When I turned 65, my doctor suggested we have a “health review”. With no hesitation, I agreed. What could be wrong with sitting down and talking to a doctor and reviewing stuff? Right? Confidence. First mistake.
The day arrives, I obediently follow the nurse back to the exam/meeting room and she hands me a gown. Now I understand why they hand you a gown for a physical, but this is a review. Well – long story short – a “review” is an “extended physical”, think physical on steroids. First lesson – always ask what the doctor really wants. Let me shorten the next few minutes because you all know how that goes…
The “Review” part finally came along. What fun. Turns out when you hit this magic age all kinds of things kick in because I’m now in a new health “class”. Turns out I’m a fricking senior citizen and the health system wants to keep me healthy as long as possible. (Note: I don’t really feel like a senior citizen but I digress.)
And the words “Let’s get you in and run all these diagnostic tests so we have baselines to work from. Here are some inoculations to protect you. Well, we really prefer seniors take the flu shot but you aren’t frail yet so you’ll probably be fine if you don’t get it,” rolled out of her practiced speech. (Frail? Damn – now that’s the first time I’ve heard that word in a physical.) Test at various labs across the city were scheduled and I gave enough blood to the techs to keep dracula and his family alive for a week.
You can guess the rest of the advice. Lose weight, cut back on coffee (who’s idea in the health system was *that*!) get some better sleep, and exercise more. She suggested I do that to avoid some other issues that were creeping up on the test scores.
With a little research I found these apps – all are free and did exactly what I wanted them to do. If I were a bit more gung-ho I could upgrade all of them to pro level and for a small amount of money, get even more data. I stayed with the free levels for now.
Enter my first step: Get a better night’s sleep.
Sleep Cycle This little critter works using the accelerometer in your phone to track the small movements you make in bed in the various sleep stages. Very cool and very weird. Started tracking all the things I did in a day and within a month, the app gave me a picture of how I slept as a result of those things, and what I could do in order to sleep better.
Did those. I got better sleep. Funny how that works isn’t it. You measure something, you take corrective action and bingo-bango, you see improvement. Bottom line: I’m now sleeping longer and better.
Second step: lose some weight.
Well, this has been a goal for too many years now. The weight went on when I shut down the nursery (funny how when you don’t work 12-hour days you gain weight) 🙂 and hasn’t come off. It’s like it’s quite comfortable around my waist so doesn’t want to leave.
Lose It This little gem starts with the user giving it basic data (height, weight and intended weight) It asks how fast you want to lose those extra pounds and then sets a calorie level for every day of the week. Enter your food, your exercise etc and it calculates your calories for you and little graphics work to advise on your progress.
I decided early on I wasn’t going to be crazy about this and as long as I hit my weekly targets, I could have a dinner out or whatever treat I needed to break the daily totals. Go over one day? Go under the next. Exercise a bit extra to give myself a bit of wriggle room. I wasn’t going to go all crazy-weight-loss-guy on this, I was going to do it sensibly.
Almost four weeks in – the weight is peeling off on target. I might even look slim on the videos this summer.
And for the finale, I give you reduce coffee drinking.
The doc gently suggested I was drinking far too much coffee. She wasn’t adamant about it, perhaps the sudden violence in my eyes at the suggestion somebody would take away my coffee cup gave her pause, but she was clear. A bit was good but she gently suggested I was probably beyond that. After the red film subsided in my eyes, I considered her suggestion and allowed as perhaps she may have a small point. A teeny, tiny small point but a point nevertheless.
I downloaded this coffee app which pretty much confirmed what she was talking about and with the help of that sleep app above confirming it in real life, it turns out that my level of coffee was indeed having a negative health effect.
UP Coffee Pretty basic app. You enter how many cups you drink and it tells you when you can go to bed and expect a good night’s sleep. Fun graphics but it turns out I could get a good nights sleep in about three weeks with the level I was drinking. Bottom line? I now drink exactly one and a half cups of coffee a day Well, most days anyway, let’s not go whole-hog on this one all at once. It’s like losing weight, life is full and fun and when it happens, it happens and I’m not going to guilt myself for it. Just don’t make a habit of either eating too much or drinking too much coffee.
Yes, the stupid coffee app got together with the sleep app and I’m now sleeping even better. Which should make me healthier and the doctor happier.
There you have it. Less weight, less coffee and more and better sleep. And oh yeah, a word of advice. If your doctor says she wants a health “review” run like hell.