Feeling tense and depleted at the end of a day doesn’t have to be the norm. Try stretching (in a subtle or deliberate way) every hour, on the hour – it’s a great way to release stress and ground yourself. Stretching relaxes your muscles and increases blood flow throughout your body.
So what, now what?
Stretch while you are lying in bed, in the shower and even in the car – simple neck turns and arm stretches will do the trick. If you’re out and about and you need to reach for something on a top shelf, take a breath and move slowly and hold the stretch for about 20 seconds. Try some of these seated stretches from the Mayo Clinic.
Here is what is on the menu of those people who enjoy long and healthy lives and what you can do, TODAY to potentially join the “100 Club” of centenarians TOMORROW. Why not choose one and create a new tiny habit?
FUEL: Eat mindfully
In Okinawa, also known as “land of the immortals”, the folk follow a principle called “Hara hatchu bu” which means to eat until you are 8 out of 10 full. Sadly, many of us eat until we are ‘stuffed’ and experience discomfort, fatigue and even heartburn. Studies of centenarians suggest that social connections and finding meaning in life are both crucial to longevity.
How? Bring in the pleasure principle and eat more mindfully and with gratitude. Slow down. Breathe between mouthfuls. Savour each mouthful. Don’t eat while doing something else such as watching television. Take pleasure in preparing more home-cooked meals from whole ingredients instead of buying processed foods and meals. Approach time in the kitchen as an opportunity to de-stress and be creative.
ACTIVATE: Stay brain fit
An example of a tiny habit to reduce brain fog: Train your brain to deal with chaos. Neuroscience research shows that the regular practice of mindfulness can promote resilience and productivity at work (and in life). There’s no need to head off to a silent retreat for a week. Simply start with 5 minutes as you wake up and have your morning tea to sit in stillness and start harnessing the benefits of mindfulness.
BEHAVE: Create an attitude of gratitude
This is a game changer. To hard-wire this as a habit takes a little time and effort, but once your gratitude neurons fire together, they then wire together… forever. If you consciously express gratitude (verbally or non verbally) a few times per day, your body will produce less of the ageing stress hormone, cortisol!
To kick-start this habit … link your gratitude thoughts to existing habits; for example, as your turn your shower tap, think of one or two moments of your day that you’re grateful for. Or as you put toothpaste on your toothbrush, do the same. At least you’ll be doing it twice a day …everyday!
What one thing will you do differently from today to increase your FAB Quotient™ to stand a chance to shift from being stressed and tired, living in a state of brain fog to being energised and brain fit, driving a sense of feeling youthful and playful, a magnificent feeling of juvenescence?
Medical evidence suggests that for optimum health and function, the average adult should get seven to nine hours of sleep daily. Although each hour of lost slumber goes into the health debit column, we don’t get any monthly reminders that we’ve fallen in arrears. In fact, the greater the sleep debt, the less capable we are of recognizing it: Once sleep deprivation — with its fuzzy-headedness, irritability, and fatigue — has us in its sway, we can hardly recall what it’s like to be fully rested. And as the sleep debt mounts, the health consequences increase, putting us at growing risk for weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and memory loss.
Scource: The Family Health Guide – Harvard Health Publications
Joni and Celynn give us some great advice on how to using power napping a technique to get out of sleep debt!
You’re getting older. I know you don’t like hearing it, but the fact is that we’re all trapped in the clutches of Mother Time and she isn’t letting go. What we have to remember though is that growing older doesn’t make you ancient; it makes you human.
Nobody enters their 50th year to find their clothes no longer fit or that stairs have become impassable overnight. You do need to take steps to maintain your health in the long run, however, and there are a few inescapable factors we have to deal with.
Our metabolism slows down over time. Maintaining the same exercise-to-diet ratio that you did ten years ago will make your clothes a little tighter around the waist than you’d expect. In light of this, might it be time for a change?
Where Are My Hormones?
Our hormones are responsible for many of our youth-like qualities. One unfortunate price we pay for our growth in wisdom and responsibility is that their production falters. There’s nothing we can do to increase it, but by using our behaviour to boost our health and wellbeing, we can counterbalance its effects.
Hopefully, you took mother’s advice and drank plenty of milk as a youngster and were rewarded with healthy, strong bones. Sadly, these also deteriorate with age as they lose calcium and other minerals making them both more soft and weak.
While we don’t mean to make ageing sound quite so daunting, it is important we consider our own mortality now and again. Fortunately for us all, each of these age-based nuisances can be countered with the right mindset.
Take control of your body by exercising and reclaiming your youth. Fauja Singh epitomised this by being the oldest man ever to run a marathon, at 101 years old. Before you panic, we aren’t asking you to run 26 miles, swim across the sea or climb Everest; do whatever exercise you can, within your daily schedule, to provide your brain with fresh, oxygenated blood.
Get to know the local park by walking there a few days a week. If you’re desk bound (which sadly the majority of us are) then why not take a few calls on your feet or take a stroll to a nearby shop instead of the canteen for lunch?
Gym work and intense cardio are great for the body, but what we’re really advocating is that need to energise your body every single day in smaller ways. They say sitting is the new smoking, and we’re all getting steadily addicted. Break the mould and start activating today: reignite your metabolism, build stronger muscles and boost your brain power.
Don’t worry about the extra candles on your birthday cake – if you’re active and in control, you can probably even afford an extra slice this year!
Humans are hard-wired for pleasure. Most of our passions and ambitions are centred on the unremitting sensation of joy, exhilaration or satisfaction in what we do. This is most blatantly seen in sports, where skydivers feel the adrenaline coursing through their free-falling veins or when the raucous celebrations of fans when their team wins the big game shake the rafters.
It’s also true for diet. Food has never been all about fuelling the body; what we eat is mostly driven by taste and satisfaction.
A primary culprit is sugar. It’s our Achilles heel. Newborn infants have a hardcoded sweet tooth – sugar is a strong energy provider to the brain – but it’s something we carry right through our entire lives. Being healthy shouldn’t mean taking the axe to everything you enjoy that doesn’t fit in a salad bowl; it’s about moderation and control.
I recently spent the morning outside an artisan bakery in Paris, where the majority of people were filling the role of stereotype by leaving with some baguettes in tow. What struck me was that almost all of those people broke off the end of the bread and ate it leisurely on the walk home.
That set me to thinking.
When we decide to watch our diet or maybe to lose a little weight, we go for the axe; we suspend the chocolates, the pastries and the crisps in a little basket over a cliff and we chop the rope holding it in place. Scientifically, that will work: cut the large quantities of unhealthy fats and sugars and you will have improved your diet. Realistically, cravings will rack our bodies until we all clamber down the precipice and start scavenging for the contents of the basket.
Fats and sugars are good, essential parts of our daily routine. Rather than the axe, why don’t we follow these Parisian bread lovers and just tear off the corner piece? By allowing ourselves to nibble or snack in moderation, the little monster in our heads that screams for guilty pleasures will be sated and we’ll have a weight off our minds.
As I said, our favourite foods are a pleasure to us, not merely a temptation. When we deny ourselves something we love, we set ourselves up for failure and erect a tall rod for our own backs. Why would we do that? If it’s Monday morning and you really want that warm pain au chocolat, then enjoy it. Just think about the rest of your day; maybe have an apple at lunch instead of your cereal bar, or walk to work over the subway.
We are completely capable of having our bread and eating it, it’s just a matter of not eating all the bread on your way out the bakery.
Let’s face it, Mediterranean Europeans are the apple of many of our eyes; from the glowing, clear skin to the chestnut eyes and bright white teeth, these hardworking and joyful people are often admired from afar in their seemingly utopian lifestyle. Something which has definitely struck me from my time in the South of France is the influence of diet on people’s vitality and happiness.
We’re all guilty of slipping off the “good food” wagon now and again. Picking double pepperoni over the vegetable medley is fine, and no one is pretending that the romans don’t get sore heads from having one too many flagons of wine, but there is actually an huge amount to be gained from living a more Mediterranean diet.
The key is simplicity.
What are the obvious ingredients to a “healthy” diet? Vegetables – check; freshness – check; natural – check. That’s the bones of eating in the Mediterranean style. It’s not about loaves of bread as big as the dog; it’s about balance and using carbs like pasta or bread as an accompaniment, not the main body of a meal.
To give you an idea, an average meal might be like this.
Breakfast: a bowl of fresh fruit topped with Greek yogurt and a handful of almonds,
Lunch: a selection of crudités with dips such as hummus, guacamole and tzatziki served with cucumber and chickpea salad,
Dinner: grilled fish and roast veggies, a large green salad and maybe a glass of red wine,
Snacks: a small handful of nuts, fruit, yoghurt, cheese or olives.
Suddenly it’s not so complicated, right? There’s a stigma which says this diet is too expensive or complicated to be achievable, but if millions of people do it naturally, it’s probably not all that difficult.
The best part is that so much of this diet is right out the ground or off the tree; if you are fortunate enough to have a large garden or a small plot of land, then put it to good use and grow your favourite vegetables. If not, the supermarket will supply everything listed above and the cost is comparable to convenience foods.
A real highlight of this diet, aside from the mouth-watering taste and obvious health benefits, is that it’s a sociable way of eating. If you tell the Italians to be quiet during dinner so you can hear the TV, you’d better be ready for the response. Around the Med, a meal means sharing; it means conversation, friendly banter and getting the family around the same table. It’s an experience, not just a means of providing us heterotrophic organisms with energy. And yes, I found the term “heterotrophic organisms” using Google…
Another boon of the Mediterranean lifestyle is the use of fresh herbs. Salt and pepper are the wooden spoons of seasoning: useful, but limited. Fresh garden herbs are the Swiss army knife: varied, exciting and always the solution to creating a flavoursome meal.
When it comes down to it, a Mediterranean diet is quite easy, but you will want to ease yourself in. Try going vegetarian one night a week, or experimenting with different types of fish. Try hummus with lunch at work over a chocolate bar. With time, it’ll feel natural and your body, as well as your mind, will thank you for it.
Try the 30 days challenge from Tom Rath, author of Eat, Move, Sleep. It is a simple way of introducing small changes (some will already be familiar to you) that will create a healthier and happier YOU. Some tips are as simple as getting enough sleep to eating the healthiest item on your plate first! Take your future wellbeing into your hands and make a change today.