Achieve Lasting Health and Happiness: The Mountain of Youth
Are you – like so many other smart, savvy women – forever searching for that fountain of youth? You know there’s no magic pill or quick fix, but you can’t help but be drawn to new health trends. You reluctantly try the latest diet that promises to melt your pounds away. You sign up for the hot new fitness class that guarantees you’ll be in tip-top shape in no time. But so far nothing makes you feel healthier, younger or more energized.
That’s because the key to a healthy lifestyle and youthful feeling goes well beyond diet and exercise trends. It takes many different components and a whole lot of effort to find your ideal life balance. And the work is never done. Finding your balance – and maintaining it – is a process that you must work on every day.
It’s a process I call the Mountain of Youth.
The Mountain is made up of rocks and boulders, each representing areas of life that contribute to your overall fitness. If all of these rocks and boulders are secure and you’ve got your footing (and a safety harness!), you can slowly but surely make your way to the top.
Not sure where to start? Here are some “boulders” to focus on and some easy action steps you can take today:
Eat more plants. Fill your plate with lots and lots of green plants – spinach, kale, broccoli, green beans, lettuce, peas… the list goes on and on. Add grains, beans, nuts and seeds to your meals. Cook with healthy oils. Snack on fruits.
Hydrate. Drink at least half your body weight of water in ounces daily.
Exercise. There is nothing like moving your body to make you feel good and get you into balance. Move every single day. Walk, run, bike, practice yoga or Pilates. Don’t follow trends; trends can block your progress. Find a form of exercise you most enjoy and do it mindfully. Think about how your body feels before, during and after. Regular exercise is the number one detox.
Seek beauty and joy. Find the beauty and joy that is all around you. Put down your phone and take a few minutes to appreciate nature and the joy it brings. Be grateful for what you have. Find the beauty in people, animals and your environment. Pay attention. Enjoy this beautiful planet we live on.
Get in touch with your spiritual side. This doesn’t have to be organized religion, but it can be. For some, it is practicing kindness, being grateful for life and feeling a sense of a higher power, like in meditation. Find a practice that resonates for you. You will see yourself feeling nourished in profound ways when you discover your spiritual connection.
Live with compassion. This is the biggest one for me. We all say we are compassionate beings, but we need to spread this compassion to all living things. It goes well beyond “us” – by being compassionately aware we could possibly save the planet for our future generations. So how do we do that? Be more conscious of where your food comes from. Understand how your clothes are made. Choose stores that offer vegan styles. Making thoughtful lifestyle decisions that honor all living creatures on this planet will make your compassionate heart flourish.
Get your creative juices flowing. Creativity is an important piece to finding your balance. Creativity comes in all forms – art, music, dance and more. Look within. Cooking is creative, as is gardening or organizing a party or event. Write in a journal your thoughts and feelings and your creative energy will grow with each day.
Do what you love. Hopefully you are in a career (or have hobbies) you love, but if not, look for the hidden passions in what you do and be open to new opportunity. There is much truth in the old saying, “do what you love and love what you do!”
Dine in. Especially for those of you living in big cities, like NYC and LA, this can be a hard one. But if you make just half of your meals at home, you will reap the health benefits. Knowing where your food comes from and how it’s prepared can make all the difference in the way you feel and look. Always cook fresh with organic ingredients when possible and include lots of fruits and vegetables. Not only will cooking at home keep you healthier, but it will also bring on positive feelings.
Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! It can sometimes seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the amazing things we want to, and sleep is usually the first area of our life to suffer. I get it. But if you’re feeling tired or just “off,” listen to your body and find more time for sleep. I promise you’ll see long-term health benefits.
Everyone’s Mountain of Youth looks different. Identifying your own rocks and boulders and finding ways to balance them all together is part of the process. It’s not easy, but getting to the top and seeing that incredible view – a happy, healthy life – is the wonderful reward.
Irene Rizzo has been keeping people motivated to stay fit and healthy for more than 30 years through Pilates training and holistic health coaching.