I took a quiz at BlueZones.com called the Vitality Compass. I found out about it from watching Anderson Cooper 360. You answer a series of questions about your lifestyle, and it tells you what your biological age is. The results were surprising.
Currently, I am 38.5 years old, but my biological age, according to the Vitality Compass, is only 31.9. Furthermore, my life expectancy is an astounding 97.9, and my disease-free life expectancy is 87.1. The disease-free life expectancy is the age at which I should expect to encounter such serious problems as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
According to the Vitality Compass, because of my good lifestyle choices, I've added 15.6 years to my life span. I could gain a couple more years, according to the guide, by eating more fish, getting in touch with my spiritual side (which this survey associates with attending religious services, although for my beliefs, meditation is more important), getting more sleep, and increasing physical activity to about 60 minutes a day (although it doesn't rise to that level on the weekends, I usually exercise at least that much, if not more, every weekday).
Out of curiosity, I signed up with a different e-mail address and took the test again, this time answering as if it were 2000, when I was at my top weight. Back then, my actual age was 29.5, but my biological age was 33.5 (older than it is now!). My life expectancy was sharply different: only 73.5. If I'd kept going the way that I was, my disease-free life expectancy was only 60.4 years.
According to the Vitality Compass, because of my lifestyle choices at the turn of the millennium, I could have expected to lose 8.5 years off my life span. At that time, I weighed 220, with a BMI of 36.6, which is considered obese. (Lately, I am on the upper end of normal, although I gained 10 pounds last year and am striving to lose it again). I was working a stressful job at a daily newspaper, was recently divorced and in a bad relationship, drank too much, didn't get as much exercise, was frequently depressed, ate too many fatty and sugary foods, and didn't eat enough healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and nuts.
Today I am mostly satisfied with my life. Back then, I was mostly unsatisfied.
Now, I realized I had made some big changes in my life, but until I took this test, I didn't realize exactly what those changes meant for my quality of life. To go from my effective age being 3.5 years older to having it be 7 years younger is a big difference. More shocking is the difference in life expectancy. The difference between my lifestyle in 2000 and my lifestyle today adds up to an additional 24.5 years of life expectancy. And what's the secret? Simply treating yourself right and living a healthy lifestyle. Who would have thunk it?
My current life expectancy is interesting, because it tends to jive with the health tests I took about two weeks ago. My husband, The Gryphon's, insurance just kicked in at his new job, and we both started going to a new doctor. After hearing about my family history my biological paternal grandfather died at age 48 of heart disease and my maternal great-grandmother died of complications from diabetes she recommended taking a battery of tests to get a baseline on my health and fend off any potential problems.
In addition, I'd told the doctor about my migraines, so she had me get a CAT scan of my head, which would show any problems in the vascular system or other physical problems with the brain's physiognomy.
The results of all these tests showed that, in fact, I'm quite healthy. The urinalysis showed no signs of diabetes. My thyroid is functioning normally. My cholesterol levels are excellent, with a total of 134 (normal is under 200). My triglicerides are 39 (should be 40-140). My HDL is 66 and my LDL is 58 (both of which should be under 100). The CAT scan proved normal. My ventricles are symmetrical, she said, and the sinuses are clear.
I also have low blood pressure, which I've also had throughout my life (except when I was obese, at which point it was in the "normal" range). I attribute this to the fact that I am, after all, a changeling.
There were a couple areas of slight concern. Apparently, I'm borderline anemic (an iron level 11.8 when it should be 12 or 12.5), which doesn't surprise me. I have had difficulty donating blood in the past, particularly when I was vegetarian. Currently, I eat white meat and have recently begun eating red meat again, but my iron levels are still low. My doctor recommended either a supplement or eating lots of liver (which I actually like but can't see myself eating every week).
My calcium levels are also low (8.3 when it should be 8.8), which I found more surprising, considering that I'm already taking a daily calcium supplement, in addition to a multivitamin. My doctor recommended eating more dairy, so I'll increase my dairy consumption from about two servings a day to three or more. Hopefully, that will help. And I honestly don't mind eating extra cheese!
Incidentally, I also went to the dentist for a checkup today, and according to him my teeth need a cleaning but are in great shape. Many people, he said, pay thousands of dollars on braces to get a smile like mine. Cool!
Of course, when I found out these results, I had intended to post them right away, along with a joke about how I was likely to live until 100 with these kinds of results. Little did I know how close that might be to proving true!
Little changes add up to big results.