Not to brag, but I’m pretty good when it comes to clean living: I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I’m not overweight. A vegetarian most of my life, I haven’t had a burger in years. I am a bacon virgin. And don’t even talk to me about recreational drugs—I’m clueless. As for exercise, I know I should do more cardio, but I do walk to work every day (sunscreen faithfully applied!) and I get in my planks and downward dogs. Thankfully, cancer doesn’t run in my genes. I have a loving family and a strong support system. Other than a low thyroid condition (easily treated with a daily pill) and a random cold once or twice a year, I rarely get sick. Like I said … pretty healthy.
So when I recently took the RealAge Test I thought, piece of cake—I’ll ace this puppy for sure. I zipped through the questions and waited for my score. The results? My RealAge is 4.4 years younger than my chronological age.
I looked at my score and thought, that’s it?
I mean, surely I get more than a measly four years of extra credit for all my healthy dos and don’ts?
Sadly, no. According to the test, two things are adding to my RealAge: stress (too much), and sleep (not enough). Oh yeah, and I need to floss—but that’s getting picky.
The point here is not to beat myself up over a few shortcomings. Instead, my somewhat disappointing score helped me see how a couple of problems have been sneaking up on me—things I hadn’t even realized were taking their toll. Here’s what I plan to do about them:
1. Take the edge off my stress. Sure, some of my stress has to do with major life events—moving, changing jobs, the recent death of a beloved friend. But much of it is the plain old garden variety kind of stress—perhaps summed up best the other day by the Russian woman giving me a facial: “You have wreenkles in your forehead! You theenk too much!”
To fight both kinds of stress, I’m exercising more: I’ve signed up for a yoga class in my new town, and I’m hitting the workout machines in my apartment complex (okay, so I’ve only done it twice, but it’s a start, right?). Upping my exercise may not make my wrinkles go away, but I know it’s one of the best things I can do for my health.
2. Clean up my sleep habits. I know the rules of good sleep hygiene, but lately I’ve been ignoring them—especially the one about not checking emails or working late in bed. So these days, I’m getting back to my regular bedtime, and I’m leaving my laptop in another room. I’m putting up heavier blinds to block out light. And I’m even thinking about shooing out the cat—she may be cute, but her nighttime prowling keeps me up.
3. Floss. Turns out flossing is a bigger deal than I thought: Doing it once a day fights inflammation that can lead to gum disease, tooth loss and possibly even heart disease. Finally, I’m getting the message. In a few months, I plan to take the RealAge test again. If my score’s any better, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I’m saving up for another facial.
How does your RealAge compare to your chronological age? Let us know in the comment box below.
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