I heard someone discussing backcasting the other day. Backcasting is subtly different from forecasting where we project into the future and plan towards it. With backcasting, you envision what you want to do 20 to 30 years from now and plan the steps backwards. When you stick to your backcasting plan you will live longer better.
Backcasting will probably makes more sense when you read the story of Sandra, a fictitious lady I’ve just made up for this article: Sadly there are Sandra everywhere.
Sandra was a vivacious working mother of two with a busy, slightly sedentary lifestyle. In her 20s, she weighed a sprightly 59 kg however, the weight crept on with the birth of her first child and increased further after her second. Throughout her 30s and 40s, Sandra’s life revolved around her children, managing her home, and pursuing her career, with little time left for herself. Despite trying various diets, by her 50s, she found herself 20 kg heavier. When menopause reared its ugly head, her blood pressure and cholesterol levels soared and she turned to prescribed medication.
By her late 50s, Sandra was dealing with acute back pain from osteoarthritis. This led her to more prescribed medication causing further weight gain. As a result, she lost confidence and gave up meeting her friends for regular walks. Cooking became a chore, and she resorted to quick meals lacking protein and fresh vegetables.
As Sandra progressed into her 60s and retired, she and her husband renewed their social life, which had lapsed a bit during the hard-working years. They enjoyed meeting friends for lunches and dinners and in the process, her weight climbed up further. Weakened muscles and excess weight made her more unstable, climbing stairs without a handrail was difficult, as was getting in and out of the car. Soon holidays went by the wayside, international travel was put on hold due to the discomfort of air travel and literally everything seemed an effort.
By her 70’s Sandra was quite unstable; she couldn’t play on the floor with her grandchildren; because if she did, she’d struggle to get up.
At 78 Sandra took a tumble on an uneven footpath, and unable to run from the fall to correct her balance she crashed to the ground cracking her hip against the edge of the kerb. Sadly, Sandra died within 18 months of the accident.
In five short paragraphs, I’ve painted a horribly sad life story missing the many joys and triumphs that come with life to make it rich. Being in good health isn’t the only thing that makes life good, but neglecting your health to prioritise everything else undoubtedly makes it worse.
What iF SANDRA HAD BACKCAST HER LIFE
Let’s rewind the clock and imagine if Sandra had backcast her life and set goals for her 70’s to enjoy overseas travel, play freely with her grandchildren, take weekend walks in the bush, drive herself to the shops, live independently, and meet friends for coffee and walks.
To have achieved that, she would have had to make significant lifestyle changes.
- With foresight, she could have focused on losing weight after her first child, which would have made it easier to shed the weight after her second.
- By recognising that high blood pressure and cholesterol could be managed through diet, she might have prevented the need for ongoing medication.
- Regular exercise and a fresh natural diet may have helped avoid anti-inflammatory pain relief.
- In her 50s and 60s, strength training and cardio fitness would have maintained her stability and balance, allowing her to enjoy regular walks with friends.
And with all these measures in place, if Sandra had tripped on the pavement, she may have managed to prevent the fall and even hopefully report the incident to the council to fix the pavement, so another Sandra didn’t injure herself.
AND THE MESSAGE TO THIS STORY IS !
If you read this and thought, “Oh sh*t Sandra sounds like me”. At any stage in life, lifestyle improvements are worth making and they are far more critical to make later in life.
If you need to lose weight, Lighten Up Winter 2023 launches Friday 27th August but you can still sign up after the date if you’re not ready to start then. You’ll be guided every step of the way through daily emails directing you to new material to engage in every day.
If that’s not enough and you feel overwhelmed by several failed attempts to lose weight in the past, you may need to book for some coaching sessions to help with strategies, motivation and what to do on non-fasting days. Invest in some one-on one coaching sessions, available on Tuesdays and Fridays.