Simple habits for more happy birthdays. Birthday party with cake and candles

Healthy Habits to Start for More Happy Birthdays!

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Introduction

It may surprise you to discover that some of the best healthy habits are easy to do and are a lot of fun. They often do not require any extra money or time from you. This blog was written with the assistance of Captain Michael Drew, PhD, because so much of our overall health is related to our mindset. How and what we think as well as our daily habits can determine the overall quality and length of our lives…. aka how many happy birthdays!

Healthy habits to start is simply a way of structuring your life and priorities. Many habits involve your mindset, empowering you to begin today with what you already have. We not only want to live longer, but also live healthier and happier lives. We want to have improved mental and physical health while staying independent and active throughout our lives. You may feel that you have little control over your health due to your genetic code. Luckily, studies have shown that your environment and lifestyle are much more important. 1,2,3

Your daily habits affect your overall health

As much as 80% of our health is determined by lifestyle and only about 20-25% is dictated by genes. This means we can make simple changes to our daily habits today and set ourselves up for happier and healthier lives in the future.4,5,6,7

Stop thinking that only big changes will count towards your health. You do not have to prepare for a marathon or start a new restrictive diet to become healthy.

Start with small changes in your daily routine that eventually become your automatic habits. These small shifts will add many benefits over time, including the ability to enjoy more happy birthdays. Consistency over the long haul is the key and you will reap many rewards.

The key ingredients for this simple blueprint for health, happiness and longevity are

Healthy habits to start for more birthday’s

  • Mindset– the power positive thought!
  • Movement– every little bit helps!
  • Mindful-Intuitive Eating– Learning to listen to your internal cueing and eating the food and the amount that helps your body feel good.
  • Meaning– What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Dan Buettner and the National Geographic (2012) studied the lifestyle of the longest living people in the world. The regions studied are called the “Blue Zones”. Buettner examined these Blue Zones to learn the habits of centennials living among them. Centennials are people around the world who live happy, healthy, independent lives well into their 100’s.

The characteristics common to the Blue Zones are portable to any location and can be used to make healthy lifestyle changes. These easy and sustainable habits are achievable to everyone.

Centennial research has identified “key ingredients” that many health centenarians include in their daily routines. These key ingredients are easy and attainable for everyone. 7

Simple habits for more happy bithdays
●	Mindset- the power positive thought!
●	Movement- every little bit helps!
●	Mindful-intuitive eating- Learning to listen to your internal cueing and eating the food and the amount that helps your body feel good.
●	Meaning- What gets you out of bed in the morning?
www.waistlinedietitian.com

Mindset

Shifting your mindset to positive thoughts can help add years to your life and improve your health. Many studies have shown that optimistic people live longer and healthier lives.

Your mind can be a powerful tool. Learn how to shape your mind to help you enjoy more happy birthdays!

How to improve your mindset for more happy birthdays?

Your thoughts are powerful. Learn how to shape your thinking to help improve your health and the quality of your life.

Gratitude

Gratitude: shifting your thoughts and emotions from what’s stressing you out or what we are lacking to the blessings we have a and what we find valuable.  Shifting our minds into a positive direction. 8,9,10,11,12,13,14

  • I am grateful for my ability to move my body
  • I am grateful for my ability to taste food
  • I am grateful that I am able to breathe fresh air
  • I am grateful for my comfortable bed and ability to sleep peacefully at night
  • I am grateful for my family and friends
  • I am grateful for the food I have to eat
  • I am grateful I can spend time in nature

Positive self-talk

Positive self-talk is literally talking to yourself in an optimistic manner! Your internal dialog influences your thoughts, beliefs, questions and feelings.

  • My personal strengths were created by overcoming difficult challenges
  • My personal challenges taught me how to be resilient and overcome
  • My resilience is the foundation supporting all of my achievements
  • My achievements emerge from passion and commitment to excellence
  • My commitment to excellence is based on having structure in my routine
  • My routine is based on small habits that reflect the life I wish to live

Positive Affirmations using “I am” Statements

  • I am filled with love and compassion for all living things
  • I am choosing one small habit today that will transform my life over time
  • I am celebrating this day filled with child-like curiosity
  • I am maintaining a clear and hopeful vision of my life’s goals
  • I am forgiving myself for past mistakes in the peace of being human
  • I am listening to my body and honoring my inner feelings without judgment

Learn how to cope with stress

Build self-care strategies into your daily routine. Anxiety and worry can have a significant negative impact on your body and health including increasing your risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, inflammation, and depression. Stress is something we cannot escape but it decreases our bodies defense mechanisms. It not only compromises the quality of our lives but contributes to the development of chronic disease. Learning healthy coping skills for managing stress in your daily life can add more happy birthdays!15,16,17

  • Have a good sense of humor. Laughing at yourself and not taking yourself too seriously can greatly reduce stress by lowering your own expectations.
  • Actively participate in stress reducing activities you enjoy, possibly gardening, painting, artwork, planning and taking a much-needed vacation
  • Start daily healthy rituals/routines
  • Morning/Evening routines. Think about what makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning?
  • Start your day by being nice. Or just smile and avoid toxic situations when possible😊
  • Mind your own business. Focus on self-improvement. Focus on the “things” you have control over such as your thoughts, choices, and how you react to situations.
  • Focus on your own needs and desires and improving yourself. When you need help, get help. Don’t ignore stress. Think about what you need and ask for help.
  • Go see a therapist, counselor, friend, family member, or faith-based supports to vent when needed.
  • Learn to say no to extra responsibilities. (Sometimes these extras add up and cause you a lot of unnecessary stress).
  • Carve out time in your everyday life to do things you enjoy.
  • Remember self-care goes a long way. Self-care is making sure you are as strong as you can be to continue to help others, and it’s not selfish.
  • Express gratitude daily. In every little thing.
  • Whenever possible laugh, and don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Practice mindfulness. Slow down. When you eat mindfully, your digestion improves. When you can bring attention to the taste, texture, and flavor of foods, it will increase your enjoyment of the meal. Also, listen to your hunger and fullness cues. This can aid in digestion as well as lessen emotional eating.
  • Try yoga. Yoga helps attenuate stress, depression, anxiety and lower cortisol levels which has been associated with reduced inflammation.
  • Good sleep practice: Do something relaxing 30-60 minutes prior to bed (deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness meditation, stretching). Avoid electronic screens or play on night mode 2 hours before bed. Keep bedroom dark and cool. Stay hydrated throughout the day, but limit fluids before bed. Aim for 7 or more hours of sleep each night.

Movement

The world’s longest living people move naturally. They do not necessarily run marathons or lift weights, but they move their body in a natural way every day. Walking, gardening, dancing, playing ball. 18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25

Strategies to incorporate movement into your daily routine

Active living refers to moving more in your daily life. If you are not able to set aside extra time in your day to exercise, its ok! You can still get many health benefits from moving your body in your daily activities.

The key is to move more and to sit less. Pay attention to how you feel. The immediate intrinsic rewards may be improved mood, energy level, and reduced stress. How does the movement make you feel? We know that any physical activity has some health benefits.

How can I start moving more if I am busy

It is often easier to stick to activity in short bouts throughout the day instead of trying to carve out 30 to 60-minutes at one time. Find ways to integrate more movement into your daily routine. Try starting with a goal of moving for ten minutes a few times a day.

For example, start with 10 minutes in the morning. You may head outside for a walk, or a march in place as you watch the morning news. Then, park your car at the farthest end of the parking lot at work. Walk for 10 minutes at the end of your lunch break. Taking a walking break during work has been shown to improve mood and productivity. In the evening after dinner take another 10 minutes of some type of movement you enjoy.

Walk and talk. Hold walking meetings. Walk while you are catching up with friends. Walk whenever you are talking on the phone. Walk while you are listening to books on tape or your favorite music. Explore nearby state parks with friends on the weekend. Walk after work or school to relieve stress.

Movement at home

The goal is to get your body moving more and sitting less. Start where you are with what you have. Gradually progress as your body allows more time and more enthusiasm in your movements. Set goals. You may want to schedule your movement time into your daily calendar.

Set a timer or a reminder to get up and move during the day. Wear comfortable clothing and supportive shoes.

Walk or march in place, dance during every TV commercial. Stand up and then sit down. Keep doing this during a commercial break.

 When you are on the phone, pace throughout the house. Get up and move to a different room. Stand. Sit and then stand again. Set a timer to remind you to move.

Go get the mail, one bill at a time. Try a stationary bike if you sit and watch the television. Vacuum, dust, wash the floors, windows. Scrub your bathroom, garden, mow the lawn with a push mower, weed. Plant a garden. Wash your windows or the car. Household chores can count towards your physical activity.

Joyful movement on the road

If you are traveling, keep walking shoes in your car so they are available to use.

Many hotels have gyms, swimming pools and Staircases😊.

When driving long distances, stop at rest stations and walk around.

Visit state parks and enjoy the scenery. Meet up with friends to walk and talk.

Increasing your movement during your workday

If you are sitting for work, stand up any time you can and move around the room. If you can invest in a standing desk, a good rule of thumb for each 30-minute period: Sit for 20 minutes, stand for 8 minutes, and move for 2 minutes.

Fidgeting is also beneficial. There is research that just fidgeting can greatly increase your energy expenditure. Standing or lightly ambulating, pacing back and forth, taking the stairs.

When walking, gradually increase your pace as your body allows. Walk, hike, bike and explore new walking paths. Listen to your favorite music or get books on tape and listen while you are moving.

Remember, any amount of physical activity has some health benefits. Overall, you just want to move more and sit less. Start where you are with what you have. Find fun, comfortable movement. Physical activity is part of self-care. Feel the difference!

For more information on finding enjoyable ways to move your body see HAES Life-Enhancing Movement – Waistline Dietitian

Mindful Eating and healthy eating habits to start for more happy birthdays

Applying the 80% rule: Stop eating when you are 80% full. * “Hara hahi bu” the Okinawan mantra said before meals reminds them to stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full. Paying attention to hunger and fullness cues and listening to cuing could be the differences between losing weight and gaining weight. People in the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal later in the afternoon and do not eat late at night. 4,7

Mindful eating principles

Each principle can be attempted individually or collectively with small, simple changes.

  • Minimize distractions while eating and turn off electronics. Take time to relax and enjoy the moment of eating without outside distractions.
  • Take a moment to clear your head and appreciate the food that you are about to be eating. Practicing gratitude and offering thanks before you eat the meal
  • Savoring foods, tastes, and textures
  • Experiencing food with your 5 senses. Take note of the appearance, aroma, texture, flavor, and sounds of your food.
  • Eating slowly and chewing more thoroughly taking smaller bites or setting down utensils between bites.
  • Paying close attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues while eating
  • Acknowledging your feelings or responses to various foods without judgment
Mindful eating helps us reconnect with our innate inner wisdom about hunger and satiety and learn to trust our body signals and reinforces self-care, self-care and self-respect.

When beginning mindful eating take a moment and check in with your body for the first bites and then again midway through and then towards the end of your eating experience. Consider the following:

How am I feeling? Stressed, anxious, relaxed, tired, in a hurry?

What is motivating me to eat? Am I physically hungry? Am I craving something specific? Am I looking for comfort? Or am I bored? Am I eating now because I don’t have time to eat later?

Where has this food come from? Take time to appreciate the privilege of having access to food.

What do I enjoy about this food? What do I dislike about this food? Is this food satisfying to me?

How hungry or full do I feel? Have I had enough, or should I go back for more?

How does this food or meal make me feel physically and emotionally?

For more information on recognizing hunger cues see Hunger VS Appetite: 13 Tips To Tame Your Appetite – Waistline Dietitian

How to recognize your hunger and fullness cues: What are the true signs of hunger

Hunger:

  • Feeling comes on gradually.
  • You haven’t eaten in a few hours.
  • Physiological need.
  • May have headache, shaky, dizziness, stomach grumbling, feel moody, fatigue, weakness.
  • Instinctively protects you from starvation.
  • You are open to eating a variety of foods.
  • You feel satisfied when full.
  • You are mindful of your meal.
  • Hunger diminishes after eating.
  • You are not likely to feel guilty or ashamed.

For additional information regarding Mindful Eating and Intuitive Eating see Mindful Eating VS Intuitive Eating – Waistline Dietitian

Eating more plants: Plant slant and the Mediterranean meal plan

Consuming lots of plants. 😊 A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fiber, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and whole foods have been shown to be protective against inflammation and chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and certain cancers. 26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38

Some studies show a connection between the Mediterranean diet and longevity, as well as lower risk of heart disease.

Adopting the Mediterranean Diet is more than just a new way of eating. You are also adopting the Mediterranean lifestyle. How you eat and live is just as important as what you are eating.

More than half of your plate should include non-starchy vegetables. Fresh or frozen fruit, whole grains, lean poultry, fish and water or unsweet tea
  • Meals are not rushed. Slow down. Take time to savor meals. Eat joyfully and mindfully. Stop and evaluate the smell, taste, and texture of the food. How is the food making you feel? Sit down. Eat at the table.
  • Surround yourself with family and friends. Turn off electronics. Sharing meals is widely part of the Mediterranean culture. Eating is as much about the company as it is about the food.
  • Put away the distractions, electronics, phones, and turn to the activity of enjoying your meal. Take time to check into your hunger and fullness cues.

What foods to include when you adopt the Mediterranean meal plan

  1. Olive Oil. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat and is less prone to oxidation. It is also high in antioxidants. Antioxidants can reverse and protect the damage to the cells in our body.
  2. Fish. Fish is very high in long chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Omega-3 fatty acids may help to lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, slow the development of plaque in arteries, reduce the likelihood of a heart attack and stroke.
  3. Nuts. Nuts are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids and contain fiber, protein, and trace minerals.
  4. Fruits and vegetables. In addition to vitamins, minerals, and water, fruits and vegetables contain fiber and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are antioxidants, that aid the function of the immune system, reduce inflammation, protect cells from damage. Both the soluble and insoluble fiber is crucial for fostering a healthy gut microbiome. This can help you have enough good bacteria in your gut to prevent disease and keep your digestion working well and gut healthy.
  5. Legumes and beans. These are a good source of fiber. They will also help keep your gut healthier and have been shown to lower rates of cancer and decrease inflammation.
  6. Wine. Wine is very rich in phytochemicals, like fruits and olive oil. When consumed in moderation it can counteract oxidative stress and provide antiatherogenic properties. Maximum 5 ounces for women and 10 ounces for men a day with food.  The polyphenol called resveratrol found in wine is also present in grapes, grape juice, peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries, and dark chocolate.
  7. Whole grains. Whole grains are rich in nutrients including fiber, protein, B vitamins, antioxidants.

For more information on how to adopt a Mediterranean diet see How To Adopt A Mediterranean Diet – Waistline Dietitian; Mediterranean Diet 101: 40 Tips To Get You Started – Waistline Dietitian; Mediterranean Diet Pros and Cons – Waistline Dietitian

Meaning: Healthy habits to start for finding your why. What gets you out of bed in the morning

Each of us has a unique role in this world. What is yours?

If you struggle to find your purpose, consider writing a personal mission statement. This statement summarizes all of things that get you revved up and excited. It includes your values, dreams, and convictions. There’s no right or wrong way to approach this. Just have fun!

Many studies show that feeling like you’re contributing to society and keeping active in your community all contribute to a longer life. So, if working makes you feel good, stick with it! Maybe volunteering is your thing? Possibly not retiring, but just reducing your workload as you age would be healthy.

Knowing your sense of purpose has been shown to help add years to your life! 4,7

Finding your tribe

Make a point of staying connected to friends and family members near and far. Being in a positive, committed relationship can add years to your life expectancy. Think of maintaining relationships as a form of self-care that may add years to your life.

Foster social bonds with people of similar values (such as church groups, or people who share your interests or hobbies.) Chose social outlets that support healthy behavior. Positive habits or activities are easy to transmit. Habits are “contagious” so choose social supports that have habits you want to adopt. Finding the right community.  Finding your tribe. Finding a social circle that supports healthy behaviors.

It’s not about having it ALL, but about honoring what you value the most and spending time doing the things you truly value.

Find your purpose

Don’t retire, or just don’t completely end your meaningful work.

Consider volunteering in an area you feel strong connection to.

Find a hobby that brings you joy.

Spiritual health

Faith or a quiet spiritual practice. Meditation or reading. Identify what is important and valuable to you. When your daily habits match your values, you will have a more meaningful life. When you identify your values, you can decide how to include them into your daily habits to help you live purpose driven fulfilled life. Belonging to a faith-based community can add years to your life.

It’s not about having it ALL, but about honoring what you value the most and spending time doing the things you truly value.

Conclusion

Adopting healthy habits takes planning. Make healthy choices more accessible, enjoyable and rewarding. Create new rituals that include things you enjoy doing along with your new habits. Find partners that will encourage you and help keep you accountable. The goal is to make healthy habits that are sustainable that are the easy choice and ALMOST AN UNAVOIDABLE CHOICE.

Co-author Dr. Michael Drew

After firefighting, Michael Drew completed a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from St. John Fisher College, and a Doctorate in Counselor Education from the University of Georgia. Michael’s clinical experience includes serving in a Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment Program, Community Mental Health Center, and currently working in a Specialized Police Unit.

References

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  28. Dominguez LJ, Di Bella G, Veronese N, Barbagallo M. Impact of Mediterranean Diet on Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases and Longevity. Nutrients. 2021; 13(6):2028. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13062028
  29. Dominguez, L.J.; Di Bella, G.; Veronese, N.; Barbagallo, M. Impact of Mediterranean Diet on Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases and Longevity. Nutrients 202113, 2028. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13062028
  30. Norman, Kristina, and Susanne Klaus. “Veganism, aging and longevity: new insight into old concepts.” Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care 23.2 (2020): 145-150.
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  32. Kiefte-de Jong JC, Mathers JC, Franco OH. Nutrition and healthy ageing: the key ingredients. Proc Nutr Soc. 2014 May;73(2):249-59. doi: 10.1017/S0029665113003881. Epub 2014 Feb 6. PMID: 24503212.
  33. Tosti, Valeria, Beatrice Bertozzi, and Luigi Fontana. “Health benefits of the Mediterranean diet: metabolic and molecular mechanisms.” The Journals of Gerontology: Series A 73.3 (2018): 318-326.
  34. Ventriglio, Antonio, et al. “Mediterranean diet and its benefits on health and mental health: a literature review.” Clinical practice and epidemiology in mental health: CP & EMH 16.Suppl-1 (2020): 156.
  35. Gantenbein, Katherina V., and Christina Kanaka-Gantenbein. “Mediterranean Diet as an Antioxidant: The Impact on Metabolic Health and Overall Wellbeing.” Nutrients 13.6 (2021): 1951.
  36. Sikalidis, Angelos K., Anita H. Kelleher, and Aleksandra S. Kristo. “Mediterranean Diet.” Encyclopedia 1.2 (2021): 371-387.
  37. Tosti, Valeria, Beatrice Bertozzi, and Luigi Fontana. “Health benefits of the Mediterranean diet: metabolic and molecular mechanisms.” The Journals of Gerontology: Series A 73.3 (2018): 318-326.
  38. Merra, Giuseppe, et al. “Influence of mediterranean diet on human gut microbiota.” Nutrients 13.1 (2021): 7.
The purpose of this blog is to share information and not to replace medical advice. Please always follow up with your medical provider. www.waistlinedietition. Picture of pineapple.

2 thoughts on “Healthy Habits to Start for More Happy Birthdays!”

  1. This is absolutely fantastic! You two really cover all the bases. It’s such a mind/body connection… I need to remember all of the pieces… especially to be kind to myself during the process. I’m looking forward to feeling better in my own skin. I can’t wait for the next installment! Thank you!

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