Secrets to Longevity: Part III
In the third of our three part series highlighting “Secrets To Longevity”, we reveal the remaining five lifestyle commitments of Centenarians along with some simple and practical tips so you can begin incorporating these practices today!
SEMI- VEGETARIAN DIET / PLANT-BASED DIET & MORE LEGUMES:
Instead of restricting foods from your diet, push the less nutritious stuff out by adding more of the good stuff in!
Try new things! My husband Donal & I are on the run all the time and wanted a quick and easy way to add more healthy and nutrient dense foods into our diet. We found this amazing Toronto-based company called “Fresh City Farms” and now get weekly deliveries of local organic groceries to our doorstep. Quite honestly, “mystery items” arrive each week! We are discovering so many great fruits and veggies that we didn’t even know existed! The delivery comes with great recipes as well as information about the local growers. It is convenient, affordable and ensures our fridge is stocked with healthy items (less space for burgers & beer now!).
Get the nutrients you need! If you are considering vegetarianism or simply reducing your current intake of animal-based proteins, check out this great article from the brilliant Nutritionist and Author Joy McCarthy of Joyous Health. This post offers great guidance to ensure you are getting all of the nutrients you need from a predominantly plant-based diet.
Try new recipes! We get bored so easily and eating the same things day in & day can be a real cause of making unhealthy choices. This is one of my favorite recipes of all time courtesy of Joyous Health! Warm Beet Kale Bowl!
As human beings, we thrive on feeling a part of something greater than just ourselves. When we are surrounded by others that are passionate or engaged in inspiring work or projects, it is natural to examine the potential for growth and development in your own self.
Social networks whether they be through family, friends, volunteer organizations, work, hobbies, sport and more challenge routine and help us to cultivate new commitments physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is through social support networks that we often find greater purpose, develop new skill sets, and feel as though we are giving back (a sense of being needed and valued).
Throughout our entire life, yet even more so as we age, social engagement helps bring purpose and sense to our day to day lives….it is easy to see why this is an essential lifestyle commitment that supports longevity.
Begin one new social activity, engagement or commitment. Even if it is just one hour per week. Allow yourself the opportunity to experience something new and meet new people.
If not already, seek out organizations, groups or charities that value and contribute in ways that you find meaningful. You will be surprised at how your social network will expand.
Challenge routine. Create new life patterns and commitments (even if as simple as a 10 minute walk each day outside the home). Watch your perspective change and know that new activities help forge new neural pathways in the brain.
CONSTANT MODERATE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY:
See if you can begin to change the way you think about exercise. Exercise is often perceived as something we “have” to do, much like that unwanted chore or duty that is super imposed on you by someone else. Instead, can you view not exercise but “activity” as a privilege, a gift? If you are fortunate enough to dwell in a physical body that can move, see if you can find the sheer pleasure in just being free to move.
Manage your time more efficiently: In our time-deprived society, we are usually in such a rush to get places that we seek the quickest way there. See if you can manage your time more efficiently so that you can take the long way around – the stairs instead of the elevator, a 20-minute walk at the end of your lunch break, 15-minutes of yoga or meditation before bed at night.
Through the practice of yoga, I can really feel and hear what my body needs.
Check in with your natural state: Observe babies and animals – notice how they move and stretch so naturally – an absolute extension of their true physical needs. The challenge with grown adults is that we think before we do. We are told how to move and when, how to sit and stand, what is too much or not enough. Try to check in with your true natural state, see if you can scan your body and notice how you really feel. What does your body crave? For me, certainly this has been one of the greatest gifts of a yoga practice. I am more familiar, comfortable and “at home” in my own body that ever before. Through the practice of yoga, I can really feel and hear what my body needs – some days that is a 30-minute run, others it is 15 minutes of pranayama (breathing practices). The gift here is in knowing and feeling connected.
Incorporate exercise into your day: Have a peek at this article from the Harvard School of Public Health that offers 20 effective and convenient ways to incorporate more exercise on a regular basis.
The good news is that smoking is now less socially accepted than ever which means there are fewer and fewer exposures and less and less places that you can even engage in this activity. Now more than ever is a ripe time to make a positive change.
Good Health is something we often take for granted until it is gone. When you support others with health concerns you cannot help but be reminded of how precious your life is.
Continue with the philosophy of adding in the good to push out the bad: Start a new exercise program, eat well, sleep more. Notice how your body as a whole feels stronger and mentally you are more focused.
Avoid environments or activities that you commonly associate with smoking. Try to replace these with new commitments – ie: is there an alternative to your cup of coffee routine in the morning and that glass of wine at night. Habits are commonly tied to other actions. Focus on changing the accompanying patterns and see if that helps you adjust the primary target of change.
Educate yourself with facts. The implications of smoking on the physical body are astounding – understand the damage that can be caused to your vital organs – and really receive that information (don’t sweep this under the rug). We are so often in denial as we don’t really accept true facts and keep those front and centre in our minds. If you can visualize the harmful effects of smoking on the body, this can be really helpful as a tool to turn you off the action. Replace your positive associations of smoking with the negative detrimental facts.
Volunteer for a health-based organization or charity and be reminded of how fortunate you are to have your health. Good Health is something we often take for granted until it is gone. When you support others with health concerns you cannot help but be reminded of how precious your life is. Let your volunteer work not only serve others but serve yourself too.