One of the things I’ve learned is that a writer should never start a story with a question.
I’m not sure I remember why, if I ever knew. Since, however, I have already started this story, I guess I am now allowed to ask a question which is what I wanted to do in the first place.
Here it is: Have any of you out there ever gone onto the website realage.com? It offers, among many other health tips, a test where you answer health, diet, lifestyle, etc., questions and then it reports how old you really are — over or below your chronological age — based on how much you weigh, the stress in your life, the healthy or unhealthy habits you’ve developed, and others.
I was appalled — APPALLED, I TELL YOU — when I received the results of this test. I won’t go into specifics here, but I am older — a fiiiiiiir piece older — than my chronological age, according to the results of this test. And since I am no spring chicken already, I can’t afford to be any older than I actually am, if you know what I mean?
The test site starts off by reporting that millions have already taken the test. I personally tend to doubt that. After all, if millions have already taken the test, then there should be so many more healthy people around. But instead, I don’t think things are looking so good.
According to state health statistics, Tennessee ranks 42nd among the states when it comes to the overall health of its people.
Tennessee also ranks 46th out of 50 states with the most cancer deaths, 39th in heart disease in adults, 44th in cardiovascular deaths, 43rd in cases of diabetes, 46th in number of people reporting to be in just fair or poor health, 41st in number of heart attacks, 42nd in number of residents with high blood pressure, 42nd in poor mental health days, but 48th — almost dead last, excuse the pun, in premature deaths, 48th in the percentage of obesity, 41st in number of people smoking and 46th in the number of people who get regular physical activity as adults.
And, just to make it clear — one is the best and 50 is the worst.
From these same Real Age folks who created that health test also comes a list ranking 50 cities across the U.S. on the best ones for staying young. The good news is that two Tennessee cities made the list — Nashville and Knoxville. The bad news is, they are No. 48 and No. 50 respectively!
This makes me mad.
Actually, THIS doesn’t make me as mad as people who eat too much, weigh too much, drink alcohol too much and smoke AT ALL, etc.
You know who you are — and I am on this list myself! Yep, I am often mad at myself when I consider the stupid and ill-advised choices I make.
For example, I used to smoke, for about 10 years, but quit several years ago and haven’t relapsed like my cousin Ingrid used to do.
She would make me so mad.
She would finally quit smoking, just to restart again, sometimes a year later! I could never figure out why. I also could never figure out why she was so adamant about studying all the Web MD info, watching “Dr. Oz” and similar shows on TV, reading labels in the grocery store and yet kept smoking. The obvious gigantic elephant in the room was to quit — and stay quit — smoking before she worried about what Omega-3 supplement she should take!
She finally did quit, but not until she got diagnosed with lung cancer. And no, she didn’t die — but her husband, Dan did, from, you guessed it, lung cancer. Right now my cousin said she has received a clean bill of health. I hope she is right.
Well, back to my original point. It seems that I have to stop messing around and start to seriously take care of my health. This coincides with the scary info I have recently heard from a number of health professionals I have interviewed that between 75 and as high as 90 percent of health issues are caused by our own lifestyles, our own choices!
The Real Age test, as you might expect, reported I needed to lose some weight, eat the proper foods, exercise regularly, including both aerobics and weight training, drink more water, get more restful sleep, have less stress in my life, go out and socialize more or at least find a hobby, etc.
It’s the same advice I have heard most of my life, but putting it into action — ah, that’s the rub! And that’s what could solve the current health crisis and debate over national health insurance and the higher and higher cost of doctor, lab and insurance fees.
It’s our own good choices that could turn this all around.
And my, or should I say our, foolish and unhealthy and, frankly, selfish choices are to blame. After all, if I go to a fast-food joint, which I do often because the paper is next door or across the street to at least a half-dozen or more, I don’t order the garden salad or even the grilled chicken. Nope. If I go out to eat, I often order a cheeseburger and fries, sometimes a shake, and very often an apple pie — or two. I want something that I don’t normally fix for myself at home. Something tasty and satisfying — but not good for me.
And that’s my choice. It’s all up to me. I am the only one to blame.