Earlier this year, just after my 39th birthday, I interviewed a cardiologist. I asked her when people should start having more frequent medical checks to head off any looming problems that could short-change them in later life. “Around 40,” was the reply. My own heart stopped and looked up at my brain. “I’m around 40,” it whispered before realising vital tissues were running short on oxygen and that it needed to hop back to its job.
Then as luck (or maybe fate) would have it, I was asked to write a series of articles about women’s heart health. A particular emphasis was on how non-smoking females tend to enjoy a little extra protection in the cardiovascular department up to menopause, but after that all bets are off and we catch up rapidly with the menfolk. Although if you light up then some of those bets are off anyway – the majority of women who have their first ‘cardiac event’ (as the medics so endearingly term it) before their 50s will be smokers.
But I digress. It all drove home to me that I am getting older and it’s about time to start looking after my body a little more rather than assuming it will look after me. Cue an arched eyebrow at that blanket of butter on the (white) toasted bagel. Enter a regime of daily circuit/treadmill training. Hello credit-card scorching by meditation MP3 downloads (now the trick is to find time in between child-rearing, working and circuit training to devote to them).
Despite weeks turning into months of clean living and artery cosseting I have yet to lose a gram on the scales. But last week I met someone who hadn’t seen me for several years. “You’re looking fit,” he chirped. I claim my victories where I can.