That’s it. No more excuses.
I hate to break it to you, but a study by Northwestern University found that, generally speaking, a healthy lifestyle, not genes, has the biggest impact on determining cardiovascular health. According to the study, a low-risk profile means:
- low cholesterol
- low blood pressure
- no smoking
- no diabetes
- regular physical activity
- a healthy diet and not overweight.
No suprises here, but why is heart disease still a top killer? Because most people still don’t want to follow a healthy lifestyle. They’ve incorporated poor lifestyle habits at an early age, which has created bad habits. As we all know, bad habits are very hard to break.
So what does a healthy lifestyle look like? Here are 5 questions for you to answer:
- Do you have strong, positive social connections, including family, friends, business colleagues, religious/spiritual organizations, charitable organizations, etc. Do the people around you boost you up and encourage you?
- Do you exercise daily? Are you doing a minimum of 10 minutes a day, even if it’s just a walk outside?
- What do you do for stress management? Do you meditate at least 10 minutes meditate? As I’ve written, studies show that a regular meditation practice can actually change the wiring in our brains. Do you do yoga? How connected are you with nature? Is your home organized or chaotic?
- How often do you express gratitude? Gratitude enables us to appreciate what we have and helps bring us back to our core.
- Do you eat a healthy diet of most unprocessed foods? Do you eliminate sugar as much as possible? Do you consume approximately 60% of your diet as fruits and vegetables?
As we know, when we’re under stress, due to living in an abusive relationship, financially challenged and/or have experienced a loss or major change, we do everything we can to find some relief from it. Often that can mean turning to alcohol, drugs, smoking, etc., which studies have shown can be even more detrimental and make us feel even more miserable.
The Grant Study, one of the longest-running longitudinal studies of human development, followed 268 Harvard graduates for 75 years starting in 1938. Reseaches monitored a range of psychological, anthropological, and physical traits — from personality type to IQ to drinking habits to family relationships to “hanging length of his scrotum”—in an effort to determine what factors contribute most strongly to human flourishing.
Among the findings, “Alcoholism is a disorder of great destructive power,” according to George Vaillant, who directed the study for more than three decades. Alcoholism was strongly correlated with neurosis and depression (which tended to follow alcohol abuse, rather than precede it); and — together with associated cigarette smoking — it was the single greatest contributor to their early morbidity and death.
I understand that many of us have deep seated habits that are incredibly difficult to change. I suggest taking one small step at a time. For example, take a walk in the woods without a cell phone and make yourself feel every movement in every step you take. Another could be committing to drinking one organic juice per day.
I am happy to help you with suggestions to get yourself on track to feel empowered and, well, happy! You are never alone. Please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, I included Robert Waldinger’s Ted Talk on What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness