How to Live a Long, Happy and Healthy Life - Without Moving to a Blue Zone

Updated: June 14, 2012

Tania Dakka

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What? You've never heard of a Blue Zone?

Don't worry, most people haven't. These are regions of the world where the people live to be 100 years old or more and they do it happily and healthily.

The cultures in Blue Zones are polar opposites to what we know here in the west. Yeah, I know there are exceptions to this rule, but most societies of the west know one way to live: as fast as possible.

In our culture, we're wired for success and stress. We think the harder we push, the better we'll be.

So, we struggle to get everything done.

We run to work. Fight with the boss. Eat frozen food or drive thru for lunch. Pull our hair as the guy in the cubicle next to us rambles on about his next big break. And then go home to face the stress of everyone else's demands on us, have more frozen food or delivered pizza for dinner. Then, when the kids are in bed, we crash in our chairs and refuse to move.

This is no way to live. The stress, the pseudofood, and the lack of exercise are killing us.


But, it doesn't have to be that way.

Learn From the Best

People in the Blue Zones of the world are experts at living fulfilling lives, eating nourishing food, and getting plenty of exercise.

And you can do it, too. (It's not easy, but it is do-able - even in the West.)

Life as a Zoner isn't a breeze, but it is pleasurable - because they make it that way. Because they see it that way.

They see what they have as gifts - even if they don't have the newest car in town or the biggest diamond on their finger.

They see the people beside them as treasures and want to spend time with them.

They eat whole foods that have been cooked by their own hands or the hands of their loved ones.

And stress isn't part of their vocabulary. They manage their environment instead of letting it manage them.

You can, too.

Make Your Life A Blue Zone

You don't have to move to those parts of the world where life is cultivated and nourished. You can do it in your home - today.

Declare your home a Blue Zone with these 4 steps and start living again.

1. Blue Zones Foods:

These Zones are spread out across the globe, so native foods are different from region to region. But, one thing they have in common is: they're all whole foods. And more specifically, their diets are mostly plant-based with healthy servings of fish, nuts, seeds, oils and whole grains. Meat and sugars are used only sparingly.

To make your home a Blue Zone, declare it a No Processed Zone. Stick to whole foods you cook yourself. Processed foods contain far too many dangerous ingredients that our bodies aren't built to use and they also increase the likelihood of diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Blue Zone Action: Set up a biweekly menu that's made of meals based on the Blue Zone Yes Foods.

There are several tricks that can help you make time to cook:

  1. Cook in the morning before work for the day
  2. Cook in the evening for the next day
  3. Cook two or three meals at a time (This is my go-to solution)
  4. Cook and freeze for later
You can find great Blue Zone recipes all over the net, but here's what's in my fridge or pantry at all times: hummus, salad (dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice), fresh fruits and veggies, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, all natural cheeses. We stick to the Mediterranean flavors because that's what we love. Find the tastes your family loves and grow from there.

My Get 'Er Done Secret: I always carry nuts and fruits with me for our snacks (because, you know, kids are ALWAYS ready to eat).

2. Moves for a Blue Zone Body:

In these regions, people don't exercise per se because their daily activities incorporate LOTS of movement from walking just about everywhere to manual labor like washing clothes and farming - without the benefit of fancy machinery. Unlike here, where we sit at the computer all day, so we have to seek exercise, just as our ancestors had to seek food so they got their exercise in daily. Being fit is part of keeping diseases at bay and increasing your life span by three years.

Blue Zone Actions:

  1. Make a commitment to do a minimum of 15 minutes of exercise every day (whether you want to or not)
  2. Do exercises you enjoy
  3. Play upbeat music while you do it (unless you're doing yoga - that'd probably screw up your rhythm)
  4. Make it YOUR time to be with you
  5. Reframe the word exercise in a context that makes it a pleasurable idea for you
I know it sounds like a lot to have to do it everyday, but our ancestors had to find food everyday. (See?)

3. Blue Zone Stress Management:

Zone cultures don't know stress the way we do. They don't freak out over every little detail when something goes wrong. But it doesn't mean they don't get upset - it's just not a way of life for them. Managing stress is an absolute necessity when it comes to staying healthy and living a long life. Chronic exposure to it deteriorates the body and sets the stage for diseases.

Blue Zone Action:

  1. Train yourself to be mindful of your physical responses to situations.
  2. When you feel your body tensing and your muscles tightening, close your eyes and take deep breaths. Inhale for 2 counts, hold it for 4, then release for 4 and repeat until you feel the anger and stress exhale with your breath
  3. Practice some form of meditation each day to help you learn to be mindful of your physiological responses to life

4. Rebuild Connections:

Lastly, the family/friend units of the Blue Zones are super important. They spend time together; they eat together; they support each other. Studies show that these kinds of bonds are essential to longevity. Cultivate your family unit again. Make much needed connections with friends you may have lost touch with.

Blue Zone Action:

  1. Make meal time family time - no exceptions (and if you don't have family, find what makes your it most enjoyable for you and do it every day, for example, play soothing music or a sit at a particular setting to reap the rewards of a relaxing meal)
  2. Make meal time a no fighting/no stress zone - We have three precious babes so the competition's high in our house, and this non-negotiable
  3. Make it a point to socialize every day, whether in person, online, or on the phone
Making your home a Blue Zone will make you an expert at living a happy, healthy, and long life.

What actions are you going to take to extend your life and make it better today?

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