I like to think about health and wellbeing as a pyramid, a pyramid with three major pillars: eating patterns, activity patterns, rest & relaxation patterns. Notice I didn’t call anything diet and exercise — yeh, those don’t work.
If I were to distill these down to their simplest messages, this is what they would be:
I want you to move more.
I want you to eat more fruits & vegetables. And beans.
I want you to quiet your mind a little bit from time to time.
Do you see how little I ask? Not training to be superstars. Not interested in perfection. One small step. One first step. More or less an investigation into whether you might be interested in taking a second step. Or not.
Quieting your mind might happen with more sleep (10 minutes?), or deeper sleep, or meditation, or yoga or a winter hike. It might be a couple (2? 3?) minutes of quiet time in your car just before you drive home from work each weekday. Basically, I’ll take what I can get. You’ll reap the benefits, and they might even stir you to give yourself the gift of ten minutes instead of two. But that’s up to you. I just want two minutes, because I am absolutely certain that you can manage to give yourself this.
Moving more might happen with doing your version of the twist while you wait for the dryer to finish. Brushing your teeth on one foot. Stretching out your neck in the shower. Wearing a pedometer — did you know that people who wear a pedometer walk, on average, 1000 steps more per day than ones who don’t wear one? So just wear one. Don’t worry about the numbers – just wear it! See what happens.
Eating…. my favorite! If I were given one single second to make my pitch, it would be this: Eat more vegetables!! No, I don’t care if they are green or yellow or red or orange. No I don’t care if they are leaves or buds or roots. The only thing I care about is if you eat more of them. They form the basis for any and all strategies for nutritious eating. They are rich in all kinds of nutrients whose names are completely irrelevant here. They share a depth and complexity of flavor unparalleled in any kingdom. And I would be remiss if I did not remind you that it’s impossible to eat a 600-calorie muffin if you already have a mouthful of Swiss chard. That’s a lot of benefits, to be sure.
Does eating more vegetables mean eating less of other nutritious foods? Not at all. But I had only one second to make my pitch, so that’s what I chose.
One last idea: where can you find all these pillars of the wellness pyramid in a single place? In a garden. My kids are growing scallions on the windowsill. That counts. Just a thought.