The Ashes & Blue Zones

Monthly Musings

So it turns out that a month is a long time in cricket!  England won the World Cup on the 14th July – albeit via a drawn super over, which should prompt a mention here to the New Zealand team, as it’s a cruel way to finish what was an otherwise fantastic final!  Then, on the 5th August, England manage to lose the 1st Ashes test at Edgbaston.

Australia’s most successful fast bowler in test cricket, Glenn McGrath, is predicting a 5 – 0 pasting of the POMS. The arrogance of it!  He may be right, but let’s just try and keep our powder dry Glenn; four more tests to go starting at The Home of Cricket, Lords tonight.

But alas, it’s just cricket and the Premier League is back! With no football to watch since the end of the women’s world cup on the 7th July, it has been a whole month without a game.  The transfer window is shut, and I feel buoyed by my team’s purchases.  Fingers crossed Tottenham finish higher than 4th this season. Could we actually win it?  Well, you have to have hope, don’t you!?

It has been a busy one on both the personal and business fronts.  One of the personal highlights was taking the family to Sovereign Hill for their Winter Wonderlights Christmas in July event.  It was a fantastic day, especially for the children. The usual gold rush open air museum was enhanced by streets and lane-ways decorated in fairy lights and the expected Christmas spectacle. The children jumped around in the fake snow, we enjoyed a drink of mulled wine, and as night fell, we rugged up and watched the light show adorning the faces of the historical buildings.

On the business front, I have made a conscious decision to take a couple of ‘slower’ weeks (which I am now half way through).  The idea was to catch my breath a little as the business has been mad!  But also so I could spend a little time on the business rather than in the business, that way I can improve the overall experience for my clients, especially as things get busier.  It’s been rewarding to finally tick off some of the items on my to-do list, some of which have been there since I started the business over two years ago!

I have also managed to squeeze in a little time for the family – having a Daddy daughter day last week and a Father and Son day this week. It’s important to keep the balance!

Have a read of my latest finance blog below, and until next month, stay safe and look after one another!

Finance Bit

The property market continues to pick up. Clearance rates have held in the 70’s with this week’s rates hitting 76%.

Interest rates are always a topic we love to discuss. Well why not, it saves us money on our mortgage repayments! There was much speculation that the RBA may go with three rate reductions in a row, but last Tuesday’s rate reveal proved that they want to wait to see what the effect of the latest rate reductions and APRA’s removal of the assessment floor rate has on the market, and whether it will invigorate the economy, before making any more moves.

But what does that even mean?  The RBA Governor wants to see unemployment fall. He thinks that although an unemployment rate of 5.2% is not high, the Australian economy should be able to support a labour market leaving only 4.5% unemployed.  It is expected that rates will continue to be cut until they reach the target of 4.5% unemployment. However, at the end of last week, the Governor told the House of Representatives’ economics committee that he does not expect unemployment to go below 5% until 2021!

What can we conclude from this?  It seems that the RBA is likely to continue to cut rates until 2021 to reach their unemployment goal, but there isn’t much room to move.  The current cash rate is already a mere 1%.  Adding to the unemployment targets, wage growth and inflation are below where the government would like to see them.  Reducing interest rates does appear to be the logical thing to do.

I found this quote in an article I was reading in The Conversation:

‘The consensus is for another cut of 0.25% in October and then another cut of 0.25% in February, taking the cash rate down to yet another all-time low of just 0.5%.’

Can you imagine!?

As usual, only time will tell!

Slice of Inspiration

Have you heard of a ‘Blue Zone’?  Neither had I until I was listening to one of my podcasts whilst walking the dog at 5:30am in the freezing cold August air!

Blue Zones are regions throughout the world that have been identified by expolorer, longevity expert and Author Dan Buettner, that are home to the world’s oldest people and boast populations with some of the lowest rates of chronic disease.

It seems that as a society, we are obsessed with diets and rituals to live long and healthy lives. But with so much diet, exercise, health and wellbeing recommendations to choose from, it’s hard to know which choice is right! Too often we can find ourselves in a confused state of to-and-fro as we try to decipher whether the latest health craze is based in good science or rather just media hype or industry bias and capitalisation.

Perhaps the answers to the never-ending debate concerning what health and lifestyle choices reign supreme reside in the study of the Blue Zone regions and what diet and lifestyle factors define the common threads between. The current zones have been been identified as: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California.

Through his research and observation spanning 15 years, Dan Buettner has identified several key diet and lifestyle factors that the locals within these areas have adopted as a natural part of living within their environment. These key factors are known as ‘The Power 9’. They include:

  1. Moving naturally: Rather than carving out time to do highly intensive aerobic activity, Blue Zoners live lifestyles that demand them to naturally move on average every 20 minutes throughout the day. They grow gardens, harvest their own produce, walk everywhere rather than rely on a car, and don’t rely on the convenience of technology for menial domestic tasks (such as dishes, laundry etc.).

  2. Living with purpose: People in these areas know the importance of living with purpose, and regardless of success status (which isn’t much of a factor to them), they are able to find purpose in the simple and meaningful aspects of their existence and therefore find a ‘reason to wake up in the morning’.

  3. Incorporating a ‘down shift’ into the day: Locals of the Blue Zone areas factor in regular daily rituals of relaxation or down time that busts the stress from their lives. This may include pray, afternoon siestas or happy hour after work.

  4. Eating to 80% fullness: Residents of the Blue Zones are ‘conscious’ eaters and purposely eat only until they are around 80% full. They also eat their smallest meal last in the day and don’t eat late into the evening. As a result, people in these areas maintain healthy weight ranges.

  5. Eating a primarily plant based diet: Beans, soy and legumes feature heavily within the Blue Zone diet, with meat consumption kept to a minimal five times per month average, and fish eaten in some of the diets 2 – 3 times per week.

  6. Drinking 1 – 2 glasses of red wine per day: Most Blue Zoners drink moderately and regularly rather than binging on the weekends, and favour beverages high in antioxidants such as red wine.

  7. Having a sense of belonging: For many of the Blue Zone locations, faith is an important factor in the lives of their residents. Faith-based community specifically, which brings a sense of social and spiritual belonging.

  8. Putting loved ones first: Successful centenarians in the blue zones are born from the belief that family should be kept close, particularly ageing family. Ageing parents and grandparents are kept in the family home or in residences nearby. Relocation to an aged care facility is usually frowned down upon within many of these cultures. Keeping ageing family close by has been shown to reduce disease and mortality rates for children in the home also!

  9. Finding the ‘right tribe’ of people to positively influence their life: The world’s longest lived people have either consciously chosen, or been born into, a social group that impacts positively on their health and wellness choices and naturally inspires them to be their best, and avoid isolation.

These habits adopted by the Blue Zone regions are certainly food for thought and consideration. Without having to go all out, there are small and achievable changes we could easily implement one step at a time if we wanted to prioritise our wellness and longevity. Granted, to do it all by the book wouldn’t be realistic for most of us living a modern life, but small changes would certainly improve our life and health outcomes!

I have to say I was pretty ‘inspired’ by the red wine point and didn’t waste much time before I clicked ‘add to cart’ on a box of organic Shiraz from Vinomofo. I’m sure my wife will feel more justified in taking her afternoon micro naps too!

Other Blue Zone habits discussed in the podcast include coffee consumption (coffee being one of the world’s highest antioxidant foods), and consuming foods that are minimally processed, low in sugar, and either organic or minimally sprayed. You can listen here for the interview with Jay Shetty for further details.

Dan Buettner has written a book called ‘The Blue Zones’ that details his research about the lifestyles of the people in these pockets of the world. He has also co-founded a company called Blue Zones Project that takes these ideas to cities and helps to implement lifestyle and city planning changes to create new Blue Zones. He and his business partner, Ben Leedle, are taking some massive inspiring action to help bring about real, tangible change within the scope of health, wellness and longevity.

We are definitely reviewing our lifestyle with the Blue Zone methodology in mind!

Find out more on the Blue Zone website https://www.bluezones.com/. I’m sure you’ll be inspired too!

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