales, and was ready to go when he said, “This is my world. This is my vacation. I put no one else down. I want to unite everyone. I want to be a role model for everyone and I want them to get better and be role models for me.”

I put in my reservation for his 130th birthday party on April 4, 2068. He said everyone is invited, so you may want to put in your reservation too.