Monday, June 14, 2010

Aging? What aging?

A friend of mine, Jyoti, always says the cutesy things. Once she said, "You're only as old as you are." We laughed. We cried. We made fun of her until she threatened to not saying anything cute anymore - it didn't last long. But in a way, she was right. We are as old as we are.

It doesn't mean we have to feel as old as we are. Or look it. It is true that most of us are still mentally young no matter how old we are. Sometimes we still feel like we are teenagers, full of young ideas and childish thoughts and behaviors. We still like to play. We still fall in love. We lust. We act like foolish teens when we are around people we like. We bicker like we are still in high school. Some of us never grow up.

I think it's a good idea to keep yourself young at heart. The soul should never grow old. Your mind should grow wiser, but not older. Alas, if only our bodies could do the same. No matter what we do, our bodies age.

That's why it's very important to take care of ourselves. Mind and body. I truly believe in making an effort to fight aging, by living healthy and exercising both the body and mind. Sure, genetics has something to do with how we age. But if the oldest person in the world can live to over 150, it's incredible how our minds and bodies could work together to defy aging.

I keep my mind busy. I try to not stress about anything (stress is the #1 cause of many ailments, including premature aging). I exercise regularly. I check up with my doctor periodically to make sure everything works under the hood as well.

I never thought I would say this: I'm now in even better shape than I was in my 20s. Generally, I feel better, I work better, I look better. As the cliche goes, I'm at the top of my game. I look years younger than my actual age; in fact, a recent test puts my "real" age at 26. Everywhere I go, people ask me where I go to school, and that tickles me.

I'm not bragging, though. My point is that this is the only body we have, and we must protect and take care of it, as much as we take care of our minds. So many of us abuse our bodies, what with drugs and alcohol, or bad eating and exercising (or the lack of) habits. I mean, if you have only one child, would you abuse it? If not, why are you doing that to yourself?

Most people, though, don't realize they are not taking care of their bodies, until it's too late. Health related problems cost Americans hundreds of billions a year. It's now an epidemic. 1/3 of Americans are clinically obese. When I go to restaurants, I'm aghast by the food they serve and the portions, and how eagerly Americans consume the excess. We only need 2500 Calories to function properly, and we need certain nutrients, so why are we taking in 3500 or sometimes 5000 or more Calories heavy on fat and carbs and light on veggies and grains? It baffles my mind.

The other day I was at a public pool at the Y and I was alarmed by the number of obese children there. At least 40% of children and 80% of adults at the pool were significantly overweight. I'm not talking about a few extra pounds here. OBESE. It was astounding. What are those parents feeding these kids and don't they care! When pediatric diabetes is on the rise, how could they not know they are in danger?

This whole thing of "we eat and do what we want and worry about it later" has become a lifestyle in America. We consume so much food, enough to feed a nation with twice the US population. On average, we are carrying 30 pounds per person more than we should. If you don't know the effect those 30 pounds have on your body, do this: carry a 15lb dumbbell in each hand and walk around your house for an hour. How do you feel? Now, multiply that by 24 hours. Then multiply that by 365 days.

What did I just say about stress? If you put too much stress on a bridge, it will break eventually. Why do you think your body is any different?

A healthier America becomes a richer America - we won't have to consume so much; we'd have better productivity; we'd live longer, spend more time with our family; and we wouldn't have to spend so much money on healthcare. This is not rocket science. And yet so many people simply don't care enough to change.

1 comment:

K.M. Weiland said...

Good reminders. Pursuing holistic health (mind, body, and spirit) is something I've been becoming more and more conscious of lately.