Secrets to a Longer Life: Start By Controlling Weight

HealthGal Health Guide
  • Time magazine recently devoted an issue to living longer. Showcased in the article were a group of individuals over age 100, in other words centenarians, and their habits had some commonalities. Most walked or exercised most days of the week and were also active during the day. Most did have treats and wine, but sprinkled through the week, not everyday. Though their diets had differences most ate till they began "to feel full," at which point they would stop eating, regardless of how much was left on the plate; none had relationships with food. One sentence in the series of articles really stood out to me. The quote was, "The first step to longer life spans is to get back some of what we lose by living our overfed, over-stressed, under-active lifestyles." I'm going to let you ponder that for a moment. Because we do, to some extent, control our destiny. Sure DNA lays a map or the template. But our actions then direct how that DNA will behave. And frankly, many of us are messing up the vast opportunities we have to make healthy lifestyle choices, and even the re-dos (cyclical dieting, starting and stopping exercise programs) that our amazing bodies allow us. Because we are a society of overeaters, under-exercisers and we complicate those two behaviors by allowing stress to make more and exercise less. The good news? You have the power to change.

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    What do we know about people who control their weight?
    They tend to organize and plan their menus
    They shop for food with lists
    They eat meals at a table without distractions
    They plate their food before they come to the table
    They control TV time
    They plan treats
    They make time for exercise
    They do not use food for rewards
    They eat more slowly
    They recognize that their health depends at least partially on dietary choices


    This list may seem a bit overwhelming at first, so why not choose one or two habits that you can initially embrace and keep in place for a minimum of 21 days. Then add one additional habit every week or two. Many of us try an "all or nothing approach" which may work for some people, but is not a good fit for most others. Just like there is no one size fits all diet, there is no single way to shift lifestyle habits. Most people find that if they can shift habits more slowly, they are not as overwhelmed or daunted. So give the "slow go" lifestyle habit shift a try and see if it works for you. And realize that one of the rewards or benefits may indeed be a longer and better quality of life.



Published On: August 30, 2010