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My Journey To A Healthier Me

Jacks Smack 07102022

Yesterday I turned 58. Over the prior four to five months, I’ve been telling everyone I was about to head into my last year of this 50s decade.

Even in podcast interviews, I propagated this lie. Although, at the time, I believed it to be true. Imagine my surprise and delight to be reminded that I was turning 58, NOT 59. Not sure how I’d mentally aged myself by a year, but, seriously, it feels so good to be gifted an entire extra year of life. Of course, I know that’s not really possible. The years we get are the years we get. It’s pretty simple.

now I am at the age where continuing to “take it for granted” is too dangerous”

Accurate age faux pax aside, I, like so many women at this stage of life, am examining my health. I say that very specifically. Examining my health. There, I said it again. I’m grateful to whomever or whatever has given me an overall healthy existence up until now. But now I am at the age where continuing to “take it for granted” is too dangerous. I am ready to embark on a journey to a healthier me.

The Leading Barometer Of Long-Term Health:

When we are young, if stuff goes sideways, we have time to course-correct and affect change. Lifestyle, as we all are acutely aware, is the leading barometer of long-term health. Changing our diets, incorporating physical activity, orchestrating a repeatable sleep regime that nourishes us, curating and maintaining deep human connection, and learning to “let shit go” all contribute to our overall health. 

how we address those lifestyle factors is unique to each of us”

Now that I am older and wiser, I realize that how we address those lifestyle factors is unique to each of us. What works for one woman doesn’t necessarily help another. This is a long and circuitous lead-up to why I am taking a deep dive into me and my health.

It’s easy for those of us who don’t use many medical services to become lazy and complacent. But the reality is that the parts and pieces that make up our machine are aging. Some wear out, some develop abnormalities. We, in the United States, live in a sick care paradigm. (My apologies to our international community, but this Smack is focused on the U.S. system. It’s the one in which I navigate – at least for now.)

An Unhealthy Situation:

We, in the U.S., spend more than any other country on health expenditures. In 2020, we managed to spend over four trillion dollars. We spend most of that money on medical care. 90% of the expenditures are spent on those with chronic or long-term medical conditions. Many of those chronic conditions can be prevented or improved through lifestyle choices. This is good news!

It is no surprise to learn that even though we outspend all other countries, we are not the healthiest. As a matter of fact, according to the 2019 Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, the U.S. ranks 35th out of 169 countries. Using life expectancy as the yardstick, it turns out Spain qualifies as the healthiest country, boasting a life expectancy of 83.5 years as compared to 78.8 for the United States.

We also spend the most on our oldest adults (ages 85 and older). I personally have no beef against providing extra healthcare to our elders. Heck, I plan on being one of them some day. But, what I struggle with is the lack of spending on those that aren’t sick yet. Heck, that’s ME today! I believe it makes sense to provide us ways to stay healthy, longer. I am so set on this belief system that I don’t even care to defend it with data or statistics. Seems like the “big duh” to me.

Why Are We So Unhealthy?

Obesity dramatically decreases a person’s overall quality of life and their life expectancy.”

There are a myriad of factors, chief among them obesity, which is one of the leading causes of preventable death and disease in this country. But I’m not trying to point fingers at a single cause of poor health. My goal in starting a pro-active path utilizing diagnostics is to holistically identify my own risk factors and strengths. And in so doing, hopefully help you figure out your own path towards your own personal health journey. Let’s get (or stay) healthy together.

This isn’t about body shaming. Wait, let me say THAT again too. This isn’t about body shaming. Obesity dramatically decreases a person’s overall quality of life and their life expectancy. Higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, and even certain types of cancer are all associated with obesity. And if those findings aren’t compelling enough, additional health risks associated with obesity range from diabetes to osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, kidney disease, strokes, and high blood pressure. 

Obesity isn’t my issue. But that doesn’t mean I’m in the all clear lane with regards to longevity and health. Some of the things that kill us are silent and slow to show. Why wait until the aneurysm? Why wait until you start to show symptoms? Wouldn’t it be better to avoid, slow down, or reverse what’s ailing us?

The First Step:

To that end, I have embarked on a pro-active health maintenance quest. My first step? In my search, I found a company that provides preventive health screenings to help people understand their risk for developing chronic conditions before symptoms are present. While we can still take action. Sadly, not covered by insurance (which is another story altogether) but not completely priced beyond many of our reach.

if an issue is detected, early – before the symptoms, I proactively can find ways to reverse, slow, or mitigate the issue(s)”

I contacted Life Line Screening and shared with them my desire to be proactive regarding my health. We discussed how it important it is to share this journey with as many people as possible. To that end, they gifted me my first screening appointment. We will screen for independent markers for coronary artery disease, as well as, the presence of atrial fibrillation, aortic aneurysm, peripheral arterial disease, and osteoporosis. In all honesty, the only real issue I am concerned with is osteoporosis. Arthritis runs in my family and I personally have begun to see my hands become disfigured – not to mention the pain and limitations it places on me. 

The journey to a healthier me began with setting up the appointment. Happy to report it was easy and straightforward. Stay tuned as I share with you the actual appointment day and then my results. More importantly, if an issue is detected, early – before the symptoms, I proactively can find ways to reverse, slow, or mitigate the issue(s). 

Looking forward to sharing my health journey with our Community in the hopes it encourages others to follow suit. Have thoughts or opinions on preventative health care options? Are you actively pursuing knowledge to help yourself be the best, healthiest version of you? Share your experience. We all benefit from your share.

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