When Our Daily Actions Sync with Our Ideal Future

By Teresa Amaral Beshwate, MPH

In reading the book The End of Alzheimer's, I was struck by the stories of those who had developed dementia and then dramatically changed their lifestyle. Their daily habits became centered around reversing their symptoms, and in the cases featured in the book, it worked.

Of course, there was incredible incentive. Each had at least mild cognitive impairment, and some could no longer work, drive, or perform usual daily functions. The new habits yielded results within a few months, and when the new habits were maintained, so were the results. It got me thinking.

Imagine that you found out that you are at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Scary, right? But also imagine that you have the ability to significantly lower your risk for all of these conditions by taking specific healthy actions daily. What if you have exactly one year to lower your risk: what would you do? How would you spend your days? What about your current lifestyle would you immediately change?

Given that Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, stroke and cancer are among the top 6 leading causes of death in the US, it is safe to say that we all have some level of risk. The choices we make today have both an immediate and long-term impact on our health. If we don’t make time to be well, we’ll eventually have to make time to be ill.

Don’t wait until you have a scare, or worse, receive a life-altering diagnosis. Today is a great day to take inventory. Identify your current habits that are increasing your risk for disease and disability. Are you often stressed? Chronically overtired? Sedentary? Is your diet high in sugar and low in vegetables? How’s your blood pressure and other markers of health? Are your muscles fading fast? How about your balance? Can you remember the last time you charged your spiritual batteries, expanded your social connections or learned something new?

Here are my intentional daily actions. Some are works-in-progress, while others I’ve mastered.

Morning workout

Meditation

Soak up a little sunshine

Good nutrition

Learn something new

Sleep well

What are your daily habits that are on par with the future you want for yourself?

Teresa Beshwate