What does vitality mean to you?
The Webster’s definition of vitality is: a) capacity to live and develop, b) physical or mental vigor especially when highly developed, c) power of enduring.
To me, vitality means living a life where you are:
feeling good every day – healthy and strong
participating fully in your life
engaged with family, friends and colleagues
not solely in the absence of poor health but in a state of great health
We know from research of populations around the world who live long and thrive that there are many factors to creating a life of vitality. Food is certainly one component, but in addition a sense of purpose, community, physical activity and spirituality are important components as well.
Are you living a life of vitality? Take my quiz to find out.
Do you choose foods that are fresh as often as possible?
Do you choose foods that are grown locally when available?
Do you choose foods that are in season where you live?
Do you prepare foods using plant oils such as coconut, olive, avocado, walnut or grapeseed?
Do you sweeten your foods with fruit juices or butters, pure maple syrup or honey?
Do you get salt from fish, sea vegetables or sea salt?
Do you purchase free range meats?
Do you eat naturally fermented and cultured foods?
Do you cook with a variety of herbs and spices?
Do you spend time with people in your community?
Do you have a sense of purpose in your life?
Do you spend time with both the young and the old?
Do you move your body daily?
Do you spend time in spiritual or restorative practice?
If you answered YES to 7 or more questions you are making choices to live a life of vitality. If you answered YES to fewer than 7 questions you have greater opportunities to thrive!
Food is not simply energy, it is information.
Populations who live a life of vitality make food choices that provide different information to their body than the Standard American Diet today.
Food that is fresh, local and in season is richer and more diverse in nutrients.
Food that is cooked from scratch and preserved using “natural” methods such as fermentation has higher nutrient value and helps to nourish your gut more than foods that are highly processed to allow for shelf stability.
Fats that are consumed from plants nourish your body to protect your heart and against disease.
Salts that come from the sea are rich in a variety of minerals.
Herbs and spices can add so much more to your diet than just flavor. They may have antimicrobial, antiviral or antibiotic properties.
A lifestyle of vitality
In addition to food, there are components of a life of vitality we can learn from long living populations that you can incorporate into your days as well. Research repeatedly shows that having social connection improves health and increases longevity. You may spend your days getting done what needs to get done without thinking about your real purpose. A sense of purpose may protect your heart and add years to your life.
Remember the days when everyone got a day off? When there was for so many an actual day of rest? Stores were closed, time was spent with family. Today our 24/7/365 lifestyle is taking a toll.
Some research has looked at daily movement versus sitting and then “exercising.” It seems as though building more daily movement into your life may have greater benefit than going to the gym after a day of being sedentary. We know from populations who thrive “exercise” is not the norm, but rather movement happens every day throughout the day.
What choices can you make?
My hope for each of you is not that you just get through your days or years. But you do it doing what you love, being with people who are important to you, nourishing your body so that you feel well, have energy and a clear head. We can learn from people around the world who not only live long but live well. You may not have the choice to move to a remote island where life moves more slowly and fresh food is available all year round. But you can make choices each day to shift where you can – to choose foods that nourish rather than those highly processed, to choose movement instead of a chair, to choose friends and family rather than solitude.
Each choice you make will create your own vitality. Take a step. Your good health is worth it.
Lynda Binius Enright, MS, RD, CLT is certified as a Wellness Coach and LEAP Therapist who partners with women who want to look and feel amazing by helping them lose weight and reduce inflammation which can cause fatigue, bloating, acid reflux, congestion, brain fog or achy joints. For FREE meal planning ideas to help you eat well, lose weight and reduce inflammation – click here to get Ten Meals In A Bag. Visit Lynda's website.