It's time for an ode to my incredible Dad. Born and raised in Georgia picking cotton for ten cents an hour, then living in Europe for three years, finally returning to the U.S. to build a log cabin deep in the forests of Alaska, my Dad has a wealth of diverse life experiences. He slept with five guns under his bed in Alaska (had many more in the closet), ate at McDonalds, drank Coca-Cola (NEVER Pepsi), and smoked cigarettes. He is not what the typical yogini would consider "healthy", yet he lives by a few solid principles that have kept him strong, lean, and happy. I admire my Dad's main health principles for living a full and happy life. Here are his secrets that everyone should follow:
1. Wheat Germ
Whether in oil or flake form, my Dad was an avid consumer of wheat germ and takes a tablespoon of wheat germ oil and/or wheat germ flakes everyday. Flakes are an incredible source of protein for vegetarians and contains high levels of iron, zinc, vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, thiamin, and phosphorus. You can sprinkle them on oatmeal, toast, cereal, or add them to any recipe. Gluten free? Take wheat germ oil which contains high levels of vitamin E. It will keep your innards lubricated and your skin glowing.
2. Get Outside
My Dad spends time outside in nature every day. After living in the crammed cities of Europe, he craved nature - to the extreme. He packed everything and headed for Alaska where he built a log cabin on ten acres out in the middle of nowhere. That's where I grew up. Whether it was summer or winter, 75 degrees or -40 degrees, my Dad taught me that spending time out in nature and developing a bond with the natural world keeps mind, body, and especially spirit happy and healthy.
3. Exercise Regularly
I know this tip has been beaten into the ground since time immortal but there's a reason for that - it's key to a happy, healthy body and mind - not to mention a huge reliever of stress. My Dad is a wildlife biologist and spent summers in Alaska backpacking in remote regions of the state counting wildlife populations. The key to losing weight, he said, was simple: use more calories than you take in and move your body. Countless times in my life that simple advice has helped me get back to exercising or ramp it up if I've fallen off the boat. We all gain and lose pounds, struggling to keep an equilibrium. My Dad's focus on exercise and strength have stuck with me throughout the years and I live by it.
4. Be Disciplined
Earning $1 per day, my childhood chore was to scoop dog poop from our sled dogs to keep their homes clean. My Dad emphasized that the dogs were counting on me day in and day out. Rain, snow, or shine, heat or freezing -50F, I completed the chore every single day from the ages 12-17. My Dad taught me how to be disciplined. (Thank you for that, Dad.)
5. Take Care of Your Home
"I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him". -Abraham Lincoln
My Dad lives by these words, and takes good care of his home and land.
6. Grow Your Own Food
We had black, nutrient-rich soil in Alaska and grew strawberries, carrots, broccoli, and potatoes, to name a few. Our Georgia farm had tomatoes, watermelon, corn, pears, and pecans. In Florida, my Dad grows tomatoes, citrus, and mangoes. No matter where he lives, my Dad takes pride in his garden and in growing his own food.
7. Learn Another Language
My Dad became fluent in German in his 20s, and fluent in Russian at 60. Learning another language gives you an ability to see the world in an entirely different perspective. An active, stimulated mind is important to aging in health.
How have you used these tips in your life?