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The busyness of the holiday season has come and gone…and many of us find ourselves wanting to make a fresh start for the New Year. It is easy to get lost in all of the confusion, as the newly promoted diet/workout/health strategies all compete for our attention. However, the basic tenets of good health actually do not change much. Here are the ones that are tried and true:
Sleep is the healer of all things, and few of us manage to get regular decent, uninterrupted sleep. Aim to get eight hours for best health. Studies show that sleep deficits are cumulative and that we often underestimate sleep deficits in our performance.
A plant-based foods diet is one that will sustain your health long-term. I tend to follow the 80-20 rule – I aim to eat super well 80% of the time, and give myself some leeway for the other 20%. When in doubt, eat more vegetables – they are truly the diet underdogs, and deliver the most nutrition of any food group. If you desire weight loss, it doesn’t really matter which “diet plan” you choose. Just be consistent in making healthy eating choices and reducing processed food intake. Water is also important for optimal health – be sure to drink a minimum of at least eight glasses of good quality (preferably filtered alkalized) water daily.
Our bodies were designed to move.It doesn’t have to be CrossFit – you can go for a humble walk, plant a garden, play with a child, or clean the house. Consistency is key, aim to do something active every day.
We are social creatures and our busy days can make it easy to forget to stop and say hello. Pick up the phone for a long overdue chat with a friend, or find the few minutes it takes to just sit with a cup of tea with your spouse and discuss your day. Chronic loneliness has been shown to reduce longevity by up to eight years. Interpersonal relationships are critical not only in creating longevity, but also happiness.
An attitude of gratitude seriously impacts both physical and psychological health. As a result, we are happier, more likable, have better career aspirations, and less stress. One popular strategy is to journal three things or events for which you are grateful on a daily basis.
How do we know these practices work? When we examine “blue zones” (areas in the world noted for their remarkable longevity), these are the practices that stand out as part of their daily lifestyles. These communities are:
- Okinawa, Japan
- Ikaria, Greece
- Sardinia, Italy
- Nicoya, Costa Rica
- Loma Linda, California
People in these communities often live well beyond 100 years. Let’s adopt their tried and true wisdom for very, very long purposeful and joyful lives.