I took ten years off of my age today. To be precise, 10.3 years. So says RealAge, which offers a nifty calculation of the difference between your calendar age and your "real" age.
Like a lot of baby boomers, I've never felt that I really was 58 years old. Physically, I'm just about in as good a shape as I've ever been. Mentally, I'm still an adolescent in many ways. But, hey, that's par for the course if you're a man.
I decided to look for a real age online test after I came across a story on CNN called "What men should eat every day." Of the eleven recommendations, I nailed every one – aside from #7, eating fish three times a week.
Nope. As a longtime vegetarian, I won't buy my health at the expense of another animal's death. So I get my omega-3s from vegetable sources, not fish.
But with a score of 10 out of 11 under my belt I was curious to learn whether my exemplary diet, combined with other lifestyle and health indicators, meant that I was considerably younger than 58.
Google brought me to the RealAge site, where I spent 20-30 minutes answering a bunch of questions as honestly as I could.
(The web site had a few glitches; if these happen to you, just go back to the previous page and continue from there; I got hung up at the very end until I took the final step of forwarding the survey to my wife via email, which seemed to make the RealAge web server happy).
After a hour or two my real age – 48.7! – and recommendations for making it even lower were sent to me in an email message, and also made available on the web site (before taking the test you sign up for a personal account; you can decline all the offers to send health-related information, which I did).
My wife and I are health junkies, so I'm a discriminating judge of advice in this area. I found "My RealAge Plan" to be pretty darn good, though it did seem to miss the mark a few times.
I was told that I'm consuming less than the average amount of unsaturated fats. Maybe, but my daily salad dressing is olive oil and vinegar, and I rarely use any sort of saturated fat. I also was advised to consider buying a mid- to large-size motor vehicle next time I purchase a car, because my compact (Prius) supposedly is more dangerous than a larger vehicle. Questionable, given SUV rollover statistics.
However, I agreed with most everything else I was told. Such as:
--increase my lycopene intake by eating more tomato-based dishes or tomato sauce
--increase my vegetable intake (though a vegetarian, I don't always eat at least five servings of vegetables a day)
--increase my whole grain intake (I should be eating 6 to 11 servings a day; man, that's a lot)
--do more strength-building exercises (I lift weights three times a week for a total of about 45 minutes, but twice that is the goal)
The RealAge web site lets you update answers to your test questions and then see how this affects your real age. That's handy, considering the test takes quite a while to complete.
Psychologically, I like the idea of getting an estimate of how old you are health-wise, right now. I've taken a couple of "how long will you live?" tests. One told me 92. The other, 96.5 (though I called that post, "Don't believe those longevity calculators").
I enjoyed learning that I've got a good chance of making it to my 90s. But finding out that today, at this very moment, I'm actually 48 rather than 58 – this was way better news.
For one thing, I can start telling friends and family to start shopping for insulting Over the hill at 50 birthday cards, because that's what I'll be expecting to get when I hit my next decadal celebration.