It’s more than just living a long time…
Blue zones are areas of the world where longevity is much higher than the average. The blue zones that have been identified are in: Sardinia; Ikaria in Greece; the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica; Japan’s Okinawa division; and the Seventh Day Adventist community in Loma Linda California.
What these places have in common is an unusually high number of people who live to be over 100. Not just alive — but thriving, healthy and happy!
Why would you want to live to be over 100 if you are living in pain and suffering?
There are some Powerful and Fundamental Ideas we can learn and incorporate into our own lives to help us to live longer — and not just longer, but healthier, happier and more fulfilling.
First: They manage stress wisely!
All of these diverse groups have ways to decrease stress in their lives. Some of them pray, some meditate, some have daily naps, others have a daily happy hour! Stress less, play and recover more!
Take away — Find someway that you can help your stress — naps, meditation, yoga, deep breathing, journaling, talking with friends daily…
Second: They move more naturally!
People in blue zones move in a way that is natural to their life. They walk everywhere, they don’t use modern conveniences that take away movement. They move around all day.
Take away — Walk more! Walk to the store, bike, hike and try to move more throughout the day. You don’t need to work out so hard and intensely if you just naturally move more!
Third: They eat lots of plants!
Most of their diet is plant-based, especially beans, lentils, etc. There is lots of diversity in the diets, but very little meat is eaten. Most of these blue zone people eat meat not at all or less than 5 times a month.
Take away — Eat more plants! Try incorporating more meatless days into your diet. And eat a large variety of plant-based foods.
Fourth: They spend lots of time with family and friends!
People in these zones tend to live in close contact, daily, with family — lots of extended family, grandparents, grandchildren, etc — and friends. They live close together and work daily together.
Take away — This can be harder in our distant culture and is a major reason loneliness is rampant in our society. We can try to stay in contact with phone calls, Skype, Facetime, etc. Also, do as much visiting as you can. Really nurture your relationships. Take the time.
Fifth: They follow the 80% Rule!
“Har hachi bu” — the Japanese manta — which Okinawans follow, means to stop eating your meal when you feel about 80% full. Blue zone people don’t eat until they are full, they stop before that and eat smaller meals in the evening.
Take away — Try implementing the 80% rule in your life. We often stuff ourselves quickly and then feel bloated and sick. It takes about 20 minutes to feel that “full” feeling. We can try eating slower and eating less. Maybe try having your biggest meal be lunch, instead of a late dinner.
Sixth: They have a life purpose!
Many people in the blue zones know why they wake up in the morning. They feel a deep meaning for their lives.
Take away — Find a purpose that will help you get out of bed in the morning. Studies show this greatly increases fulfillment in life and does increase longevity.
Finding your purpose takes introspection and soul-searching, but it doesn’t have to be saving the world; it can be a simple and as profound as showing love every day to your family. Helping your friends or maybe your start helping the human rights movement— starting in your own community. Something that moves you.
Seventh: They drink wine daily!
Yum! Moderate consumption of wine daily helps with their health. And they don’t drink alone, they have a glass with their family and friends. Laughing and sharing.
Take away — Red wine has resveratrol which has been shown to help health in various ways. Have a small glass daily, preferably enjoying it with family and friends!
But don’t overindulge, that is unhealthy and can lead to addiction, depression, liver disease and other negative health consequences. Limit yourself to one glass daily.
Eighth: They belong to some type of faith community!
Most of these long-lived peoples were part of some type of faith-based community.
Take away — If you belong to a particular faith, then take pleasure in knowing that this will help your longevity.
If you aren’t a member, non-religious, atheistic, or agnostic or whatever your beliefs, you can try finding some type of spiritual feelings in your life that bring you comfort.
For some people it can be the peace and tranquillity found in nature, simply nurturing others and striving to be thoughtful and helping the world to be a better place. Feeling love for the moment you are in. This gives comfort and can help build inner peace.
Ninth: They belong to the right “tribe”!
These blue zone people who live to a healthy ripe old age, have social circles that encourage each other to live healthily. They all support each other’s healthy behaviours.
Take away — We have all heard that the five people you hang around the most are who you become like. Behaviours that harm you, such as smoking, overdrinking, eating junk food and being depressed and angry, are contagious.
However, if the people you hang out with the most are healthy, eat well, are happy and optimistic, chances are much higher that you will too. Your inner circle can help you to stay accountable to healthy behaviours.
So — big take away — take a long look at your close associates and make changes if you have to. Yes, that is hard to do. But this is a huge step to living a long and healthy life.
Choose your friends wisely. Make sure they are influencing you positively.
Tenth: Stop smoking
Most people who live to be over 100 and stay healthy, strong and happy doing it, avoid smoking. Smoking is a huge predictor of early death. Of course, there are those outliers that defy the odds and still live long, but they are the exception.
Take away — Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke. Stop smoking if you do. It’s hard yes, and you’ll probably fail more than once. Just try again. And again. It’s worth it.
All of these points and takeaways are no guarantee that you will live longer than your grandparents did, or remain healthy until very old age. But they will help.
AND, they can really help you to enjoy the journey. The blue zones have much to teach us!
I write articles on healthy living, finding fulfillment and happiness, medications and medical topics, yoga and living an adventurous life. Living your best life!
Find your own Happiness.
Happiness will not be found in that new outfit, in the bottom of the ice cream bucket, nor in that really cute guy (Promise!).
Happiness can only come from within you. You must know yourself. Take time to journal, meditate and read inspirational books. This will help.
Not following your values and beliefs will break your heart.
There is a high degree of peace and confidence that comes from following what you believe in. Compromising those values will always lead to suffering.
Your partner in life should be your best friend.
Why would you want this to be different? You will be spending the rest of your life with this person. It should be fun.
You must, 100%, trust that life partner.
Again, why would you want this to be different? Trust is knowing in your heart that this person has your best interests at heart. Yes, they will make mistakes, but you can always rely on them to care about you.
Let others in.
People will hurt you and deceive you, yes. Forgive them and let them go if you need to. However, do not let that hold you back from giving fully to the next person. Holding back is a huge barrier to intimacy.
Always stick up for the underdog, the abused and the downtrodden.
We are here to make this world a better place. By helping someone who needs a hand you are creating more peace in the world.
Be kind, always.
Kindness heals. Anger and hate makes the world darker. There is never an instance where kindness can’t be used. Even if you are disciplining someone, disagreeing with someone or, alas, breaking up with someone.
Do work that you enjoy.
And old proverb states, “If you work at a job you love, you will never work a day in your life.”
This may be a bit of a stretch as there are aspects of every job that are tedious or mundane. However, if the purpose of your “work” is something you are passionate about, then you can put that passion and love into your career daily, making it easier and more enjoyable!
Don’t be afraid to change something if it isn’t working out.
Things change. The career is no longer what you want. Your relationship has gone off the rails. whatever. Make good decisions yes, but you are allowed to change your mind.
Yes, you can change careers — at any age.
Just because you have invested years and a tonne of education into your career, you can change it. Even later in life. You have only one life to live.
Say Thank You Everyday.
Gratitude can do more to create your happiness than anything else out there. Try it.
Embrace Live and Live it.
Much Thanks Healthy Living Tribe!
What kind of choices are you making in your life? Are you heading in the direction you want? Or do you feel as if you are living someone else’s dream or stagnating?
It’s often really hard to figure out what you should be doing in life. Many people never ask themselves this question, and they can end up leading a life they really didn’t love.
Taking the time to ask yourself this question is important. Are you doing what you love? Do you believe in it? Does it bring satisfaction?
Or are you simply taking the path of least resistance or following the money? That can lead to a life that feels like an act of self-betrayal. Here’s a question that I like to ask myself from time to time. Am I betraying my true self? Am I living the life I want?
People betray themselves in many ways.
Perhaps you stay in a marriage that is harmful or deeply unfulfilling. Or you go to a church because you were raised in it and that’s what is expected of you. You took the degree in school that was also expected of you.
Or you totally rebelled and said, ” &*@% School!” and in an act of defiance avoided school, something that could have brought you great fulfillment. Often it is what we don’t do that hurts us the most.
Perhaps you choose a career that has prestige or pays really well, but sort of feels like it Read More
Simply this, we should use pharmaceuticals more safely, and with wisdom. It is necessary to educate yourself and ask questions. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet about medications, either good or bad. Ask your pharmacist, get second opinions and above all, listen to your body.
Being a Registered Pharmacist, with APA (Additional Prescribing Authority),I can answer medication questions you may have. And will post blog articles from time to time about medication safety and information.
I believe we can use natural substances, vitamins and minerals and other phytonutrients to optimise our health, but that also needs to be with caution and safety. Just because something is touted as “natural” doesn’t make it safe or effective.
I love yoga!
Yoga is a wonderful way to link mind, body and spirit. Yoga means “to yoke”, join together.
Yoga is a deeply moving and effective traditional healing model that can profoundly improve our health and well-being. Patanjali’s eight-limbed path, classical yoga, embraces the rich traditions and healing practices of ancient India and is a healing practice worth pursuing. The mind, body and spirit aspects affect a strong healing response. Our mental health will improve. So will our physical health. Most, importantly, we can expand our spirit and bring our consciousness into communion with the universal consciousness. Truly this is liberation or enlightenment!
This might all sound overwhelming. Just start practising. As I have become more interested and active in my yoga practice, I have seen my strength and balance increase. And not just physical balance, but emotional and mental too.
And remember. It’s a yoga practice, not a yoga perfect. Just do it and don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Comparison is the thief of joy. This quote from Theodore Roosevelt is so true. In all aspects of your life, comparison can lower any sense of pride and enjoyment. Do your yoga practice at your level, breathing and turning your thoughts toward your breath. It can be a deep moving meditation that gets you out of your stressful thoughts and relieves your physical aches and pains.
What is Fulfillment?
Having a fulfilling life means putting yourself out there. Getting to your goals, making those goals really worthwhile and being the best you can be.
Our goals may change, our vision of our lives may change, but if we are always pursuing excellence and developing ourselves, this is the path to a fulfilled life. Achieving our goals is possible; refining them as we move through life is necessary.
The Healthy Living Tribe believes that all humans can find fulfillment, no matter what their life circumstances are. It’s not how much money you have, how much “stuff” you have, or education, it’s your character and your self-belief, your growth every day that will leave you living a life with no regrets.
It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfilment, it is in the happiness of pursuit.
I recently moved closer to the Rocky Mountains in Canada and I have enjoyed seeing the majestic peaks every day. A week ago I finally got out there in the snow for a few hikes and it was truly a peak experience, pun intended. Getting outside, enjoying the fresh air and beautiful scenery, getting some exercise without feeling like I was, communing with nature, bonding with my friends and family… wow, so many benefits!
The first hike I went on was in Kananaskis called the Fullerton Loop. This is a fairly easy and beautiful walk near the Rockies, only a few minutes from Bragg Creek, AB.
The weather was gorgeous and the hike was quiet and lovely. I went with a friend who is a great guide and knows all the good spots in the area. This walk/hike was a terrific way to get my exercise for the day and really see some beautiful nature! I used trekking poles on the descent to help protect my knees, but they certainly weren’t necessary. I also just had on my hiking boots, with no ice cleats, and it was perfect. We did see some people on the trail with snowshoes and while they certainly weren’t necessary, they would provide extra calorie burnage! (Snowshoes add a level of difficulty and effort.)
The next hike I went on, with a huge group of my family, was near Banff called Johnston Canyon. I have been told that this is a busy hike all year round. Luckily for us, it wasn’t crowded on this weekend in January! It’s an easy, gorgeous hike. The canyon is beautiful.
The views at the Upper Falls, and along the entire hike, were gorgeous. The trees laden with thick snow, the trail packed hard with snow and ice (Wear your ice cleats!) and the canyon iced over, with views of the blue, cold running water. I loved the way the trail followed the canyon and wound up and down through the mountain. The air is crisp and clean. You could even feel winded if you weren’t used to the higher elevation!
Once we got to the Upper Falls, taking about an hour since we, naturally, had to stop for pictures, we just stood back and marvelled at the falls and the bold ice climbers!
These two winter hikes in the beautiful Rockies were a great reminder to me to stop using winter as an excuse not to go outside. The ice and snow just magnified the beauty of the area.
I really encourage you to get out there and hike in the winter! It is not just a summer activity. If you are able to get to the Rockies and enjoy the many fabulous hikes, the snow is calming, the air crisp and the Rockies are magnificent!
If you don’t live near the mountains, see what options are available in your area. Even if you think you live somewhere “boring” (you probably don’t btw), there are usually beautiful areas to walk and hike. Edmonton, for example, has a beautiful river valley with many trails to explore. And it is also close to Elk Island Park, rich in trails and the beauties of nature.
I have never been one to enjoy being cold, but as long as the weather is fairly cooperative and not too cold, anyone can get outside and hike! You will need some basic gear and preparation to make your hike fun and safe.
What you will need:
Layers – Several layers of clothing. It is best to have layers that wick moisture and dry quickly, that you can remove and add as your temperature fluctuates. I was surprised how quickly things can heat up. You will want to avoid overheating and thus sweating too much as this can make you not only feel uncomfortable but can lead to chilling when you cool down and now have to hike in damp, cool clothing.
Good hiking boots – Always a good investment. My boots work well in summer or winter, or you can have separate pairs for the seasons. If you are on a budget, look for sporting goods store or trading posts that deal in slightly worn apparel. It is possible to get a good deal on used hikers! Here are the boots I have.
Good mitts – Nothing is worse than cold hands!
Good socks – Could also be said that nothing is worse than cold feet! Get socks that don’t cause sweating, provide warmth and wicking.
Ice cleats – These clip on to the bottom of your boots, giving you added traction in icy conditions. Very helpful on an icy trail. I used mine on the Johnston Canyon hike and would recommend them there as the trail can get quite worn and very slippery. I didn’t need them on the Fullerton loop as the trail was just packed snow. You can order them online or pick them up at a sporting goods store.
Alpine poles – Not a necessity but they can help with steep descents, with balance and stability and also can increase the number of calories you burn. They can sometimes feel in the way though, so maybe they are for you and maybe not. I have personally seen how they can speed your descent and make it safer for joints and knees.
Snowshoes – Not needed unless on very deep snow with an unpacked trail. Always check websites and local weather to see the conditions. These two hikes I talk about here did not need snowshoes, the trails were packed and my hiking boots were great.
Personally, getting outside and moving and exploring in the winter felt like something I need to do, could do, on a regular basis for my health, physical and mental, and enjoying the solitude if I can’t find anyone to drag along with me. Maybe we can all get out and explore!