Give or Take 19 Years
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
I love watching The Biggest Loser. There are many reasons I could never be one of its contestants (a topic for a later post), but the main reason I’m fascinated by the show is watching people become not only self-aware, but also self-reliant. My favorite contestants are the ones who disarmingly admit they knew all along that they were fat but just didn’t do anything about it. Less interested in the ones who say, “I didn’t realize.” In 2012 you didn’t realize obesity kills you? The show has been on for 13 seasons. Or is it 14? In all the excitement of booting Anna Kournikova off the show and having Jillian Michaels rejoin it, I lost count.
Sometimes one receives an epiphany in regards to the need to take care of oneself, and despite mirror ownership, increasing belt sizes and no longer needing to spend good money on sunscreen since one has given up on going outside with any amount of exposed skin, this ah-ha moment can take the form of being given Very Bad News from a medical professional. For me, it was a combination of CAD and panic attacks; on The Biggest Loser contestants are given their, “know your number,” aka, “your inner age,” aka, “the day you’re gonna die.”
I’ve empathized with the contestants, especially middle-aged contestants, as I do the math in my head as to how much sand is left in their personal hourglasses. I’m thrilled when thinner, fitter BL contestants revisit Dr. H. to see how many years they’ve won back. I often find myself smiling along with them as they get their news. And I’ve thought to myself, “I wonder what MY real age is inside?”
Turns out there’s this thing called the internet where you can find tons of sites that are more than happy to tell you the day you’re gonna die. For free. One might add gleefully. One might.
The first site I went to was realage.com. I’d seen their ads before but frankly, given the fact that I might already be "short on time," the length of their questionnaire was off-putting. I took their test a long time ago, when I first turned 40, and was told my “real age” was 62, which I promptly ignored, having no desire to floss twice daily or give up processed meat. You’d think having a 99% blocked artery 6 years later wouldn’t be such a huge surprise – though it really was: I was only 46, if you’ve just run the numbers. Obviously, “thinking” wasn’t my strong suit then.
Anyway, I googled, “calculate death date,” and took the first quiz that popped up. Age, BMI, no, I don’t smoke, okay, a few glasses of wine, and poof!
April 28th, 2047.
Not bad. My concerns about global warming are warranted and not just a “next generation’s problem,” kind of thing. Emboldened, I tried another site.
Tap, tap, click, enter.
June 11th, 2026.
How is that right?
19 years difference? 14 years left??? And oddly – or not -- four years and one week younger than when my mother died. Also obese. Also a former smoker.
My kids were just babies “yesterday” (my oldest is 21). My mom died when my kids were 6 and 4 – they hardly knew her. Would my future grandchildren be cheated too? I refuse to be denied the chance to utter the phrase, “Oh no, honey, you were much worse when you were a baby.”
I sucked up my impatience and took the Real Age test. I need to know what, exactly, I should work on (despite seeing two excellent doctors twice a year who tell me exactly that, one of whom I will see tomorrow, who tells me all the time that I’m just FINE, just keep doing what I’m doing), and what is out of my control. For the record, it took about 25 minutes. Got out the tape measure for my waist, looked up my test results for HDL, etc. etc. etc. No crossed fingers. I wanted the honest truth: 2 decades are in the balance. And in the end,
I am 47.8, or 1.6 years YOUNGER than what I am.
(Seriously, what does this say about not believing everything we read on the internet, right? Don’t answer that.)
According to Real Age, the good stuff about what's affecting my age:
Being an ex- smoker (thanks, stress test!)
Taking a daily aspirin (thanks, Doc!)
Being fiscally responsible (thanks, not buying my son the iPhone5!)
Having a cat (what about my dog?? The cat is a pain in my…)
Being a fruit eater (thanks, Mother Nature!)
Eating a healthy breakfast most days (actually, every day)
Doing cardio activity (thanks, treadmill!)
Being strong (thanks, new job that makes me pick things up and put things down!)
Eat more veggies. Fine.
“Find positive coping strategies.” Like, okay – I’m not the only person on the planet who’s been laid off. Or whose kid went off to college. Some people have kids who go to college and they do not wallow and cry. Daily. Some people handle setbacks more gracefully than I. Okay, a LOT of people handle setbacks more gracefully. This is the “killer app,” I think.
NO JUNK FOOD, like chips or cake. And I only eat them about twice a week now. Gone.
Get my blood pressure from 125/70 to 120/70. This seems stringent, but okay. I use too much salt anyway, a question they didn’t ask.
And finally, my WEIGHT. Working on it. Weight off the body, weight off the mind.
There was a lot more, but I won’t bore you with all the details. I do encourage you to take the free test yourself -- at the risk of incurring scads of spam that is no doubt already making its way to my inbox...
See? Positive coping strategies. Gotta work on that.