Get Out of Your Own Way – and Get Healthier Now

I just returned from Serious Business, the leading conference organized by Neill Corporation, and the brainchild of Debra Neill Baker and Carol Augusto. This year’s theme was “Get out of your own way,” a powerful reminder that despite our best intentions, we are sometimes our own worst enemies…  

One of the keynote speakers was Ben Greenfield, who spoke about habits to enhance health and longevity, as reported in the book Blue Zones. This resonated with me particularly strongly as I recently read the book Ikigai, which touches on the same theme, and am in already struggling to keep some of my New Year’s resolutions.

The list of healthy habits below may not be new information, but I know I get in my own way, and needed the reminder. Here are Ben Greenfield’s healthful recommendations for cleaner, better, longer living.

  1. Don’t smoke. (If not for longer living, do this for better skin)
  2. Avoid sugar and vegetable oil.
  3. Eat dark colored fruits and vegetables, like purple cabbage and blueberries. (And put them on your skin too!)
  4. Eat legumes.
  5. Implement 12-16 hours of intermittent fasting in your routine, to help your body “clean up the trash.” That may mean giving up breakfast…
  6. Go to the gym, yes. But beyond that, incorporate low impact movement every day. (Walking or gardening come to mind) 
  7. Ensure you have a strong sense of community. (When is the last time you called your best friend?) 
  8. Possess a strong life purpose, what the Japanese call “ikigai”
  9. Ruthlessly eliminate the sense of hurry to minimize stress.
  10. Engage in a spiritual discipline, religion, or the belief in a higher power.  
  11. Remain reproductively useful. (Yes, he did tell the audience to have more sex) 
  12. Drink a little every day, mostly wine, preferably red.

The wisdom of Arianna Huffington

Yesterday, during the first few hours of Cosmoprof Las Vegas and PBA Beauty Week, I brushed elbows with Pamela Anderson (BayWatch is actually one of the few TV shows I watched during high school, so this was a big deal), and attended the City of Hope gala, which was MCd by Mario Lopez (while I never watched Saved by the Bell, I did have a crush on him at some point during my teenage years). Yesterday, I thought, was a special day. This morning, however, put yesterday to shame. This morning, I had the opportunity to see and listen to Arianna Huffington. If given the chance to dine with the person of my choice, she would be the one (ahead of Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, or Brad Pitt). This morning, she was absolutely amazing. I am in awe of her. This morning, she made me want to write for her even more, and even better.

This morning, she spoke about the necessity of taking care of our “human capital.” What resonated most with me was her message about sleep, and the ability to disconnect. One of my New Year’s resolutions last year was to develop a better morning routine (my current morning routine involves looking at my emails on my phone about ½ second after my phone alarm goes off, before even being fully awake). Last year, I did not succeed at this resolution. Today, Arianna inspired me to try again.

As a self-proclaimed “sleep evangelist,” she has made her bedroom a technology-free room. When she asked how many of us in the audience slept with our phones next to our bed, most of us raised our hands. I certainly do, sometimes even my phone in my bed. She has made it a habit to give alarm clocks as gifts. I do have an alarm clock, purchased early last year when I made that morning routine resolution – I have yet to learn how to use it.

She also discussed the need to give yourself at least 5 minutes in the morning to “re-enter the world,” before reaching for our various devices and reading the news or emails. This coming from the leader of a 24/7 online news and content company…

She spoke of our need to be constantly connected as “an addiction.” She spoke of the need to unplug and recharge. She spoke of the importance of being able to wonder at life, to notice its beauty. Wondering and noticing are hard to do when constantly connected to a device. How often do I text or check emails while walking, instead of looking around me and noticing the beauty of the sky, of my surroundings? Without even noticing the people around me…

On Tuesday, when I get home, I will charge my phone in a room other than the bedroom, and spend 5 minutes on Wednesday morning thinking about what I am grateful for, and what my goals are for that day. Thank you Arianna. And thank you for signing my copy of On Becoming Fearless!