Every year you make a list of things to change, and every year you change some things while leaving the rest for next year’s resolutions. What you need is a checklist — something that prioritizes the important things you need to do this year, this decade and for the rest of your life. Like an owner’s manual for your body…
Luckily, Dr. Manny Alvarez has just what you need. He’s the author of The Checklist: What You and Your Family Need to Know to Prevent Disease and Live a Long and Healthy Life. A combination of extensive research and common sense, The Checklist is a step-by-step guide that skips straight to the important facts, tests and precautions that should be observed in every decade of life — from prenatal to postretirement.
Whether you’re a sporty new model or a garage-kept classic — or even if you haven’t been following the recommended maintenance program — it’s never too late for a tune-up or too early for an overhaul.
“Early prevention is the key to good health,” says Alvarez. “You’ll feel better along the way, and when you get to your senior years, you’ll be able to live a healthy and joyful life, instead of being hobbled with disease and medical problems.”
He outlines a very specific preventative strategy based on your age, showing how to maintain your body in each decade to reach your next significant milestone healthier and happier than you thought possible. Alvarez wants to erase the concept of age and have you cruising like a well-kept classic instead of a rundown jalopy.
One of the biggest priorities in keeping you running on all cylinders down this long and winding road we call life is streamlining yourself from the start, he says.
“If obesity starts as a child, it will certainly have implications later in life,” Alvarez says. “As you get older, being obese becomes increasingly more challenging. You’re dealing with the cumulative stress of excess weight, plus, the higher incidence of eating disorders, diabetes, gastrointestinal and joint problems.”
He recommends what he calls “nutrition from conception.” He suggests tackling preventable problems — such as obesity — from an early age to stave off the consequences that accompany hauling excess weight around for several decades.
The tenets of his program are simple: nutrition, exercise and big-picture implications of your actions. One important aspect of this is taking the fear out of living. Get preventive tests to acquire early recognition of problems on the horizon.
“Don’t be afraid,” he says. “The earlier it’s caught, the more treatable and curable the problem will be.”
Just like life itself, maintaining your health is a constant process, and the choices you make when you’re young will affect the way you live when you’re older. Alvarezexplains it with this analogy:
“The results will be better the earlier you start — like return on your investment. The earlier you start saving, the better your return. The earlier you start taking care of yourself, the better you’ll feel down the road.”
If you’ve spent the last 10, 20 or 30 years as the pedal-to-the-metal, free-spending, live-for-today type, don’t worry — it’s never too late to change. So what exactly are you waiting for?
If all you require is a roadmap to hit the highway to better health, you’re in luck because eDiets is like the last gas station before a bridge to oblivion. Don’t be afraid to stop and ask for directions.
Highway to Health
20s: “This is an important decade for developing the right habits: eating right, not smoking, exercising and knowing future problems that can arise from your lifestyle choices today. You are at the peak of your physical health, so develop proper habits for the rest of your life.”
30s: “Now we can assume responsibility for our lives and our health,” says Alvarez. “Age issues begin to arise. Start thinking about your first oil change — start focusing on preventative tests like skin checks, cholesterol readings, regular trips to the gynecologist and real attention to weight management.”
Alvarez calls this the most important decade — the “make-or-break” years.
40s: Family and professional obligations lead to stress, which becomes a major factor in mental and physical health in this decade. Your time restraints lead to a lack of exercise and time to prepare healthy meals, which contribute to obesity. It’s important to recognize how stress affects your medical conditions, sexual function, weight and overall well-being.
“This is when most people suddenly realize they need to take care of themselves, which is good because it’s really never too late to start doing something good for yourself.”
50s: “The most important thing is to listen to your body. You’ll experience changes in metabolism, hormones and be at increased risk for diabetes, which makes the preventative tests for certain at risk organs like prostate (men) and breast cancer (women) even more crucial than before.”
60s and Beyond: Retirement can be a new beginning. So focus on the big issues: heart, cholesterol, lungs, eyes, hearing, colon cancer prevention and macular degeneration. For the most part, if problems can be identified early, they can be managed appropriately.
“Be proud of getting into this age bracket,” says Alvarez. “Now just remember this: Youth is a state of mind. You can be old at 30, and young at 70.”
Notice the warning signs along the roadside, follow the health highway and, most importantly, keep on truckin’.