With my recent birthday and becoming a year older (well only really a day older, but for anyone above a toddler we record our age in years), it has got me thinking about the topic of living a healthy lifestyle. A few good friends have also just had birthdays and look fabulous for their age – my 50 and 69 year old friends both looking at least 10 years younger than they are. I have been wondering what the secret is. Is it a healthy lifestyle, good genes, or a combination?
Truth be told, I have been thinking about healthy living for a while, but with these recent birthdays it comes to the forefront of my mind. I don’t mind having a birthday. In fact, I love birthdays – they are a day to feel special. I am thoroughly enjoying my late twenties and early thirties. These years have been the best era of my life and it is no coincidence that it is the same period of time since meeting my husband Jeff. Also not by chance, I have also been in the best shape of my life. Jeff has introduced me to a plethora of new sports and is keen to work-out almost daily.
I feel fortunate to live in a place where a healthy lifestyle is the norm. (Not the whole country mind you. Quite the opposite – although I hope it becomes healthier. But the city I live in, Park City). We are lucky to have miles of trails and weather that makes it conducive to being outdoors. It is common to see everyone in the community out on bike rides or hikes. I love to witness families partaking in exercise, and organized events and races. Many of my athletic friends kept in shape throughout their entire pregnancies too, with their usual routines of running or cross-fit right up to giving birth. (One good friend even did push-ups in the parking lot of the hospital just before she gave birth – because she felt good and she could!) People’s love of fitness and the outdoors here is inspiring and contagious.
But a healthy lifestyle is more than just working-out, it is what we consume too. It has often been said “You are what you eat”. This encourages us to think about what we are putting in our bodies – it is so important to our health, well-being, and energy. It is widely held that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in refined, processed foods is best. There are also trends with paleo (caveman) and gluten-free being current popular diets. I have noticed restaurants and food companies jumping on the band-wagon to cater to these requests, especially with more gluten-free options becoming available. This is great for those with celiac disease or other gluten-intolerances (my husband being one of them). But these diets are not for everyone. I think it wise to do your own research and decide what is best for you.
One thing that seems apparent, is that more of us than we think have food allergies that we are not attending too. With an estimated 60% of our immune system in our gut it makes sense to eat what best suits our individual bodies, creating a better overall health and well-being. In addition to managing our immune system, our gut, part of our digestive system, is also said to control our moods, energy, focus, and sleep – further impetus to eat well (read this article for more info: http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/your-gut-5-things-you-didnt-know/ ). And don’t forget the recommended 2.2 liters of fluid for women and 3 liters for men per day too.
I try to eat and drink healthily and provide my body with what it needs. Even more so now we have purchased a Vitamix blender. I got sucked into the demonstration at Costco – the smoothies and soups they made for us to sample were delicious, and my husband had been wanting one for a while. (I have heard great things about the other main blender brand Blendtec too. People seem to love them both). Blenders are an easy way to consume the valuable fruits, vegetables, and fluids your body needs. We throw anything and everything into ours – fruits and veggies (fresh or frozen and many with their skins and seeds containing beneficial nutrients), yogurt, cottage cheese, probiotic powders, fish oil, and nuts – sometimes all in one drink! We use our blender almost daily and the smoothies have all turned out great so far. There are tons of great recipes online to take advantage of.
With all this exercise and healthy eating, I feel in pretty good shape on the outside. But, how about the inside? How about our psyches – the human soul, spirit, and mind? While many of us work on our outsides, our inside often gets neglected. I previously wrote that beauty is both on the outside and inside. I believe that healthy is an external and internal phenomenon as well. Healthy living is for our spirits as well as our bodies.
To nourish who we are on the inside I believe that doing things for others and being open to them helps us. There are other aspects of our insides and minds to work on too, and I am getting better at this. For example, I am trying to think positively and worry less (in previous posts I have professed tendencies towards worry and skepticism). My writing and reflections have helped, along with great sermons at church on acceptance, forgiveness, love, etc. (I attend Mountain Life in Park City: http://mountainlife.org/media/sunday-messages/).
I have found yoga and meditation beneficial as well – both great outlets to clear and quiet the mind. I attended a wonderful yoga class recently. There was a part during the lesson when the instructor had us all repeat a series of sitting to lying moves together. It looked amazing seeing us all in the mirror moving and pulsating in sync, as if we were one giant living, breathing organism. I felt peaceful and connected. She left us with a passage about peace to think on:
“Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” – Unknown
Several other passages stood out to me recently too, which encouraged me not to worry:
“Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.” – Unknown
“Sometimes you just have to stop worrying, wondering and doubting, have faith that things will work out may be not how you planned, but just how they’re meant to be.” – Unknown
“You can worry or you can trust God. You can’t do both”
With these thoughts and quotes in mind here is to a year ahead of healthy living, in all senses of the word. I hope yours is too.