I’m 58 and feeling great! And I believe that I do because I have a healthy lifestyle.
Studies back this up! Healthy habits DO make a big difference. According to studies, people who met criteria for all FIVE HABITS have the benefit of longer lives than those who had none: 14 years for women and 12 years for men (if they had these habits at age 50). People who had none of these habits were far more likely to die prematurely from cancer or cardiovascular disease.
The five healthy habits are 1) Healthy diet: high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids, and low in unhealthy foods like red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat, and sodium.
2. Healthy physical activity level: at least 30 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity daily.
3. Healthy body weight, BMI between 18.5 and 24.9.
4. Smoking: never having smoked.
5. Moderate alcohol intake: between 5 and 15 grams per day for women, and 5 to 30 grams per day for men. 1 drink = 14 grams of alcohol =That’s 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.
Here are a dozen simple keys to looking and feeling your best too:
- Make up your mind. Decide that you are going to change your ways, accept the changes and make peace with them. Partial commitment leads to partial results and consistency is the key to success. Remember that to maintain a healthy weight and health, you must eat properly, consistently and include movement into your life forever. Your goal should be life-long changes, not quick fixes. Your health is forever.
- Think before you eat. When choosing food, honestly assess what you’re putting into your body. Ask yourself, “Will eating this food help me reach/keep me at my goal?” If not, make a better choice.
- Focus on eating more “produce” and fewer “products”. A person is far more likely to improve their healthy when they eat fresh whole foods versus those that are processed and come from a bag or box. My secret weapon against aging? Greens! Scientific research has shown greens to be strongly correlated to longevity. Raw leafy greens such as kale romaine, spinach, Swiss chard, and collard greens are the most nutrient dense of all foods.
- Eat for purpose, not solely pleasure. Eating for pleasure is a uniquely human experience. Be sure that the food you eat is good for your body, not just your taste buds.
- Create healthy habits. The food we eat is often part of our regular habits. Replace poor food choices with good ones regularly and you will create healthy habits. You’ll feel better when you eat properly and ultimately discover how less than optimal food choices negatively impact your energy levels and sense of well-being.
- Take your workout outdoors. There are multiple benefits of exercising in natural environments. Greater feeling of energy, lower blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and release of feel-good endorphins. My dog Champ (in the above picture) and I hike at least once a week!
- Don’t skip meals. To stoke our body’s furnace and keep the fire hot, it’s essential to eat periodically throughout the day (ideally every three to four hours). Drastically reducing calories and skipping meals force your body into starvation mode, decreasing your metabolic rate and reducing your energy levels as an automatic conservation mode. And overwhelming hunger can lead to poor food choices based on taste and convenience rather than optimal nutrition.
- Honesty’s the only policy. Be honest with yourself. We all splurge once in a while but denial about extra calories can lead to regular overeating. Even half a cookie has calories—count them!
- Weigh in for one week. One of the most valuable tools for successful weight management is the weighing and measuring of food. While you may think you know exactly how much you are eating and what the calories and macronutrients are, our portion sizes tend to increase gradually over time. Dust off the scale and your food journal and keep track of what you eat, when and how much for just one week. And weighing yourself once a week is also a proven way to monitor your weight and do something about it before 2 pounds turn into 20.
- Move it to lose it. Daily activity is essential for optimal health. Incorporate movement into your daily activities by parking a little farther away from work, taking a short walk during lunch or after dinner, washing your own car—the opportunities are endless. Of course, moderate exercise (30-60 minutes per day) is ideal, but these activities of daily living can really boost your body’s calorie-burning abilities and your body’s ability to move as you get older.
- Take your multi. No matter how great your diet is, you just can’t get the nutrients you need from food alone. Take a balanced multivitamin and mineral formula to make sure your body gets what it needs when it needs it.
- Mix it up. Most of us have certain routines or exercises that we really enjoy because they’ve just become second nature. Unfortunately, when you get good at something, your body adapts. And when your body adapts, it burns fewer calories while doing that activity. So be sure to keep your body guessing by changing up your routine every two weeks or so. If you need help in changing routine, I’d love to help you do it in a safe, effective and fun way.Impact of healthy lifestyle factors on life expectancies in the US population. Circulation, April 2018.The population health benefits of a healthy lifestyle: Life expectancy increased and onset of disability delayed. Health Affairs, August 2017.
The combined effects of healthy lifestyle behaviors on all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Preventive Medicine, September 2012.