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My “Not-So-Secret” Secret to Healthy Aging

photo credit: flickr catherine

 

Life gives us many gifts – and one of them is the power of choice.

We essentially have a choice in everything we do in our lives – the food we eat, where we live, who we choose to spend our time with, our jobs, our marital/relationship status, our lifestyle choices, our spending habits and the list can go on.

I recently had a conversation with a nice woman at the airport. She first commented that “she too was once young and full of energy.”  As most conversations go, we talked a bit about our lives and then age came into the picture.  When she found out that I was only 2 years younger than her, she quickly asked me “so what’s your secret.”  This comment caught me completely off guard because I never once thought that I had a secret – or do I?!

As the conversation progressed, we started talking about health not only in physical terms, but mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.  Everything I mentioned I did, she would come back with “I don’t have time to do that” or any other excuse she felt was necessary to protect herself.  I get it – change is hard and it causes us to move out of our comfort zone.  But we all have a choice – and with some guidance and support some of those choices won’t always be scary.

For me, healthy aging is very important.  We all know that illness doesn’t discriminate – even the healthiest person can fall ill with a life threatening disease – but we also know that lifestyle contributes heavily to many chronic disease our people are facing today.  Healthy aging isn’t a term that only applies to those over 45, it applies to all of us.  I truly want to live life feeling my greatest, free from illness and disease so that I can make lasting memories with those that I love.  Waaaaaaiiiiit a second – who wouldn’t want that?

The combination of my recent airport conversation blended with my commitment for healthy aging and education compelled me to write this post and share my “not-so-secret” secret that I am always willing to chat about with those who are willing to listen.

Here I go:

  1. Avoiding Sugar (as much as I can!)

See the thing is, I love a big slice of carrot cake (or whatever vice you have) just as much as anyone else.  Who doesn’t love that sweet addicting goodness of sugar?  Addicting is the key word in the previous sentence – it’s in almost everything on the shelves.

On the flip side, I think sugar is the single most destructive ingredients in our modern diet.  Not only is it empty calories, sugar is:

  • Linked to inflammation
  • Linked to chronic diseases (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease)
  • Highly addictive
  • Disrupts sleep
  • Leaves us to crash and burn

Sugar is everywhere, so it’s important to be a label reader…. which brings me to my next secret.

  1. Reading labels

I am the girl who grew up eating tuna noodle casserole, American style goulash, ramen noodles, processed cheese slices, and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom canned soup.  And now, I am a “label reader.”  Yup, I am that person in the grocery store, the one the employees ask 10 times “if I need help finding anything” cause I am standing in each aisle for 20 minutes reading eat food item– but ya know what, I quickly learned to read through all the BS pretty labeling, false health claims (what the heck is “natural flavoring” anyway?!), and large words that essentially mean carcinogen, inflammation or added sugar.  Food labeling is complex which is why I work hard to help all my clients read through those labels.  My rule is:  if I don’t know what it is, then it’s not going in my cart.

  1. Eating whole, unrefined foods (and mostly plants)

I eat the Metabolic Balance® way because it’s unrefined and focuses on a holistic whole food lifestyle.  Plus, it’s personalized to me and nothing beats that.  Most my nutrition comes from vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans/lentils), unrefined grains, nuts/seeds, occasional animal protein (eggs, fish, lean quality meats, cheese), and quality fats.  I don’t like to categorize myself into any eating category, but no one has enough plants in their diets.  And yes, I occasionally eat pizza, French fries, grilled cheese, and chocolate…. relax.

  1. Water & Wine

Did you just chuckle as you read this?  Well, we all know how amazing water is.  From flushing toxins to promoting weight loss, we simply cannot live without it.  Drink up…and then drink again.

When it comes to wine, if you know me, you know I will never refuse a glass of dry red.  Red wine not only tastes like liquid gold (and makes me happy), it contains the unique antioxidant resveratrol.  This potent baby is found not only in grape skins and red wine, but also is a variety of berry fruits.  I did read once that resveratrol is also known as the “fountain of youth” although I cannot recall exactly where I read that.  Well, I guess that’s what’s been keeping me young…haha.  Would you consume a product (wine or supplement) if I told you it had the ability to:

  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Improve heart health
  • Inhibit cancer
  • Help prevent Alzheimer’s

I would.  Case closed!

  1. Intermittent Fasting 3 days a week

I bet your thinking “oh no…she’s going to start talking about some crazy stuff.”  Well, no.  Not crazy at all.  You may have heard this term before, as the intermittent fasting (IF) train comes and goes, but my suggestion to you is to let it stay for a long, long time.

This old concept has so many benefits – the main one being longevity.  I told you I was concerned about health aging, right?!

While there are many different “styles” of intermittent fasting, the one I suggest is restricting your eating window to a specific amount of time.  I try to have a 14-16 hour fast between dinner and breakfast, which means I will have my last meal at 7pm and not eat again until 9am the next day.  This may not be attainable every day, but trying to practice this type of caloric restriction a few days a week has many benefits.

The westernized world continually grazes on food throughout the day which gives our digestive system no break to do what it is meant to do – digest and eliminate.  At a cellular level, restricting calories allows our bodies to activate autophagy which eliminates any accumulated debris in the cell that can compromise normal functioning.  Try it – and not for just a few days – maybe a month or so and tell me what you think and feel.

  1. Nutritional Supplements

While I am a huge supporter of obtaining most your nutrition from whole foods, factors such as modern farming, aging, food not being vine ripened, the Standard American Diet and environmental toxins do lead to nutrient depletion/absorption issues.

The reality is, nutrient deficiencies lead to disease and an increased rate of aging.  And we are trying to age in a healthy fashion, right?

(**note:  I use all USANA supplements due to their pharmaceutical grade quality, good manufacturing practices, and direct contact/support with their scientists and doctors.)

My daily cocktail includes:

  • Multi-vitamin: (USANA Cellsentials™ -side note – they rank #1 in the NutriSearch Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements – hell yes!)  This ensures that I am fueling my body with all the proper nutrients throughout each day.  We all have skipped meals – it’s reality.
  • Omega 3 – (USANA BiOmega™) Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, are essential in promoting a healthy cardiovascular system, and have numerous health benefits that are for a whole other post. In the westernized world, we have a diet high in Omega 6 fatty acids which promote inflammation.  You get my drift, here.  Reduce Omega 6s and increase Omega 3s.  I love USANA’s product because they go through a double distillation process which ensures purity of the product.
  • Probiotic and Prebiotic – (USANA® Probiotic 3-4 times a week) The gut is so important. We’ve all heard the saying form Hippocrates “all disease begins in the gut.”  That sh** is real.  Here is the difference between the two.  Prebiotics nourish and feed your good gut bacteria helping them proliferate on their own.  You can buy prebiotics in a powder or pill but you can also consume them in the form of whole foods.  Some great prebiotic foods are: asparagus, carrots, onions, garlic, leeks, okra, radishes, jicama, cinnamon.  Probiotics on the other hand replenish the bacteria.  All probiotic supplements contain the live good bacteria we need to maintain a healthy gut.  Another good reason to eat fermented foods!
  • Vitamin D that includes Magnesium & Calcium – (USANA MagneCal D™) These three together are like the “holy trinity” and they work together. Vitamin D has many roles but one of them is to help our bodies absorb calcium.  And then we need magnesium to regulate our calcium levels.  These three make a great team.
  • Liver Support – (USANA Hepasil DTX™) Our liver does so much work – everything we put into our bodies goes through there. By providing my liver support, it can function optimally and I love Hepasil DTX because this product activates glutathione which is the most powerful antioxidant made in our bodies.  This antioxidant is a huge player in our detoxification process.
  • Grape Seed Extract w Vitamin C – (USANA Proflavanol® C100)  I wasn’t lying when I talked about the power of grapes above (remember my love for wine?!).

I know, I know – your saying “that’s a lot of pills!”  I have all of my supplements in convenient health packs so I don’t have to portion them individually.  Customization is key.  It’s easy and it’s really not a lot of pills once you get in the routine (remember I’m not a fan of excuses).

  1. Exercise

I don’t have to explain the benefits of exercise – we all pretty much know them.  Move every day and you will feel like a beast….or happy & healthy.

  1. Reducing Stress

This is one I work on every day and there are days where it is not easy.  Most of us know that health goes way beyond the physical scope.  Stress plays a huge role in the development of physical disease and a stable emotional state is a sure way to promote longevity.  This year I learned how to meditate from my friend Kasia in Germany.  Meditation is amazing and takes only 5 minutes a day.  I used to think that I didn’t have the time – but making the time makes a huge difference in my day.  Another great stress reducer is Mr. #7 above and trying hard not to sweat every small thing that happens in life.  The power of positive thinking is a lifesaver.  And like I said – I work on this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

 

Image credit: MartaZ*

 

I bet you are sitting there thinking – wow, that a lot to follow.  In reality, it’s not.  The truth is – these aren’t secrets at all.  They are things that I do that make me feel great.  I don’t strive to be a size zero – I want to be a healthy, happy ME.  All of the above help me do that and ya know that – THAT IS WONDERFUL.

Small changes yield the biggest results and starting small is always the best way.  Healthy aging is a packaged deal and doesn’t instantaneously happen overnight.  Our “now” mentality sometimes blocks us from achieving the things that are most important.  Every small change counts – every one.   And thank you to the lady in the airport who gave me the urge to share my daily life with my readers and followers.

xxoo

 

 

 

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