I should be in a really foul mood today. I just did one of those 'what age is your body?' quizzes and it tells me that I am actually 78, not 66.
You know, here I am, having spent about 40 years advising others on diet, health and to a lesser degree, exercise. And here I am, 66 going on 78.
It's doesn't look good, does it? And why on earth am I telling you? If I were Joan Collins, say, or Jerry Hall or Helen Mirren or Joanna Lumley or even Anthea Turner, actually especially Anthea Turner, and I'd just found out I'm 12 years older than I thought I was, I would just keep my mouth shut and keep writing about how little I eat and how clean my eating, how small my eating is, and how much I enjoy the vast amount of exercise I do. And now I've got to rewrite that bit because I've just realised that Mss Collins, Hall, Mirren and Lumley all claim never to do a jot of exercise and to eat and drink what they like.
Of course, that's hard to believe. Do we really think that Lumley and Co get to look that good by stuffing themselves with Big Macs and masses of ice cream soda and lying in front of the TV all day?
In that sense it is I, yes I, who am the lone bright spot in all this. I tell the truth. I eat lots of vegetables because I like them (but that only allows me to subtract a year). I don't smoke because I hate it (nothing to subtract but if I did smoke it would add 8 years). I do a bit of exercise, sometimes, when I remember and when real life doesn't get in the way, but not enough (even so I was allowed to subtract 2 years for 3-4 times a week and yes I lied a very tiny smidgen on that one). I drink alcohol, not all the time, but enough that it puts me over a woman's designated healthy max (for which sin I had to add 4 years).
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I mostly love healthy food but I also occasionally love white bread, chorizo, ice cream, Bakewell tart, coffee and walnut cake, sausage sandwiches (though only Donald Russell sausages will do), and cream. Plenty more but you get the idea by now. And therefore my Body Mass Index is just slightly over 25 (the now-disputed but often quoted ideal top level) which means I couldn't subtract anything for that, and as I'm an apple shape (always was even when I was skinny) I had to add 2 years, and also had to add 2 years for not drinking enough water (only over seven glasses a day will do apparently).
My stress levels and periodic insomnia added 3 years and my cholesterol level another 3, even though I'm not on medication as my 'good' cholesterol is so high. But not being diabetic and not having high blood pressure at least save me having to add another 5 years to my tally. Lastly, I managed to subtract 4 years because I eat protein at every meal.
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The Metabolic Age Test
This quiz was devised by an American 'anti-ageing specialist', Dr Caroline Apovian and much as I would love to argue with it, much of her reasoning behind the scores is fair enough.
I just dread to think what the result would be if every one of us did the test – I doubt many of us would end up having a score younger than our years, and the reason I say that is I am a normal kind of a person for my age, in fact I think I probably eat a little better than many and possibly even exercise a little better than many, and still, STILL I am 78. It's quite depressing, and it hasn't actually motivated me to give myself a good talking to and improve my lifestyle. It's just made me very slightly wonder if there's any point, which I am sure is NOT what Dr Apovian was trying to achieve.
And actually I say I should be in a foul mood, but I'm not. I just don't feel 78, whatever she says, well only on the occasional day. Other days I feel 40, or 60, but honestly, most of the time I don't even think about it, and that to me is more healthy than spending every day panicking about whether we've met the right criteria as I down yet another glass of water and a hunk of protein.
Oh – and I should mention the main reason I'm not fretting too much is that the latest research released only a week or two ago, shows that we are living much, much longer than ever before. In just over two decades, our life expectancy has risen by a massive amount*. So much so that people born in 2013 will live over 6 years longer than those born in 1990, and what is termed 'healthy life expectancy' has risen nearly as much, by 5.4 years.
And that will do for me.
* 'Global, regional, and national disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) for 306 diseases and injuries and healthy life expectancy (HALE) for 188 countries, 1990-2013: quantifying the epidemiological transition' - The Lancet