The goal of public health is not just to add years but to give you a quality life free from medications or life support.
Painful Reality of TodayYou might only be made aware of a proper diet after you have been diagnosed with a lifestyle disease such as hypertension. You might have been given the proper exercise regimen after learning that what you are experiencing right now is a complication of a long-standing diagnosis. You might only be starting to accept right now the value of quitting cigarette smoking after you realize that your lungs are not functioning the way they are supposed to be. You might only be made aware of the importance of annual Chest X-rays after you got diagnosed with tuberculosis or sarcoidosis. You probably couldn't believe that the weakness you are feeling right now was due to a silent heart attack documented by a simple ECG. You might only be aware just now that your sluggish movements may be due to high lipid levels slushing in your blood.
It's painful to think that once you have been diagnosed with this lifestyle diseases, it usually is irreversible and/or is hard to manage. But don't worry. Ages-old advice as these steps may be, they are the secret formula to having a better and longer life.
Step 1: Don't Smoke or Stop Smoking
One puff of pure smoke from a fire can kill you that is why we wear a breathing apparatus every time we go into a fire. Each puff of smoke is made up of different chemicals that is deprived of oxygen. If a firefighter survives breathing smoke without an apparatus, his lungs will be filled with particulates that will never leave the body and start to kill him. His lungs are already gray with the particulates and can never function normally from then on.If there's one thing I learned in firefighting school, it's that smoke kills.
So what's that got to do with vaping or smoking cigarettes? Simple! It's the same thing in that you are doing it in small amounts and in a longer period of time. It's not the nicotine that kills, it's the smoke. No matter what they tell you in advertisements, particulates in smoke get trapped in your lungs by the body's defense mechanism. The particulates just add up every puff and never leave your body. This is why cancer develops in some people because the body's defense mechanism gets out of control and is given a signal to multiply endlessly. If cancer doesn't get you, COPD will. If you smoke continuously for years, your lungs will eventually be the same as that of a fire victim who is dying from smoke inhalation.
But there's good news. Stop smoking now and:
- Within 20 minutes, your heart rate begins to drop and your blood pressure decreases
- Within 2 hours, your heart rate and blood pressure begins to be normal and your circulation improves (your hands and feet are now warmer)
- Within 12 hours, carbon monoxide in your blood decreases and your oxygen levels rise to normal levels
- Within 24 hours, your risk from coronary artery disease begins to reduce as your risk of heart attack begins to decline
- Within 2 days, your nerve endings begin to regrow as your ability to smell and taste begin to improve
- Within 72 hours, your coughing improves as your bronchi relax
- Within the next 9 months, your coughing and shortness of breath relax and your respiratory lining begin to normalize in function and you can fight off infections
- Within a year, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker
- Within 5 years, your risk of stroke is the same as a non-smoker; your risk of oral, mouth, esophageal, and bladder cancer are half that a smoker; your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a non-smoker
- Within 10 years, your risk of lung cancer is half that of a smoker; your risk of other types of cancer decreases
- Within 15 years, your risk of coronary heart disease and developing arrhythmia is the same as a non-smoker;
It is proven that non-smokers live 10 years longer than smokers. So don't think of it as just quitting, think of it as gaining valuable years to your life. The benefits of stopping smoke are very significant.
If you don't smoke, don't start. You are already destined to live longer than your smoking counterparts. Encourage your loved ones to stop smoking as passive smoking can give you the same risks as smokers do.
Step 2: Lose Weight or Don't Be Overweight
You have to go beyond what enticing advertisements and great packaging want you to do. You have to stop your friends from conditioning you to have more than one snack a day or to eat away your stress. Going on a diet doesn't mean you have to suffer the mental anguish of not eating your favorite dessert. Even Dwayne Johnson has an epic cheat day of 12 pancakes, 4 pizzas and 21 brownies. You just have to time it right. There is even a book I've read that makes you eat your way to lose 40 pounds in one month without exercise. And my favorite diet regimen is the one that I've created, the No-Lunch diet. It's simple and inspired after I learned in Wikipedia that lunch actually means a "small snack" and not the big meal we were conditioned to take at the middle of the day. It's also partly inspired by the ketogenic diet. I increase ketones everyday because I fast in 12 hour intervals.The adage of you are what you eat can only mean more when you start to look in the mirror.
But having a diet regimen doesn't have to be complex. You just need to choose one and stick with it. If it's not working, try another. My diet regimen was developed after I tried most of the different popular ones and felt that I needed to tweak mine because my body responds differently and the everyday physical demand is above that of the average person. I lost 40 pounds in three months and maintained my weight at 160 for over a year now. You can do it too. Just be yourself and be realistic. You can lose the same weight in a month but if you are going to get sick from it, better to aim for a longer time target. And choose the foods that you can live with for the rest of your life. The deserts and junk food, you can reserve for epic cheat days. Although, I'd skip the junk foods.
If you are not overweight, you are doing a good job. You are lowering your risk for developing:
- Sleep Apnea
- Chronic Back Pain
- Heart Disease and Stroke
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High Blood Pressure
- Kidney Disease
- Liver Disease
- Many types of Cancer
If you are obese and want to seek help, there are a lot of free resources, paid programs, and books you can read. But don't confine yourself to learning the different theorems, just do one diet. It will give you a better edge at life in the end.
Step 3: Exercise Regularly
Be humble, Be hungry, but always be the hardest worker in the room - Dwayne JohnsonIt's amazing what your body can do when you push it to the limits. I am an asthmatic but I usually don't use an inhaler when I go to a gym or do some running. One of the best days in my life was when I was training in the Virginia Beach Fire Academy. They made me run 6 miles. It felt like dying but it was awesome. I made it to the end of their course with very little change in pace. This is something I never imagined I could do. I was able to do it because I was in their exercise program.
If you feel like you can't even start or can't maintain your own exercise schedule, seek help. Ask around. People are willing to help you for free. Because when we started, we felt like you. We were once ashamed of our bodies and feel like we might never even reach our goals because it's taking forever. For me, I got into a lot of injuries in the gym because at first I never asked. Once I started to make friends with the people at the gym, they taught me safety first.
The benefits of an exercise need not be enumerated here. You can feel it. You actually feel 10 years younger. You are more active and there is that drive inside you that makes you wake up every day determined. If you are a diabetic, remember that sore muscles don't need insulin to suck up sugar from your blood. It lowers the need for meds. So better check your blood sugar levels regularly too. If you are obese, you will find that your skeleton foundation is actually very strong and you can start lifting heavier weights than lean individuals. This makes you lose more weight faster. If you are underweight just look at what you can do with your upper body. People will envy your 20 pull-ups that you can do with a breeze.
And don't ever forget to run. I never ran before Fire School. But then they taught me. Now the effects are incredible I tell you. Your lungs are so much more better after every run. Work on running. It's one of the best advice I can give you.
Step 4: Consume Alcohol In Moderation If At All
Alcohol is considered one of the most useful tool in socializationModerate Alcohol Consumption has been cited as healthy by various sources. And doctors have identified resveratrol as one of the agents in red wine that prolongs life. And there are antioxidants in red wine. Unfortunately with alcohol consumption comes some behavioral changes. Inhibition is lost after a few bottles that you get to be rowdy or do things you normally wouldn't do. This is coupled with dull reflexes and reaction times which can put you in a bad spot. In the US, it's illegal to drink and drive. They take this very seriously. Fines and jail time may be imposed but the worse is that companies and public institutions fire employees caught with a DUI charge. The reason for this is that vehicular accidents almost always involve a drunken driver. This was before the advent of smartphones. Today, a small chunk of vehicular accidents are now caused by texting and driving but that is another matter entirely.
If you are addicted and you quit alcohol, you get the following benefits:
- Money spent from using alcohol is automatically saved
- Your brain will begin to heal
- Your liver will start to rejuvenate
- Your energy will begin to come back making you feel empowered
- You will be more refreshed in the mornings
- You won't miss work due to drinking
- Your senses will return especially reaction times will begin to normalize
- You will no longer feel trapped by addiction
- Your family will love the "new" you
- Your immune system will be back to normal and you will be able to fight off infections
But just remember if you have to drink that you don't need to drink in excess. You can have fun without overdoing it. If you can say no, do so especially if you are the one driving home.
Contribute Your Own Steps To A Longer Life
I know that every doctor says virtually the same thing to all patients. If you have your own secrets to a long life, do contribute below in the comments. I will be featuring them and mentioning you in future blog posts. There are more than these 4 steps. I know because I am practicing them too. There is a whole science that medicine hasn't touched yet because we doctors always take each advice with a criticizing eye. But I want to expand on what you know, so please try to contribute your own steps by writing them down below in the comments.
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God Bless Guys and toast to a new and healthier you! You are my inspiration!