The 7 keys to healthy living
Dr. Andrew Weil, a champion of integrative medicine, recently appeared on an episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast, dropping a number of health and wellness gems during his appearance. I recommend readers take an hour to listen to the full conversation. We’re going to take a second here to explore the best practices Dr. Weil espouses to his patients (56:00). Here are the six keys Dr. Weil pointed to:
- Nutrition – Learn the basics of nutrition, which we do in fact know.
- Stay Active – Keep moving and find a way to exercise. You may have to adapt how you exercise as you age.
- Get enough quality rest and sleep.
- Counter the effects of stress with meditation or other mind-body practice such as breath work.
- Connect with Nature – Spend time outdoors, or with a companion animal.
- Have fun and form strong social connections.
- Remain intellectually active.
Putting it into practice
At times you may feel there is not enough time in the day to accomplish all of these things. Here are some tips for accomplishing the above with relative ease:
- Nutrition – building healthy eating habits can take some time, and will be difficult at first, but a simple measure like quitting soda can make a world of difference. Start by cutting your biggest source of added sugar, then the next, etc, until you’re free of added sweeteners. If you work to gradually cut processed foods from your diet and replace them with unprocessed foods you will find that it’s not that difficult. You don’t need to be an accomplished chef or shop at Whole Foods to have a healthy diet. If you want to take it a step further, schedule a nutritional therapy visit with us and we can help you tailor your diet to your genetics and physiology.
- Stay Active – You don’t need a gym membership to get exercise. Instead of trying to find a prime parking spot, take the first one you see. If you’re going somewhere under a mile away, walk there. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Spend 15 minutes a day doing push-ups and sit-ups, if you can, and if you can’t, try something less demanding.
- Getting enough quality rest and sleep – Set aside 7-8 hours a day for sleep, and another hour or so before to wind down and prepare. During that last hour, avoid electronic devices and artificial light. If you must use your smartphone or laptop, install a blue light filter like f.lux (PC, Mac), Twilight (android), or use Night Shift Mode (iOS). You can use this time to meditate or read, working on best practices #4 or #7 while you wind down.
- Beating Stress – Meditation and other mind-body practices are a lot like exercise, it’s hard at first and you might not see the benefits immediately, but if you start slow and build a habit gradually you won’t regret it. Guided meditation apps like Insight Timer are great for getting started, but once you get the hang of it you can do it anytime, anyplace with no tools required. If you’re interested in a more high-tech approach to mitigating stress, consider scheduling a Biofeedback appointment with us, in which we will identify your stressors, how they affect your body, and give you some simple tools to reduce your stress.
- Connect with Nature – Depending on where you live, this can be easy or tough to accomplish, but for residents of much of the Seattle area, nature is fairly accessible. Going for a walk in a park or for a hike is a great way to both connect with nature and get your daily exercise.
- Have fun and form social connections – There is no one-size-fits-all solution here, but there are lots of ways one could have fun and build social connections while working on one of the other best practices. Some examples: organize a weekly pick-up basketball or soccer game, host a potluck dinner of healthy dishes, or join a meditation group.
- Remain Intellectually Active – Pursue an interest that challenges you intellectually and that you find interesting. Find a book or online course on a topic you’ve been meaning to learn for a long time and build your expertise.
While all this can be overwhelming, if you start with one or two you’ll begin to notice a difference in how you feel. Furthermore, your work on one of these will often spillover and improve your habit or results in another. For example, reducing your stress or getting exercise is likely to improve your ability to achieve restful sleep and taking time to connect with nature will likely reduce your stress.
We encourage readers to comment below with your tips, plans for, or difficulties addressing these 7 keys for healthy living.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Consult with your doctor about issues regarding your health.