Thursday, March 31, 2016

Your Body is Asking for Attention!

I always grimace when someone throws out, "Aging is just a number!"  While most are of the younger generation, there are a few mid-range people hanging onto that notion for dear life.

In the end, I THINK what they really mean is that our spirit - who we are inside - doesn't age and that I agree with. We have a choice to continue to grow and be amazed by the wonders around us or to sit back and stagnate while ruminating on the good old days. The spirit is ageless.

But when it comes to the body, aging is a reality.  We start with a genetic history that affects this journey and then are influenced by life choices such as our eating and exercise habits, toxic exposure, stress and more.  How we walk our life has a huge impact, but our genetics is always in the background influencing the outcome.

One of the joys of having a doctor that truly embraces prevention over recovery after the fact means staying as much as possible ahead of the game.  The goal is to catch any concerns early when the fix is easier or the outcome better.  I love the fact I'm taken seriously. But there is a downside.

The downside comes from the constant and extensive tests after each bi-annual physical.  These are selected based on recommendations for my age and family history. Up until about a year ago I breezed through most, but suddenly with age the numbers are changing.  There are formulas to evaluate every result and most have an age factor. The end result - a number that is healthy currently can become a concern for the future.

These tests also mean you get to know your body in an intimate way most people don't. "Hey - there's what we think is a calcium deposit here. Nothing to worry about but we should watch it.  Hey - you have a strawberry of blood vessels there. Nothing to worry about but we should watch it. As your dad passed away of XYZ, we should keep an eye of this. As your mother died of XYZ we should keep an eye on that." And the list goes on. 

Each year the concerns rise and that brings with it a difficulty relaxing about one's health.  We all want a long life where at the end, we pass away quietly in our sleep. But the examples all around us show that is not everyone's journey.

What I came away with this year was a comment from my wonderful doctor, "Your body is asking for some healthy attention."  I'm already pretty good at this and have made tons of changes in the last few years, but turns out more needs to be done.  Top of the list is raising my metabolism so I can shed a few more pounds. That means more regular exercise. Remember cleaning house, dancing and walking up and down stairs counts.  I began even though dealing with a cold. While the cold affected me at the start, the exercise seemed to kick it out of my system faster!


Day 1 - walk with husband. Not as fast or as far as usual because of the cold.
Day 2 - 20K bike ride. This is my normal length so figured I'd just drop it down a gear and
    have a relaxing ride. Even at the lower gear, my cold made itself know and I had to take a 15
    minute breather laid out on a park bench about half way through.
Day 3 - Longer walk with my husband, and speed almost up to normal
Day 4 - 20K bike ride with no issues. Still not up to my normal speed, but almost there.
Day 5 - Still a longer walk and up to normal speed.


















I also need to increase my muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories than fat so an increase in muscle mass creates an increase in metabolism and that means your body burns more calories. Loss of muscle mass is a a real issue for all post menopausal women and we lose it more rapidly than men of the same age.  However, it's important to note for everyone that people who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after age 30. So a concern for us all.

Lastly, taking a little more fat out of my diet and increasing my fiber a little bit more. Nothing crazy, baby steps all the way.  And remember it's about what you eat on a daily basis, not the occasional splurge, that matters.

There are many good things that come as time passes. The most significant for me? I'm finally comfortable in my own skin and make no apologies for who I am. The rest - just a part of the journey we call life.

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