I need to tell you about someone who’s incredibly important to me. Someone to whom I am fiercely loyal. It’s not my husband. It’s someone I call Future Me.
That’s right, I’m talking about my future self. I think about her a lot—the me I’ll be tomorrow or in a month or in a year. I think about her because my choices now affect her. I can make Future Me’s life harder or easier by my decisions today.
It’s an odd way to think, I’ll admit. But when you start shifting your mindset to think about your future self, it changes a lot, let me tell you.
I recently got my 23andMe ancestry and health results, and there’s a lot of information there. But probably most pertinent to me right now is one particular health result. See, according to their assessment, I’m predisposed to weigh 7% more than average.
When I dug into my raw data (yes, I’m that person) I could see what markers factored into that assessment. I have fat genes, y’all. So many risk factors associated with obesity.
That’s no surprise to me. I have always had to work hard to lose weight and stay at a healthy weight. My metabolism has never been great. You wouldn’t know it to look at me now, though. I’m about a size 4, presently. Some people call me skinny, although I don’t consider myself that. (Also, can we stop with the skinny vs fat labels? Honestly. Let’s not with that. It’s not helpful to anyone.)
A lot of people, especially women, look at me and think I’m just this size naturally. They make snarky comments about how I can’t possibly understand their struggle. They would be wrong. I fight genetics every single day. I do that for Future Me. I want her to be as healthy as possible.
The thing is, choices like what we eat and our level of activity don’t have immediate results. Imagine how different things would be if the consequences were instant, if the moment I ate that slice of cake my thighs grew a quarter inch. Man, it would be so much easier to say no, am I right?
But our bodies don’t work like that. Which is why I have to think of Future Me. The consequences of my actions might not land on Present Me but Future Me will have to deal with them. So I exercise even when I don’t feel like it. And I choose healthy options when it comes to food. And I try to get adequate sleep every night. And drink plenty of water. And do all those things we know lead to better health.
As I get older, my metabolism is going to slow down even more and it’ll get harder to maintain good health. I know that. And that’s why I try to do everything I can now. That doesn’t mean I don’t indulge occasionally. Emphasis on occasionally, though. Because Future Me can’t afford the consequences of a life of indulgence.
I’ve got a lot of genetic risk factors to deal with. But what’s truly wonderful is that most health risks can be reduced through a good diet and regular exercise. How awesome is that? Something I have complete control over can help Future Me live a better life. I have the power now to make Future Me’s life better or worse.
So yeah, I’m fiercely loyal to Future Me. I’m going to look out for her and fight for her chance to live well. I’ve always been willing to fight for those I care about. And I’m finally including myself in that list.