You Don’t Want to Live a Long Life. You Want a Quality Life

Isaiah McCall

“I think that age as a number is not nearly as important as health. You can be in poor health and be pretty miserable at 40 or 50. If you’re in good health, you can enjoy things into your 80s.” — Bob Barker

The health crisis is worse than you think.

The average life expectancy in the US declined for a third straight year and is continuing to plunge amidst the pandemic.

Data from that journal revealed that obesity-related deaths among young adults went up by 114% in 2019. Additionally, deaths linked to high blood increased by about 80%.

What’s worse, is that the quality of life is trending downwards as well.

What leads to a lower quality of life? Easy, ignoring more meaningful decisions for more expedient ones. In other words —

Not exercising ever.
Eating fast food too often.
Not reading the labels on your food and falling victim to food traps.

Literary critic William Hazlitt once said, “it’s better to have a weak mind in a sound body than a sound mind and a weak body.”

There’s nothing left to do once your body erodes on you. All you’re intelligence gone. It’s why we need to be more prudent in regard to our health. It starts now.

The Myth of Your ‘Golden Years’

Senior citizens spend their “golden years” in sterile nursing homes or bed stricken due to obesity-related illnesses. Few take care of themselves enough to enjoy walks or even manage to make it up a short flight of stairs.

I’ve seen it happen to both my grandparents. It broke me.

There won’t be any golden years if you don’t prioritize healthy habits now. You don’t get to run up charges on your body and not cash the bill later in life.

Moreover, there’s a reason why senior citizen homes scare us. It’s not how our elderly should be spending their final years.

They should be around their families. They should be smiling, laughing and trying to keep up with their kids and grandkids. Not locked away in asylum waiting to die.

Blame Genetics

Today newborns are coming out of their mother’s wombs obese already damned to a life of poor health. Many experts believe poor nutrition from the parents is to blame in most cases.

Sure enough, you can direct some of the blame of this health crisis on genetics. Speaking as a Black man, it’s what my community does regarding diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Growing up my grandmother — a diabetic — would tell me that type II diabetes runs in my family. Even as a kid, however, I had a sneaking suspicion that decades of eating fried chicken, chitlins (pig intestine), and collard greens soaked in bacon grease might be another reason that diabetes “runs in my family.”

What Does Your Genetic Pool Say About You?

In 2020, half of the African American population is obese, according to recent CDC reports. And African American women have the highest rates of obesity compared to any other minority group; about four out of five Black women are overweight or obese.

Perhaps most disturbing of all is that Blacks and Hispanics lead the way for childhood obesity. Sure, you can blame a higher risk for chronic illnesses like type II diabetes, heart disease, and cancer on genetics, or you can look at the foods we’re consuming —

Oxtails (oxen butts), pig’s feet, ham hocks (pig ligaments), gizzards (organs found in the digestive tract), chitlins (pig intestine), and fatback.

You Only Live Once

Confuscious once said we have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.

It’s a way cooler way of saying YOLO.

Here’s the thing about eating for a quality life, it isn’t an all-or-nothing mindset. You don’t have to give up the things you love. A few days ago for Easter, I enjoyed cheesecake that my little sister made for my family.

I never miss dessert when I’m back home in the McCall household. Peaks-inspired birthday cake courtesy of my 13-year-old sister.

Eat for nutrition. Not to diet. If diets haven’t worked for you in the past, slowly start implementing healthier foods into your life. If you go with an all-or-nothing mindset you will most likely fail.

Conversely, if a diet does work for you — stick with it! My slightly younger sister is on the carnivore diet, one of the most stringent diets out there, but really enjoys it. There is no one-size-fits-all diet out there. But there is one method that can improve your health instantly:

Compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Eat a little better each day. Just 1% at most. That’s it. And even for that 1% improvement, be sure to reward yourself strategically. This is your life here — the quality years of your very being depend on just a few precious hours of careful planning.

Young, Stubborn & Stupid

Stand-up comedian Redd Foxx once said this:

“Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.”

He died of a heart attack at 68.

Speaking as a young 20-something, I can already see the writing on the wall for many of my friends. Young adults who don’t care if they’re later years take revenge on them because of the poor choices they made today. They’d rather survive — choosing poor habits and the status quo — rather than thrive and live a healthier lifestyle.

Maybe it’s because our frontal lobes aren’t fully developed yet (they finish in your late 20’s). Or the Boomers are right. We are hopeless.

This idea of surviving rather than thriving has been around for thousands of years. Yet, pushing yourself enough to unlock your potential is a lot simpler if you break goals down. It only takes a little bit of time a day — small victories like being 1% better— and you won’t even recognize yourself in a year.

The Greek philosopher Socrates put it best: “No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training…what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”

Final Takeaway

Medicare will be broke by 2026.

The program won’t end for the 44 million who use it. Instead, you’ll pay more in taxes, more to doctors and you may lose your benefits. Or a combination of all three.

For far too long we’ve let expedient decisions trump more meaningful long-term ones. We’ve stuffed our faces and refused to workout at all. We’ve relied on expensive surgeries, prescription medication, and the nearly-bankrupt Medicare to save our behinds.

We’ve run out of get-out-of-jail-free cards. Our lives aren’t sustainable — not for us or the human race — and it’s time to face the music, whether we want to or not.

So this is what you can do today —

  • Exercise at least once a day: It doesn’t need to be all-or-nothing. If I can’t go to the gym I do 10 push-ups every time I go through a doorframe. My roommate and I also just bought a ping-pong table (I’m up 1–0 in our series).
  • Read food labels: This is the universal rule for eating healthier. Look on the back of your food and read the ingredient label. Everything on that list is going inside your body. If you can’t understand it your body probably can’t either. Buy foods with simple ingredients that you understand. Go to Aldi, Lidl, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's; stores that have simplified buying more nutritious foods. And watch this video for a good start to understanding food labels.
  • Reward yourself: How would you treat someone else who improved their life; or a child who demonstrated good behavior? You would reward them. Treat yourself like you’re helping another person. Reward yourself periodically as you improve. It’s simple yet very effective.

And don’t forget to…


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USA Today Reporter and Ultramarathoner. I write about Cryptocurrency, Fitness Hacks, and Greek Philosophy. Also a diehard Trekkie |

Jersey City, NJ

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