According to Oprah, “life is better when you share it. So keep widening that circle.” That’s why I am going to share all that I learned at Dr. Oz’s session at the “O” Magazine Live Your Best Life Weekend that I attended earlier this month.
As I sit here in my kitchen, eating my fat-free ice cream (with a few high-fat chocolate chips that I sprinkled on top of the ice-cream), I’ve been thinking about what Dr. Oz, America’s Doctor and host of The Dr. Oz Show, who is also Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University as well as directing the Cardiovascular Institute & Complementary Medicine Program at NY Presbyterian, said during his hour long session. I was eager to hear what he had to say about living longer. He has written several books on the subject, including You: Staying Young: The Owner’s Manual for Extending Your Warranty, and is a very smart doctor.
“It’s not about living longer. It’s about living better,” said Dr. Oz. (Okay, Dr. Oz, I do want to live a better life. I do. I really do.)
“People change their lives on what they feel, not on the facts. Sometimes you have to act and then you get motivated,” said Dr. Oz. (Tell me more. Tell me more.)
“If you make five-just five-adjustments to your life, you can have a dramatic effect on your life expectancy and the quality of your life,” explained Dr. Oz. (Ooh, this sounds simple. Just five adjustments – surely I can do all five. Dr. Oz made everything sound so simple.)
What are the five adjustments?
1. Control your blood pressure. 115 over 75 is optimal blood pressure. (Okay, I think I can do that. However, my pressure may have been elevated this week due to a certain animal that decided to take up camp under my house. “I think you have a groundhog burrowing under your garage,” said my exterminator J during his monthly checkup. “Come take a look.” There it was, a big hole in the mulch. I felt like Alice in Wonderland. If I could have shrunken down into a tiny Judi, I would have slipped in the hole and asked the groundhog to remove himself from my property immediately. Instead, J set up a trap. To date, the only animal that the trap has trapped is a cute little bunny. I hope the groundhog appears before next February when it’s time to see his shadow because I need to control my blood pressure…and furthermore, I want to sell my house.)
2. Stop smoking. (Oh good. This is an easy adjustment because I have never smoked.)
3. Exercise 30 minutes a day. (Tonight, I went to the gym and worked out with my weights and went on the treadmill for 25 minutes. I promise next time I will make an adjustment and stay on the treadmill for an extra 5 minutes. But, what about all the other days of the week? Let’s see, I do yoga on Tuesdays. I try to get to the gym on Sundays. I take walks on the beach or ride my bicycle on Saturdays and Sundays when I’m at my condo on the corner at the shore during the spring, summer and fall. There are still more days in the week. I better adjust my schedule and get those stationery bicycle pedals working again. Plus, Dr. Oz said that women who go through menopause lose muscle, so we have to work harder and build back up our muscles.)
4. Keep a healthy diet. Dr. Oz said that conventional diets don’t work because they depend on willpower. He said you should focus on your waist size. Your waist should be your height divided by two. Do you know that the bigger your belly fat the more pressure it puts on your kidneys, poisons your liver and blocks insulin, which can cause diabetes? (Dr. Oz scared me so that when I arrived home I went right out and took my tape measure and put it around my waist right above my belly button like Dr. Oz said to do. The tape measure said 29 inches. My height is 63 inches. Half of 63 is 31.5. Yes, yes, yes. OMG! I’m soooo happy.)
5. Control stress. Dr. Oz said practices like yoga and meditation can help ease stress. “Most of us store tension in our jaw and hips,” explained Dr. Oz. (I only do my yoga once or twice a week. And I did take mindfulness meditation, but don’t always practice it. I promise to do better. Now, if that groundhog would leave my property like a nice groundhog should, I would be able to control my stress level a bit better.)
Dr. Oz ended the session by encouraging the audience (of mostly women) that one of the most important things we can do to help us stay young is to get enough sleep. “Deep sleep increases growth hormones,” he said. (I wish I could surrender to sleep like Dr. Oz described. I have to turn off my computer and let my brain relax at least 30 minutes before I go to sleep and keep my room cool – just like Dr. Oz said to do. I need to continue to build a better sleep routine so I can increase my growth hormones.)
What’s that you say Dr. Oz? I need to take some vitamins too? Okay, I will. Which ones?
Dr. Oz says that women my age should take a multi-vitamin with vitamins A to E, minerals including calcium, magnesium, selenium and zinc, plus get omega 3 with fish oils. (I take a multi-vitamin every morning and I also take fish oil at night.)
In closing, Dr. Oz said that “if you automate your life differently, in two weeks you should know if this works for you. It will become part of your normal life.”
I’m going to try Dr. Oz. Yes, I’m really, really going to try to make these simple adjustments and live a better life. However, if you could just ask the groundhog to leave my property, it would be a whole lot easier.
My parents were stressed-out smokers and I promised not to follow in their footsteps. They both died in their 50s! I do all five of the things recommended, and I'm 51. Here's hoping.