Let’s face it, we live in a slice of the world where there is no shortage of holistic health practices, cutting edge health and fitness options, the latest and greatest diets, life coaches, and places of worship. To say all the options we have vying for our health, happiness, spiritual well being, time and money are a bit overwhelming is an understatement to say the least.
For me to join the above mentioned gurus and evangelists and claim to know the key to health and happiness would be putting myself in a category I’m not really qualified to be in…I am just a simple plate licker after all. There, that’s my disclaimer. The following is more along the lines of observations and lifestyle choices I’ve made that work for me, and all came into focus recently with the celebration of a milestone birthday.
Besides that big birthday, the inspiration for this column came from a recent Sunday that started out surfing Beacon’s, then a trip through the Leucadia Farmer’s market, then off to a very high-end food and wine event at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, followed by a trip down to Chula Vista and the 91X Fest at Sleep Train Amphitheatre that included a very diverse lineup including what would be my first rap show, Public Enemy. It was a day that had me dabbling in drastically different scenes, especially going from the uber high-end Fairmont Grand Del Mar, full of beautiful foodies enjoying the best food and wine for a great cause, to the X-Fest packed with teens and 20-something rockers and a VIP tent where the only beverage option was Bud Light.
I love that diversity in my life and that brings me to my first key to happiness; mix it up and step out of your comfort zone, often. Stop in to a dive bar before your black tie affair; enjoy live music from high school bands at Ducky Waddles on your way to a high-end dinner. On the reality side of this advice, I don’t try to fit in too much at these events but it’s great to dabble in scenes outside of your comfort zone. You don’t have to jump into the mosh pit, just sit back and take it all in.
My second tip is to eat a sensible diet and indulge in moderation. That’s right, just eat. Believe me, I’ve jumped on my share of a few trendy diets and they simply don’t last. Many have elements that I’ve incorporated into my life…but to make a drastic jump into a strict paleo, gluten-free, or whatever the diet du jour is without any medical reason to do so does not make sense and ultimately, these diets fail because they do not allow us some of life’s great pleasures, namely food that may not fit into the guidelines of the diet. That said, we all know the basics of good nutrition by now right? Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, a protein source that is not endangered, and easy on the sugar, alcohol, and any other addictive substances. The movement towards local and organic is a good one as well, support it when you can. Given what I do with Lick the Plate, I have to pay more attention to all this than most because I’m not about to turn food away from a chef who wants to bring out their best for me. I just make it a point to eat extra healthy and lean leading up to that meal and turn up the exercise a bit.
Which leads me to my next key to health and happiness; stay active! Lucky for me, I love to play, and what I do for exercise falls into the category of having fun for me and I think that’s key. I find that whatever it is you do to stay healthy, it’s always a lot more enjoyable and motivating with a group or a partner. The biggest joy I got out of going to CrossFit was the camaraderie and support of the group. I simply checked my ego at the door and found those both younger and older than me to be very motivating. I still hop into random classes at the YMCA for that exact reason. And really, we have no shortage of fitness options around here. I have a recurring fantasy of not having to work and becoming super sporty. I’d hit up a different gym or studio daily combined with surfing and my sprinting obsession and simply riding my bike around town. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people around here living that lifestyle…and yes, I am jealous. Injuries are almost unavoidable living a sporty life though, but I’ve found that I’ve always been able to continue some type of movement, even if it’s a walk or hobble on the beach, just keep moving!
I’ll wrap this up by combining my last three keys to happiness. I truly believe that a tight group of close friends, including one I can talk about anything with, has been essential to my happiness. I’ve got a solid group of what I call the major dudes, guys who I can be absolutely myself with. That makes me happy. Next up is the family thing and I’m fortunate to come from a large, fairly tight family and have a son I am very proud of. I do whatever I can to maintain and nurture those relationships regardless of how different our lives have turned out.
Since this is a food related column, I’ll wrap things up with my passion for entertaining and how doing so over the years has given me great joy. From cooking for a special friend to throwing a blockbuster summer solstice party, I’ve always loved the process of making people happy through food and music. And while I’ve scaled back on my large scale entertaining, I still get great joy from hosting a dinner at the American Legion or cooking for my son when he returns home.
So there you go. Keep life interesting, vibrant, healthy, and full of great friends, family and food.