Knowing I want to eat chocolate cake at my 100th birthday party, I decide it’s time to check my odds of living so long. A quick web search later, I’m staring at an online quiz.

I hesitate. If the answer comes back too low, I might feel discouraged. My quest for longevity has consumed a lot of my time and thought. What if the answer tells me it’s not worth working so hard to make my 100th birthday?

Don’t be a sissy, I tell myself. I take the quiz. The answer is 94. I’m not ecstatic, but the website offers recommendations that increase the number to 99. Hmmm. That doesn’t quite cut it if I want to put a fork in that chocolate cake.

Guesstimates Can Help Us Stay on Track

A few years back, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Mike Roisen introduced The RealAge Test, an online quiz that calculates lifestyle age versus chronological age. When I took the quiz in 2011, I was shocked to learn my RealAge was higher than my actual age.

I had made lifestyle changes since then, so I plugged in my new information. I remeasured my waist and am unhappy to report it is two inches larger than I remembered. But that’s okay. I’ve got something to work on.

My updated RealAge is 3.2 years younger than my 60.7 actual years. Hear me patting myself on the back? Hey, I did the work, and it’s paying off. That little quiz helped me get on track six years ago.

Brisk walking, healthier eating and strength training are adding years to my life. But I believe my biggest age-enhancing improvement is attitude. Like so many women my age, I’m content and happier than I’ve ever been. I finally have a lifestyle that suits me. Now it’s about keeping it up for 40 more years.

Little Changes Add Years and Years

You may have heard about Livingto100.com. It’s been mentioned in USA Today. This is where I took the quiz that said I can live to 94, maybe 99 with lifestyle changes. Here’s what I learned.

Cutting out caffeine might gain me a quarter of a year, and I may add a half year by spending less time in the sun. I could add a year by cutting down on red meat and another year by losing some weight.

The recommendation says I could gain a half year if I get more sleep. Personally, I think better sleep will gain me a lot more time than that. Sleep is high on my self-improvement check list.

If I eliminate processed meats and alcoholic beverages, I can add some time. But life without bacon and red wine? I don’t think I’d be as happy as I am now. And happiness is adding years and years to my life.

Everyday Choices Count Toward Longevity

All kidding aside, most of us need reminders about how to improve our chance at long life. If a fun little quiz can help me make choices about what to eat, how to exercise or when to de-stress, I’m sharpening my pencil.

It’s not about a number on the scale or how we look in the mirror. It’s about choosing happy old age. Real accountability is to ourselves. What we do now pays big dividends to the longevity bank.

Do you know your RealAge? Your anticipated age? What are you doing to add years to your life? Life to your years? Please share in the comments.

Terri Edmund WhiteTerri Edmund White is an innkeeper on Anna Maria Island, Florida. She enjoys life with her husband Jim and their cats, adopted from the Humane Society of Manatee County. A former corporate writer and editor, Terri is currently penning her way to her 100th birthday and has started a 100 Year Project website to write about the journey.

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