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Well folks, it happens to the best of us… Hard to believe, but I turned 60 on August 24 and, I must say, it is a little hard to relate to that number. I am sure many of us are feeling younger and healthier as we age, and the image of being old at 60 just doesn’t compute anymore.
I also realize that many have been struggling with their health along the way and so, since it is my birthday, I want to share some of my favorite personal health strategies that I feel have made me healthy, kept me healthy and promise to keep me healthy as I enter the second half of my life.
While I am incredibly grateful to feel so healthy at 60, I wouldn’t say I have the strongest genetics for health. For example, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure at age 27, and this summer, my 2-week average blood pressure was 104/60, which I am so thrilled about – all on no medications of course. I battled heartburn in college, and after doing many overly aggressive cleanses in my early twenties, I screwed up my digestion. Today, I am so happy to report that I have never digested better. I started getting prostate-related low back pain in my early thirties, and today, both my low back and prostate are better than ever – and as you will read below, my blood sugar has been a challenge. It is my hope that some of my favorite health strategies may help you, as they have helped me ward off my weak links. All of this so we can all be healthier at 60!
Note: Before I begin, I feel the most important tip I can share is to be happy, find the joy in everyday life and play regularly. Don’t stress over money – I am sure everyone reading this will die with some leftover money in the bank. And most importantly, remember that no one can take away your happiness – we manage to do that all by ourselves.
#1. Don’t Sweep Stuff Under the Rug
Fortunately, I found my passion in the field of health and have been able to defuse my genetic weak links or predispositions, described above, before they fully expressed themselves. So don’t sweep stuff under the rug. If you have a minor concern, address it as early as possible in the most natural way possible. With over 700 free self-help articles and videos up on my website, hopefully you can find some natural solutions early in the game. I feel so blessed to be able to apply this healthcare wisdom today in my own life – years before such strategies find their way into your MD’s office, if ever.
#2. Keep Moving
Humans do not have the genetics to be sedentary, so exercise and yoga are major tenants in my daily life. There have been some interesting articles suggesting that it is more dangerous to exercise intensely when you are young and only moderately as an adult, compared to enjoying moderate exercise throughout your entire life. If you build big muscles in your twenties, as I did as a triathlete, ski racer and college tennis player, and then stop exercising as intensely, it becomes more difficult for the body to pump blood into and waste out of those big dense muscles as you age.
So now, I exercise every day. This includes 10 minutes on an elliptical machine and 10 minutes on the treadmill, followed by weight training and stretching. I incorporate my 12-minute Workout for the cardio portions of my workout, and do family yoga 3 times a week. Two of my daughters are yoga teachers, so we have family yoga nights after work.
We also live on 4 acres in rural Boulder County, and I am the groundskeeper, along with any one of our 6 kids who I catch being bored. I actually believe tinkering, weeding, trimming and gardening in the yard is my healthiest activity of the day, because it more closely matches our genetics for movement and health.
#3. Eating Less
There is good science that suggests that the average American eats more than they need, and that overeating is linked to weight gain, obesity and a whole host of chronic and degenerative health concerns. (1) I believe the biggest side effect or side benefit of me rebooting my digestion over the years with the Colorado Cleanse and herbal support has been that I simply do not need as much food as I once did. While I always say start with 3 meals a day with no snacks, over time, I found that I really only needed 2 meals a day. So currently, I start my day with a cup of herbal tea with a teaspoon of coconut oil for breakfast. Then, I will have my largest meal in the afternoon between 12 and 2, depending on the day, followed by a light supper as early in the day as possible.
In a perfect world, I would rather eat a breakfast and a lunch and skip dinner, but with a big family and young kids still in the house, we feel that a sit-down dinner with the whole family is very important. I think the family bonding time over dinner far outweighs the benefits of a no-supper lifestyle. That said, if I want to shed a few pounds, I just start skipping supper for a week or so. You can learn more on my weight balancing plan in my free Ayurvedic Weight Balancing eBook.
#4. Eating Clean
We have all grown up in a world where avoiding processed foods has been next too impossible. Today, we have healthier options and way more science and logic that makes eating clean very doable. Jack LaLanne used to say, “If it has a wrapper, don’t eat it.” To be precise, when looking at a label, if it has any oils that have been cooked or baked, ingredients that seem foreign to you or added sugar, consider it a processed food. For example, if you choose to eat bread, the ingredients should look something like: wheat, salt, water, starter. Read much more on this in my new book, Eat Wheat. Regarding oils, cooking with repeatedly heated vegetable oils has been linked to blood pressure, cholesterol and circulation health concerns. (2) >>> Read more on this in my article, “Don’t Use These Oils.”
#5. Eating Seasonally
When you begin to understand how our digestion works, much of it’s success depends on the microbial “changing of the guard.” In other words, the microbes in the soil dramatically shift with each season, and the foods we eat in-season deliver those seasonal microbes into our digestive tract, where they offer critical health benefits for that season. (3) This makes eating organic foods very important, as the lion’s share of microbes on conventional foods has been killed off by pesticides.
I make a concerted effort to eat more berries and greens in the spring, more fruits and veggies in the summer, and more dense foods like beets, sweet potatoes, nuts, seeds and animal proteins in the winter. I like the advice of the centenarian culture, who eat only 10% of their diet as meat and naturally eat more fat and protein in the winter.
In addition to my book, The 3-Season Diet, I publish a free monthly seasonal eating guide to make it easier for us to eat more seasonal foods throughout the entire year. It is called The 3-Season Diet Challenge – sign up here!
#6. Managing Sugar
I have always had a sweet tooth and it is still hard for me to completely avoid sugar. So to help my pesky sweet tooth, I take my own blood sugar almost every morning to help keep me on track. If I eat poorly, my blood sugar tends to creep up, and if I follow the no added sugar rule and eat light and less starch at night, my blood sugar does really well. It is my own little bio-feedback device. By keeping an eye on my blood sugar, I stay motivated to eat well, avoid sugar and to not snack. Getting your blood sugar regulated can be tricky, so for details on how to do this, please read my free blood sugar eBook, Blood Sugar Secrets for Health and Longevity.
#7. Making Rest a Priority
It is very easy for me to get a second wind around 10PM and dig into my computer about some health topic, and then before I know it, it is after midnight. One of the things that I can say I am happy about being 60, is that it really does come with a little wisdom. Now, I make a point of getting to bed before 10PM and getting up as close to or before the sunrise as possible. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep is a scientific requirement, but when you get the sleep is just as important. Going to bed late and sleeping in can disturb your circadian clocks and, over time, cause weight gain, less physical activity and other health concerns. (4)
#8. Family Time
While having six children wasn’t actually planned by my wife and I, it has been far and away the biggest blessing in our lives. With two still in college and the last of the bunch now 13 and 16, I think there is a psychological imprint within me that says something like, “You can’t get old, your job as a father is still far from done.” With a big family, the choice of either family or career was never difficult. My wife and I were outnumbered 3 to 1, and being there as a hands-on dad with my 24/7 wife was a no-brainer. Being all together or even partly together as a family, or plucking one out of the mix for one-on-one outings are still my very favorite things to do.
#9. Pulling Back the Bow
If you have read any of my books, articles or videos, you may have noticed an underlying theme that weaves them all together. Using the archery analogy, when you pull back the bow, the arrow must be held perfectly still. Any slight movement of the arrow creates a massive change in the direction the arrow flies. In the same way, the human mind evolved over millions of years entrained with the stillness and silence of nature. Functioning from that stillness with the bow pulled all the way back was the norm. Today, we are pushing into new evolutionary terrain without that deep connection to nature and that silence. We work longer, stress out more, and accomplish way more in a day than our ancestors did. To mitigate the stress of our new higher capacity, re-training the brain to be still is a critical requirement for health and longevity today. I truly believe that meditation has trained my mind to be able to handle stress more or less like water off a duck’s back. I regularly find time to meditate, take a hike in the forest, or just find peace during a busy day. The goal of meditation is to take that calm with you into a busy and hectic day.
I have written many articles on meditation, and have even written a meditation course called the Transformational Awareness Technique (TAT). Check it out and learn the first two meditations for free.
#10. All My Ayurvedic Stuff
I might be a little over the top in this category, because I do take many Ayurvedic herbs each day. These days, I focus mostly on supporting the health of my intestinal skin and the function of my lymphatic system. Before this regime, I spent years focusing on my upper digestion, stomach, liver and gallbladder –and these regimes change seasonally. So, here is what I currently take:
Note: The herbs I take are the whole organic plant, leaf or root, dried and ground and capsules made of vegetable fiber. They are not extracts or concentrates, they are all whole foods that have been traditionally eaten for thousands of years as foods. I know that my diet is not diverse enough to get all the diverse microbes that we require for optimal health, so I supplement with the most natural, microbial-rich, diverse foods sources I know of – 100% organic, raw, whole herbs that are targeted to my weak links or for seasonal microbial support.
My Current Plan
- Amalaki – To support the health of the intestinal skin: 1 capsule 2x/day after food.
- Brahmi Brain – To support brain health, brain lymphatic drainage and intestinal skin: 1 capsule 2x/day after food.
- Neem – An herbal probiotic that knocks out bad microbes, supports beneficial microbes and healthy intestinal skin: 1 capsule 2x/day after food.
- Turmeric Plus – To support liver, brain and intestinal health: 1 capsule 2x/day after food.
- Manjistha – To support the lymphatic system and provide antioxidants: 1 capsule 2x/day after food.
- Lymph Cleanse – A tincture to scrub the intestinal lymph: 30 drops a day.
- Fish Oils – To support the health of the brain, intestinal skin and heart: 1 per day.
- Liquid Sun Vitamin D3 – I truly believe that getting my vitamin D3 levels above 50 ng/mL gave a big boost to regulating my blood pressure. I also remember my joints feeling 10 years younger when I first boosted my vitamin D3 levels. For most folks, 5000 IU a day in the winter and 2-3000 IU a day in the summer is needed. Regular testing is key to ensure correct dosing.
- Elim I – To tone and lubricate the gut with soluble fibers from slippery elm and licorice along with triphala to tone the large intestine: 2 capsules in the evening.
- Bacopa – Has constituents that have been shown to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factors levels in the blood (5), alongside with turmeric and the ashwagandha (6, 7) which do the same. >>> Read more on this in my article, “3 Herbs to Boost BDNF.” This means they support the body’s natural process of building new brain cells, and support mental clarity and brain health: 1 capsule in the AM.
Note: This regime will change in the fall, and again in the spring.
Finally, I am a big believer in daily nasya (nasal inhalation of herbalized oils), abhyanga (oil massage with herbalized oils – I use LifeSpa’s Lymphatic Massage Oil), oil pulling (swishing the mouth with herbalized oils in the morning – I use LifeSpa’s Swish Oil Pulling Therapy) and ear oiling (dripping herbalized oil in the ears and then giving yourself an ear massage – I use LifeSpa’s Nasya Oil).
I know this sounds crazy, but I do all these in the shower and it just adds a couple of minutes to my day.
For more on my “Healthier at 60” tips, please watch my 20 minute mini-seminar, above, on my favorite longevity strategies.