Live long and Socialize

Eat your vegetables and exercise. Seems simple and has been the so called secret to a long and healthy life. Last spring, I watched an interesting program on parts of the world where the most centenarians are located. Of course, I had assumed they were eating vegetables and exercising. They were…but there was more.

In Okinawa, Japan lives an incredibly high amount of people who are 100 years or older. Amazing! What is it about that part of the world? The climate? The water? I sat open mouthed and watched this program about many healthy active Okinawans 100 years or older, gardening, walking and chatting. I wanted in on the secret so I did some digging.

Their diet is important and probably a huge part of their health. They do not eat anything processed. So there goes that low fat sliced cheese I assumed was best for me because it was low in calories. They consume a plant based diet of plenty of vegetables and fruit, legumes and nuts.  Fish and all the omega 3 it has to offer at least 3-4 times a week. Animal protein is limited or non-existent. They also do not indulge in alcohol very frequently (uh oh my wine may be in jeopardy). Exercise is an important part of their day. Technically, no big surprises. It’s almost as though we seem to know the keys to a long life, it’s just the practicing of it, can sometimes be the challenge. But…there’s more.

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This is where things got interesting to me. There is more then just healthy eating. They practice “ikigai” basically that is the reason why you wake up in the morning. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you should always have a role in life.  It’s a reason for living. A reason for living…think about that. I think that’s amazing, everyone is important to someone. You are a wife or husband, father or mother, daughter or son. We all have a role. This brings me to Moai.

“Moai” is another area of Okinawan life. Pronounced “mo-eye”. This is a group of friends that you see or visit with on a regular basis. It could just be to talk or share or have tea with. It is an important group because it relieves stress and provides companionship. I thought this was fascinating. This social support network is established at a young age as Okinawans are placed in their Moai around the age of 5 by their parents. Often, they refer to their Moai as their Ikigai. They can go through life knowing that they have people who will always be there. An awesome concept, a group of people to share your concerns or stresses with rather then just relying on one or two friends or just one significant other which can place undue stress on them.

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I think the idea is absolutely amazing, I kinda wish we had a similar process here in North America.  Having said that there are probably cultures within North America that do have a similar set up. Then I considered it, and thought hey maybe we do have that key to longevity. When I look closely I think that perhaps we all have a group of sort, or several people that we may connect with on a regular basis. Maybe we all belong to a Moai and we don’t even know it.

Every month I meet up with a group of friends at a local place in town and we have dinner. We share stories, we give advice and we listen. It is honestly a wonderful time, if one of us can’t make it – no hard feelings, they catch us the next month! This is my Moai. The picture depicted of our hands was amusing to take, we had a good time and there were lots of laughs as they wondered “what the heck Maryse was up to now?”

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I have another group, on my phone. We are spread out in different directions across the city but you would not even know it. We all group chat every single day. No lie.  We have the best conversations, share advice, laughter, recipes or sometimes we just say hi. Both of these groups make me very happy, appreciated and loved. So, I understand the feeling that Okinawans must get when they meet up with their group. We may not all live to 100 but we sure can try. Eat well, exercise, and socialize. If you don’t belong to a group, start one, your Moai may be right in front of you. It’s a key to a healthy HAPPY long life. In the meantime,… I’ll work on the wine.

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 Post credit

https://www.caring.com/articles/centenarian-foods-and-okinawan-study

                  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/04/150412-longevity-health-blue-zones-obesity-

 

 

 

Self Care – Taming the Arthritis Monster

My good Doctor has a great sense of humour. She was pretty pleased when she called me in the Mayan Riviera on my 50th birthday to wish me a happy birthday and to casually say “book an appointment for a routine colonoscopy as soon as you get back” “What?!” “Yep you’re 50 now” I know I heard a muffled giggle.  So, when she called recently to tell me that I had the beginnings of arthritis in my left hip I thought “Hahaha!! Hilarious!” Silence on the other end told me she was serious.

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The directive was to fill a prescription of Naproxen and get started on physio asap. Of course I was a little surprised by this, having just turned 50 I sure as hell wasn’t too impressed with this new development. Visions of a walker and loss of independence and a nursing home danced vividly in my head. I had to talk my self out of my crazy fears. I realized that this was self care and  something I had to do, that’s a good reason!

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I began my twice a week appointments with my physiotherapist who is the most amazing person ever!! She reassured me that we would get things back to normal although there would be some permanent changes that I would have to make, but I would be back to my old self in no time.  Did she just emphasize OLD? Nahhhhh!

Here are a few things that I have changed:

  1. I no longer carry around a 27-lb purse, apparently, it puts too much strain on the body etc. (I noticed the improvement in pain almost immediately) andddd you know what? I have always thought I needed to carry a big purse. Wrong! the world continued orbiting even though I no longer had a purse that contained 2 notebooks. 1 iPad, 3 novels, 2 makeup bags and a partridge in a pear tree.
  2.  Apparently, my walking speed was insanely too fast for my 5’4 height. Hello? I hurry to keep up with my 5’9 daughter, my 6’ husband and my 6’4 son. I explained to the fam and they agreed that in addition to me keeping up with them I rush around too much. (I’m not sure how they expect things to get done around here) but I reluctantly slowed down. I think the big issue for me was that I was equating slow with old. I noticed that things are pretty nice in the world when you slow down. Stop and smell the roses! Walking slower and appreciating things made for a happy Maryse.
  3.  Posture! Seriously?  Growing up my Dad constantly lectured me on the importance of good posture. No one tell him that he was right! So lesson learned! I have been practising better posture, walking, sitting and standing and what an improvement! My gradual return to the gym has made me more aware of keeping the “core” in line. Who knew?  Believe it or not there is truth to this stuff.

Today she told me she was proud of me and hell you know what? I’m proud of me too!  I will most likely be back at the gym doing everything I did before, within the next month. But, I learned a few things and I’ve made some changes that I will maintain. I also learned that slower might mean old, or it may not. Either way I’m okay with that.

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50 candles on the cake

I turned 50 recently. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen when I woke up on the morning of my birthday. Would the skies open? Would angels sing and then drop adult diapers and hearing aids from the sky? Nah! It was all good. I reached and accepted this milestone very well.  A milestone it is! Officially well past middle age yet at an age that a few of my friends did not make it to and for that I am grateful.

Something I have noticed is that conversations are different at 50 in comparison to what was important at 30. Now, we’re talking more about health and wellness, our adult or teenaged children, finding jeans that look great and for my female friends the challenges of getting through menopause with sanity.  Many are telling me it’s a new beginning for them. A time to focus on themselves and/or significant other, make a career change or set new goals.  Maybe even reinvent themselves.

So I created this blog with the hopes of sharing some information for those of us in our fifties and beyond, or at the very least hopefully I can just simply entertain you. From time to time you may even see a fabulous recipe I tried, or a picture of me modeling something I purchased that just rocks! It’s going to be fun! Stay with me.

Love and Laughter

M

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