George Jedenoff can’t believe he’s 100 years old and if you watch his birthday party, you’ll agree. He marked the big day this month by skiing in the summer snow.
“I couldn’t find a better present on my 100th birthday,” Jedenoff, who has been whooshing down mountains for 57 years, told a crowd of fans gathered on the slopes of the Snowbird ski resort in Utah.
The energetic, iPhone-carrying centenarian has a youthful spirit that set the tone when a TODAY reporter addressed him as Mr. Jedenoff: “My name is George,” he said right away, preferring less formality.
Born in Russia on July 5, 1917, Jedenoff came to the U.S. in 1923 after his family fled the Russian Revolution and settled on the West Coast. He graduated from Stanford University, where he met his wife, “the most important thing in my life,” he said. They married in 1943.
He learned to ski in 1960, when he moved to Utah for a job transfer.
“I thought, what do people do here? They said, ‘We have bowling, bridge — and a lot of people ski’ and I said, that sounds like a wonderful thing to me,” he told TODAY. “I took it up at age 43 and it was one of the smartest decisions that I’ve ever made.”
He’s been coming to ski in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah every year since.
What keeps him going? Here are his four rules for a good, long, healthy life:
Jedenoff and his wife have been married for 74 years. “She is the best thing that ever happened to me in my whole life,” he said.
Now 94, his wife has Alzheimer’s disease and lives in a nursing home about 10 miles from the couple’s house in the San Francisco Bay area. Jedenoff heads there at every lunch- and dinner-time to help feed her.
“I just feel so fortunate that I still have her and it’s not a chore, it’s a blessing to be able to pay her back for all the wonderful things that she’s helped me with all my life.”
For the last 30 years, Jedenoff has made it a priority to exercise every single morning.
“My secret, if you want to call it that, is to make that part of your daily living, not a thing you sometimes do,” he noted. “I get up, brush my teeth, shave and go right down and exercise, and then I have my breakfast. If you do that, you won’t talk yourself out of it.”
He uses some “junky equipment” in his home to work out, but it’s not important what kind of equipment you have — the main goal is to work your muscles with resistance training, he said. Jedenoff does exercises for his legs, arms, abs and back. He also gets his heart pumping with the help of a few cardio machines or by jogging on his patio. His daily routine takes about 45 minutes.
3. Living in moderation
Jedenoff watches what he eats, tries not to overindulge and avoids rich, greasy foods. He no longer drinks alcohol. The centenarian loves desserts, but monitors that habit, too.
4. Remembering life’s priorities
Make sure to balance your life and include meaning as well as pleasure, Jedenoff advised.
“People say, ‘How do you like skiing?’ and I say, I love skiing but skiing is like dessert. You’ve got to have your main course — and that’s your life. There are so many things in life you have to do and then you have your dessert and you get to ski,” he said.
“Life is short, even if you go to 100 years. You have to spend time doing constructive things. Try to utilize your life for something important; try to do something good for someone else — that’s wonderful therapy in itself.
“Don’t live for yourself, live for the fact that you’re so fortunate to be on this Earth and make use of the resources the good Lord has given you.”