Everyone has some sort of skeletons hidden away in the closets of their past. Things they’ve done, said, should have done or didn’t do that they don’t want anyone to know about or hide from themselves. Some call it guilt. Others chalk it up to that embarrassing and sometimes uncontrollable time in our lives called youth or our teen years.
Some of these skeletons we hide away may have been something we did that was illegal or just wrong. A sin which we are now ashamed of. Some may be bad habits that we finally grew out of or changed. They tell us that with age comes wisdom, but we’ve all met some people that seem to defy getting any wiser as they grow older.
If someone asked you about the skeletons in your closet, would you even consider the fact that they may be talking about health-related skeletons? How many of you ever consider the fact that these health-related skeletons of our past may have a significant influence on our future health?
Obviously, one of the first skeletons most people think of is smoking. Did you smoke in your youth or sometime in your past, but quit? Did you know that how long your smoked and how long ago you quit may still be affecting your health today or in the future? Ask yourself if you quit smoking over a decade earlier if you are safe now? According to a report released by Fox News:
“You smoked a pack a day a decade ago
Safe: (Eh, almost.) It’s better if you never did. But kicking the habit before age 39 cut men and women’s smoking-associated risk of death from any cause by 90 percent in a 2013 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. That’s the equivalent of nine extra years to pile candles on your birthday cake.”
What about your lack of activity? What if you were lazy or married to your desk job and just didn’t have time to exercise? What if you were a couch potato?
“Your butt used to be glued to your couch
Safe: A 2014 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that when older adults logged just one moderate or vigorous exercise session per week, they were three and four times, respectively, more likely to age healthfully — even if they used to be complete couch potatoes.”
What about your sleeping habits? The news has been filled for years with reports of how important it to your health to get enough sleep every night, but could your lack of enough sleep be one of your health skeletons hiding in your closet?
“You skimped on shut-eye regularly
Safe: Sleep deprivation is no joke. “You’re taking away vital energy that your brain needs to properly function,” Peterson, who also works with the digital health platform Zocdoc, told Fox News. “But luckily, most of the effects quickly disappear after giving your body the time it needs —and deserves — to rest and repair,” she said. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults younger than 65 aim for seven to nine hours per night.”
Trust me, I know firsthand the effects of too little sleep. Between living in constant pain and having 3 distinct sleep disorders, I feel extremely fortunate if I get between 4-5 hours sleep a night. It’s generally closer to around 3 hours of sleep in an 8-hour period. Consequently, I feel like I have chronic fatigue. I can fall asleep very easy but I can’t stay asleep. A result of my sleep deprivation and chronic pain has resulted in a suppressed immune system, leaving me susceptible to far too many of the illnesses that sweep through the area.
What about stress in your life? Is stress something you used to have, but have finally gotten away from it and hid it in your health closet?
“You let stress build up
Not safe: Unfortunately, getting keyed up from even minor things can drag down your health a decade or two in the future, a 2014 study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine suggests. However, having a better perspective on those stresses — not letting them bother you — can mitigate those ill effects.”
There are other health skeletons hidden in many closets that can have a direct impact on your current and future health. Too much exposure to the sun or use of tanning beds may have left your skin with enough damage that years down the road can develop into skin cancer.
Diet is another big skeleton in many health closets. Regardless if you are overweight, underweight or perfect weight, your past diet may still have an impact on your future health. Like those salty fries, potato chips and popcorn? If you have or are susceptible to high blood pressure, you need to consider cutting your salt intake as that has a direct impact on your blood pressure which can lead to other serious and fatal conditions.
“You loved your BBQ and burgers
Tie: Loading up on red meat is linked to weight gain and developing diabetes. However, over a four-year period, reducing red meat consumption by at least a half serving per day can drop your likelihood of the disease by 14 percent, a 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests. Peterson advised eating no more than 15 ounces of red meat per week.”
“You considered cookies a food group
Safe: Unfortunately, the sugar industry has historically downplayed the health effects of sugar, research reveals. And while eating too much of the sweet stuff can boost your odds of dying from heart disease by nearly threefold, according to a 2014 study in JAMA Internal Medicine, other research from 2015, in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism suggests you can undo some of the metabolic damage in a week or so of cutting down your consumption.”
Eventually, our past habits, those health skeletons in our closets, may and often to come back to haunt us in the future. What skeletons are in your closet? Are there any that you can eliminate? If not, what can you do now to try to keep them in the closet as long as possible?
See your doctor and get regular check-ups. Be honest with him or her because the more they know of your skeletons, the better they will be able to help you keep them there or help you deal with the ones that won’t stay hidden.
Some of my health skeletons came back to haunt me. I let myself get very overweight, knowing there is a family history of Type 2 diabetes. Once I was diagnosed as having the same, I stayed on a diabetic diet for a while but then stopped. After nearly 2 years of not watching what and how much I was eating, I ended up in the hospital with a severe bout of vertigo. I found out that my blood glucose and blood pressure levels were dangerously high. Once I got home, I took action and made changes. With my doctor’s supervision, I went on a strict diet and began walking 1-2 times a day. I lost over 80pouds, brought my blood pressure and blood glucose levels down and my last A1-C was below the diabetic level.