Securing my Healthy Future

Having written about securing my digital future this post is all about securing my own personal future.

I don’t know whether it is the retirement, the arrival of the grandkids or a combination of the two but I have been thinking more and more about how I can ensure a long, healthy future.

You might argue that starting now when I am at the thick end of my 50s is probably leaving it a bit late and you would almost certainly be right. Nevertheless, I can’t go back and change what I did in the past I can only concentrate on what’s in front of me, whatever that might be.

There aren’t that many parameters that I can play with so it is basically eat better and exercise more.

The Food Conundrum

Specifically around food, I have set myself three goals:

  1. Lose weight (eat less)
  2. Cut out Ultra Processed Foods (UPF)
  3. Cut out red meat from my diet

Some of these goals are easier to achieve than others. For me losing weight is simply ensuring that I consume fewer calories than I burn. In order for me to actually lose weight I have to be really strict about that so I use the Lose It app to record what I eat and estimate the calories in and out. I do have to be in the right frame of mind but if I record fastidiously then I do lose weight. I now think that I will be calorie counting forever if I want to lose the weight and then keep it off.

UPFs are something that have been around for a while but have only recently started to gain mainstream attention. In essence, a UPF is a food made with anything that you wouldn’t find in your food cupboard at home – like those E numbers for example. It is, of course, slightly more complicated than that as some foods are UPF but can still be ok. As it happens we cook most nights from scratch so our journey to being UPF-free was relatively straightforward. Bread and crisps were the two biggies so we swapped from flavoured crisps to ready salted and started making our own wholemeal bread.

Red meat is somewhat of an oddity here in that the original reason for cutting it out of my diet was on environmental grounds but it does, of course, have positive health benefits too.

Taking Others With Me

The issue with the above is when you don’t have control over what you are being presented with – either eating with friends or out at a restaurant. After all this time I cannot expect family and friends to suddenly start to adjust to my new dietary requirements and nor do I. And, of course, restaurants certainly won’t.

I have taken the approach here to go with the flow. If I had suddenly decided to become vegan (that’s not going to happen as I like my diary products too much) then I could conceivably start to tell people of my change of status but in this case, on the odd occasion it isn’t going to matter and so I just (more or less) eat what is put in front of me. And, as the diagram at the top of the page shows, hitting that sweet spot where something isn’t red meat, is low calorie and UPF-free is pretty difficult to achieve already.

There’s Something About Exercise

I have an issue with exercise in that I simply haven’t found anything that excites me enough to make me want to do it. The two that do work for me are walking and cycling – the former I do a lot of and the latter very little.

Having the Apple Watch is a great motivator to get up and moving and I am currently on a 1,244 day streak of closing my rings. Therefore I do whatever is within my power to continue that as firstly I don’t want to break that streak and secondly it ensures that I get some exercise every single day.


Other than the rather nebulous goal of chalking up another day on planet Earth I like to measure my progress too. This includes simple things that I can do at home such as weight, BMI, heart function and blood pressure but also things such as cholesterol which can be done via the NHS. At least they can if you are of a certain age and you ask!

The final thing is something slightly more altruistic in that it almost certainly won’t help me but will help those who follow. I have signed up to take part in Our Future Health a large-scale healthcare programme run by the NHS looking to collect regular health data from five million people. This data is then aggregated together to look at trends and, hopefully, inform better health outcomes for future generations.

I do wonder what choices I might have made had I thought about all of this when I was 28 rather than 58 but at that point, I was too busy changing nappies to worry undly about the future.

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