Saturday, February 4, 2012

Becoming One of the World's Healthiest Women from the Inside Out

This one is dedicated to the ladies, but you can apply the same principles too, guys.

You’ve heard, “Eat like the French” if you want to stay slim. In fact, there are similar habits found in some of the world’s healthiest populations, termed Blue Zones or Cold Spots.
There are definitely some takeaways from these super-healthy, long-living cultures: a plant based diet, moderation in portion sizes and an active lifestyle. Sometimes even a glass of wine at lunch! I’ve heard it from Blue Zones author, Dan Buettner, himself. So what's the secret of becoming one of the healthiest females? There's not one, really. Remember MyPlate and the Pyramids that came before it? Deep down, I think we know these things.
But something’s not working here in America. Perhaps it’s motivation? Maybe we don’t know how to put our plans into action?
We may not be among the healthiest yet, but in the 21st century, I see American women dominating in many aspects. In the words of Beyonce, “Who runs the world? Girls.” We’re working. We’re heading up the household. Taking care of the finances. And chauffeuring kids to soccer practice, ballet lessons and sports games. We’ve got a lot going on, but we can’t let our health fall to the wayside. To be added to the list of Blue Zones, we also need to consider the following. Think of these points as a foundation to build upon:

Food and exercise are top priorities.
Whether it’s just you, a plus-one or an entire family, healthy eating and activity are just as important as anything else. Make it a priority to learn about nutrition, and I mean from a registered dietitian, then enforce good nutrition and exercise habits in the home. Even if it’s just you, it is worth it to take the time! If you have children, helping them learn healthy lifestyle habits from the start is one of the best things you can do for them.
Have self-confidence.
Hold your head up high, ladies, and stand up for what you believe in. I know you want to be healthy. And it's more than skin-deep. We all have unique qualities that make us great and you should be who you are no matter what shape or size. Beauty comes from the inside--but a healthier you means you can perform better at what you do best.
Take time for yourself too. And don’t feel guilty about it.
Most women I counsel have one similar and enduring quality: they feel the need to take care of everyone else first, even if it means sacrificing their wants and needs. This translates to their health. You can care about yourself AND everyone else. You may even be able to take care of others better if you allow yourself some relax-time. Or exercise time. Or shopping time. Or all of the above.
The secret to health and longevity in America is more deep-rooted than just our food choices; it starts from within. Create your own Blue Zone. We can do this too!
Read the Huffington Post article for more Blue Zone-inspired recommendations. Also consider picking up Dan's interesting book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest.

Photo credit: Woman by healingdream