We women try hard to make the right choices with our health. We want to be strong, healthy, energetic, and live good long lives so we can some day bounce our grandchildren on our knees and enjoy retirement.
So we don’t smoke. We limit our alcohol intake. We eat right. We exercise. We get regular check-ups with our doctors. We practice mind drills to stay sharp. We are doing our best to be our best, and when we are following these rules, we can walk with confidence into our futures – right? Well, not so fast.
Virtually every day we are hearing new precautions that are published to encourage us do even better – but in reality, I think they are mostly confusing us, and just plain scaring the hell out of us.
Let’s start with the one that troubles me daily: That sitting is the new smoking. We’ve all known for a long time that we should avoid being couch potatoes and that laying around watching TV for hours will make us fat and lazy…. But thanks now to new scientific evidence, we have found out that sedentary behavior is the fourth-leading risk factor of death. Some articles say that no matter how much exercise we do, it won’t balance out the bad impact of sitting. Considering how many of us sit at desks or in front of computers all day at our jobs, this is downright terrifying. This especially does not bode well for us writers. Have you every tried to walk and type at the same time? Heck, as I sit and write this, I’m apparently doing cellular damage on a molecular level, and taking days off my life. Or at least 20 minutes.
It was suggested to me last week that we all should set an alarm at our desks to go off every 45 minutes to inspire us to get up and move. Umm, ok, but I’ve also heard that it takes more than 25 minutes on average to resume a task after being interrupted. So I may live longer and avoid physical damage, but it will now take me three hours longer each day to get my work done because I’m being interrupted and distracted?
And I can only imagine how welcome that alarm will be during day-long meetings. Pay no attention to that woman pacing around the perimeter of the conference room. She’s just trying to avoid cardiovascular disease, diabetes and muscular degeneration.
Speaking of preventing disease and illness, we real women have for years been taught to take our breast health very seriously. We have embraced annual visits to our Ob/Gyn, we get our mammograms, we do self-checks… Well, guess what… just recently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended major changes to breast cancer screening guidelines. They are suggesting that routine screening for average-risk women begin at age 50, not 40. That we should get mammograms every two years, not annually, and that self-exams have little value.
Wait, WHUT?! Now who do we believe? Personally, this one is a no-brainer for me…. After my experience last year with breast cancer, I will forever encourage women to get checked early and often. I was 49 when I had the mammogram that found it. Plus the doctors had plenty of baseline mammo’s to compare. If I had waited until 50, who knows how worse it may have been. Our bodies, our decisions.
Whew…. All this worrying is stressful. Time to relax with friends and have a BBQ. Nope, sorry. That’s not a good idea either. Because according to the World Health Organization, bacon, sausage, hot dogs and other processed meats are now ranked alongside cigarettes and asbestos as known carcinogens. That’s right, those tasty treats are evil, and not just because of the grease and fat. And guess what, heating those meats make them even worse – it helps lead to the formation of a known cancer-causing agent. Alright, fine, then we’ll stick to fresh food and veggies. Well, that is as long as we know where the farm fresh food is coming from….. just ask the folks at Chipotle restaurants who are dealing with an E. Coli outbreak.
So what to do? I figure I’ve got two options:
I can go live my life in a bubble, constantly walking in place, consuming only filtered water and vegetables I’ve grown myself, and going to see my doctors sporadically.
OR, I can keep doing the best I can and try to stop worrying so much. Because if I’m lucky and get to live a full, happy life, and reach the age of 95, I’m guessing in my last days on this earth I’ll be thinking about the people I’ve known and the experiences I’ve had, rather than considering “geez, if I’d only gotten up every 45 minutes and not had bacon with my breakfast, I could have made it to 96.”