“Treat your body like a temple, not a woodshed. The mind and the body work together. Your body needs to be a good support system for the mind and the spirit. If you take good care of it, your body can take you wherever you want to go, with the power and the strength and energy and vitality you will need to get there.”
~ Jim Rohn
Viewing my body as a temple is something I have absolutely no problem doing, but treating it as such is much more difficult. However, as I get older, I become more and more appreciative of what my body can do for me and because of this I am reminded of why – proper maintenance, regular attention and discipline - are so important.
So often is the case that during the warmer months it is easier to get outside and be active, but as the daylight hours slowly shorten and our schedules become ever more booked, it is too easy to allow our fitness and wellness to slide.
What I’d like to share with you today are ways to treat your body as the temple we all know it is that has the potential to allow us each to experience amazing opportunities. While initially when this statement is uttered, it is assumed exercise is involved, which is correct, it is also important to keep in mind all the other ways you can take care of your body. Here’s a list of ideas to get you started:
1. Take in productive fuel – eliminate/reduce processed foods and preservatives, monitor what type of media your mind observes – television, radio, music, reading material.
2. Just listen – to your body that is. Adhering to a rigid diet is not always going to serve your body’s needs. While your body may have become accustomed to too much sugar and this needs to be adjusted, it is also important to listen to it when it comes to knowing what it needs. The difficult part comes into play when we have to translate what it’s saying. However, with time you will come to realize when you think you are craving food, but actually are dehydrated and need water or when you need a touch of salt or a healthy sweet treat. Take the time to listen and get to know your body and you will never be led astray. This also comes into play with regards to knowing when you are full enough. Sometimes when we allow ourselves to reach the point of feeling as though we are starved and thus consume far more than we need. The key is to slow down, make healthy choices and try not to allow your body to come to this point of desperation.
3. Let it rest – Make sure to give your body 6-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Turn off the computer at least an hour before bedtime, eliminate distractions that will keep you awake, if pets make it impossible to sleep, designate a specific place in the house for them to snooze, and if you have children, be diligent about sticking to a consistent bedtime.
4. Challenge it – your body is capable of so much more than you realize. Create an aerobic fitness regimen and write it in ink in your planner.
5. Strengthen your bones – with weight training. Now weight training can come in many different forms. You can choose to use hand weights, bands or revert back to yoga as it is uses your own body weight for resistance. More than 25 million Americans have osteoporosis and the majority of these patients are women. The key to preventing it is to act now before menopause occurs (and for those of you who are post-menopausal, keep lifting to maintain what bone mass you currently have). By building your bone mass now with exercise and strength training you are prolonging your ability to have strong bones well in your golden years.
6. More natural drinks – Do your best to drink water and tea instead of soda or coffee. While it is fine to drink anything in moderation, remind yourself that your body is the vessel and ask the question, how best shall I fuel it? I don’t believe Coca Cola is going to get you very far, but some cool crisp water certainly can’t hurt.
7. Keep it limber – Whether you stretch five minutes before and after your aerobic activities or engage in pilates or yoga, make sure you are incorporating a regular stretching routine into your workout regimen. Not only is it good for the body, but it is soothing for the mind as well.
8. Keep the brain active – One of the simplest and most enjoyable preventative actions you can take to ward off Alzheimer’s and dementia is to continually challenge your mind. Whether it be by introducing new physical skills – dancing, stand-up padding or tennis – or mental exercises such as crossword puzzles, learning a new language, reading a challenging new book or understanding a new computer system – by exercising your brain you are keeping it young and less susceptible to deterioration as well.
9. Protect and pamper your teeth, eyes and ears – A legitimate excuse to purchase those oversized sunglasses you’ve had your eye on and who doesn’t want fresh breath – simply brush your teeth twice a day, and as for your ears, gradually turn the volume down a few notches – your ears will thank you later.
10. Meditate – Did you know that the purpose of yoga is to prepare the mind for mediation? If you have ever taken a yoga class, you know how physically taxed you are at the end of the class, but additionally, so is your mind because you’ve been focusing so hard on trying to maintain your balance and listen to your body. Because of this, immediately after the class ends or you are in the final pose savasana, your mind is more capable of meditating. Start with 5 minutes with either soothing music playing in the background or nothing at all and just let your mind rest. Focus on your breathing and you’ll be amazed at how de-stressing and soothing such a practice is when you incorporate it regularly into your life.
11. Be preventative – schedule regular doctor appointments and be sure to ask any and all questions of your physician.
12. Reduce stress – The more stress we have in our lives, the more damaging it is on our bodies), so it is vital that we reduce anything that is within our control and a lot of it begins with our minds. Yoga instructor Kristin McGee wrote in a post this week a reminder that is something to always have at the back of your mind when it comes to conflict, “When a conflict comes up, I always try to remember to ask myself, is this ‘inside my boat or outside of my boat?’” So often we become engrossed and worried about things that we have absolutely no control over and thus expend energy we need for things we do have control over. Keep this saying in mind whenever you find yourself in a stressful situation.
13. Cook more often – this requires planning, saves money and allows you to be an active participant in what you choose to put into each meal.
14. Protect your skin – Think Anne Hathaway, or at least think SPF 30 or above when it comes to skin protection. Skin cancer is the most common cancer and more than 2 million people are diagnosed with it every year. There are so many alternatives available now between self-tanners, spray tans, airbrush tans, and an endless barrage of skin protective lotions, it simply is ridiculous to be an ignorant sun worshiper.
These are just a handful of ways to treat your body like the temple it is. Remember, consider your discipline as a down-payment on a healthy and active life down the line as well as in this moment.