Your body is your main vehicle. Treat it with the respect it deserves. A question I routinely ask my patients is, "Where will you live when your body wears out?" It is a simple rhetorical question, but it seems to get the point across to most people. Unfortunately, most of us take our bodies for granted thinking that it will adapt to whatever stress we throw at it. This is largely true...to a degree.
One of my favorite quotes is by Albert Einstein. He says, "all matter has limitations." In other words, surpass that stress and something will break or get fat, or hypertensive, etc.
I'm a firm believer in the body's ability to sense a stress and adapt to it. This is why we are all still here. There is a name for the body's ability to maintain a normal or effective state. It is called homeostasis. This is the way in which our body keeps our temperature at a normal level, maintains our blood pressure, alters our heart rate, etc.
I am reminded of a professor of physiology at the University of Alberta. I would ask him, "How are you today?" and he would invariably say, "I am adapting and overcoming the physiological stresses in my internal and external environment." That is homeostasis.
The way I see it, the body can take a certain steady stress (like a bad diet) and maintain you at a certain level for about eight years. If the stress continues, you are at your breaking point and your health account becomes "payable due."
I see this in my patients from time to time. One patient will look 20 years older than they truly are, complaining of low energy and global aches. Another patient will be in fantastic shape, strong, with good tone and full of energy. Neither is an accident. They are a product of the way they live their lives. It is a daily reminder to me that it is the little things that count. They all add up. The good and the bad.
Some guidelines I suggest to my patients include the following:
1. Allow time for meditation.
Quieting the mind has been proven to increase the body's immune system and decrease the stresses on the body. Pick any time of the day and give yourself 10 to 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to simply sit and clear your mind. Stare at a candle, pray, imagine a serene mountain view and imagine you can smell the morning air, whatever you like. I do this in the morning just prior to getting out of bed.
2. Live life in a spirit of gratitude.
List five things you are grateful for in your life. Some examples could include your health, sight, right hand, spouse, children, job, etc. To be in a state of gratitude gives you an empowering feeling of "I've got it pretty good." It gives you a different filter through which to see things.
Get the blood flowing. Feel strong. Activity has been proved to increase your immune system, eradicate depression and boost confidence and self-esteem.
4. Eat right.
Choose whole foods whenever possible, avoid processed fast food. You might as well be eating the styrofoam instead of the junk food inside. It's just as filling.
5. Express your respect or admiration to someone.
Tell them you love them and why. They may not know. None of us can truly thrive in isolation.
6. Drink approximately two liters of water each day. It is a strong detoxifier and rids you of all your waste. Would you rather clean your driveway with a squirt gun or a fire hose?
7. Prioritize your life and give those things of the utmost importance your attention.
If it is your family, health, etc. see how much time you are giving those things that matter most. This is a tough one and requires a lot of soul-searching.
As you can see, I believe whole body health as encompassing the body, mind and spirit. They are inseparable and the sum is more important than the separate parts.
Living a lifestyle where one neglects the need for proper health, nutrition and exercise is like being pecked to death by ducks - slow and insidious.
None of us live in a bubble. It is almost impossible to maintain a perfect life with all due attention given to the things that matter most.
There are deadlines, double bookings, commitments to work and others often allowing us the position of last in the priorities of our day-to-day life.
That is not to say that we cannot try as hard as we can to make proper life choices. That much is within our control. Because like it or not, you will be a product of your life. No exceptions.