When Tony Horton visits New York City, he loves being able to eat anything at any time. Sushi at 3 a.m.? Why not? Pizza at 8 a.m.? Get it while it’s hot. Brunch at 4 p.m.? Everybody’s doing it. But when Horton, a Beachbody “super trainer” and founder of the at-home exercise program P90X, returns to Los Angeles, he loves that the default options are healthy. “I can [eat] healthy Thai or healthy Mexican or healthy Italian,” he says. While most big cities on both sides of the country match up in many health measures, anecdotally, West Coasters may find it easier to pursue some healthy behaviors. Health experts suggest East Coasters take note.
Photo: Super Trainer Tony Horton leads 22 Minute Hard Corps at Beachbody’s Super Workout on July 30, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Beachbody)
1. Start the day with a shot.
Rise and shine! Say no to that cup of joe and instead throw back a shot — of ginger and turmeric, that is, suggests Alexandra Dusenberry, a registered dietitian nutritionist in San Diego, where the average life expectancy is 3.5 years greater than the average American’s, according to data from Live Well San Diego. “Ginger is great for digestion, and turmeric has major anti-inflammatory properties, so starting the morning with a shot of [them] will prep your body to combat the stress of the day,” Dusenberry says. No juicer? No problem. Just grate a tablespoon of fresh ginger and turmeric root into a glass of warm water, she recommends.
This Jan. 4, 2012 photo shows ginger root in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
2. Find fresh.
Whether it’s January or June, Lori Zanini can buy her produce at local farmers markets, which stay open all year in Manhattan Beach, California, where she works as a registered dietitian nutritionist. People in other parts of the country can eat fresh produce year-round too, she says, by investing in a community-supported agriculture program or buying — and then freezing — fresh produce when it’s in season. “Not only do you support local farmers and reduce your carbon footprint [since] the food doesn’t have to travel as far to get to you,” she says, “but you are maxing out on nutrients since they are picked when they are ripe.”
Check out some of the
best farmers markets around D.C. Colorful, fresh greens and goods from the farmers market at Dupont Circle. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
3. Be creative with vegetables.
Morning green juices are only the first of many vegetable doses West Coasters pack in all day. Many find beets or arugula mixed in their hummus and frozen cauliflower or butternut squash blended into their smoothies, Dusenberry says. “Not only does this bump up fiber intake, but vegetables contain antioxidants and other nutrients … that help prevent disease, keep skin glowing and keep your immune system functioning,” she says. To sneak more vegetables into your diet, keep frozen vegetables on hand and use them in place of bananas in smoothies or throw them in a food processor with hummus. “Bonus points for dipping veggies into your veggie hummus,” Dusenberry says.
4. Take a hike.
Horton lives near 17 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails — not a backyard norm for many East Coast dwellers. Still, finding ways to get outside year-round can increase your exposure to vitamin D, which is critical for bone health, and may lower your risk of many chronic conditions including cancer and heart disease. Research has also linked time in nature with lower rates of depression and better immunity against illness. “Any type of physical activity is healthy,” says Randi Eisenshtat, a senior studio manager at Life Time in Scottsdale, Arizona, “but making being outdoors a habit, getting fresh air and dressing for the weather are all fantastic.”
Check out some local trails offering options for bikers, hikers and joggers.
A woman walks a dog along the W&OD Trail in this Aug. 30, 2016 file photo. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
6. Wind down with kombucha.
From cocktails with New York names like “Manhattans” to TV shows based in Boston bars like “Cheers,” for many East Coasters, fraternizing over booze comes with the territory. Not so much in places like San Diego, where Dusenberry says it’s perfectly acceptable to socialize over kombucha, a fermented tea drink packed with probiotics thought to promote gut health, boost mood and improve the immune system. “The effervescence and subtle, tart flavor … make you feel like you’re having a cocktail, while saving calories and giving your liver a break,” she says. Never had “booch?” Try one with fruitier notes like apple, grape or berry, Dusenberry suggests. Cheers!
Kombucha? We’ve got that! Craft Kombucha started as a home-brew business in the District’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood. It’s now available at Union Market and farmers markets across the city. Union Kitchen also sells the drink, and Guerilla Vending offers it in some of its vending machines. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
5. Move all day.
Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Conor Dwyer can jump in the Pacific Ocean within 20 seconds of leaving his home in Manhattan Beach, California. “[Physical activity] is a bit more of a lifestyle that’s in your face wherever you go,” he finds. Contrast that with other cities in which he’s lived like New York and Baltimore, where people seem more likely to think of exercise as something that has to get done. Beachbody data also suggest West Coasters gravitate toward Horton’s hourlong, 90-day program while East Coasters prefer 22-minute, military-style workouts. But research suggests moving all day, rather than in a single bout, is critical for preventing the detrimental effects of prolonged sitting.
Walking up and down Metro’s longer escalators gets the heart pumping.
A Metro rider takes the escalator out of the Dupont Circle Metro Station on Thursday, July 12, 2007. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
(ASSOCIATED PRESS/Associated Press/Jacquelyn Marti)
7. Go to bed early.
When the last buzzer sounds during the NCAA National Championship game, it’s close to midnight for East Coasters, whose cities brag that they “never sleep.” But out West, tucking in early might be easier: More than 68 percent of folks in Washington and Oregon, for instance, report sleeping the recommended seven hours a night, while only 61.6 of New Yorkers and 62.5 of Pennsylvanians do. Not only is sleep deprivation linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic medical conditions, but you also “want to get enough sleep to wake up with the energy and enthusiasm to make good choices,” Horton says.
Washingtonians might have to give up their Daily Show fix to get to bed early like West Coasters.
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., left, talks with Trevor Noah after taping a segment of the “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
8. Chill out.
While many major cities have caught up, “the West was way ahead” in terms of its love of yoga, which Horton calls “the ultimate stress-buster.” That may have paid off for residents’ mental health, with California remaining home to seven of the top 25 U.S. communities in the Gallup-Healthways Wellbeing Index. “You can be sure to find us working on keeping our body, mind and soul healthy every day,” be it through meditation, yoga or other self-care rituals, Dusenberry says. The good news is that health-conscious communities exist in all corners of the country. If you can’t find one in yours, Horton says, “maybe you have to be the leader.”
The Kennedy Center is hosting free yoga classes through Aug. 19 every other Saturday in the iconic Grand Foyer. Yoga not your style? Meditation studios are multiplying in D.C.
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8 Healthy West Coast Habits East Coasters Should Adopt originally appeared on usnews.com
WTOP’s Amanda Iacone contributed to this report.