This week I am looking at how we can hang onto any gains that we make in our middle years into our 70s and 80s. Our bodies with change but there is a formula that seems to be the driving force behind the 90 year old men and women that I have met and worked with.
Good Fresh Food + Moderate Exercise + Engagement with Others = Healthier Old Age..
Chapter Ten – Maintaining your Health Advantage by Sally Cronin
Just to recap and to remind ourselves what we have covered in the last nine chapters of this programme and to maintain the age advantage you have gained.
We looked at the various physical reasons why we age prematurely.
Free-radical damage that causes accumulative cell degeneration, leading to disease and premature aging. We covered how to introduce anti-oxidants to limit this damage and how by reducing stress and eating healthily we can in some cases rejuvenate and improve the effects of some of the degenerative diseases.
Toxicity damage to organs caused by the environmental pollution around us, and the toxins in the healthy food we think that we are eating. Allergies and intolerances that we may suffer from all our lives that leads to a build-up of toxins in the tissues causing pain and inflammation like in Asthma or arthritis. Toxins build up if we eat too much high fat, sugary diets high in stimulants. Our bodies are unable to cope and eliminate them fast enough.
Hormone imbalances, not only our sexual hormones, but also all the others within our bodies that contribute to a healthy and efficient system. From the Hypothalamus in the brain to the pancreas, eating healthily will keep these organs and glands youthful for longer.
We covered how important our Immune System was to anti-aging by protecting us against harmful viruses and bacteria that want to squat in our bodies and take our health from us.
Finally the Acid and Alkalinity balance, which can be a leading cause of degenerative disease and do easy to remedy with the right diet.
We also discovered there are other reasons behind premature aging that have nothing to do with food.
Our emotional and mental attitude to aging is just as vital as following a healthy eating programme and also the way that we present ourselves to others.
How can you keep the age advantage you have gained?
Who in their right mind would want to go back to feeling lousy if they now feel younger, fitter, slimmer and more energetic? It is tempting sometimes to slip backwards. You go on holiday, the family is over for a meal, you are eating out more and the wine is flowing a little more often. That is fine in the short term but within a few days you will notice that you are not feeling quite so well and you need to make a decision at that point. Are you willing to compromise your health and your vitality that you are now taking for granted by not resuming the programme as quickly as possible after a break for a holiday or family celebration?
One of the things I hope you will come to understand once you have been on the suggested eating plan for five or six weeks is that eating healthily is not boring.
Apart from keeping a healthy eating programme going, are there any other strategies for maintaining our health?
It is important that you measure where you are on a regular basis. Your health is like your house, contents and car insurance. You may not need it year-in-year-out but you buy it just in case and you adjust it according to your changing circumstances. The same applies to your body, health and lifestyle.
You cannot escape the aging process completely; although you can make it a great deal easier on yourself. Early detection of problems can prevent some very serious diseases taking hold of you later in life. For example blood sugar levels, higher than normal oxidised LDL cholesterol and blood pressure levels if identified early on can be reversed by making some simple lifestyle changes.
I have a list of key indicators that need to be measured on a regular basis so that you are as informed as possible about your own health and are in control of dealing with anything that may cause you harm at a later date.
Blood pressure cuffs are available and you can measure that yourself at regular intervals once a week, first thing in the morning before you get out of bed and perhaps again after one of your exercise sessions.
Other tests are a good idea to carry out every three to six months depending on your age. Blood sugar levels and Cholesterol for example and can be done in your local pharmacy.
Annually it is a good idea to have a thorough medical examination because even if nothing is found you will come out feeling a million dollars.
Weigh yourself once a week and review your eating plan from time to time depending on changes in the level of your exercise or if you feel that you might be lacking certain nutrients. A therapist will always help you with that if you need it.
Make a list of all the indicators in a diary at the beginning of the year – measure them and then make a list every month, three months or six months of those you are going to recheck then. This time spent having these key indicators checked might save your life and at the very least keep you on your healthy eating plan.
Is there an area that is not health related that contributes to maintaining a young outlook on life?
It is my belief that there are in fact several factors that contribute to being young at heart. Some of my favourites are remembering how unique you are, making a difference, always challenging yourself and a sense of humour.
Sometimes we forget that we are totally and utterly unique from the hair on our heads to the tips of our toes. Unless we have an identical twin there is no one in the entire world like us.
From the moment that we are born we are encouraged to conform, to follow the norm and not to stand out in the crowd. If you did you were regarded as the black sheep of the family and sent to the colonies or ostracised and labelled eccentric. In fact one of my clients commented that her daughter and son in law told her that she was eccentric and she felt flattered and so she should. As long as being different does not harm you or those around you, being unique is something to be proud of.
As an aside, when I first got married I worked on a sheep farm in the mountains in Wales. It was winter and every day the farmer and I would climb up to feed the sheep and eventually when the snow came down we had to find the whole flock and bring them down to the flat ground. There were 400 sheep on a whole mountain. With the snow down, how do you suppose we found white sheep? Because of the old, black ewe that was the matriarch of the flock and essential to their survival. They stayed with her and if we found her against the snow we found all the others. So never be bothered about being a black sheep, others will flock to follow you and will stay close.
What about contribution?
The other amazingly youth-giving quality is the ability to contribute to those around you. However, sometimes you look around you and you think that it would be impossible to make a difference. It is overwhelming when 24/7 you look at the poverty in Africa or India, the cruelty to children and animals and the mindless violence in most parts of the world and it is hard to think how you as an individual can make a difference.
I have a story, that has a number of versions, that I have told when I have given talks, which puts this into perspective.
One day a man is walking along a beach the morning after a terrific storm. The sand is littered for miles with thousands upon thousands of starfish who have been thrown up high on the beach overnight. It was devastating and he looked on in horror.
He noticed a little girl walking along the shore towards him and every so often he saw her pick up a starfish, carry it carefully to the sea and throw it as far as she could out into the water.
The man went up to her and shook his head and said,
‘Little girl, there are hundreds of thousands of starfish that are dying, you cannot make a difference’.
She looked at him with a starfish in her hand and said
‘But it will make a difference to this one.’
For me this illustrates the enormity of helping just one person. It can have a ripple effect that will make a difference to many others and it will certainly make a difference to you. You don’t have to take on the world. Start by being good to yourself and work outwards from there.
Once you have that in hand you might think about giving some of your time to a local voluntary organisation – perhaps a day a week – where you can start to make a difference. Many of these organisations have far reaching effects working to eradicate poverty or cruelty to children and animals around the World. What you perceive as a small and insignificant contribution without global impact is in fact a crucial part of a unified effort to make the change happen.
Why are challenges good for us?
Stress is not always bad for us. There is an element of anticipation and excitement that is connected to pushing the envelope of our existence, either mentally or physically. Setting goals for progress puts us under pressure but managed properly that pressure can improve our health, our stamina and our ability to cope with everyday life in a more efficient way.
By achieving a challenging task we can put many less stressful events into perspective. You will often hear people say, ‘If I can do that I can do anything.’
One of the weekend seminars, The Firewalk Weekend with Tony Robbins, that my husband and I went on in 1996 when I embarked on my weight loss, was about just that principle. At the end of the evening all the participants were put into a state enabling them to walk across a bed of burning coals 25 feet long. At the time, I weighed over 24 stone (330 lbs) and felt totally unprepared to do this challenge. My husband did walk over the burning coals without any damage to his feet and felt incredible afterwards.
We went on over the next two years to complete a the other courses as part of the Tony Robbins Life Mastery. One of my biggest challenges was losing my first 80lbs out of 150lbs, so that I was cleared to climb a 60-foot telegraph pole and jump off, relying only on a safety harness and a faith in the guy on the end of a thin rope. (Actually I insisted on two!) That motivated me to lose the rest of my weight.
I am not suggesting the everyone rush out and run over burning coals or climb a telegraph pole but you can undertake a challenge which means something to you and perhaps benefits someone else as well. A sponsored walk or run perhaps or competing in a competition like mastermind or even signing up for an open university course.
Challenging ourselves is a way to stimulate our bodies and our minds into remembering the function that they have and the skills that they can still learn.
Getting older is just another phase in our life and it is not up to others to make us happy nor should we expect to have unhealthy lifestyles and not pay the price.
Taking responsibility for our diet and to a larger extent our health is a major step towards having a fantastic 10, 20 or even 30 years to enjoy life to the full.
Next time a condensed nutritional guide and a suggested shopping list to give you the nutrients required to keep you looking young and fit for life.
©SallyCronin Just Food for Health 1999 – 2018
A little bit about me nutritionally.
A little about me from a nutritional perspective. 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. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.
All available in Ebook from: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2
And Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6
Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4: http://www.moyhill.com/html/just_food_for_health.html
Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is email@example.com. I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally