One of my favorite statements as a holistic health coach is..."Food (NOT just what's on a plate) determines how we feel and heal." Though healthy eating is crucial in terms of staying healthy, it's not the only step to take to live a long, productive, and healthy life. In fact, there are many factors that contribute to living a long, active and-- most importantly--mentally engaging life.
My grandmother, who lived into her mid-90's, is a perfect example of someone who lived a long life in spite of her less than perfect diet. Yes, good genetics plays a role, but there were also some simple steps she took to stay fit. So, in honor of my grandma, here are Helen's tips for a long and satisfying life...
1. Be real. Grandma only ate food she could understand, which meant that she ate food types that she had known since childhood. No fake food for her. On a visit to see her great granddaughter, I remember her reminding me to feed my new baby at least 5 servings of veggies a day and three servings of fresh fruit.
2. Get around. My grandma was still traveling to far away countries when she was in her mid-80's. There are many psychological benefits from a change of surroundings. Plodding routines dull sensory alertness. Seeing new surroundings and engaging with new cultures stimulates feelings of wonder and awe and is a great tonic for your brain health.
3.Quit bad habits. Grandma was a smoker for many years, a habit she developed when she was a model for Chesterfield cigarettes. She would often tell me growing up that she just quit cold turkey the day she found out she had a polyp in her lung. She said she was the lucky one because the polyp wasn't cancerous and the scare made her quit.
4. Exercise. My grandma was swimming laps in the pool in her 80's and continued to stroll the neighborhood even after age 90. Find a reason to get outside.
5. Looks matter. Thanks to the support of her children, my uncles Lach and Jere and my mom Alix, grandma was still going to the beauty parlor to have her hair done until she passed away. She always said, "When you look your best, you feel your best."
6. Read. My grandmother was one of the first women to graduate from Cornell University, which was a big deal in her day. She devoured books and cross word puzzles and, even after her eyesight went, would listen to books on tape.
7. Move on. My grandmother lost her husband in a tragic home fire. I cannot imagine the grief she suffered. But she never carried a gloom with her and never seemed to dwell on the past. Grandma remarried and was always showing a zest for the life ahead of her.
8. Befriend the young. My grandma lived in a neighborhood where many of her friends were younger than her. Keeping up with the younger folks forced her to remain engaged in activities and current events. She was still telling many long stories in detail well into her 90's.
I miss my grandma everyday , but I know she is looking down with a smile and hoping that I will never forget the way she lived her life.