What is the Secret to Living to 100+? The Blue Zone

What if you could live to 100 and beyond? It’s not as far-fetched as it may seem. The number of supercentenarians is growing worldwide — in 2015 there were 451,000 worldwide, and by 2050 it is estimated there will be more than 3.7 million. Healthcare is getting better worldwide as is access to clean water and food. We also know more about how to treat our bodies well, with ample rest and exercise. But clearly this isn’t enough. How can we live to 100 and beyond?

Genetics plays an important role in how long you live, but it’s not the deciding factor. Some scientists estimate your genetics only accounts for about 15% of your chances of living to 100 and beyond. Other factors include things like your diet, getting regular exercise, and cultivating a sense of purpose and community.

There are some places around the world known as ‘Blue Zones’ where people routinely live longer and healthier lives. In places like Loma Linda, California, where the average inhabitant lives 10 years longer than the national average, it is thought the diet and emphasis on religion and community play a major role.

Learn more about Blue Zones from the infographic below. Maybe you will live a lot longer than you think!

Secrets to Living Longer
Source: Best Health Care Degrees

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Dear Holly: I’m So Tired I Could Cry, But You Sure are Worth It

20 weeks.

Dear Holly: I’m So Tired I Could Cry, But You Sure are Worth It

Dear Holly,

These are the days when my lunch breaks are spent sleeping in my car; waking up to the sound of my cell phone alarm after 55 minutes of deep sleep in the passenger seat of my old Honda Element.

These are the days in which Mommy and I try to be in bed by 9:00 PM; knowing that you’ll be waking up 3 more times before we have to officially wake up for work before 5:00 AM.

These are the days where unless we drive nearly 3 hours to Nonna and Papa’s for the weekend, we don’t get a break.

We both work full-time plus we are both fully involved parents.

But none of that is a burden because of the baby. That’s you.

You are so worth it.

How could I look at you and not just melt? How could I not simply be willing to do whatever it takes to make sure my little baby girl is cared for?

I keep reminding myself that to some degree, things will be much easier in about a month and a half, once you’re able to start eating solid foods. Even though there will be more prep and cleaning, the plan is that you’ll be able to sleep more solidly through the night.

So my eyes won’t always be bloodshot and my head won’t always feel like a bowling ball.

But as for now, these are the days of feeling like a zombie. When people ask me how I’m doing, I always positively respond, because I’m so grateful to have a healthy, happy little girl. That’s the part I focus on.

I choose not to tell them how that physically, I’m barely standing up.

Because other parents already know how this thing works.

You do anything for your baby- that’s normal. It is simply being a parent.

Love,

Daddy

The Amount You Mature After You Turn 30

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This week I turned 34 and a half. I’m now just 6 months away from turning 35, which will officially toss me out of that targeted demographic which has traditionally been the coveted marketing demographic: age 18-34.

I’m also only 6 months away from the birth of my 2nd child; who I think is a girl.

Turning a year older is not something I fear or hide. I celebrate getting older. That’s mainly because I’m so grateful for the amount of maturity, emotional intelligence, and life experience I gain each year I’m alive.

I definitely don’t wish I was 30 again, or 27, or 25, or 23… I’m perfectly happy and proud to be 34 and a half.

And research shows the same thing; that the age people report being the happiest is 34.

By now, I’m married, I have kid(s), I’m out of debt, I have money in the bank, I “own” a home, and I’m stable in my career.

Additionally, I have (hopefully) already made my dumbest mistakes and learned my hardest lessons in life.

If I simply apply what I’ve already learned from life so far, I should be alright. In theory, I should be on auto-pilot, from here on out, to some degree.

I feel that while I’ll constantly be learning something new every day, my “life’s biggest learning curve” is complete. In other words, now I know what to do, it’s just a matter of testing that knowledge and experience for the rest of my life to see what else I can make of it.

When I turned 30, I knew I was hitting a major milestone. But in hindsight, I now realize that the reason it was a major milestone for me is because I have learned some of life’s biggest and most crucial lessons since then, during these past 4 and a half years.

The Amount You Mature After You Turn 30

My son was born just a few months before I turned 30. Obviously, raising him has taught me a whole lot about life.

Plus, I made some wrong financial and career decisions around that time as well; which ultimately led my wife and I to become the strict Dave Ramsey followers we now are.

Not to mention, I was hired as Parents.com’s official daddy blogger right after I turned 30, which ultimately meant for 3 years, I had to do a blog post daily; being encouraged to be controversial by my editors.

Therefore, I can see in retrospect that I sporadically said plenty of immature and/or now embarrassing things in my blog posts during that time in attempts to “better engage my audience.” I learned a lot from that experience and I’m completely grateful for those 3 years.

On top of all that, I’ve learned the hard way what not to post on Facebook, since turning 30.

But now, I’ve lived through all that.

And I’ve been married for over 7 years now. It would be an understatement to say that marriage, in addition to raising a child, has made me a more mature, less selfish, better balanced human being.

The first day of the rest of my life began the day I turned 30. I can only imagine how much more enlightened I will feel and be by the time I turn 40.

Dear Jack: People and Animals and Life and Death and What Happens Next

4 years, 8 months.

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Dear Jack,

I wanted to document this day for you because I believe it’s important to document your spiritual journey.

This morning on the 5 minute drive to your preschool, you cautiously asked me, “Daddy, one day, will all the people and all the animals be dead?”

I definitely wasn’t expecting such a deep question from you so early in the morning.

The fact that you even asked me that question shows me that you are processing your understanding of what death really means.

I’ve been curious for a while regarding at what point I would have a conversation like that with you.

It appears your understanding of death is based on what you see on Power Rangers and Disney movies, since someone (usually a parent) dies on nearly every animated Disney movie I’ve ever seen.

I answered your question as simply yet as accurately as I knew how:

“Yes, that’s true. One day, all the people and the animals will be dead. But for those of us people who believe in God and in Jesus, His Son, and if we help other people, then we will live in Heaven together.”

It somehow seems out of place to summarize our religious beliefs into such a small amount of words, but you are already familiar with this from what you hear at home and at church. But you seemed to be satisfied to my simple answer for your difficult question.

For the next few minutes until we got to your school, you were silent as you stared at the window.

As I helped you out of your car seat, I saw you seemed disheartened, so I asked you if were okay.

You put your head down and began crying softly.

I assured you whatever what it was, that we could talk about it; assuming you were sad because, in your words, one day we will all be dead, including the animals.

You looked up to answer me, “I just want Pandy!”

We had discovered last night that you had left one of your favorite stuffed animals, Pandy, at school.

Once we found Pandy inside your classroom this morning, you were no longer sad.

In other words, Pandy is still alive!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: I Could and Would Die for You

4 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack: I Could and Would Give My Life for You

Dear Jack,

Without any hesitation, I could and would give my life for you.

However, I believe there is nothing heroic or surprising about that statement whatsoever.

Instead, it’s simply common knowledge, I would assume; that a father would simply in a moment either risk his life or give his life if he saw his child in serious danger. Cue a relevant song:

The reason I recently gave this thought is because recently when we took our mini vacation to Pensacola, we walked out to the end of the long fishing pier at Casino Beach. Mommy and I took turns holding you up to the guard rail to let you see over into the water.

(We were all surprised to the see the man next to us catch a small shark; which he ultimately was required to throw back into the ocean.)

As we left the pier and walked back to the beach, you asked me this:

“Daddy, what would happen if another child’s daddy or mommy was holding them and they pretended like they were going to throw their child into the water, but then they really did, but they didn’t mean to?”

I was amazed at such a deep, hypothetical question from a 4 and a half year-old little boy.

My answer was this:

“They would do whatever it takes to get their child back. If it were you that fell in, I would immediately jump in after you.”

Granted, I’m not sure I would survive the hit of impact of the water (that pier is pretty high off of the water), or that the water would absolutely be deep enough to save my fall.

Either way, I would follow you, even to death. Cue another relevant song:

This reminds me of a scene on one of my favorite shows, Lost; during the final season one of the main characters gets trapped in a submarine, after a bomb explodes, causing water to rush in.

Spoiler alert! Even though Lost ended almost exactly 5 years ago:

Her legs are pinned down from the explosion, leaving her upper half out of the water, as her husband desperately tried to bend the steel bars in order to free her.

After several attempts, he realizes it’s impossible. Though he himself was free and could escape instead of drowning, he chooses to stay with his wife; dying with her in the flood.

It was one of the most touching moment in Lost for me.

But ultimately, it wasn’t heroic. You undoubtedly would die for the people you love the most; without hesitation.

So yes, it’s a dark thought to think about you falling in the water or that we would not spend many more decades together here on Earth.

I just want you to know- I can’t imagine living the rest of my life with you or Mommy. If I felt I was about to lose either of you, I would instantly throw my life in front whatever it was to try to prevent anything bad from happening to you two.

Not because I’m some great guy, but simply because you and Mommy are my life. What would life be without you?

Love,

Daddy

I Travelled Through Time And Space To Get To You

May 13, 2014 at 8:29 pm , by

3 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

People are fascinated by the concept of time travel. I can understand why.

Only God is not limited by time or space.

However, we as human beings are stuck in the 70 year lifespan we are assigned. No such thing as a re-do for even just one day.

We can at least learn from our mistakes, but we can’t go back in time to change our past in order to ultimately change our future.

Still though, I think I keep secretly hoping that one day I can. It’s stupid to think that, I know.

I could have been a much more knowledgeable, helpful husband and father and son and brother and friend if only I knew then what I know now.

Not being able to time-travel puts us in an annoying situation where we have to make things right, ourselves- as people allow us, after the fact.

Saturday, Mommy picked up Frozen (more on that in the next letter) for you from Redbox and a movie called, About Time, for her and me.

When I saw the cover with Rachel McAdams, I assumed it was just another version of The Notebook.

I was wrong. It was more of a barely R-rated version of Marley And Me, without the dog, but with a plot line involving time travel.

It features the close relationship between a father and his adult son, as they both are able to time-travel to events in their own life in order to relive them for the better.

They eventually begin reliving each day, right after it happens, in an effort to catch all the subtleties they missed the first time.

There are those missed opportunities to smile at someone, to make someone laugh, or to just simply appreciate the otherwise uninteresting parts of life with the people they encounter.

The son begins realizing he no longer needs to go back and relive each day, as he sharpens his ability to truly appreciate those “lesser” moments. He begins enhancing the lives of his family, and strangers, in the process.

But I guess I don’t have to time-travel to learn that same lesson.

Actually, I feel that watching the movie twice over the weekend has actually helped changed my thinking for the better.

The movie points out that we are all travelling through time each day and it’s up to us how we manage that time the first and final time through it.

It just so happens, you and I are travelling through time together. You’re stuck with me, kid.

I loved that the theme song of the movie, which is featured throughout, is “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds. That was the song that Mommy and I had for “our song” at our wedding nearly 6 years ago.

“The Luckiest” points out how much it matters that two people are born in the same span in the history of the world so that they can know each other and be close.

Had I been born a hundred years ago and Mommy was born in 1981, as she truly was, then you wouldn’t exist. The three of us wouldn’t exist as a family.

But I believe we were meant to be together in this life in which we travel through time together.

This movie, About Time, helped remind me just how special and important  it is to be alive during the time I am… with the people I am here with.

 

Love,

Daddy

You’re Not Entitled To Much In This Life, Except…

October 27, 2013 at 11:15 pm , by 

2 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Every once in a while, I try to take a break from narrating and bookmarking your life, and instead I like to share some advice on life, based on what I, as your dad, am experiencing.

Here is one of those things I especially want you to remember from me:

You’re not entitled to much in this life.

See, I am a child of the Eighties. Born in 1981, I am the firstborn of Generation Y.

Growing up, I was told by everyone, including every adult I knew, that I could do and become anything I dreamed of and put my heart into.

And I bought it. After all, I heard it all the time!

Yes, I do indeed believe that you, my son, can do and become anything you dream of.

But at the same time, I don’t want you taking that as simply as I did.

Because then there’s a chance your dreams will remain dreams, if you do. There’s a chance you may believe that making dreams come true is actually easier than it is.

It’s not easy.

I had to work very hard (and very smart) to get where I am in life.

But I admit, something that life has taught me, especially since joining the career world nearly a decade ago, is that basically, I’m entitled to… not a lot.

I used to believe I deserved certain things in life. I believed that because (at least in my own mind) I’m a “good person,” that meant I would be the automatic recipient of a somewhat easier path to my definition of success.

It has only been in recent years that I fully realized and accepted this is not so easily the case. Sure, I’m special, as every person is, but as far as being entitled to things in life because of it, I’ve found more of the opposite to be true.

Because if everyone is special, then it takes a lot more work to prove that you, as an individual, really are that special. (Hence the concept behind American Idol.)

So I had to lower my expectations on certain things in life. That happened by me nixing the belief that I am entitled to anything.

In fact, what exactly am I entitled to? That’s a deep thought- and right now, I honestly don’t know the answer.

Life is challenging. But as long as I am here in this life, you will have me not only rooting you on, but being that (sometimes annoying) person to also show you the fundamentals on how to make your dreams come true.

Based on what I know, it has a lot to do with capitalizing on what you’re already best at, while at the same time overcoming the challenges (and fears) of your weaknesses and not letting them be the reason you don’t get what you want in life.

I also know a lot of success in life has to do with money management, not simply making money: It’s crucial to become debt-free, then save and invest your money for the rest of your life.

You will always be hearing me preach this lesson to you because it was only this past July that our family worked our way out of over $58,000 of debt, now being able to save our money; and in the future, to be able to start investing it.

So that’s what you’ve got ahead of you, a life of hard (and smart) work.

You’re not entitled to much in this life, except… my direction and encouragement on how to work for dreams, not wait on or expect them.

You’re entitled to me passionately supporting your dreams, but you’re the one in the driver’s seat. I’m just reading the GPS to you.

You’re entitled to my love and support. I know that much.

 

Love,

Daddy