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Time with Friends: Lifestyle Practice

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The next Whole Life Challenge starts in:

Your Lifestyle Practice is to spend time around food or coffee with a friend, family member, acquaintance, or co-worker each day.

Every day, you’ll eat a meal, grab a snack, or have a cup of coffee with a member of your social circle.

  • This can be at any time of the day and does not need to be one of the main meals
  • You can sit down with anyone—even inviting a co-worker to have lunch with you at the last minute checks out!
  • You don’t have to spend a fixed amount of time together, even just ten minutes over a cup of coffee counts.

When we talk about what’s important to people’s health or fitness, it’s really simple to point to diet and exercise. The link is clear. Certain foods have positive or negative effects. Exercise uses and creates energy. The links are really easy to understand, and the prescription is a simple one.

What’s not necessarily as easy to understand are the effects our social lives have on our health. There are areas all over the world known as Blue Zones—the 7th Day Adventists community in Loma Linda, CA, Okinawa, Sardinia, Nicoya in Costa Rica, and Icaria in Greece. The inhabitants in these areas live measurably longer lives than the rest of us.

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After studying them, researchers discovered some common characteristics of these people. Along with eating mostly plant-based diets (not vegetarian, but lots of vegetables, beans, fruit, and nuts), they place a great deal of importance on family and their social circle. You heard that. One of the common characteristics of the longest-living people on the planet has nothing to do with what they eat or how hard they exercise. It is the importance they place on their place in the community.

In these communities, the elderly don’t retire and go away—they remain socially active all the way through to the end. Family is put ahead of other concerns. Friends, the tribe people belong to, largely determines the habits they engage in. Being a part of a group that is actively concerned with the things that are important to you acts almost like a social insurance policy. Not to mention, according to some research, loneliness can shave up to five years off of your life expectancy.

Just like going to the gym, it’s easy to put it off and assume that you’ll “do it tomorrow.” So as you point your mental energy toward optimal health, don’t fail to include what it’s all for—being able to enjoy the ride along the way. Enjoying time with your tribe can improve your health, and the healthier you are, the more you’ll enjoy doing it. It’s a virtuous cycle.

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Michael Stanwyck
Michael Stanwyck is the co-founder of The Whole Life Challenge, an idea that developed during his seven years as a coach and gym manager at CrossFit Los Angeles.

He graduated from UCLA with a BA in philosophy as well as a degree from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, and feels food is one of the most important parts of a life - it can nourish, heal, and bring people together.

Michael believes health and well-being are as much a state of mind as they are a state of the body, and when it comes to fitness, food, and life in general, he thinks slow is much better than fast (most of the time). Stopping regularly to examine things is the surest way to put down roots and grow.

He knows he will never be done with his own work, and believes the best thing you can do for your well-being starts with loving and working from what you’ve got right now.