Carlos Walker practices the Blue Zones Power 9 principle of MOVE NATURALLY while building community and a family legacy.
The Blue Zones Power 9 principle of Move Naturally is simple. It’s about being active without even having to think about it. That’s why people from the world’s original Blue Zones live longer, healthier lives. They don’t pump iron, run marathons, or join gyms. They live in environments where moving naturally is part of their daily routines. Carlos Walker can certainly relate; it’s impossible to be sedentary while living on a farm. “Gardening is work – you’re moving all the time,” he says. “But you get to see the fruits of your labor,” he added.
Walker first embraced the Power 9 guidelines while assisting with Blue Zones Project at Dunbar High School, where he was principal. He saw the benefits for his students, the community and his family, and has worked to advance the project’s initiatives. In December 2018, Walker embraced another Power 9 principle by identifying his Purpose. In Blue Zones areas, one of the reasons people live longer is because they’re spending their life doing what they are meant to do. Walker and his family fulfilled a longtime dream by purchasing 60 acres of land in Hill County and starting a family farm. Now, when he’s not at work, he spends most of his time there. “There’s always a project to be done on the farm,” Walker says. “I lost 25 pounds just working and moving around. I love being outdoors.”
Another important Power 9 for Walker is the Family First principle. His wife Nakisha and son Christopher work full time at the farm. Another son, Carlos Jr., a senior at North Crowley High School, also helps at the farm when he’s not busy with studies. Daughters Xavier and Courtlyn assist when they’re home from college. Walker regards the farm as a legacy being built with his family and for his family. Working together, they’re raising horses, cattle, pigs, chickens, goats and rabbits, and even learning beekeeping. He looks forward to working it full time after he retires from the school district.
While caring for the farm’s garden and livestock has boosted Walker’s activity level and overall well-being, it has prompted other Power 9 principles as well, such as Downshifting and Social Hour. “We have a pond where we like to go fishing and hang out,” he says. “My wife loves music and dancing, so she turns on the music and dances all over the property and is really enjoying life,” Walker added. “We’re moving naturally, downshifting and relaxing together – enjoying that Wine @ Five thing.”
Harvest from the farm also helps add a Plant Slant to meals. In the Blue Zones, people focus on a plant-based diet packed with disease-fighting nutrients. In his own diet, Walker consumes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and tries to cut back on meats and fried foods. His wife and daughter observe vegan diets, so they’re introducing him to more plant-based recipes. Walker recommends starting a garden to promote increased fruit and vegetable consumption. “If you don’t have a lot of space, you can have a container garden or an above-ground garden in a box,” he says. “When you grow your own fruits and vegetables, you know where they come from. You get the double benefit of cooking something you’ve grown yourself, and that’s a teaching moment for your kids.”
Walker says the farming venture also allows him to provide a therapeutic environment for others in search of their Purpose. “We allow individuals to take tours to learn about farming. We invite them to learn about growing their food and encourage them to create a garden of their own. Our 10-acre pond is stocked with fish and allows us to provide a variety of therapeutic activities. Our goal is for individuals to be able to downshift and focus on ‘self’ while visiting.”
Whether he’s building horse stalls on the farm or building community through the Family Action Center, Walker believes every interaction, from students and their families to the community at large, is an opportunity to help someone else find meaning.