I'm Jo Lodder, well into my fifties, and my life has undergone a profound transformation. Picture this: I was once a heavy-drinking party animal stuck in a rut, getting heavier, looking older, and feeling utterly out of shape. Climbing a few flights of stairs left me breathless. But today, I stand as an advocate for health, longevity, and a zest for life that defies age. My journey isn't just personal; it's also about how my wife, Novy, and I found inspiration in the Blue Zones—those regions renowned for their vibrant, healthy communities.
Transition to a Healthier Lifestyle
Let's rewind to my days as a heavy drinker and contrast that with my current choices. I've wholeheartedly embraced a plant-fueled diet, a nod to the Blue Zones' dietary wisdom. I challenge conventional notions about carbohydrates, emphatically stating that a well-prepared high-carb diet can be incredibly beneficial. The most significant shift, however, has been giving up alcohol entirely. The result? A clearer mind, boundless energy, and an ability to seize the day from dawn to dusk.
Managing Stress and Finding Balance
My journey has fundamentally transformed my relationship with stress. Running has become my form of meditation, a powerful tool for managing life's pressures. I find myself wondering if these changes might be the key to a longer, healthier life. With age, I've come to see the first half of life as the warm-up, where mistakes are made, stories are crafted, and resilience is built. Now, I'm ready to make the most of the second half—filled with purpose and genuine contributions to the world.
Community and Social Connections
The Blue Zones provide a masterclass in stress control, and I've taken notes. In these regions, tight-knit communities and robust support systems thrive. Astonishingly, nursing homes are almost non-existent; instead, communities and families unite to care for their elderly. My own home in Mui Wo, on Lantau Island in Hong Kong, epitomizes this communal spirit. We walk, run, or cycle everywhere, greeting our neighbours along the way. It's a place where everyone looks out for one another, a true community in every sense.
Volunteering and Meaningful Activities
My journey continues as I underscore the importance of helping others and volunteering—a principle inspired by the Blue Zones. Acts of kindness, from feeding the hungry to aiding the sick, bring daily joy and profound meaning. I can't overstate the transformative effects of volunteering on memory, well-being, and overall health. My passion for helping others led me to start "Run for Freedom" alongside Esther Fok, a movement dedicated to raising funds for those with disabilities—one step at a time for those that can't
The Role of Diet
Now, let's shed light on the profound impact of diet in the Blue Zones, with a particular focus on a plant-based approach and a balanced diet that's generally low in meat. I delve into the specifics, revealing the unique components in plant-based foods that are absent in animal products. My wife, Novy, who has become an exceptional vegan chef, has meticulously researched the nutritional value of various plants, ensuring that I have as much, if not more, energy than when I consume meat.
Celebrating Your Journey to a Healthier, Longer Life
In conclusion, my journey from a heavy drinker to a healthier, purpose-driven life mirrors the core principles of the Blue Zones. I reflect on how these changes may potentially affect my life expectancy and overall well-being. While it's too early to measure the full impact, one thing is clear: the future excites me, and I intend to explore how far this lifestyle can take me, alongside my wife, who has also embraced this transformative journey.
The Blue Zones offer us valuable insights into the secrets of a long, fulfilling life: a diet rich in plant-based foods, robust social connections, effective stress management, and a sense of purpose. However, one question lingers: will pharmaceutical companies ever allow these lifestyle changes to become widespread in developed countries? It's a question worth pondering as we navigate our paths toward a healthier, more fulfilling existence.
Now, let's explore these unique Blue Zones and what sets them apart, to inspire change in your life today.
Blue Zone 1: Okinawa, Japan
A region with one of the world's highest life expectancies.
A plant-based, low-calorie diet, focusing on vegetables and sweet potatoes.
Blue Zone 2: Sardinia, Italy
Known for its high number of centenarians.
Diet rich in whole grains, beans, and locally produced wine.
Blue Zone 3: Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Lower rates of heart disease and some cancers.
Diet rich in beans, corn, and tropical fruits, combined with an active lifestyle.
Blue Zone 4: Ikaria, Greece
A high proportion of people living into their 90s and beyond.
Mediterranean diet, strong social connections, and an active lifestyle.
Blue Zone 5: Loma Linda, California, USA
Home to Seventh-day Adventists with longer life expectancies.
Attributed to a vegetarian diet, regular exercise, strong social support networks, and religious principles.
These Blue Zones demonstrate that it's never too late to make a change and embrace a lifestyle that promotes health, longevity, and a profound sense of meaning. The secrets are out there, waiting for you to uncover them and embark on your own transformative journey toward a brighter, healthier future.
"While I can't guarantee that adopting these changes—better eating, increased exercise, ensuring at least 7 hours of sleep each night, and actively participating in a community while selflessly helping others—will ensure you live to 100 or beyond, I can assure you that you will feel better and savour life more fully. It's essential to keep in mind that cultivating both good and bad habits typically requires about 30 days of consistent practice. So, though the journey to adopting healthier habits may be challenging initially, persevere for 30 days, and you'll find yourself on a path to a remarkably improved life."
"Jo Lodder and Novy are a dynamic duo, each with their own remarkable contributions to the world. Jo is a trail runner, business leader, and philanthropist, known for his trailblazing spirit. He is the co-founder of JNW Asia, a prominent property marketing company based in Hong Kong that specializes in Niseko projects. Jo is also a master agent of SnowDog, a renowned hospitality brand. However, what truly sets him apart is his unique achievement: being the first person in history to conquer the HK5Trails in Hong Kong while championing the 'Run for Freedom' challenge to raise funds for charity.
Novy, on the other hand, is a culinary virtuoso with a passion for traditional Indonesian cuisine. As a private chef, she runs Novy's Kitchen (novyskitchen.com), where she brings the authentic flavours of Indonesia to the world. Her culinary expertise adds a unique and delightful dimension to their journey, combining adventure and entrepreneurship with the rich tapestry of Indonesian gastronomy. Together, Jo and Novy share a profound commitment to helping others and a relentless drive for success, inspiring everyone they encounter through their love of adventure and their culinary creations."
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