Do you recall the classic Christmas story by Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol,” where Scrooge is able to see into his future and then decides to change his present behavior so that his projected fate won’t come true? Can we learn from this as well? The way we live today and the habits we foster now, will inevitably influence our future—physically, spiritually, financially, relationally, and honestly in almost all areas of life.
Imagine five years ahead… I know it’s hard to see past the immediate and short-term, but let’s try. Take a minute to envision what your health will look like five years from now if you do not change anything in your current routine. Is the vision good or bad? Are you on the right trajectory?
Here are some common statements when it comes to making difficult changes, however there really should be a sense of urgency when it comes to health!
The time to take action is now! As you make lifestyle changes, you will see their effect on your immediate and long-term health.
Most of us know that being overweight increases your risk for many serious chronic diseases. However, did you know that new research shows that cardio-metabolic disease risk factors increase with the duration of obesity? Researchers have found that the longer a person has obesity, the higher the likelihood they will develop these serious complications, such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, or cancer development.
Don’t Wait on Weight
Many people think of being overweight as simply an appearance issue or maybe a physical fitness issue, but obesity is far more complex than this. Excess adipose tissue (or body fat) is an active hormonal organ leading to inflammation, cancer cell development, fatty liver, insulin resistance, heart disease, and even premature death. Being significantly overweight is affecting your internal health in ways you can’t see in a mirror!
Body Mass Index (BMI) is one consistent health indicator used by most medical institutions. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for chronic disease development. Body fat percentage and waist circumference are also good metrics to keep an eye on.
The single most reliable indicator of risk for heart disease and diabetes may well be a person’s waist circumference. A woman with a waist size of 35” or more, or a man with a waist size of 40” or more is considered to have a significant health risk.
It is not the fat that you can see that presents the greatest concern – it is the fat within the abdominal wall. However, the visible fat that can be measured with a cloth tape measure usually correlates with how much fat is being stored within the abdomen.
High levels of intra-abdominal fat (visceral fat) can lead to a chain of events that begins with transport of fat to the liver, insulin resistance, and eventually the development of Type 2 Diabetes and/or heart disease.
This chart shows the relationship between increased BMI and waist size, and the risk for chronic disease development.
“But I feel fine.”
Insulin resistance (or prediabetes) is the leading risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes, but unfortunately, only about 12% of people with prediabetes are aware that they have a problem.
Here’s why: there are often no clear symptoms of the early stages of insulin resistance, and you may not realize you have it until it has progressed quite a lot.
Without changes, 37% of people with prediabetes will develop full-blown Type 2 Diabetes within four years, and a majority will have the diagnosis within 10 years!
If you “feel fine” then how might you know if you have any internal dysfunction going on? Enter body weight, waist circumference, body fat percentage, and annual routine lab checks (i.e. blood pressure, cholesterol, and A1c). These are the “check engine” lights that we can pay attention to and correct, before we are in a more dire spot.
Peek into your future! What would you like it to look like?
The good news is you have a lot of control over your future with the choices you make each day! God is ultimately in control of everything, but you are called to be a good steward of what He gives you. Proverbs 21:31 says it this way, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.”
Try creating a vision of what your life would look like if you consistently made healthy lifestyle changes over the next five years. How would you feel? How would your day-to-day activities change? What impact would your health improvements have on your future?
Health goes beyond just diet and exercise, set personal goals and strategies in each of these key areas:
- Spiritual Growth
- Stress Management
- Time Management
Don’t put off what you can start today! Reap the benefits of thinking ahead and prioritize your health so that five years from now you can feel good and be able to continue fulfilling every good purpose God has laid out for you! Practicing good bodily stewardship will allow you to be available and ready for anything God calls you to do. He has great plans in store for you!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” - Jeremiah 29:11