As we age, a few things become priorities. We appreciate the time we spend with family and friends.
There are a few things that we don’t appreciate also, like the increased threats of heart attack, stroke, and other health risks.
Perhaps its these risks that make us appreciate all the good in our lives even more.
Often here, we talk about how moving into a 55+ community can be one of the best moves a retiree can do, but today, let’s shift gears a little and talk about our health.
Is it too late to change lifestyle?
Healthy habits vs genetics
There is some debate about whether genetics play a major role in our overall health, or if our lifestyles are the main culprit to healthy or unhealthy bodies.
Say for instance that those family who went before you all died from a heart attack, possibly at an age that is seeming younger and younger the older you get. Also, your siblings now suffer from high blood pressure or high cholesterol also. What does that mean for you?
Many doctors agree that genetics predispose a person to having certain types of health problems, like heart disease. After all, some of these things tend to hit the whole family. Shouldn’t that be proof enough that genetics play a major role in our overall health?
Let’s take a look at the flip side of the coin. What if genetics aren’t the main culprit in our overall health. We’ll use the same heart disease scenario as above, but look at it from a different perspective.
What if, everyone in your family, past and present, suffered from heart disease, because Great Great Grandpa loved to throw an extra lump of butter into everything and insisted on a sugary desert at least two or three times a week.
It wouldn’t be hard to see how eating like this could become addictive how kids would come to expect meals to follow a similar pattern.
So, which is it?
Probably, the answer is both. Genetics and lifestyle likely play a major role in our health. The danger comes when we rely too much on one argument. For instance, if we say it’s all genetics, and there’s nothing we can do about it, then we easily justify our unhealthy eating habits, or we neglect to work out.
If we say it’s all lifestyle related, then we ignore some of the risk factors that might come from genetic predisposition, and fail to adequately prepare for anything beyond our control.
If we are truly concerned about our health, then we need to keep both options on the table. This means that we need to make necessary changes to improve our life, along with the quality thereof.
Change is hard
If you or someone you know has gone through something life threatening, like a heart attack or some other malady, then you might know that for a short while, you are sincerely concerned about changing your lifestyle to be healthier.
However, it’s funny, but after a few weeks, most people tend to drift back into their normal lifestyle, and the urgency of their past crisis fades into a blurry memory.
Unfortunately, the older we get, the more rigidly we stick to our patterns of life. I remember having to make similar choices with my lifestyle. I used to love eating, but I have a large family with a long history of heart problems and strokes.
For me, I had to decide, do I want to live to eat, or eat to live? I also hate working out, and would always look for any excuse to avoid it.
After diving head-first into vegan, vegetarian, and other supposedly healthy diets and workout routines, I ended up settling into a pattern that works for me. I still eat meat, though not as much, I still cook with fats, though not as much, and I still consume sugar and salt, though I’ve significantly cut down on those, and my wife forces me to work out if I get lazy.
It’s still hard most days, and I’ve been living like this for a few years now. The funny thing is, though, my quality of life hasn’t gone down. If anything, it’s gone up. I get sick less frequently, and I generally feel better.
Every country has its health challenges. In some parts of the world, people consume far too much salty foods. Some consume far too much fatty foods. Here in America, we pull in so many cultures, and have so many people who consider themselves foodies, sampling cuisine from all over the world and eating out so much, that we have the worst of it all.
We tend to eat several times our daily salt requirements. Fat is in style. We love cooking with butters and oils. We eat so much more sugar than the rest of the world. Take any of our deserts to Asia, and they’ll spit it out because it’s too sweet. (Seriously, I’ve seen this a lot).
I’m not advocating that everyone become vegetarians and spend every day in a gym. I’m not that guy either. But if we take a minute to evaluate our lifestyles, openly and objectionably, there might be some places that we can find a happy balance that keeps us happy and healthy, longer.
Don’t be discouraged. Change is difficult, and it takes time and practice. It’s like moving to one of our active adult communities. They are different for many people, but once they give it a try, they wonder why they didn’t make that move sooner.
Living healthy, living happy, and helping lift those around us is all part of the journey. Give it a try. Maybe you’ll find a fresh new perspective on life. If you do, feel free to share it with those around you.