Growing Old Ain't for Sissies: What's Your Choice?
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Well, there is one alternative to growing old but that one is far less desirable than getting old. I want to talk about getting old. Growing older is an inevitability but growing up is a choice. Maturing physically is inevitable but we can be immature forever.
I watched my parents age in ways that were polar opposites. My Daddy struggled with heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, strokes. He quit smoking after his heart attack at age 40. We watched the vitality drain from his large and powerful body. He had a bad draw of cards from the gene pool but he also compounded his problems with a poor diet, high in fat, refined carbohydrates and potatoes as his primary vegetable. Daddy's idea of exercise was a wonderful 18 holes of golf, riding in a cart, followed by an hour or two at the infamous 19th hole (the bar) drinking Diet Coke. He loved to watch TV. Daddy died ten years ago - when he was 75, after having been incapacitated by his third stroke, trapped in a body that did not allow him to speak, move, or interact with those he loved and who loved him more dearly than words can tell. He was lucid and trapped in that machine for almost two years before his death.
On the other side of the universe, my mom is alive and very, very well. At 81, she swims competitively, is a vegetarian, subscribes to every health newsletter on the planet, walks daily, and still strength trains. She is and has been underweight most of her adult life. She quit smoking at age 52 and has had alcohol since age 50. She drew on the the good side of the gene pool and has avoided the cancer, RA, and psoriatic arthritis in her gene pool. She has outlived two younger sisters and a younger brother. My mom is a big reader and rarely watches TV.
With both parents, I have seen brief periods of time where they seemed to age more rapidly than usual, physically and cognitively. Both of them would then level out again but my Mom seemed to spring back more quickly.
This is important to me because I got the bad draw from both gene pools. Unlike my siblings, I have struggled with disease since I was 32. It is fairly likely that even though I am the second of four, that I will be the first to die, since the rest of them have avoided the scum of the gene pool better than I. Even my youngest sibling, a crack cocaine user for 30 years is in better health than I. Despite this, I eat intelligently, exercise as much as I am able and educate myself about health, nutrition and my disease challenges. I keep looking for a solution and I will not go gently into that dark night. At least not in the next 30 years...
I am not writing this to depress anyone. I am writing it to let you know or remind you that you have both a responsibility and a choice to make about your own aging. Here are my hints and tips for aging gracefully:
1. Educate yourself about your family health history and share this information with your children and grandchildren. Information is power.
2. Refuse to use your family history as an excuse not to work toward the highest levels of health possible.
3. Remember that no setback is permanent. Our bodies are miraculous machines capable of healing and renewal. Never ever ever give up!
4. Don't expect healthy living to be easy, fast or cheap. Easy, fast and cheap in health is as bad as easy, fast and cheap in food. That cheap fast food ruined the health of a generation, remember?
5. Eat your food as close to the way that God made it as possible to give yourself adequate nutrition for optimum health and or healing.
6. Drink lots of water. There is a reason that it covers most of the earth and that our bodies are filled with it.
7. Make activity a permanent part of your life. People who never quit exercising rarely get fat. Make it fun and make it desirable for those kids and grand kids. If they never put on extra pounds, they'll never have to take them off. This lets us enjoy better, longer use of your glorious machines.
8. Keep a sense of humor, delight in small moments of pleasure, capture the beauty of today and put it your memory banks for a day when you'll need that extra dose of happiness. Attitude counts!
9. Be willing to pay it forward. In the end, your life is not just about you. The choices you make have an effect on everyone and everything around you. So get out there and make good choices - for yourself, your children, your grandchildren, your friends, future generations and the earth.
What's Your Choice?