The Past is the Future: 7 Practices for a Healthy Life in the New Year

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What’s new for your healthy life in the new year? It’s all about bringing back the old as you ring in the new. But if you want to be more fit, you probably know it’s what you eat and how you move. But did you know it’s also where and how you direct your spiritual and emotional energy, too?

An Eye Opener: How Food Has Evolved

Imagine for a moment that you lived on the North American continent sometime in the late 19th or early 20th century. Chances are good that if you didn’t own a farm, you had a good-sized garden. True, you didn’t have access to many foods not indigenous to your area, and fresh produce was scarce during the winter in colder regions. Your options for food were those we prize today, like:

  • Fresh, local organic produce.
  • Grass-fed beef.
  • Organically raised chickens that ran around outside.
  • The eggs from those chickens.
  • Depending on where you lived, fresh fish.
  • Stone ground grains, primarily wheat and corn.
  • Fresh bread from your own kitchen, not full of chemicals to puff it up.
  • Beans, which were another important staple.
  • The summer’s bounty in cold cellars or by drying and canning.

From Organic to Refined: Living a Healthy Life Gets Even Harder

Food was always whole and organic and didn’t need special labels telling you that. It was only when you made a pie from whole fruits or found a cache of honey did you get sweets. Until the late 19th century when grain millers developed a new process to remove the bran so flour was easier to transport without going rancid, your bread was probably grainy and nutrient rich.

Then began the long journey toward higher and higher levels of processing and refining, transporting, pesticides and herbicides. Today, manufactured food products line the shelves of grocery stores. In fact, this is a world in which most people tend to overeat without nourishing themselves.

Modern times means you can have whatever you want any time of the year and most people do. You may eat highly refined foods they load with added sugars. Some labels contain long lists of ingredients with transfats and highly refined oils. And you may also eat too much protein in the form of corn-fed, fatty beef, loaded with pesticides and hormones.

And what’s more, you don’t even have to work for your food other than to sit at a desk all day to get the money to pay for it. Most people are not outdoors in the weather, engaged in the manual labor that supports a high fat, high-calorie diet. So here you are in the 21st century, with books and expos on holistic health, natural living and green living. And what is natural and green living, but a return to old ways of doing things?

Seven Practices for a Healthy Life in the New Year

Here are seven ways you can live a healthy life this year:

  • Pass up the packaged products. Go for whole, unprocessed foods, local seasonal foods, organic foods and handmade foods like bread with whole grains.
  • Ferment for all its good probiotics. Make things like kombucha, kimchi, apple cider vinegar, pickles, artisanal cheese or bread, beer and yogurt.
  • Go all natural. Can or dry foods from your own vegetable garden. Use herbs and spices in new ways. For example, to purify and enliven your environment or to make healing teas.
  • Move more. Rely less on commercial products for maintaining your physical conditioning. Get from one place to another the old-fashioned way, by walking. Move your body as you were intended to move it, getting off your chair and laboring, outdoors when possible, at a health club when you must.
  • Rest and reflect more. Take a break from the rush for a day each week, or even for a time each day. Turn off all electronics, and just be with yourself at the moment.
  • Take a fitcation. Take time to restore your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being instead of partying. You don’t need a fancy, expensive program for your fitcation. A hiking, sightseeing or camping trip will work. You’ll get great physical activity. Camping offers simple, whole food cooking over a fire and lots of meditation time outdoors.

Your healthy life this year, while it may have to be a more conscious choice than it was a century ago, isn’t without its perks. Now you have the wonders of fitness technology, social media fitness partners, wearable fitness, and pedometers. In addition to measuring how much you move, they measure what you eat, how much you sleep, your heart rate and more.

And you can fill in the gaps brought to us by 21st-century living. Times when you can’t camp and meditate, make 48-hour yogurt loaded with probiotics or homemade whole grain bread or get your vitamin D from the sun because the snow comes up too high to open the door. You’ll feel much better if you can bring all the wise practices of the old ways into your present.


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