For so many of us, this last two years have resulted in changes to our lifestyle, relationships and reliance on others. For millions who have contracted Covid, there has also been for lingering aftershocks that have impacted their physical well-being.
However, change is also a natural and progressive force in our lives as we move through the various stages in our lifetime. Each year sees minor shifts in the way we are physically but there can also be changes in our mental and emotional perspectives. In the next few posts I will be exploring those changes.
When we are younger and the world is our oyster, we tend to feel that anything is possible. We have dreams and ambitions, and with support and some luck we are often able to achieve at least some of them. However life has a way of intruding into our well laid plans, and you find that some of those dreams have fallen by the wayside as we fulfill our role in our families and society.
When there is a problem with our computers, which are like us, complicated, programmed and prone to the occasional virus… we do a reboot. This resets all the original content and is effectively a fresh start. With an older model computer we might think of increasing the memory or power and adding additional programmes that bring it up to date.
As a blogger on Word Press I will admit that sometimes I get a little irritated by some of the changes that are made to the platform.. Well make that very irritated.. But of course those people who have moved to mobile devices find the upgrades very much more useful. My desktop computer is where I am most comfortable, and I have to remember that it is down to me to make the change in attitude to accept that this is the future and get to grips with it.
I have rebooted my life a number of times.. Sometimes forced into it by circumstances and other times by choice. Often it has resulted in a new direction with opportunities and achievements, and occasionally I have been up the proverbial creek without a paddle.
Luckily since childhood I have travelled the world and lived and worked in countries where I needed to adapt to be included in society. I am not afraid of change and in fact everyone laughed when I announced that our move back to Ireland and to this house was the last!! Six years later and we are decorating in anticipation of putting the house on the market…
There are a number of reasons for a reboot including health or weight issues, financial restrictions, a toxic relationship, a feeling of life passing you by, disappointment in your job or realising that your formal working life is over. The question that usually gets asked is ‘What am I going to do now?’
The elements of change.
As we get older we do tend to become more entrenched in our lives and routine and disconnecting from that and floating off into space looking for the next harbour to anchor can be stressful.
There are varying degrees of change, and there are also many different reasons for that change. The two main forms are those we decide to make and those that are thrust upon us.
I am going to be looking at three elements that are subject to both enforced and voluntary change. Physically, mentally and emotionally we are programmed for change as our body and brain develop and age.
Firstly, I am taking a look at the enforced physical changes that effect us all. For many this natural aging of our bodies, is unwelcom and it has fuelled a multi-billion dollar industry to try and halt the process. (And yes I am a contributor!)
We are set upon an inescapable course of events from the moment we are conceived. Our genetic makeup will determine many factors that contribute to the way we develop and mature including our eye colour and eyesight, hair colour and hair density, bone structure, height, skin tone, tendancy to forms of arthritis and other diseases and to a degree our lifespan.
We also carry genes from random pairings over thousands of years that contribute to the complex chemical makeup which is unique to everyone of us in the form of our DNA. This will result in family traits that are clear to see from each generations photographic contributions.
The fact is that we are born, live and then we die. Barring accidents, and with the help of modern medicine we should all look forward to living into our 80s, 90s and increasingly into 100s. Which of course fuels another industry – Pharmaceutical companies are delighted with the prospect of an aging population that requires copious amounts of pills to hold back the inevitable.
There is an enforced part of the equation when it comes to physical changes based on our genetics, natural aging and environment.
There is however the voluntary factor which can make a huge difference in the rate that we change physically and that is related to our diet and lifestyle choices.
Some of the genetic traits that I mentioned are carved in stone. But we can make a difference in a number of areas, particularly where there is a family connection to disease.
Previous generations who have contributed to our makeup may have had what I call ‘famine’ years that will have impacted their general health, immune systems and also their physical development.
My two grandmothers were about 5 feet 4 inches tall and my maternal grandmother was very slight and suffered badly from asthma which resulted in her early death at 52.
If you look back 100 years to old family pictures it is clear that the majority of people in them are much shorter than we are today. I know that most of my grandparents and the next generation were all under 5′ 7″ with the women actually much smaller. I am almost six feet tall which would have horrified my grandmother who believed that petite was the only female form allowed!
The vast majority of our ancestors, unless very privileged would have had simple diets and would have certainly not had access to as much fresh vegetables, fruit, and protein all year around that we have today.
There are a number of factors that determine life expectancy including the introduction of modern medical care and better living conditions, but diet will also have played a major role in the average life expectancy at birth in 1914 of 50 years for men and 54 for women.
Today in Ireland for example the average life expectancy is around 81 for men and 84 for women which is a huge leap in such a short space of time. You can check your own country’s numbers Worldometer Demographics Life Expectancy
So this is definitely an area that we can impact physical change voluntarily not just for ourselves but also in future generations as they benefit from our choices today.
Eating the right foods also improves skin tone and therefore reduces wrinkles, improves hair condition, and with a little help from the beauty industry one can banish those grey hairs that do infiltrate. A balanced diet with moderate execise will also help improve joint health and bone density and stimulating the brain will ensure that you keep mentally vital during your lifetime.
Giving up smoking not only improves the health of the lungs but will also improve your facial skin tone that ‘leathers’ in the bath of 4000 chemicals. Maintaining a healthier weight and exercising will improve muscle tone and improve posture. Drinking pure clean water every day will keep your body clear of toxins, hydrate your skin to look and feel more youthful and also improve hair condition.
We also can make the voluntary choice to see not just an aging face and body in the mirror but to also see a life well lived, the laughter lines, the wisdom and the character.
I have a strategy that works for me when I look in the mirror –
No glasses : Age 40 – Driving glasses : Age 50 – Reading Glasses : OMG!
As with any project to make physical changes to our bodies, we need a project plan.
This requires that you measure where you are today in terms of your physicality. It includes what I consider to be the key indicators that identify health issues – Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar levels, Balance of LDL (unhealthy) and HDL (healthy) cholesterol and food and exercise.
It is always good to have a review of all of these and frequent intervals and certainly over the age of 50 I recommend that BP, Blood sugar levels and Cholesterol are checked annually and every six months after the age of 60. You can have this checked in many pharmacies today and at a reasonable cost which is well worth the money.. Or you can do what we do and have home kits which are available online.
Once you have a start point you can set a reasonable target for improvement and I usually suggest six weeks for BP, Sugar and Cholesterol levels and you might find this of help.
Reducing excess weight by just 6kilos (14lbs) will make a difference and following the eating recommendations should also improve your results at the end of 6 weeks. At the end of June I will be featuring my weight loss programme again updated for 2022… In the meantime here is a link to a shopping list of foods that will provide all the nutrients your body needs to be healthy. Print off Weekly Grocery Shopping List
Having followed your plan for six weeks it is important to maintain those improvements by appreciating the benefits of looking great, having more energy and less age related aches and pains.
However, none of this will come into effect unless you make that decision to make the changes in the first place.
Next time the hard-wired changes in our brain as we age and the voluntary changes we can make to stay mentally young.
About Sally Cronin
I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-four years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain.
Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.
As always I look forward to your comments and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask them.. thanks Sally.