Welcome to Healthy Step #1! These Healthy Steps are just one of the features of the Thindex Lodge that support you in making healthy and permanent changes in your life. There are nine steps in all, and as you follow them you’ll notice changes in your body and what you are capable of doing. There is some homework involved: some reading and making lists of things you would like to change. You are encouraged to complete one Healthy Step before moving on to the next one.
THINDEX HEALTHY STEP #1
When your body isn’t being treated right, it will let you know! You might be having physical complaints as you get older. Some of these complaints go away quickly, like sitting on a hard chair may make your tailbone sore for a while, but a simple change of position makes the soreness go away. But what about changes you can’t feel? What about hypertension (high blood pressure)? Is that normal for your age? Is it a real problem, since you feel fine?
Elevated blood pressure is a message that your arteries are losing their flexibility, and so your heart has to work harder to get blood to your tissues. Because of this, you are aging faster than someone who has normal or low-normal blood pressure. Here is the the bad news: people with high blood pressure live shorter lives.
When you entered Thindex Lodge you had the opportunity to calculate your own Thindex. The Thindex combines your body’s ability to transport and use oxygen during exercise (this is called your VO2 max) and your body size (this is your Body Mass Index, or BMI), and then compares it to others in your age group. Your Thindex is a good indicator of your general health. It’s pretty easy to calculate BMI on your own (BMI chart) if you want a second opinion but determining your VO2 max requires you to run or walk (or crawl!) for one mile. Find a running track or to mark off a mile, and do the activity, then enter accurate data for your Thindex. This demonstrates that you are ready to take the Healthy Steps towards a lifetime of better living.
Let’s look at other messages that your body might be sending you:
Gaining weight (more than 11 pounds after age 20, if you were a healthy weight then), blood pressure going up (blood pressure should remain steady with aging), stomach sticking out but you’re not pregnant (stomach should remain flat and waist size should be about the same as in your 20’s).
Walking slower than 10 years ago (if you exercise regularly and sit minimally, you should be able to keep up a good walking speed well into your later years)
Sitting more (sitting is a dangerous body position and should be minimized, especially in the latter third of life)
Inability to do a sit-up or push-up (this is a sign that your muscles are weak, and this makes losing weight more difficult because muscles use more calories than fat – men lose weight easier that women because they have more muscle mass)
Erectile dysfunction (this often results from loss of blood supply to the male genitalia due to arteriosclerosis)
Adult-onset diabetes (the pancreas is sending less effective insulin, usually due to obesity, so it can no longer get glucose out of the blood and into the muscles)
Chest pain when climbing stairs (the heart muscle is not getting enough blood with exertion, so it aches)
There are many more of these messages, and they are not all age-related. At any age they come from eating too much calorie-dense food and getting too little exercise. The human body is ill-prepared for excess calories or not enough exercise; did you know that it is designed to starve, and to move constantly in search of small amounts of food? That is the way the body functions best.
You may wonder: if you already have vascular disease, why bother making changes? Because vascular disease can be reversed and you can regain your health. See the link: Reversing Heart Disease
What does this mean to you?
If you are honest with yourself, you can admit that for one reason or another, you are not doing your best to be healthy. You are not reading anything here that you do not already know! In the US we are surrounded by elevators, cars, comfy furniture, TV, fast food, processed food, and about 3000 advertisements per day, mostly about what we should eat, drink or smoke. That’s a lot of temptation to put our feet up and have a snack, whether we need to or not.
How do Americans measure up? Dr. Mark Urman at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute surveyed 17,820 people using the criteria of blood pressure, smoking, diet, cholesterol under 200, exercise, blood sugar level and BMI. For each criteria followed, a person had 15 percent less chance of dying in the next 4 years. This is pretty serious stuff, right? How many Americans got all the criteria correct? Only two out of 17,820 were doing it right and would predictably have a nice long life. Which group are you in? You can join the group living longer by making three changes.
First, gain control of yourself. Think of your body like a boat foundering in a harbor. The captain is a poor leader and cannot control the crew, there is chaos on board! The crew is lazy and poorly trained, ignoring the captain’s orders and partying endlessly. The command area of the ship is the “wheelhouse” where the crew has taken over. Thindex Lodge calls this “monkeys in the wheelhouse”. You can think of it as a brain that sends a signal to go on a walk but gets a negative signal back, such as, “no, not now, I want to watch TV”. You have monkeys in your wheelhouse, and your ship won’t sail if you don’t throw the monkeys out and put a real leader in charge. You are the leader.
Second, exercise needs to become an everyday activity. It needs to replace seated activities like watching TV and playing video games. Americans watch about 4 hours of TV each day! If we walk more and sat less we will be healthier and look better: we burn up about 100 calories for each mile of walking. Another way is to walk to work or bike to work. We will spend more time on exercise in Healthy Steps to come.
Third, your diet must change. There has been some data dribbling in over the past 70 years that Americans don’t eat healthy food and while that data was being digested, our eating habits have gotten worse. There are many theories about why this has happened, but ultimately it is you who bears the responsibility for opening your mouth and eating unhealthy food. Throw the monkeys out of your wheelhouse, read the Healthy Steps, and start making responsible decisions about what you eat. For example, eat more vegetables and fruits, and less meat. Here’s why: Animal Products are Linked to heart disease
A short cut plan is to just not eat advertised foods. Your health will improve immediately! We will list the foods we recommend and those we do not recommend in a future Healthy Step.
Why follow the Healthy Steps? Americans have become a nation of sitters and overeaters and it is showing up in the dangerous health statistics we all read about. People think they cannot change their habits but I believe that you can. When you throw out the monkeys, the rest becomes easier.
List a few of the health issues you may be seeing at this stage in your life:
gaining weight, angina, diabetes, syndrome x, belly circumference larger than hip circumference, flattened arches, GERDS, multiple aches and pains, sinus congestion, headaches
These are not age related changes. These are what we see from overeating and not exercising. Go down and visit the Roses at the Lodge and stay in touch. Commit yourself to throwing out those monkeys and doing the healthy steps. Read the Blog on Excuses and pick out a library book like The China Study. Convert some sitting time to walking time, then move on to the next Healthy Step 2.