If you’re wondering how to live well and prevent premature aging, just ask Wendy Bazilian: As a food enthusiast and fitness specialist, she has some extensive experience under her belt.
Dr. Wendy, DrPH, RD, approaches health with not only a practical attitude, but also a scientific sense—and while nutrition plays an essential role, it is just one aspect to approach aging.
“It’s a proactive pursuit, and that is where wellness really lives,” she says. “It’s about the healthy lifestyle: nutrition/nourishment; activity/exercise/movement; self-care/stress management; and recreation/rest.”
On point with her personal and professional philosophy—Eat well. Move daily. Be healthy.—here are Dr. Wendy’s top tips for living well.
>>Make a Better Morning
Drink and eat smart “I drink green tea, or sometimes I’m in the mood for coffee. I love avocado toast: mashed avocado, lemon juice, and crushed red pepper. Sometimes I’ll add an egg, too.”
Wake and walk “Roll out of bed and, before you check emails or start to really wake up, exercise for 10 to 15 minutes. In the house, up and down halls, on a treadmill or bike, climb your stairs…or take it outside!” Exercise will help slow aging.
Say “good morning” both to yourself and those around you: “You say it not simply as a greeting, but as an intention for the day.”
>>Exercise in Increments to Slow Aging
“The body was born to move, and moving can help keep our circulation optimized, the joints lubricated, and our breathing and digestive system working well,” explains Dr. Wendy, who co-owns Bazilian’s Health Clinic with her husband in San Diego. So, while hitting the gym definitely has its benefits, simply staying active doing everyday activities has the power to increase your well-being, too. What does she suggest?
- When traveling, walk the airport during layovers, skip the moving sidewalks, and remember to pack your sneakers.
- Take multiple short walks to break up sitting at your desk—even five minutes will do!
- Do crunches or march in place while watching the news or your favorite TV show.
- While blow-drying hair or brushing teeth, do leg lifts or squats.
- Always choose the stairs.
Goals can be general or broad—and you can always narrow them to become more specific as they evolve over time. But looking at various areas of your life and determining which to explore more deeply can help foster a sense of balance and meaning. “Here are some areas of life you might consider,” says Dr. Wendy. “This is just a nice way to look at the multiple facets of wellness in one’s life and see where you are engaging in them, small or big, over the years.”
Healthy nutrition certain areas of focus, keeping a food diary, trying out new recipes
Movement type, frequency, trying new activities
Personal Care massage, preventive care appointments, spa services
Connecting with others family, friends, groups, other social interactions
Mind and learning reading, classes, lectures, languages, new skills or hobbies, travel
Culture music, dance, theater, art—attending, participating, and/or supporting
Spirit meditation, prayer, religious participation, other spirit-enhancing practices
Volunteering philanthropy, service, mentoring
Emotion stress, anxiety, loneliness, happiness, love
Sleep quality and quantity of rest, wake-up and bedtime routines
Relationships family, animals, society, environment, self
Recreation regroup, re-center, re-create; “fun can be productive…that is the simple goal!”
Although she aims for whole, real, quality foods, Dr. Wendy describes herself as a “real person” eater: “I appreciate having treats with others and learning other peoples’ likes and enjoyments.” What are her favorites?
Crunchy veggies “I love flavor and texture…romaine lettuce in a salad, peppery watercress, or a finely chopped kale salad.”
Apple treats “I do love a good caramel apple. I don’t see them out and about that often, but if I do, I make room for one in my day! I love homemade apple pie (with very little sugar) and have no issues with making a slice my breakfast along with a nice portion of Greek yogurt to accompany it.”
Seasonal eats “I love a great watermelon, arugula, feta salad in-season and adore roasted Brussels sprouts, apples, and dried tart cherries in the fall/winter.”
Simple meals “Rice and beans with veggies and salsa, or making tacos or simple pizzas—like margarita or veggies. Sometimes we do ‘apps for dinner’ at home; we call it a ‘Med Spread’ and build on a beautiful board: some special cheeses, grapes, olives, interesting crackers, walnuts, dates, veggies, and hummus.”
Fresh blueberries “I like to enjoy as many as I wish, sometimes arriving to a state that I call ‘bluephoria.’”
>>Eat Well. Move Daily. Be Healthy.
Dr. Wendy describes her health philosophy as “simple, achievable, and realistic”—but here are some more descriptive definitions to support healthy aging.
“Eat how? Well. Well connotes: goodness, health, in abundance, the right amount, celebration, and depth. It’s concrete, yet flexible. We can each be well—though our ‘well’ is individual and related to our own self.”
“Move how? Daily. To survive and participate in life at all, we have to move our bodies. Every day has 24 hours, 1,440 minutes—if you can look at ‘daily’ as a goal, with features and ideas about different kinds of movement, you can always be successful.”
“Be healthy. That’s you, and it’s active, and it’s a command. We own this word. It’s not always perfect health but describes behaviors, ways, choices, and attitudes that are in motion and being practiced. ‘To be’ comes in tenses and they allow for goals and change: I was, I am, I will be.”
By Jennifer Boden