I turned 58 years of age a week ago. Where did the years go? I still feel like I am in my 30s … but then other days I feel like I’ve squeezed the work and activity of multiple lifetimes into this one solitary life.
In the last 12 months, my dad and my step-mother both passed away. With my own mother having passed away in 1990 that leaves only Nicole’s dad, Len Meyer, with us. He is ‘Opa’ to our family and we love him dearly. Parents passing away brings a sobriety to life, reminding us of its brevity and fragility.
This last week I participated in a radio interview. Nicole laughed a little at the advertising which promoted the topic as “What Happens When I Die” with Mark Conner. Death is something we really don’t like to talk about, unless we have to … like at funerals. Yet the death rate is running about 100% at the moment. There is a time to be born and a time to die.
One thing getting older does is make you value even more the preciousness of life. Each day is a gift. Each moment is an opportunity to love God, love people, make a difference, and enjoy life to the fullest.
The most recent research indicates that the average lifespan for Australian men is now 80 years of age and for women it is 84. These figures have increased by over 5 years since the year 1990. However, the ‘health adjusted life expectancy’ (HALE) for men is only 69 and for women it is 71.7. What this means is that, for many people, the last 10 years of their life is not what you would call healthy. The number one contributing factor to this? Obesity. Yes, one third of Australian adults and one quarter of our children are overweight. This one factor alone is affecting life expectancy and quality of life due to its impact on cardiovascular diseases.
How do we respond to this? My current thinking is that the best gift I can give my family and my loved ones is to endeavour to live as long a life as possible and be as healthy as I can … within my power.
Over 2 years ago, Nicole and I moved to a more plant-based diet. This was for health reasons with both of us having a history of high cholesterol and heart disease in our family. We have both benefited from this change, in energy and weight loss, for myself particularly.
[See What’s for Dinner? for some helpful and influential resources of this decision such as the Forks Over Knives documentary and Dr. Michael Gregor’s book How Not to Die. The highly shocking documentary Dominion also presents ethical reasons for choosing a more vegetarian or vegan approach to eating.]
More recently, I am learning that no one eating plan or diet suits every person’s unique physical body (whether that be Paleo, Keto, Atkins, Mediterranean, vegetarian, vegan or whatever!). The field of epigenetics includes discovering your unique DNA and building a lifestyle around that in order to be as healthy as you can. Visit physical health 360 to take a free test and learn about your unique health type (also, watch this intriguing TED Talk about Epigenetics and Personal Health by Matt Riemann the founder of PH360 if you’re interested in more details). As a result of these insights, I’ve made further changes to my lifestyle over the last 6 weeks and I’ve lost another 6 kilograms … without feeling hungry or deprived.
Food intake has had a big impact on our health as does regular exercise. Nicole and I have a dog – a cute little black pugalier by the name of Nikki. We walk her every day, often twice a day – rain, hail or shine. Nikki loves walking … and digging in the sand at our local beach. Walking 5-10 kilometres a day is terrific for our own well-being because of the fresh air and exercise.
One of the biggest health challenges in the West is sitting. The average person sits for 8 hours a day and its killing us. That’s why I like to move it, move it, move it!
I don’t need to know how old you are but how is your health? After all … health equals energy and energy equals life. Some health factors are beyond our control but many are within our power to do something about.
I’m sure your next birthday isn’t far away. Here’s to your own health and wellbeing … and a long life!
“We live for seventy years or so (with luck we might make it to eighty) … Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!”Moses (Psalm 90:10, 12) – The Message Bible