“I thought I’d be dead sooner,” says Waterford resident Carrie Roberts in the first episode of the new series How Long Will You Live.
Presenter Dr. Phil Kieran – a Cork-based doctor – has just revealed Carrie’s life expectancy based on some rigorous medical and fitness tests she has been subjected to. It is well below the average life expectancy of a woman.
But Carrie — a busy youth worker and mother of two teenagers — expected it to be even lower. Her father died at the age of 63, she explains.
“I just assumed I was that young too.”
And immediately we cheer for Carrie, for this woman who doesn’t have high hopes for herself when it comes to life and health. We want her to break through that ceiling. It helps that she’s so relatable.
She could be us – or our sister or best friend – with her busy lifestyle, the grief for her father in the background and the way she describes her life since she was 40.
She admits to neglecting herself.
“The kids are older. It’s not that they don’t need me anymore, but their needs are different… I don’t know who Carrie is without my kids.”
dr Phil is a detective as he sets out to figure out what’s going on inside Carrie’s body, “from her heart to the various markers in the blood to her bone density.”
Tests show an abnormality in her heart’s electrical recording. What’s it all about? We’re with Carrie as she goes to the echocardiogram to find out what’s going on.
“The test was a bit scary. At some point I got a little emotional. I felt a bit overwhelmed,” she admits.
We’re there as she huffs and gasps through resistance training and cardio.
“The first time wasn’t so bad. The second time it was more difficult. The third time I was destroyed.”
We know what she means. And we cheer when the uptick in their health profile occurs.
But this is a show where we’re also in for ourselves – and what we might learn. For that viewer, nutritionist Aveen Bannon, who told Carrie her diet was “a little beige,” had me do a mental color check for that day’s meals (enough fruit/veggies?).
By spotlighting someone else’s less-than-perfect lifestyle, How Long Will You Live holds up a mirror to our own. But it doesn’t leave us there. The key message is that there is room for improvement.
It’s inspiring to see someone else grit their teeth and endure the pain for a worthwhile health gain. It means there’s hope for us – and that’s always good.