How to Add More Healthful Time to Your Life

When you turn 50 yeras old, would you want to add 8-11 years of life free of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease?

Ummmm yes. 

A new study tells you just how you can do this:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 30 min a day
  • Drink no more than 0.5-1 alcoholic drink a day
  • Eat a high quality diet (based on the AHEI scale)
  • Maintain a “healthy” weight

[I would argue that last one isn’t actually a “modifiable behavior” but I’ll get to that later.]

By simply doing what we all know we should do, you can add up to a decade to your life free of some pretty horrible diseases. Seems like a no-brainier, right?

No more excuses! You can get started today!

Step 1: Set a Goal

Pick one area above that you want to work on. Seriously, just one. If I had my choice I’d encourage you to choose the exercise one but you should pick whatever you are most motivated to focus on.

How can you work towards a sustainable approach at the behavior? Check out my goal setting post and get started today on one of these areas. The workbook is available in the free resource library

It takes about 21 days for a habit. I would recommend making a goal about 3 months to really ensure you have found a sustainable approach to reaching that goal. 

Step 2: Find a Partner

If you want to be successful you NEED an accountability partner. It doesn’t need to be a family member or friend in your area. It can be anyone in the world. Seriously. With the advent of social media there are oodles of people out there wanting to reach the exact same goals as you! Consider joining my Facebook Group here to find an accountability partner!

Step 3: Change your Perspective about Weight

Told you I’d get to this later. Ready for a soapbox?  I’ll try to keep it short and sweet.

I would argue that weight should not be included as a “modifiable risk factor.” 

  • No one engages in weight. 
  • They don’t go do weight. 
  • You can’t quit weight. 

Weight is an attribute of who you are that is influenced by numerous factors, some of which are behaviors. While studies can show that when people participate in behaviors they can lose weight, no studies show consistent evidence for long-term weight loss that is anything to write home about. I would be interested to see if and how the data would change if weight was controlled and we just looked at behaviors for which we actually can control. 

A little more about this soapbox of mine on weight

Weight has been the focus of discussion for far too long. We talk about evidence-based medicine but we have no clear evidence-based approaches to actually maintain weight loss. When the focus is on weight people stop behaviors when they reach that weight or when they are too discouraged about not losing weight. 

Like I said above – weight is influenced by many things and it’s mind boggling to me that we still think it is the ultimate marker of health. Yes, people will likely lose weight when they participate in healthy behaviors, but we can’t guarantee how much or how fast. 

You know what we can guarantee?

  • If you walk 30 min a day, you walked 30 min today. 
  • If you eat 5 vegetables servings a day, you ate 5 vegetables servings today.
  • If you quit smoking, you aren’t smoking today. 

If we start focusing on BEHAVIORS and stopping lumping weight with them I think we’d see significantly greater improvements in health outcomes. And it’s those behaviors that young people can adopt to hopefully prevent excess weight in the first place. 

Just to illustrate how silly this focus on weight is…

Take Janice, a 200lb 45yr old female. She’s diagnosed with obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. She’s started on lisinopril and metformin and told to lose weight. She has never been successful at weight loss in the past so she doesn’t try.

Five years later, she is now 220lb and her diabetes and high blood pressure are worsening. Her doctor suggests another medication. She finally decides to exercise and eat better.

Over 6 months she loses 5% of her weight (the number all the studies tout as being significant enough to produce health benefits). Now she’s 209lb. Her blood pressure and blood sugars are so much better. Her doctor is now thinking about stopping her medications if she wants to trial off them.  

If weight is such a great marker for health, how is she healthier a 209lb than she was at 200lb??

I highly doubt the physical act of losing weight is why she is healthier. Just saying…

I believe we are causing more harm by focusing on the symptoms of the problem instead of the actual problems. I would really love to see the authors of the study show how the data look when weight is controlled. So if any of you reading this know them maybe pass along the suggestion 😉 

Want to read the study? You can check it out here.
Want to read the editorial about it by Medscape? Grab that here.

What’s your health goal? Leave it below to show your commitment! When you write it down and name it, you’re more likely to achieve it 👊

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