The Middle-terrain-ean lifestyle filled with healthy hobbits – the real secret to long life (Happy April fool’s day)

Hobbits live the longest...it must be their Middle-terrain-ean diet

Hobbits live the longest…it must be their Middle-terrain-ean diet

I’ve long thought that I’d like to be a hobbit.

Bilbo Baggins’ parlour and pantry was filled with all my favourite foods, wines, and cheeses.

The ultimate pantry is apparently a hobbit pantry filled with great ingredients so that healthful meals can be whipped together at a moments notice

The ultimate pantry is apparently a hobbit pantry filled with great ingredients so that healthful meals can be whipped together at a moments notice

Baggins’ home was COZY – all caps. When I saw Bilgo Baggins’ home on the big screen I immediately had an urge to request the blueprints and start building (or hollowing as it were).

COZY Hobbit home

COZY Hobbit home

Hobbits obviously work with nature’s best designs for heat and water conservation. They are the fictitious forerunners of the modern-day permaculture movement and ate a mile zero diet. Baggins’ garden and neighbourhood were fecund and friendly looking. He had the air of a very content person with time to preserve all his own food and still visit with dear friends (zero commute no doubt bought him precious time).

Hobbits take a little time to meditate and reflect each day

Hobbits take a little time to meditate and reflect each day

When the opportunity came for an adventure -after a little pause for thought – a hobbit would find himself fit of mind and body and ready to participate.

Hobbits are up for adventure and get exercise as a natural part of their daily life

Hobbits are up for adventure and get exercise as a natural part of their daily life

Much has been written about the benefits of living the Mediterranean lifestyle. I’ll grant you it is made up of many healthy habits. People in the Mediterranean eat lots of grains, fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, olive oil and nuts. They exercise in a way that’s a part of a daily routine; gardening and walking to do errands and to visit and dine with family and friends in a leisurely way on a daily basis.

They’re living well but the more I think about it; the more I’m convinced they’re basing all these Mediterranean habits on the Middle-terrain-ean Hobbit’s habits of long ago, far away, yore and yesteryear.

Are you with me? So far we’re blending fiction and fact but let’s get down to more facts than fiction.

Here’s the results from recent World Health Organization statistics of who lives the longest by country as follows:

Overall Rank of length of life by Country – WHO data 2013
1 Monaco
2 Japan
3 Andorra
4 Singapore
5 Hong Kong
6 San Marino
7 Iceland
8 Italy
9 Australia
10 Sweden
11 Switzerland
12 Canada
13 France
14 Israel
15 Spain
16 Luxembourg
17 Norway
18 New Zealand
19 Austria
20 Netherlands
21 Ireland
22 Cyprus
23 Finland
24 Germany
25 Greece
26 South Korea
27 Malta
28 Belgium
29 United Kingdom
30 Liechtenstein
31 Taiwan
32 Portugal
33 Slovenia
34 Costa Rica
35 United States

(I included 35 countries in this list so we could squeeze the United States into the conversation. It makes it more interesting and they are Canada’s very good neighbour to the south so I would never leave them out).

Here’s my not very scientific analysis of why people in these countries live as long as they do.
Forgive me for having some fun with a serious topic but its April Fool’s after all.

One could easily lump Monaco, Andorra, San Marino, Italy, Australia (hey, I’ve been there – Oz is like a really big Mediterranean island that got set adrift – they eat a beautiful Mediterranean-like diet), France, Israel, Spain, New Zealand (see above reasoning re: OZ plus they seem to know lots about Hobbits and Middle-terrain-ean things in New Zealand), Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Portugal into a group that might be mainly adherent to the Mediterranean-like diet. That adds up to 13/35 countries that live the longest following that diet. Pretty impressive – even if they are only copying the über healthy Hobbits of Middle-terrain-ean earth.

Japan, Singapore, Iceland, Sweden, Canada, Norway, Netherlands, Finland, South Korea, Belgium, Taiwan – lots of Top Ten countries in this lot which could be explained by fish, fish oil and lots of snuggling to keep warm! Oh yes, and lots of universal health care in these countries.

Switzerland,Luxembourg, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Slovenia – Let’s give them money, fish, fermented foods and beer as their key reasons for preservation (any puns are definitely intended).

Ireland, United Kingdom – I’m giving them beer and gardening. Prince Charles is an organic gardener. Many Brits (like people from Saskatchewan and the Maritimes) think the hullaballoo over local is hilarious as they’ve never done anything BUT raise their own food. It’s how they’ve survived THIS long. So they get gardening and BEER – which I did list as their number one reason.

United States – oh dear, number 35… even though they spend more money on health care than any other nation. So…lots of money, crappy food consumption, crappy health care system, working more hours than Noah building the Ark…hmm, big lost opportunity here. Loma Linda California which is filled with clean living octogenarian Seventh Day Adventists is apparently an exception. Well, let’s face it – California as a whole should not be lumped in with the rest of the United States. California is very Mediterranean – with the exception of Los Angeles because of its brown haze but especially the all organic section where Oprah lives in Monticello and all of Marin County. Oprah’s going to live for freakin’ ever! I mean that in a nice way.

I’ve been collecting a lot of articles lately about health and how to live longer. (I’m trying to prove my Hobbit theory).

Based on all the WHO data, it seems that living longer is more than just what you eat, its how you live in total.

In our culture, that thought’s confounded because people have even forgotten what “normal” eating is let alone the beautiful Middle-terrain-ean way of eating AND living like a healthy Hobbit. This is an excellent article by Registered Dietician Andrea Holwegner with the first bit of solid advice on eating that I’ve read in years.

We're stuffed and starved: Tips on how to get back to ‘normal’ eating.

That’s a much better article than this non-conclusive and confusing headline grabber…

Skinniness no survival advantage, study finds: Underweight at highest risk of early death | canada.com.

Poor Kiera Knightley and the thin-obsessed cum waif stick insect obsessed culture. All they’re ever served is a dilemma on a platter. Here’s way too much food, now don’t eat too much of it. Argh.

That article was poor. It stuck a Hollywood icon with really good genetics or a really bad eating disorder in where it should have shown someone who is underweight from conditions that cause death – alcoholism, drug use, lung disease, eating disorders and cancer. Of course, those people are underweight. And of course they are going to die sooner than normal weight people. But the big news of that study – which got missed by the terrible headline – is that while obese and underweight people are going to die sooner, PEOPLE WHO ARE SLIGHTLY OVERWEIGHT WON’T.

Now, that’s something I can get excited about as a 52-year-old size 12 – 14 woman.

Another study recently reported by Dr. Trina Read noted that women who are size 2 – 10 are way harder on themselves and less happy than women who are sizes 12 – 14 and plus. Hobbits aren’t skinny but they’re fit and content. There’s lots of research to show that overweight people who exercise live longer.

What’s my point?

My point is that being thin does not guarantee happiness or long life. An overall lifestyle of healthful and joyous Hobbit habits does.

Exercise is another area that can become artificial and joyless and not Hobbit-forming at all.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

Instead of just going out for a walk daily because you just love to walk daily or you own a dog or you get to walk to work, now you’ve got to count the steps on your walk.

Here’s the detailed formula as follows:

HOW MANY STEPS ARE IN A KILOMETRE?
An average step to be 0.762 meters (this equals a 2.5 foot stride). Therefore, 1 kilometer = 1,320 steps.

If you have longer legs and/or a wider gait, you will actually be making more distance than the Step Update program shows. If you have shorter legs and/or a narrower gait, you will actually be making less distance than the Step Update shows. Either way, don’t sweat the distance! The point of Steps Out is to get you walking and promote overall health. It is more important how hard you work, not how far you go. (is it just me or does that seem contradictory?)
________________________________________________________________

WHAT IS THE SIMPLEST WAY TO DETERMINE HOW FAST I’M WALKING?
The easiest way to gauge your speed without wearing a pedometer – or getting in your car and measuring mileage, which can be pretty difficult unless you walk along a street – is to count your number of steps per minute. The experts use this number to calculate pace, based on an average stride length of 2.5 feet. (Stride length is the distance from the heel of one foot to the heel of the other foot when you’re taking a step.) They’ve already done the math for you:

70 steps per minute equals 30 minutes per mile, or 2 miles per hour
105 steps per minute equals 20 minutes per mile, or 3 miles per hour
140 steps per minute equals 15 minutes per mile, or 4 miles per hour

If you pay attention to your steps, after a while you’ll be able to estimate your pace fairly accurately without bothering to count. You’ll just know what a 20 minute mile or a 15 minute mile feels like.
______________________________________________________________________

ACTIVITY EQUIVALENCY CHART
Pedometers will not register some activities, so add these numbers of equivalent steps (please remember these are estimates):

* Gentle yoga: 50 steps per minute
* Weightlifting, light rowing, canoeing: 100 steps per minute
* Intermediate yoga, cycling, swimming, downhill skiing, rowing: 150 steps per minute
* Rollerblading, skateboarding, BMX: 175 steps per minute
* High cardio yoga: 200 steps per minute
* 9 holes of golf: 8,000 steps
________________________________________________________________

SET YOUR PERSONAL GOALS
Week One: wear your pedometer for 7 days without changing your routine to determine your current activity level.
Week Two: try to increase your average current number of steps by 2,000 steps per day.
When you are consistently achieving 2,000 steps a day, set a new goal of 4,000 steps a day and so on. Two, four, six, eight, 10,000 steps a day! For each activity goal level you achieve reward yourself, send us an e-mail about your achievement and set your next goal of increased number of steps.

Why 10,000 Steps a Day? (yes, please tell us why we face yet another superficially imposed guilt trip…pack your bag as you’ll be going on a guilt trip if you don’t live up to all this!)

10,000 steps a day began as a fitness program in Japan in the 1960’s. Fitness is part of Japan’s cultural heritage. Accusplit has been a leader in promoting 10,000 steps as a low-cost effective way to encourage North American’s population toward increased activity and wellness. 10,000 steps a day ensures a moderate level of fitness.

Oh brother! this seems pretty artificial to me. It is also a very subtle way for pedometer companies to sell more pedometers. But I have seen it work in people with an inborn competitive streak and penchant for the latest techno gadget.

I’m more about just exercising for joy or for the necessity of walking my dog or for health benefits like the ones in this article below.

A run can keep the brain young.

According to the 10,000 steps regimen/regime you need to walk eight to nine kilometres a day to be “moderately fit” or you can do 200 minutes of yoga or 100 minutes of weight-lifting. I think my arms would fall off. The Japanese who invented the 10,000 step program seem to have high standards – no wonder they report feeling the least well (they feel healthy about 15% of the time) of all the people who live a long time.

Abe Lincoln said, we are our habits.

The good news is if your habits aren’t great at the moment YOU CAN CHANGE!

Don’t let anyone tell you it will only take 21 days though. That’s a myth and here’s the article that renounced that thought.

http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/hbrc/2012/06/29/busting-the-21-days-habit-formation-myth/

On average it takes about 66 days to form a new habit. Not all habits are created equal though and it may take almost a year to really adopt a new habit.

What’s the whole point of this April Fool’s discussion of Middle-terrain-ean Hobbits?

The point is this. I think April 1st is the perfect time to lighten up. I think people take life too seriously.

We all get caught up in the minutae of living. We feel we need to start counting our calories, footsteps, carbs, ab-crunches and dress sizes. We forget that the point of life is to live like a Hobbit.

Respect the earth, take care of your home and hearth, garden a bit, eat and drink well, exercise enough, meditate and relax, read and use your brain, visit with your family, friends and neighbours and when life invites you…go on an adventure.

The point of life, my friends, is to savour it all as even though we’d all like to live a long and healthy life; none of us actually knows how long we get to receive the precious gift that life is.

My feet, boobs, waist and nose all seem to be getting bigger and more Hobbit-like as I age but I’m also eating better quality food, drinking better wine, laughing more and wanting less. I’ve had enough crap happen in my life to help me appreciate all I have. I’m as content as Bilbo Baggins himself. I’m ready for life’s adventures.

I hope you’ll consider some of the Middle-terrain-ean Hobbit-forming ways I’ve suggested.

One last thing. Don’t forget to dream.

I haven’t given up on my dream to one day live in a Hobbit home. If I do happen to build another home in my lifetime, don’t be surprised if it looks a bit like this one below.

Modern Hobbit Home meets Frank Lloyd Wright

Modern Hobbit Home meets Frank Lloyd Wright

4 Comments

Filed under Health, Joy

4 responses to “The Middle-terrain-ean lifestyle filled with healthy hobbits – the real secret to long life (Happy April fool’s day)

  1. Sue Smith

    Most excellent, entertaining, thoughtful and fun blog Karen! Well done, as always.

    Like

  2. I’ve always felt the exact same way about the hobbit lifestyle. They don’t take life too seriously and just enjoy every moment, healthily and happily.

    Like

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