Successful Aging As A Form Of Independence
Yesterday I wrote about financial independence, link below. Part of being financially independent is being healthy enough to avoid spending a lot of money on prescriptions, doctor visits and medical procedures. Avoiding a list of chronic maladies that require a lifetime of management can come down to habits. The right habits and you can essentially opt out of all that and age successfully, doing what you want to an old age. This is called healthspan.
1. The best time to start
Like many things, the best time to start good health habits was 20 years ago. The second best time is right now. The body is very forgiving, you just need to start. Here is a news story about women in their 60's and 70's just starting to lift weights including deadlift and squat and all of the things they are reversing by doing so.
2. Avoiding frailty
We naturally lose muscle mass (sarcopenia) and bone density (osteopenia) as we get older. Often older people look frail and that is what is going on, sarcopenia and osteopenia. That can be reversed but if no action is taken then a simple fall in the kitchen can end a person's independence. No one wants their hand forced into assisted living.
3. Metabolic health
Poor metabilic health greatly increases the odds of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, just about everything you can think of. Google it. This is a diet issue resulting from eating too many carbs, eating to much processed food containing seed oils and chemicals. Metabolic health can be recovered by cutting carbs and cutting seed oils. It is that simple and you can start now, no matter how old you are.
4. Bad things happen in the presence of belly fat.
Google "adipose tissue." This relates to number 3. Maybe worse is the fat you can't see, visceral fat, the fat that envelopes organs like the liver. Bad things happen in visceral fat. Another term to look up is non-alchoholic fatty liver disease. Again, the consequences in item number 3 of this list as a result of this item on the list can be reversed by cutting carbs and cutting seed oils. It is that simple and you can start now, no matter how old you are.
5. Good things happen in the presence of muscle mass
Building up muscle mass is the exact opposite of being frail. Muscle mass leads to strength, is the defintition of being able bodied and improves metabolic function. You can start now, no matter how old you are.
6. What to eat
This is simple even if not easy. The more meat, eggs, cheese and fish you eat at the exclusion of everything else, the better your metabolic health will be. You want to focus on protein over carbs. You'll find different ideas on how much fat is ok to eat but a lot of protein and very little carbs is the key takeaway. Vegetables tend to have less protein than meat and fish and less bioavailable protein. We are also far better able to digest meat as opposed to vegetables, gross comment coming but one look in the toilet is all you need to know this is true.
I don't only eat meat, eggs, cheese and fish but that is most of what I eat. I eat some nuts which high in omega 6 (not great) but good source of micronutirents. I eat some fruit, blackberries and blueberries tend to be lower carb, most other fruits are sugar bombs and I eat a good amount of broccoli.
A crucial point about what to eat. The body cannot burn fat until sugar (carbs) is depleted. Exercise will burn sugar before it burns fat, that's just how it works. If your starting point is that there is no sugar to burn, then you will start burning fat right away and lose weight quickly.
7. How to exercise
Do resistance training with weight, whether that is using free weights or body weight. I mostly lift weights but do pushups and planks too. The point here is building and/or maintaining muscle mass. Traditional cardio does not build or maintain muscle mass but lifting weights done at the right intensity does have cardio benefits. With weightlifting, focus on the back and legs. Don't ignore arm strength and bench press but various squat and deadlift techniques are more important functionally. Think in terms of bending down to pick up heavy things. Another important weightlifting exercise is farmers carry and anything else that promotes grip strength. Again think functionally, you don't want to drop things that you just picked up.
For my money, jumping rope which is a form of high intensity interval training (HIIT) is a good substitute for traditional cardio. Walking is very important but I would strongly encourage leveling up from walking on sidewalks or at the mall to hiking on the uneven or rocky surfaces which does a much better job of maintaining balance than walking on smooth surfaces.
Healthy body fat range (15% or less for men, 20% or less for women)
Better metabolic health
Very good chance that chronic maladies have been reversed
Can do the things you want to do
Saving money not spent on healthcare expenses
9. Biologically younger
Achieving the items listed in number eight is very likely to make you biologically younger. This is actually measurable if you want to spend the money but think about it, you reverse being pre-diabetic (I did this) or full blown T2D, you lose weight, your body fat is back to where it was when you were a kid, you can lift as much weight as when you were young, you've improved your triglyceride/HDL ratio ( a good measure of heart attack risk) and your testosterone goes up (this happens too) then you already know you are feeling younger, possibly much younger.
10. You're aging successfully
Younger than your chronological age, able to do what you want to do and what you need to do, you are winning, you are aging successfully and you will want to keep that up forever.
11. Ask me questions
I spend a lot of time on this, I'm glad to share what I've learned and point to other sources when a question is beyond my knowledge base.