The safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts. – C.S. Lewis
The problem with losing your health is that most of the time you don’t even see it coming. One day you wake up and you notice your stomach is hanging over your waistband. WTF? Where did that come from? I used to be a rockstar!
If you’re not paying attention to where you’re going, pretty soon you’ll end up in Hell – where all waistbands are three sizes too small. The easiest way to avoid this is to put up some sign posts along the way. The best marker of all is annual blood work, which gives you extremely granular insight into your health. However, you have to pay for blood work. If you don’t feel like spending money, you can still get a pretty good idea of how you’re doing. Just follow these signposts:
• Waist-Hip-Ratio: Unlike your body weight, this ratio is an extremely efficient predictor of metabolic disease, and it doesn’t cost anything! Men want a ratio of around .9 and women want to be around .7
• Toe touch: The inability to comfortably touch your toes means your posterior chain isn’t moving correctly. It doesn’t matter how big your muscles are. If you can’t fire your glutes you’re functionally weak.
• Wall squat: Face a wall, toes about three inches back and see how low you can squat. If you can hit rock bottom without raking your face against the wall, it shows your core is strong enough to verticalize your spine under low-moderate duress. If you can’t do this then decrepitude is around the corner.
• Sugar cravings: The “sweet tooth” sounds cute but it is not normal. Craving sweets is a sign that you are metabolically broken. You’re either sleep-deprived or insulin resistant or both. In my casual observations, the two things seem to happen at the same time.
CrossFitters love to measure which is good, but we commonly measure the wrong things. The problem with tracking your Fran time and your 1RM deadlift is that as you age your Fran time will go up and your deadlift will go down, making their utility as signposts suspect. Better to measure things that are age-resistant. I work with a 75 year old who can do perfect ass-to-ankle wall squats and, no surprise, she is more healthy and vital than most people half her age.