I had been putting off my annual physical, not for any particular reason other than I kept forgetting to do so, and suddenly it was three months overdue. But I wanted to see my doctor because I've been feeling pretty terrible lately. My IBS has been a mess, and then I had what I assume was a virus without respiratory symptoms that gave me diarrhea for a week and a sort of temporary arthritis. The IBS flare up is hardly a surprise, because it always comes with stress and poor food choices. I've been stressed a lot lately, more with parenting than anything, and work to a lesser degree (compared to a year ago). I classically find refuge in eating, and with little restraint. And of course, when you're feeling like that, you don't want to get off the couch, so you can imagine how my exercise profile looks (non-existent). It's kind of a vicious cycle of self-loathing.
There's an algorithm that takes your age, gender, race, blood pressure and cholesterol numbers to calculate your risk of heart attack or stroke, and my 10-year risk went from 3.1% to 5.1%. Anything over 5% is reason for serious concern, as you would expect since 1-in-20 not the kind of odds anyone wants. Lifetime risk is up to 46%, and 1-in-2 is definitely not the kind of odds anyone wants. Moving the numbers is pretty straight forward. I've been able to get my blood pressure down to normal even in a few weeks time, though it's still largely a function of weight. The cholesterol has weight and exercise association as well. None of the math is hard.
My doctor suggested intermittent fasting, which is really just not eating for 16 hours out of the day. I've already started down that road, with 7pm as my cut-off, and resuming at 11am. It's torture not to eat breakfast, but it's getting easier. For exercise, I'm easing into it, concentrating at first just on the necessary movement of high daily step counts. I'll likely add in time on the bike trainer, and see if I can turn that into a habit. One week in, I'm already down almost two pounds.
If I can get the numbers down a little, I can likely get the 10-year down to 2%, and the lifetime to 35% or less. The latter sounds bad, but remember, we all get old, and 1-in-3 sounds pretty good when you get up there.
The psychological impact of this is pretty strong. Eating my feelings feels good, and I can't do that anymore, so I need to find healthier ways to process stress. I think the deeper issue is that I have to admit that I'm adulting wrong, and I'm accountable to the basic considerations of physics and chemistry. I've made some pretty strong changes in the past, usually in times of other extreme discomfort, which is why this situation is new territory for me. I'm not working through the end of a relationship or a big move or the birth of a child. The big change is my body is tired of being disrespected.
So I'll go back for the follow-up doctor visit so he can help me determine a plan, because I need someone of authority with years of education to tell me to get my shit together. Getting older is hard.