Do you feel that your life has fallen into the rat race of self-defeat, weight gain, and stress … or was it just over the holidays?

Do you feel that your life has fallen into the rat race of self-defeat, weight gain, and stress … or was it just over the holidays?

Do you feel that your life has fallen into the rat race of self-defeat, weight gain, and stress … or was it just over the holidays?

Well welcome to a New Year! Like every other new year, millions strive to set goals to better themselves in someway.

For five particular locations around the globe, called Blue Zones, a project funded by National Geographic and researched by team lead Daniel Buettner — those goals are already set habits with some of the longest living, happiest people on the planet.

Maybe it’s possible we can learn a thing or two about living that healthy happy life while setting forth with our own resolutions and live our youngest year yet?

The five regions found to contain the most centenarians (people living past one hundred) were found to be Okiniwa, Japan Sardinia Italy; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California.

So what can we learn from these cultures?

A team of medical researchers, anthropologists and other experts found nine common denominators:

1. Move naturally — exercise was just a natural part of their day. No gyms, weight lifting or marathons.

2. “Plan de vida” — or purpose. Knowing why you wake up in the morning can potentially tack on an additional seven years.

3. Downshift. Relieving stress from life is important to avoid major age-related disease. These cultures all have a daily practice of stress relief by either taking a nap, taking a few moments to remember ancestors in the case of the Okinawans, have time for prayer or in the case of the Italians — happy hour!

4. The Eighty Per cent Rule when eating. Only fill yourself until you are 80 per cent full and they all have their largest meal in the morning.

5. Each of these cultures consumed a predominantly plant based diet rich in beans and lentils with meat consumed on average around five times per month with a serving size about 3-4oz.

6. Daily/Moderate to in some places no alcohol with friends and/or food.

7. Over 98 per cent of the centenarians belonged to some faith-based community.

8. Putting their loved ones first by committing to a life partner, having children and keeping elders close by.

9. And finally, surrounding yourself with social circles that engage in healthy behaviours. Okinawans create groups of five friends who commit to life.

Research showed that happiness was contagious and necessary to be surrounded with other happy people if you want for yourself.

This doesn’t means skip the gym and indulge in a daily dose of alcohol as I know that’s exactly what some of you were thinking — but as you reflect on your own life and how you want to better yourself this year, think of which of these criteria you can implement more in your own life.

If you’re looking for a change in your own life, join me in Red Deer next Wednesday, Jan. 8, at the Sheraton at my Taste of Change talk. Check out www.somethingtochewon.ca for more information on how to register for free.

Kristin Fraser, BSc, is a holistic nutritionist and local freelance writer. Her column appears every second Thursday. She can be reached at kristin@somethingtochewon.ca.

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