Thursday, December 01, 2011

Embracing Healthy Living

After years of resisting, I am finally heeding all of that unsolicited advice my mother has been doling out over the years. I am experiencing a rebirth along the likes of when Jan Brady decided she'd become a brunette and try out a new personality on "The Brady Bunch." Minus the wig.

I am exercising regularly, taking supplements, moisturizing, exfoliating, waxing, flossing, hydrating, stretching, meditating, reflecting, plucking, rinsing, coloring and car Kegel-ing. Some of you ladies will know what I mean by that. And apparently, there's an app for that.

The problem is the time it takes to do this little regimen of activities — or rather how little time is left for doing the things you enjoy, like eating or sleeping or getting a root canal.

I've got to think that a boatload of fish oil pills isn't doing much good if I'm getting three hours of sleep a night after wrapping up that entry in my gratitude journal. Oh, I'm kidding about that part. I don't have time to be thankful; I'm much too busy softening my cuticles and doing my pistol squats.

But I am determined to see if the experts are right about how all of this healthy living will positively impact my life expectancy. By my calculations (interpret as what I've been able to Google in the past 2.5 minutes), here's what I can expect:

According to, Italian researchers found that eating as little as one cup of raw vegetables daily can add two years to your life. Another study found that those who nibbled nuts five days a week earned an extra 2.9 years.

Australian researchers suggest having a large network of friends can rack up as much as seven additional years. And in a Yale study of older adults, those with a positive outlook on the aging process also tacked on seven years compared to those — like me — who view the aging process as a slow and painful descent from a gorgeous grape to a rotting raisin.

But there's more.

According to an article on, a daily handful of dark chocolate and almonds, some fruits and vegetables, garlic, fish and a glass of wine can increase life expectancy by 4.8 to 6.6 years. (I'm thinking the chocolate and wine will put me closer to the high end of that range). If you engage in moderate to high intensity cardiovascular exercise five days a week, you're looking at another two to four years. And mental exercise, just keeping your noggin active, can yield another two years. If you can do the "Challenger" Sudoku puzzles I think you might live forever.

And you know why your dentist has been nagging you to floss all these years? Turns out there is something about that annoying waxy string that, when used daily, can tack on up to 6 additional years to your life. I have been flossing for three to four hours a day to make up for lost time.

So, if my calculations are correct, and they generally aren't, then I figure I can live to be approximately 118 with just a few minor adjustments to my living habits that include not doing anything that I currently do.

And think of all the perks to living that long: I'll be able to tell you if global warming is fact or myth and if the flying car thing ever comes to be. Well, maybe not you, per se, but I'll be able to tell some other manic flosser.

As I'm writing this, I am preparing to go to the gym. It's Saturday. I'd rather be sleeping or shopping or even cleaning my house. But Jan Brady can't adopt a new personality without a little work behind it. And it hasn't been easy since, like Jan, the reaction I've been getting from my friends and family is not ideal.

And by not ideal, I mean they are laughing, pointing and taking bets on how long this whole experiment will last. My biggest supporter only has five weeks up on the board.

I'm going to prove them all wrong. I'm going to beat the odds and implement some serious, long-lasting change. I'm heading out for a good long workout this very minute — as soon as I finish eating my Pop Tart.

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