Over a decade ago I moved to Costa Rica to pursue a job as the chef of a boutique beachside hotel.I was young, burning the candle at both ends and I completely took my health for granted. Part of my naivety towards health came from being surrounded by young, healthy people, who also saw themselves as ageless and invincible. My Rochester peer group of 25 year olds had shifted once I made the move to the tropics. My new village was quiet and remote but there were 2 large gated communities set about a half of a mile down the Coastal Highway. I quickly found that my friends were going to be retired Americans who were in their 60’s and70’s.
At 25 years old, it was hard for me to look far enough in the future to see where my lifestyle was taking me. I thought that I wouldn't need to stop smoking cigarettes until I was in my 40’s. I was drinking too much and too often. I was a master of putting off a diet for “one more day”, while I binge ate all of the processed food I could get my hands on. And I told myself that I could always take up exercise again someday in the future.
Exposure to a new group of older friends opened my eyes to how important a healthy diet and lifestyle is, especially when it comes to long-term health and quality of life.While in Rochester it was hard to see any, even small, differences in health between my friends that partied and ate junk food and my friends that exercised, slept 8 hours a day and ate whole foods. Costa Rica was a completely different story. My friends in the 60’s and 70’s really only fell into 2groups. Those that took care of themselves and those that didn't.
Those who exercised regularly, ate nutritious food, drank plenty of water and had healthy sleeping habits were able to thoroughly enjoy their twilight years. Some of them still surfed, some hiked mountains. Others just enjoyed being healthy and were always up for a bike ride or a walk on the beach. This group enjoyed sunsets over the ocean and had the energy to participate in community building projects and neighborhood block parties.
The other group put off a healthy lifestyle one day at a time. Always pushing off exercise or diet until next week, never quitting smoking and overindulging in alcohol. Their bodies and minds seemed to fail them at a younger age than their healthier peers. They had either abused their bodies through consuming non-nutritious foods, smoking and drinking, or they were simply too sedentary. This group spent their twilight years inside their homes; too tired or sick for surfing and hiking, too sedentary for too many years to even enjoy something as simple as a walk on the beach. I didn't see much of them unless I made it a point to stop by their homes or they came to a holiday party at our hotel.
It's important to remember that these two glaringly different groups of people from a health perspective were very similar in other aspects of their lives. They were all either American or Canadian, they all came from the same income bracket, they had all retired comfortably enough to move to a gated community near the beach and they were all raised in the same generation with similar degrees of education and resources available to them. The thing separating these two groups was their current quality of life.
So why, with the same amount of money, education, and medical advice at their disposal did the quality of life of these two groups differ so much? Research has shown over and over again that the best way to increase your quality of life for the long run is to eat a healthy diet, live an active lifestyle, avoid toxins, drink plenty of water and get adequate sleep. Why is this so hard for so many people? We have been hard wired to consume, and oftentimes we are simply just making the wrong choices when it comes to what we decide to put in our bodies. We have also never been so busy and so sedentary at the same time in the history of mankind. So much of our life is automated now. We drive instead of walk, robots and machines handle the heavy lifting, we are relegated to a desk or a booth or kiosk and pounded with so much work that we rarely have the time, let alone the energy to hit the gym after work. Now imagine raising children into the mix.
I get it: everything becomes secondary to raising children, paying a mortgage and keeping a steady income. Even our health becomes secondary. Convenience is supposed to supplement quality of life, not hinder it. But that is where we are at now as a community. Distractions, consumerism and convenience are all part of the problem and it seems as though there are very few solutions. It's as if we all just accepted our fate.
We will spend all of our time and energy making money, neglecting our health, only to one day, when we’re older, spend all of our time and money attempting to recover our health.
It may be time to take a look at your diet and lifestyle. Are you doing what you need to do today to set yourself up for a happy and healthy retirement or are you putting a healthy lifestyle on hold in order to focus on the short term?
We are here to help you prioritize your health. No matter what that looks like. We know that everyone is different and that we need to customize plans to make sure that everyone achieves the success that they deserve. Whether you’re trying to lose weight through diet and exercise or simply looking for the motivation to stay on track we are here for you. We offer customized detox protocols, diet jumpstart programs, and functional exercise consultations.
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Seeing the differences in quality of life between my two friend groups set me on a one-way path towards health and wellness that I will not turn back on. We all know someone who is living their best life in the 60’s or 70’s and beyond. They got there through balancing a healthy diet and functional exercise with work and family demands. That person could and should be you one day. Age gracefully, you’re worth it.
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