10 Habits For A Healthy Retirement
Updated: Jun 9
Sandra walked out of work feeling sad. She shouldn’t have felt sad. It was her last day of work. Forever. She was retiring. It should have been a joyous occasion. But earlier that week, her doctor said her blood sugar levels were high and she was now a diabetic. She needed to make some changes or she would start to lose her mobility and health.
She would not be able to enjoy the retirement she worked so hard for. She was worried she wouldn't be able to keep up with her kids and grandkids. She was worried she'd miss out on all the travel she planned with her husband.
So she came to Village looking for help to live a healthy retirement. These were the 10 things we coached her to do.
1. Cultivate Community
Have you heard the latest stats on loneliness in America? 1 out of every 3 people report feeling SERIOUS loneliness. Rates of depression and anxiety have skyrocketed in the last two years. Researchers say the connections between loneliness, depression, and health are strong.
Relationship used to be woven into our lives. We saw co-workers daily. Walked over to a friend's house to get some eggs. We did life with people. Relied on people.
But today, we rely less on people and more on technology. Instead of walking over to Amy’s house to get an egg, we pull up Amazon on our phones. Instead of sitting on the porch and talking to neighbors, we sit in front of Netflix and watch the latest show.
We’ve traded connection for convenience. Deep relationships for digital “friends.” Community for isolation.
But if we want to be truly healthy, we need community and relationship.
One of the things I love most about our small group personal training program at Village is the community.
I LOVE seeing clients encourage one another in sessions, grabbing coffee with one another after a session and building relationships.
Take a look at the Blue Zones. These are regions of the world with a concentrated number of folks over the age of 100. One thing all of them have in common is deep community.
Yet over the last two years, we've been less in community than EVER. The health consequences of isolation are dire.
Our small group personal training program is designed to help people over the age of 40 to get healthy in community. We believe so strongly in the power of community, that we've built our business around it.
Interested in our group training program? Fill out the form below to learn more and get started.
Right now, you can try 3 small group training sessions for JUST $33. It's over $100 of SAVINGS. Sign up and learn more by filling out the form below.
Standard health advice say we need to do cardio. Jog on the treadmill, spin on the Peleton, or punish yourself in bootcamp class. Yet, this moderately intense, long-duration exercise can have a negative impact on health. When we do relatively high intensity aerobic exercise for 30+ minutes, we deplete our bodies stores of sugar. We use our blood sugar, muscle glycogen, and liver glycogen.
The body does not like this. In order to replenish stores, we are cued to seek quick burning sugars in response. This is why soda and baked goods taste so good after a long run or bike ride.
Have you seen the person who is always out running but still has a big belly? You may have thought, "how could they do all that exercise and still have extra fat?" They are still fat because our bodies have an incredible ability to replenish burned calories. We are especially good at seeking out quick energy in the form of sugar and carbs.
So what are the healthiest people in the world doing for exercise?
Back to the Blue Zones again we go. Researchers found that these people are not riding a spin bike or doing Zumbalates. They move all day long. They walk everywhere, hike, garden and do chores.
In other words, they avoid being sedentary.
Be right back, I'm going to get up and move for a second....Ok, I'm back. Let's keep going!
My advice: walk often.
Set a daily goal and don't stop until you hit it each day. Our recommendation is 11,500 steps per day. But maybe for you, the best goal would be 3,000. Or maybe it's 30,000.
3. Strength Training
Despite the aforementioned issues with chronic cardio, any exercise program can get your muscles burning and sweat flowing. Programs like Cardio Dance, Bootcamps, Crossfit, and Orangetheory are all great at this. But it takes an intelligent exercise program to get someone 50+ sweaty without injuring them.
I've heard this story WAY too many time "I started doing ____ exercise program. It was going great for a month or two. And then _____ started to hurt. I tried to keep going, but eventually it was too painful and I quit."
We've worked with thousands of people over the age of 50. Most of them have previously experienced injuries when they started exercising. Our Small Group Training program and our 12 Movement Standards are designed to get you ridiculously strong without getting you injured.
Here is Dr. Erik explaining the 12 Standards.
If you're looking to get expert coaching to maximize your strength and mobility, our small group training program is for you.
Right now, you can try 3 small group training sessions for JUST $33. It's over $100 of SAVINGS. Sign up and learn more by filling out the form below.
4. Stop eating grains
When American's began to make the switch from full-fat to low fat, naturally they needed to replace those fat calories with something. The recommendation from the government was "heart-healthy" whole grains like whole-wheat bread, pasta, cereal, and brown rice. America listened. Grain consumption is up 41% since 1970.
But grains, like all carbs, turn into sugar in our blood stream and spike the hormone insulin. Insulin's job is to get sugar out of your blood and store it as fat. The more we spike insulin, the more fat we store.
Today's grains are also drastically different from the home made bread our ancestors ate with their homemade soup. Many grains today contain toxic anti-nutrients that lead to rampant inflammation in our bodies.
5. Ditch sugar
When you eat sugar, it leads to increases in your insulin levels. Carbs, whether from couscous or captain crunch turn into sugar and spike insulin.
Insulin is one of the most important hormones to understand for humans and our metabolisms. Have you ever felt a little light-headed when you haven't eaten for a few hours? This is one of the first signs of a dysfunctional metabolism. After hypoglycemia comes insulin resistance. The pancreas, which produces insulin, starts to wear out and produces less insulin. The cells also become less sensitive to the hormone insulin. More insulin is required from the dysfunctional pancreas to get blood sugar out of circulation. requiring MORE insulin. It's a vicious cycle.
One of the most effective ways to manage blood sugar levels is by reducing daily carbohydrate intake. Check out the graph below. In a comparison study, Diabetics ate either a standard American Diet, a Low Carb Diet, or practiced Fasting. By keeping carbs under 100 grams/day, subjects were able to reduce levels of blood insulin significantly!
To manage blood insulin levels, shoot for 100 grams of carbs per day or less. You can use a tracking app like My Fitness Pal to make tracking easier.
6. No more vegetable oil
Want better brain function, a healthy metabolism, and less inflammation?
Stop eating Vegetable Oil or products with vegetable oil in them. I don't know if I can think of something MORE important for people over the age 40 to eliminate from their diet than vegetable oils.
Vegetable oils are the fats that are extracted from things like soy, sunflower, safflower, corn, canola, and cottonseed. By themselves, things like sunflowers are not dangerous to eat. But they contain fragile poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA's). These fats are part of a healthy diet. HOWEVER, when these fats undergo the processing necessary to extract oil, they mutate. Small amounts of trans-fats are created in the process.
Canola oil has 2-4% trans-fatty acids.
Through deceptive labeling and small serving sizes, food manufacturers are able to get away with saying that their oils contain 0g trans fats. The amount of trans-fats per serving is less than 0.5 grams so they can round down to zero.
But consider something like Tylenol. A single serving is 500mg or .5 grams. Would you consider the amount insignificant just because it's only .5 grams? Would you take a bunch of servings and not worry about the effects? No way. We should treat vegetable oils the same. Even small amounts, in the long-run, can have serious health consequences.
The trans-fats in vegetable oils are very problematic for folks with diabetes or pre-diabetes. These fake fats create rampant inflammation. Through oxidation reactions, these fats lead to the formation of free radicals. If you're diabetic or pre-diabetic, your body is already working overtime to solve your daily blood sugar crisis. The last thing it needs is another problem in the form of chronic inflammation.
Vegetable oils are also energetically inept. When we eat them, our body tries to store and burn them like regular fats. But they don't work like regular fats. As the body tries to burn them for fuel, it soon realizes they don't have the energy it needs. This leads to sugar cravings and eating more carbs.
Italian researchers conducted a fascinating experiment. They somehow connected little lightbulbs to specific fatty acids. Don't ask me how they did it but they did. They measured how well these fatty acids powered the bulbs.
They found that the main fatty acid found in olive oil (C18 mono-unsaturated) was the BEST source of cellular energy. 10 points for Olive Oil!
The second best source of energy was saturated fat. This is the fat found in beef, pork, and butter.
The WORST in terms of energy were the fragile PUFA fats C-18 Omega 3/6. These are the primary fats found in Vegetable oils.
Vegetable oils are poor sources of energy. When the fat in our diet comes mainly from vegetable oils, we too will have low energy levels. Worse, the body stores these fats for later use. When they are called upon to be used for energy, they don't deliver.
What do people do when they have low energy levels? They seek out quick energy in the form of sugar and carbs.
Vegetable oils propagate the vicious cycle of insulin resistance. Put an end to it by cutting vegetable oils out of your life.
Want to know how to eat for maximal health and longevity? You can get a FREE copy of our book Salubrious by filling out the form below.
7. Get Outside
Your idea of roughing it may be staying at a hotel with no room service. Your idea of unplugging may be visiting a coffee shop with no wifi. Not everyone needs to boat down the Amazon river or climb Mt. Everest. But if you want to lead a healthy, productive life, you can’t do it all in the great indoors. You’ve got to get outside! A little sun on the skin, a little fresh air in the lungs, a little sand between the toes can do a lot more good than most modern folks realize. Science backs this up. Conversely, a little too much screen time, a little too much indoor pollution, a little too much comfort can silently sap your health.
Getting outside benefits virtually every system in your body. Here’s just a brief snapshot of what happens:
First of all, it gets us looking at things that are far away. This changes how the muscles in our eyes behave. Looking at something far away after spending hours and hours up close with walls and screens is like your eyeballs stretching their legs after a long car ride. The longer you stay in the car, the more likely your legs and low back will cramp up. We need to stretch! The same goes for out eyes.
Second, real light from the sky helps us regulate our circadian rhythms. Sunny blue skies and peaceful glowing sunsets communicate profoundly with our hormones and neurotransmitters to promote deep sleep and energetic wakefulness. Replace it with an endless barrage of LEDs and our bodies get confused.
Third, modest amounts of sunlight interact with our skin to help our bodies produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is notoriously hard to regulate with nutrition and/or supplements, but get out in the sun and the body knows what to do.
Connection with nature can help alleviate depression and anxiety. So do yourself a favor: get outside!
8. Start the day well
Before retiring, my guess is that you had a tight schedule to keep. Work started at 9. The kids needed to be dropped off at 8. That meant you had to get up at 6 and get breakfast going.
But now that you're retired, you can do whatever you want! You read the morning paper, take the dog for a walk, and watch the news. Before you know it's 11am! You find yourself thinking, "how did I have time to work before I retired?"
If you want to be healthy and productive, it's important to have a daily routine built into your morning.
There are three crucial elements to a good morning routine for someone who is retired.
Get some movement in. Even something as simple as our 5-minute home bodyweight workout or yoga workout.
Second, stimulate your mind. I think being informed about what's going on in the world is important. HOWEVER, getting barraged with all of the bad news in the entire world is novel for us as human beings. It makes us fearful, worried, and anxious. My recommendation is to NOT start your day with the news. Instead, read a book.
A few of my favorites...
Take charge of your nutrition first thing in the morning. This might mean making a healthy breakfast for you and your spouse. It could also mean prepping food for the entire day. Whatever need to happen to set you up for nutritional success, make it happen.
Three M's. Do something productive in each of these three areas of your life in the first two hours of the day and you'll put yourself in the top 1% of healthy people over the age of 50.
9. Do hard things
We need to brush up against challenge and difficulty to be the healthiest, sharpest version of ourselves. The world today is designed for life to be easy and convenient. Netflix starts playing the next episode without us pressing a button. Amazon delivers goods to our homes so we don't even have to trouble ourselves to go to the grocery store. Fast food makes eating unhealthy, hyper palatable, foods quick and convenient. We drive in temperature controlled cars and lives in temperature-controlled homes. Yet to be the healthiest version of ourselves we need challenge. We need variability. We need difficulty.
We need to do hard things.
This is one of the reasons that challenging exercise is such an integral portion of your daily routine as a retired person. I also think it's wise to set yearly challenges that stretch you. This could be a long hike, a marathon, or an extended backpacking trip.
The Japanese concept of Misogi states that we should have challenges in our lives on a yearly basis. There are two rules for a Misogi.
#1 You should have a 50% chance of failure
#2 It can't be so dangerous that you could die.
In the process of training for and attempting these challenges, we become a more refined better version of ourselves. When we converge with challenge and difficulty on a consistent basis, we make the mundane things in life much easier. Think about challenging conversations with your spouse or trying to understand other people's viewpoints. Or simply doing the day-to-day habits it takes to be healthy.
If we live the standard American life of ease, we will surely develop chronic yet preventable health conditions. We will slowly drift towards losing our independence and mobility, slowing down, not enjoying what are supposed to be some of the best years of our lives.
Make it a goal to do something hard every day and to plan for an extended challenge once a year.
10. Never stop learning
From the day we were born until the day we die our brains are constantly changing. They change much faster when we are 5 than when we are 55. But they're always changing. And unless you're constantly stimulating your brain with new and engaging information, it's going to change for the worse. So we need to seek out learning new things. This means reading books that challenge and grow us, taking courses, and learning skills or hobbies.
Make it a goal of yours to master something new every single year. Maybe this is learning an instrument, learning to cook a specific type of food, or speaking a new language. Read a new book every single months. Pick books on topics you know nothing about. If you already know a lot about plants, maybe you should read a book about exercise.
Ready to take back your health?
Retirement is one of the BEST opportunities to take back control of your health and longevity.
That's exactly what we do at Village.
We're on a mission to help 100 people in our town take back their health in the next year.
If you're frustrated with difficulty losing weight, low energy levels, and loss of mobility, our small group training program is for you.
If you're interested in learning more, you can test-drive the program for an entire week for JUST $33. If you'd like to learn more or sign up, fill out the form below to get started.