If someone offered you a guaranteed way of ensuring a longer, healthier and happier life, you’d be crazy not to take heed.

 

That said, I’m not sure anything worth having is ever quite that easy and while there will always be disagreement over what the right and wrong way to go about a healthy lifestyle is, the most important thing is finding something that works for you.

I love to keep fit, eat well and maintain a good balance of health and indulgence. Especially since having the babies, this has become an area I really want to give some attention to – not only is Virgin Strive Challenge 2016 fast approaching, but Freddie and I both want Etta and Artie to grow up immersed in a healthy lifestyle, making choices that will keep them well and happy. 

One man, who has spent over a decade thinking about how to achieve this, is author of New York Times Bestselling ‘The Blue Zones Solution’, Dan Buettner. Dan’s research with National Geographic is all around longevity, and in his book, he identifies five places around the world where people live verifiably longest and healthiest lives.

Just the other day my family and I had the pleasure of joining Dan for lunch. It was a fascinating discussion, and I came away brimming with new ideas to try out – we even went for a big bike ride after lunch!

But before you roll your eyes and run for the hills, Dan approves of coffee, shuns juicing and condones red wine… which is surely enough balance to keep reading?

Image from Blue Zones

If you’re wondering what it is about Dan’s advice that catches my attention more than others, I would say first and foremost that, he doesn’t promote the regular ‘eat less, run more’ scenario – here are my main three take aways from our meet:

  1. Eat a predominantly plant-based diet, with a cup of beans and pulses (no more than two portions of fish a week and one portion of white meat.)
     
  2. Keep good company – if you surround yourself with active, happy people, you are far more likely to be active and happy yourself! If your three best friends are obese, you’re 150 per cent more likely to be overweight yourself. 
     
  3. Have a clear purpose in life. People who can articulate their purpose live about seven years longer than people who can’t. 
Image from Blue Zones

Dan recently featured in a piece with the New York Times too, where he shared more tried and tested longevity tips. My favourite line from the piece was,

“Dan, do any of the Blue Zones people eat kale salad?” Mr. Solomon asked.
“No,” Mr. Buettner replied. “They eat food that they enjoy."

All Dan’s tips, even when entirely out of my comfort zone, have inspired me to rethink my relationship with food, health and how I lead my life. The second and third take aways caught my attention in particular – I love that the message stems further than simply what we put in our mouths and how many steps we take. The importance of surrounding yourself with smart, fun and positive people is something I have experienced first-hand and can certainly vouch for. 

Image from Jack Brockway

You also won’t find better inspiration in life than having a deeper overarching purpose – it’s what builds compassion and helps you grow.

I’d also recommend taking a look at his TED Talk above – it’s a fascinating watch.

Here’s to health, happiness and longevity!

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