The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Amanda Cook Headshot

Why Great-Grandma May Hold the Key to Your Best Life

Posted: Updated:

Healthy living sounds like a lot of hard work. And it's confusing.

Is coffee good or bad? Low-carb, low-fat, gluten-free, to supplement or not ... it seems impossible for a normal person to keep track of the latest nutrition news.

This obsession with diet and lifestyle is a relatively new occurrence. Generations of our ancestors just ate, and lived healthy lives. Nourishing, homecooked meals made with whole foods, an active lifestyle, a supportive community, and of course, way less exposure to nasty chemicals kept people healthy without a lot of extra thought.

But now we're confused. And busy. And overloaded with information.

It doesn't have to be complicated. We don't need to count calories, or carb grams, or spend hours in the gym. We just need to rediscover what Great-Grandma always knew.

And it's not all about weight loss. In fact, I think we should take the emphasis off weight loss and focus on the other areas of our lives:
  • having enough energy to make the most of our day,
  • reducing stress, sleeping better, and waking up refreshed,
  • boosting our immune system so we don't get sick as often,
  • feeling inspired, creative and motivated.

These benefits come along with having a healthy lifestyle, and they're a lot more fun than focusing on losing that last 10 pounds.

In this series, we'll explore healthy, creative living by rediscovering vintage skills. And no, it's not about moving to an organic farm in the countryside (although you can do that if you want.)

This series is all about simple, practical changes that fit into a busy lifestyle - but will have a big impact on your wellbeing!

Instead of detailed lists of Do's and Don'ts (which I find restrictive and stressful!), we're going to explore life through these Great-Grandma approved guidelines.

5 Time-Tested Strategies for Healthy Living

1. Eat real food. Eat things that someone's great-grandmother would recognize. (It doesn't have to be your great-grandmother. Like Thai food? Then eat something that your imaginary Thai-great-grandma would recognize.) Cook more. Eat enough real food so that there isn't space in your diet for the fake, processed stuff.

2. Simplify. This means something different for everyone. Maybe it means less shopping. Or clearing out your closet. Reducing your time commitments. Using fewer beauty products so you have an easier morning routine. Or maybe it means prioritizing: focus on what is important, and let the other stuff fall aside. Just simplify whenever possible. It reduces stress and makes you feel better.

3. Make stuff yourself. A 2009 Harvard Business School study talks about the "Ikea Effect" which essentially means you like stuff more when you make it yourself. Making stuff exercises your creativity, your curiosity and keeps you learning (which is good for your brain!). You'll also often save money. And if you have kids - even better! Making things gives you quality time together and teaches them to be resourceful and creative.

4. Live clean. Reduce chemicals in your life. This is healthier for you and for the planet. This can mean choosing non-toxic cleaning products, personal care products, using less plastic, making less waste. Just generally trying to detox your life.

5. Be here now. This last one is all about mindfulness. Actually being in your life, rather than lost in your thoughts. There are tons of ways to do this - meditation, prayer, mindfulness, yoga, exercise, baking bread... just pick one and try it.

So get ready for healthy and creative living, through simple, time-tested strategies. This is not an approach only for the elite, or the crunchy; these lifestyle changes are for everyone. Let's start the conversation.

As we get started on this adventure, I'd like to hear from you. How do you incorporate some of these philosophies into your daily life? What do you most need help on?