MAKE THE HEALTHY CHOICE THE EASY CHOICE
As you know, something that I’m passionate about is living a well-rounded, full and wholesome life. With that, I try to do things I love often, work towards my goals, pursue balance and live health consciously. Sharing here on the blog little ways to make big impacts in our lives is one of my greatest joys.
When my mother brought the Blue Zones Project, a project dedicated to helping people live better + longer, to my attention I was all ears. Blue Zones is the term that reflects the lifestyle and the environment of the world’s longest-lived people. The concept first appeared as an international concept in a National Geographic cover story titled “The Secrets of a Long Life” by Dan Buettner. Buettner identified five geographic areas where people live statistically longest:
Nicoya, Costa Rica
and Loma Linda, California
He offers an explanation, based on empirical data and first hand observations, as to why these populations live healthier and longer lives. After conducting this research and studying the people in these areas of the world, the Blue Zones Project is now bringing the research here to better the quality of life all over the United States.
Here’s the main philosophy:
We spend 90 percent of our time in the same places, and that environment dictates how easy it is to make healthy choices, or how difficult. By using the Power 9 , the nine secrets of longevity, (listed below) to improve where we live, work, learn and play, we make it easier to get up and move, eat healthy, make new friends, find a reason for being—and live longer, better.
The 9 Ways How To Live Longer + Live Better. . .
1. Find Your Purpose
Wake up with a purpose each day. The Okinawans call it “Ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida;” for both it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.” Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.
2. Move Naturally
Find enjoyable ways to move more. Instead of just going to the gym or feeling like you have to run a marathon, instead find something that constantly nudges us into moving without thinking about it. Some examples: Swim or dance, playing with your children, growing gardens and not having mechanical conveniences for house and yard work.
3. Down Shift
Find a stress-relieving strategy that works for you. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. What the world’s longest-lived people have that we don’t are routines to shed that stress. Try yoga, meditation, prayer – anything that works for you.
4. Wine at 5
Enjoy a glass of wine each day with good friends. People in all Blue Zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly. Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine), with friends and/or with food. And no, you can’t save up all week and have 14 drinks on Saturday.
5. Find Your Tribe
You’re most like the 5 people you’re always around, right? So surround yourself with people who support positive behaviors. The world’s longest lived people chose–or were born into–social circles that supported healthy behaviors.
6. Plant Slant
Eat a variety of plant based, whole foods including: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and herbs
Drink Water, fresh brewed tea and coffee, wine or fresh pressed juices.
Beans, including fava, black, soy and lentils, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on average only five times per month. Serving sizes are 3-4 oz., about the size of deck or cards.
Belong to any faith-based community and meet weekly. Denomination doesn’t seem to matter. Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy.
8. The 80 Percent Rule
Eat mindfully + stop when 80% full. The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it. People in the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then they don’t eat any more the rest of the day.
9. Loved Ones First
Invest time with family and close loved ones. Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first. This means keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home (It lowers disease and mortality rates of children in the home too.). They commit to a life partner (which can add up to 3 years of life expectancy) and invest in their children with time and love (They’ll be more likely to care for you when the time comes).
So from the findings of Buettner’s work, Blue Zones Project is now the extension that is taking the research and knowledge and partnering with businesses, schools + restaurants to better the community and make new areas of the world Blue Zones. It’s been really incredible to see how many community pillars here in Kona have joined in on this movement! My mother is a principal here and her school is on board with all (child approved) aspects of the Power 9. Also, all nine of these ideas hang above the mirror in my gym, so I am consciously reminded at least three times a week! I love hearing thoughts on how others improve quality of life, extend their lives + make sure it’s enjoyable along the way.
Thought I would share this insight with you + also get your thoughts. Have you ever been given advice from someone who’s lived an amazing life? What was it? I would love if you would share in the comments below!