Another year is coming to a close (in 19 days, actually) and it is making me think about living. Not just existing but living long and well. Really showing up.
Let’s face it. We are going to live many more years after retirement. I heard this earlier on the radio; that the average 21 year old in the 1935 had a life expectancy of 65, that is five years after retirement age. Five years to do everything you want to do before you die!
Now, we can expect to live another 25 years after retirement. Shouldn’t they be as healthy and vibrant as we can make them? Absolutely!
Yet, how is this defined? Sure, genes are important. Zip codes are even important, meaning your life expectancy can vary by zip code. Where we live, how we live, how safe our neighborhoods are, and how much “green space” is nearby all impact our health and well-being.
Most important, though, in predicting a long and healthy life, is behaviors.
What, do I sound like a health coach?
So I concocted my version of the Twelve days of Christmas to get you thinking about how you may change your behaviors in 2021 (actually, you can start anytime) to improve your quality of life and slow the aging process. Sound good? I thought so.
Stop eating when you are 80% full (hari hachi bu, an Okinawan cultural technique for not stuffing yourself)
Eat more plants – meaning more vegetarian meals. Think “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”― Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. That about sums it up.
Watch the alcohol consumption (empty calories).
Start moving! Be active every day, throughout your day.
Belong to a social network that supports your healthy lifestyle.
Have faith. Studies have shown the people who believe in something larger than themselves have more emotional fortitude. Join a group that resonates with you.
Share time with your children, parents and your partner. Show them love. It will come back to you ten-fold.
Develop and practice stress reduction, whether it is going for a daily walk, weight-training, yoga or meditation.
Find a sense of purpose.
Eat more foods that support your liver (your body’s biggest filter) such as green tea, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and beets.
Drink half your body weight in water (preferably filtered).
Kick your sugar habit right now. Sugar is inflammatory and it also degrades our collagen, which is the protein that keeps our skin looking youthful.
BONUS: Get some sleep. Seriously, sleep is one of the things you can do to not only defy “aging” but also to maintain your overall health. A good night’s sleep gives your body time to regenerate and replenish.
This is a good start, don’t you think? Twelve new habits for the New Year, for you to start now or come January 1. Pick just one and get started.