Many of us are evaluating the changes we’d like to make in our lives this new year. Not surprisingly, on the top of many lists is to have a healthier lifestyle.
We’ve developed a list of resolutions to help you implement the Power 9® Principles of the Blue Zones Project® and, in turn, increase your longevity. Start on the path to a healthier you with these nine New Year’s resolutions to help you live longer, better®.
- Start or Join a Moai® - The world’s longest-living people don’t go to a gym or run marathons. Instead, they live in environments that encourage natural movement. For Okinawans, this includes creating a group of five, life-long friends that help support their healthy behaviors, called a Moai. You can incorporate more natural movement into your routine by joining one of Beach Cities Health District’s (BCHD) existing moais or walking groups or start your own! Learn more here.
- Find Your Purpose - Knowing your sense of purpose can add up to seven years to your life. The Okinawans call it "ikigai" and the Nicoyans (in Costa Rica) call it "plan de vida" – for both, it translates to "why I wake up in the morning."
Begin investigating your own purpose by creating an internal inventory of your life. Try to articulate your values, passions, gifts and talents. What are the things you like to do? Then incorporate ways to put your skills into action that will add meaning to your life and the lives of others. Explore the many volunteer opportunities at BCHD to find meaningful ways to add more purpose into your life.
- Take Time to Downshift - Stress leads to chronic inflammation, which is associated with every major age-related disease. Although everyone experiences stress, studies show people live longer when they have routines to cope with that stress.
Develop your own stress reduction routine by attending BCHD’s Mindfulness Drop-Ins, held the first Wednesday of each month, or our next Mindfulness Meditation & Aging Series. Under the guidance of trained professionals, these sessions allow you to develop mindful meditation abilities to better cope with stressors both at home and in the workplace.
- Follow the 80% Rule - Marketers tell us we can eat our way to health, but America has been eating its way well beyond health. The 80% Rule focuses on taking things out of everyday diets, instead of putting more things in. For Okinawans, the saying “Hara hachi bu” reminds them to stop eating when their stomach is 80% full, preventing them from overeating.
You can implement this strategy by replacing your large tableware with 10-inch plates and tall, skinny glasses, as well as eliminating meal time distractions–like digital devices–to reduce mindless eating.
- Plant Slant Your Diet - While most people in the Blue Zones areas only consume small amounts of meat on rare occasions, all of them eat a rich array of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are packed with disease-fighting nutrients. The cornerstone of most centenarian diets is beans, including favorites like fava, black, soy and lentils. You can continue to eat meat, but try considering it as a condiment by limiting portions to the size of your fist, and only serve it twice a week. Learn new strategies and recipes to help implement more fruits and vegetables into your diet at our next Blue Zones Cooking Show at Lazy Acres in Hermosa Beach.
- Join us at our Monthly Social Hour – In the Blue Zone of Ikaria, Greece, residents form tight-knit communities that support their healthy behaviors and socialize frequently. We’ve re-engineered this concept to hold a Monthly Social Hour at a Blue Zones Project Approved Restaurant™, where locals can foster valuable social connections, all while enjoying healthy bites at a discounted price.
- Find Your Right Tribe – The world’s longest-lived people are either born into or choose to create social circles that support healthy behaviors. The Framingham Heart Study shows that smoking, obesity, happiness and even loneliness are contagious. Assessing who you spend time with, and then proactively surrounding yourself with the right friends will do more to add years to your life than just about anything else.
- Explore Your Spirituality – Regardless of belief or denomination, belonging to a civic- or faith-based organization can add years to your life. If you already belong to a group, great! If it's been a while or you aren't sure where to start, try asking friends and neighbors for their suggestions or search for additional information online to find the group that suits you.
- Prioritize Loved Ones - Happy, healthy centenarians in the Blue Zones areas put their families first. This can take shape in many ways, from maintaining a close relationship with family members to developing strong, supportive friendships, which can add up to six years to your life.