So often we get caught up in our daily routines only to forget the most important element in our lives, our health and well being. We are so busy taking care of everyone and everything else that we ignore ourselves until we either get sick or end up at the doctor with an injury. While none of us will ever admit to having the time to be ill or injured, we often don't allow the critical time for health and well being. When we honor ourselves and our bodies we will have a greater opportunity to experience the wellness necessary to keep up with and care for our families, enjoy time with our friends, succeed in our work, make a positive difference to ourselves and others.
*I am not a medical professional and all recommendations here are based on extensive personal experience and that of family and friends. I would encourage you to speak with a trained medical professional regarding your own physical limitations and challenges before following any advice.
Here are some great ways to celebrate your health and fitness:
Make a point of establishing a routine that works for you. If you are a morning person and can add in even 30 minutes a day at the front end for a brisk walk, a spin on a bike (stationary or otherwise), yoga stretches, Pilates, or whatever makes you feel good, do it. I have found that I literally block my fitness time on my calendar and won't schedule anything over it. It is my time to feel good, get my heart rate up, and break a sweat! So many of us spend so much of everyday sitting in a car, in an office, on the sofa, at a table, we really do need to make an effort to keep our body active and in tune.
If you are a night owl and prefer to schedule your routine later in the day, make that commitment and create it to work for you. Usually doing exercise right before bed is not recommended as it tends to generate more energy than rest, but perhaps after work or before dinner you can salvage 30 minutes for fitness.
Often we get trapped in the thinking that if we can't devote at least an hour, it isn't worth it. This is inaccurate thinking and creates an excuse for not stepping up to take care of ourselves. I have found as have many others that a short regular routine that I do literally every day energizes me and renews my commitment to myself.
Meditation or Prayer
I like to add this on to my exercise routine as this is exercise for the mind and heart. While I know you can go to classes on meditation and that most programs demand 20 minutes to over an hour, I find that even 10 minutes at the opening of my day and 10 minutes at the close of my day can give me greater peace of mind and quiet any anxiety and concerns I may have.
This is an invaluable opportunity to clear your mind of all the priorities, obligations, challenges and more that we each experience daily and just tap into that inner quiet place we each have. (Yes, you do have it too!) This may seem almost impossible first as few of us are accustomed to sitting completely still and quietly for any length of time at all. We always have something distracting us whether it is a computer, television, phone, or someone else in the room. This is time free of distractions and interference, time with just you.
If you have time, do explore the meditation and prayer classes offered at local centers and churches. You may find your own road to peace of mind that much faster.
While I do have friends that swear by a regular colon cleanse, this can be time consuming, not always comfortable, and costly. You don't have to go to extremes to get valued results. Cleansing can be as simple as taking one day a week or month to rid your body of the accumulated toxins by drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of purified water only, (if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 oz. of water, a good daily practice as well), no soda, no coffee or tea, no juice, no alcohol, and consuming nothing more than raw fresh fruits and vegetables.
If you prefer you can find any number of prescribed cleanses both online and in health food stores that will allow you the chance to get your body back in balance and give it a break from all the junk we so often consume. This is also a chance to become alcohol and caffeine free. Giving up white sugar and flour products can also be very freeing. Many of us have accumulated allergies to foods we eat regularly and just ignore the uncomfortable side effects. When we cleanse and allow our bodies the opportunity to rebalance, we will notice an increase in our energy levels, we often need less sleep, and we will enjoy sharper mental clarity.
IBS, otherwise known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Acid Reflux are all new diseases caused by reactions to foods we have been eating for a long time and the fact that our lives are usually overloaded with stress and anxiety. Rather than add a lot of pills to conquer the symptoms of these illnesses, it makes more sense to find out the root cause and deal with it directly. Often the medications only mask a larger problem and don't address something as simple as lactose intolerance or an allergy to gluten (yes this does knock out a lot of foods, but there are just as many that are still available and delicious and won't cause painful side effects when eaten.)
One of the keys to getting back our balance is to reevaluate our diets and pay more attention. This is not about going on a permanent diet unless you want to. I hate the word diet; it implies limitations and inability to enjoy what I want. I prefer instead to eat consciously and pay attention to what my body is asking for. Rarely is it screaming for the cookies, muffins, and desserts I think I want, or that are fast and easy. Instead it is wanting a balance of protein, carbs and fats that will leave me with energy and vitality. We all know how when we indulge in a large lunch loaded with carbs like that Mexican taco special or the pasta buffet that we are ready for a major nap by mid afternoon. We also know that if we indulge less and instead reach for a salad with chicken or tuna and skip the bread and pasta we'll be more productive, less forgetful, and stay better on track through the remainder of the day. It is easy to get lazy, but the only one we hurt is truly ourselves when we don't honor our bodies with healthy eating. Are you listening to your body?
Believe me, I have tried just about every diet on the market at one time or another with very little success or success that lasted a week to a month and no more. From Atkins and South Beach to Optifast and just plain old fasting, I've done the ketosis diet, the cabbage and orange juice cleanse diet, Weight Watchers and more. I've battled weight almost my entire life, but I have found that what works the best is listening to your body and knowing the consequences of ignoring it. Even 10 extra pounds will leave you feeling lethargic, uncomfortable, and uninterested in activities you might usually enjoy. We all make excuses, we are short for our weight, we are fluffy (my favorite!), we are overweight not fat (what is the difference?), we are bloated (everyday?), it's hormones, it's PMS, it's our job, it isn't. It is simply we are out of control and not honoring our bodies and celebrating the health we deserve.
Please know that I am not suggesting that you replace all your favorite foods with organic substitutes as often you will be dissatisfied with the lack of flavor and cardboard consistency! I know, I have tried this. I have also learned that attempting to find an energy bar that tastes as good as a balanced meal is virtually impossible. They should be used sparingly and as a meal on the go. Too often I know folks that have substituted these for candy bars, or added them to their diet multiple times a day as a snack, not realizing that while the calories may be better allotted to protein instead of carbs, it is still extra calories that will add up at the end of the day, and show up on the scales at the end of the week and month.
Regular Check Ups
How often do we make sure that our kids are well cared for by the pediatrician and that our aging parents get to the doctor regularly but we ignore our own needs for regular checkups. Our bodies are like cars and need to go in for periodic checkups and sometimes tune ups. We are far more likely to avoid significant illness if we stay on top of our health. I am not suggesting going in for every ache or pain, but regular preventive maintenance can be far more time and cost effective than periodic major overhauls and breakdowns.
Women don't enjoy mammograms anymore than men look forward to prostate exams, but they are necessary to ensure our continued good health and to head off any possible challenges as early as possible. When you are scheduling the kids and your Mom and Dad, take time to schedule yourself.
Copyright 2008/2009 Melissa Galt