If you’re in good health, take a moment to think about how wealthy you are by imagining the opposite: You’re frail and weak, confined to a wheelchair. You have to wear a diaper because you can’t control your bowel. You’re too weak to clean yourself, so you have to pay a nurse to do it. Until the nurse arrives, you’re sitting in your poop like a neglected baby. The nurse arrives and looks at you with a snarled lip, an unmistakable expression of “You stink!” You know that if it weren’t for the money, the nurse would rather be far away from you. You can’t ever draw a full breath and are always struggling to breathe, feeling like you’re breathing through a straw, ever hungry for more air. You can’t go places without assistance—you can’t even go for a walk. All of your energy is required just to survive the day. The hours go by, filled only with televised drivel. Your lack of activity has put you in a vicious cycle of muscle wasting and inactivity that leads to bedsores, chronic infection and unrelenting pain.
How much would you pay to get your full strength back and get out of that wheelchair, remove the diaper, clean and dress yourself and take a walk in the sunshine with a friend? Those in good health who have never been seriously ill might consider trading health for some cash—maybe a million, maybe a billion dollars. Those who have seen their health and the prospects for recovering it slide away as they fall farther and farther down the slippery slope of illness would likely give everything they had just to be healthy again. They know that healthy + poor is a much wealthier state than rich + sick.
In 2012, I presented a TEDx talk, “The Mystery of Fast-5 and D.I.E.T.,” that has over 150,000 views on YouTube. At the time I gave the talk, the success enjoyed by readers of my 2005 book encouraging a daily cycle of intermittent fasting, The Fast-5 Diet and the Fast-5 Lifestyle, had proven that a longer interval between meals with a relatively short eating window was a reliably successful and sustainable weight loss and weight maintenance alternative that often delivered beneficial side effects such as more energy, better sleep, clearer skin and decreased inflammation. While the Fast-5 intermittent fasting scheduled helped automatically correct appetite, many people focused intensely on food choices and added expensive supplements as if that were the complete path to enhancing health and longevity. In my TEDx talk, I pointed out that human longevity is not closely associated with any one particular diet. Longevity requires adequate nutrition, yes, but it’s also tied to a strong social network, sustained physical activity, continuing education and mental challenges, and a sense of purpose in life. My talk encourages people to concern themselves less with the nuances of food choices and focus instead on a diet aimed at whole-life health by remembering the abbreviation DIET: Did I Enrich Today?
It seems certain that ongoing research will eventually unlock a pharmaceutical route to arrest and reverse aging, providing a great tool for achieving healthy longevity, but with that kind of treatment at least 20 years off, what we do in the meantime can matter a lot. Recognizing that changing habits and keeping good habits going is hard, particularly when the benefits include the preservation of something you already have and the return on investment may not be seen for decades, I incorporated the DIET and appetite correction (AC) principles into a new tool for health, a ToolBook aimed at building and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, one day at a time.
The ToolBook helps you enrich your life and achieve your goals while you manage your obligations. It encourages you to refresh your goals periodically, plan your day and track how you actually spend your time. Where does it all go? Kid obligations? Surfing the web? Job creep? Stuck in traffic? Find out by logging a note occasionally as the day goes by. The ToolBook lets you score your day, and by seeing a “footprint” of the good stuff that enriched your day, you can enhance your life-diet every day.
The ToolBook is sized for a pocket or purse and has room for a month of entries. Unlike smartphone-based to-do lists and calendars, the notes you make in your ToolBook won’t require any obsolete technology if you want to look back at them ten or twenty years from now. The bright, energetic covers remind you that your daily diet of physical, mental and social activity is important for your healthy longevity. For more information, see the ToolBook at shop.bertherring.com