3 Tips for a Healthier Longer Life

1. Less is more when it comes to nutrition. Many foods, especially those with refined grain and sugar, are full of empty calories that provide energy but not nutrition. Focus on eating foods that are denser in nutrients per calorie, like vegetables, legumes, nuts, and lean meats (without the bun!). There is a reason these foods are associated with better health. When you eat nutrient dense foods, your body naturally compels you to eat less of them. That’s why vegetables don’t stimulate your appetite the way ice cream does. Your body knows it needs less of them to get nutrition. It will store the excess energy from ice cream as fat, unless you are a very active person and can burn off those empty calories.

2. Passive exercise can be an effective way to burn calories without taking a lot of your time or requiring expensive gym memberships. Walk and bicycle to places when they are nearby, instead of driving. You’ll save gas too. Play sports socially if you can. Work in the yard. Go dancing to some live music. When you are at work, walk to lunch if there is something close and you can spare the time (if not, see #1). Just move! The more you move around, the more calories you are burning without really trying. Of course, adding some active exercise into your life can’t hurt. Get up a little earlier and go for a walk or a run. Finding time to exercise is easier in the morning when you are fresh and there are fewer demands on your time. As the day goes on, time has a way of getting away from you due to other pressing matters and the demands that people make on you. The morning is often free from this.

3. Laugh.

Ghosts 2

I went for a bike ride around Shell Lake today, with my extended family. Since they ride rather slowly and I like to go fast, I rode out ahead of them and decided to take a right when I got to Round Lake Road. I rode the few hundred yards out to this tiny satellite lake of Shell Lake and stopped at the public boat launch to look out over the lake, where for a decade in the late 80s and early 90s, I used to go fly fishing for pan fish with my Uncle Allan, before he died in 1996.

I was surprisingly unsurprised when the apparition of Uncle Allan in his row boat appeared on the water a few hundred feet along the shore to my left. I could clearly make out the reeds on the edge of the shore through the semi-transparent silhouette of him and the boat. He held a fly rod, the reel resting in his lap, clutched in both hands, his posture characteristically still and serene, his back vertically straight as a board.

Allan's ghost turned and looked at me. He smiled and waved. I waved back. Just then, a sunfish struck his phantom popper resting in the water. Allan's head turned back to the rippling water and he hauled back on his fly rod in an attempt to set the hook on the fish, a split second too late.

His sunglasses were knocked askew as he struggled to regain his balance in the tiny boat, and the heavy green fly line curly-kewed toward him in a tangled, fishless mass.

He straightened his sunglasses, looked back at me with a resigned smile, and shrugged.

In death, as in life, he seemed to relish the randomness and unpredictability of the fishing experience, rather than the actual catching of fish. I knew he must have been in his vision of Heaven, sitting in a boat, on a small quiet pond, and going through the motions for all eternity.

I got back on my bike and rejoined my extended family on the main road, content in knowing I'd be in that boat with my Uncle Allan someday.