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Living Ratios

“The secret to living well and longer is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure.” -Tibetan Proverb

“We’ve become conditioned to breathe too much, just as we’ve been conditioned to eat too much. With some effort and training, however, breathing less can become an unconscious habit.” – James Nestor, Breath

My three taco dinner informed. Overindulgence in meals, especially dinner, leaves us sluggish. I literally felt like a slug lying in bed trying to get to sleep with a full stomach. Who needs that? My reaction was to eat less the next day. I skipped two meals, breakfast and lunch, and ate moderately at dinner the next night.

Like many people, I’ve wrestled with consistently applying the commonly accepted ratios for a better life: Spend less, save more. Eat less, exercise more. Awake 16 hours, asleep for 8. The logic is easy to grasp for each principle, if hard to execute without discipline. Still, we all agree that these are ratios to aspire to. But breathe less? It seems counterintuitive. Until you consider resting heart rate:

“Mammals with the lowest resting heart rates live the longest. And it’s no coincidence that these are consistently the same mammals that breathe the slowest. The only way to retain a slow resting heart rate is with slow breaths.” – James Nestor, Breath

We all have the opportunity to fully embrace change in our lives. To (cue the buzzword) pivot towards something more sustainable. Training the mind and body to accept the natural order of things. And with this in mind I’m working on my ratios. Portion control, if you will, for the core life functions of eating, exercise, rest, breathing, laughter, learning and interactions with others.

Control is an important modifier here. Not jumping into reckless exercise that creates injury, nor eliminating things from your life that are essential. Living well is not an all or nothing affair, it’s structuring your life around foundational behaviors. We won’t live forever, but we can live better, healthier and more (cue the next buzzword) vibrant lives, and hopefully for a bit longer than the norm.

I know preaching about exercise and fitness principles and dropping a couple of buzzwords into a blog post don’t create meaningful change. Consistent action applied over time creates meaningful change. But all change begins somewhere. Sometimes it’s triggered by something as simple as a Tibetan quote and one too many tacos.

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One Comment

  1. Don’t you remember Tony Horton’s advice? Don’t necessarily eat less in general, but eat plentiful amounts of nutrition-rich foods. Have you been kept awake by eating a giant bowl of dark greens?! And I mean one without all the heavy dressing and calorie-rich accoutrements.

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