We’re already into the second month of the year. It’s time to check how well you’re doing with your New Year’s resolutions.
If you’re like most people, you probably rang in 2017 with the pledge to lose weight, eat healthier, and exercise more. Are you still on track? I know that life gets busy. But if you need some guidance on reaching your goal, look to the Blue Zones Project®.
Blue Zones are places throughout the world where people live full, active lives in their 80s, 90s, and even into 100. These people can be found in Japan, Greece, Nicaragua and here in the U.S. in Loma Linda, California. They’re not bedridden or on a lot of medications as you may expect from people that age. They start their day early in the mornings, walk or ride bikes for transportation, meet regularly with friends over a glass of wine, and cook their own meals.
The Blue Zones Project works with communities throughout the U.S., including in Hawaii, to see how we can live the Blue Zones way. HMSA has brought the Blue Zones Project to the Islands to help people stay active, eat healthy, lower stress, and live with purpose in the company of family and friends.
Here’s some Blue Zones concepts that I’ve started this year that can help you stay on track with your 2017 goals:
80 percent full
There’s a saying in Hawaii: "kanak attack" – eat until you sleep. This usually happens after eating a plate lunch with two scoops rice and mac salad. But in Japan, the Okinawans follow another saying: "hara hachi bu" – eat until you’re 80 percent full. It’s no wonder Okinawans are the healthiest, longest-lived people on the planet. So I’ve changed my usual “eat until I’m 120 percent full” routine. I eat just one plate-size serving. I feel less sleepy after eating and have more energy during the day.
50 percent plants
Many people in Blue Zones eat a mostly plant-based diet. So I’ve given my plate a food makeover. Half of it is filled with fruits and vegetables. The other half is divided into a quarter of protein like lean chicken or fish and a quarter of brown rice, whole-grain bread, or potato. Once a week I eat a vegetarian dinner prepared with local produce I buy at the farmer’s market. Check out these recipes for bruschetta with tomatoes and kale salad. And here’s a video that shows you how to make garlic hummus.
I have a pretty consistent weight, cardio, and yoga workout program at the gym or in a class. But I’ve been mixing it up with good, old-fashioned walking. I take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators. I’ve joined a walking moai (or group of like-minded people) at work. And on Sunday mornings, a friend wakes me up with a text message to walk in his Manoa neighborhood or at Kapiolani Park and around Diamond Head. In addition to the physical benefits of a cardio routine, our walks boost my overall mental well-being. I enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and beautiful surroundings. And our talks during those couple of hours create a strong social bond that lifts my mood and spirit.
If you don’t want to spend money on a gym membership or group classes, or don’t like exercising in a crowd, start walking. You can walk by yourself for contemplative meditation or take a buddy along to share some laughs.
Blue Zones Project® is a trademark of Blue Zones, LLC. All rights reserved.