Why Bother to Put Your Health First?

Why Bother To Put Your Health First?

The other day, in my yoga class, a new student introduced herself to me. 

“Hi, I’m Sherry,” she said as we shook hands.

“Glad to meet you, Sherry,” I said.

“You might find this odd, but I am seventy and just now beginning to practice yoga.”

“I don’t find that odd at all,” I said. “It is never too late to start a yoga practice for yourself.”

          Choosing to be Well

Though everybody knows that being healthy is important, not everyone wants the responsibility for their own well being. Only when we wake up and realize that something needs to  change, will anything change. 

Sherry knew she was losing her flexibility and balance. She believed the practice of yoga could help her to regain the ability to bend and not wobble when she walked. She was right. Her practice is helping her and it doesn’t matter that she is seventy. It matters more that her health and wellness is a priority. 

Since there is no history of cancer, diabetes, heart conditions or obesity in my family, I mostly inherited my good health. But I’ve also had to learn how to maintain what I’ve been given. 

For instance, I started the nasty habit of smoking cigarettes while still in high school. At first, it seemed like a benign routine. I even told myself that I could quit any time I wanted. But of course I was wrong and just kept smoking because it was too hard to quit. Ten years went by before quitting became a high priority. By then, my husband and I had begun talking about starting a family. I knew I had to quit for the sake of the baby we’d planned to conceive. Since then, I’ve been smoke free and have eliminated the effects smoking could have on me such as contracting emphysema, chronic bronchitis or the risk of tuberculosis. Making one healthy choice can lead to a plethora of benefits. 

When making any changes concerning your health, expect resistance. Bodies are like any two year-old and every teenager, they will put up a fight against anything that is good for them. But when a little patience, some consistency, and perseverance is applied, bodies as well as a two-year-old or a teenager, will begin to see that the changes you instigate, are for the better. 

Why bother to put your health first? Only you know what is good for you and being good to yourself is the best choice to make.

Why Bother With Intellectual Wellness?

Why Bother With Intellectual Wellness? 

Our mental wellness is tied to managing and caring about all the different aspects of our lives—the emotional and physical self, the spiritual, intellectual, and social self as well as our environmental, interpersonal and occupational areas. We are complex creatures and when all of these systems work in congruence to one another, the result is mental stability. But when they are incongruent, acting against one another, chaos reigns. 

Though each of these areas of our mental wellness are interconnected, I thought it wise to break them apart and look at them individually. 

A Healthy Brain

A healthy intellect begins with healthy thoughts and those healthy thoughts will shape healthy actions. 

For instance, our thinking forms our success or failure. Someone once said, whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right. If we believe that we can succeed and apply the necessary hard work to reach our goal, we will most likely come through with flying colors. But, if we don’t believe we can make any headway toward our goal, well then we won’t even try. Instead, we’ll simply throw in the towel and accept defeat as inevitable. 

Our thinking also affects our emotions which in turn, affect our actions. We don’t have to be mind readers to know when someone is angry, sad, or happy. Our body language tells it all. A scowl and stomping feet lets everyone know we are mad. A smile and skipping feet tells everyone we are lighthearted and ready for some fun. Tears and a trembling lip signals our sadness. We can’t fake what we think. Even without a word, thoughts are communicated. 

Maintaining the health of our brain and intellect is not a difficult endeavor. Incorporating a few good habits any one can afford will change the way our brain functions. 

Getting enough sleep is a good beginning to a healthier intellect. Prepare your brain for

rest by shutting off all screens at least an hour before you go to sleep. Begin to relax by reading something that doesn’t rile you up, such as poetry or an inspirational story. Take a hot bath scented with lavender oil or open a journal and review your day by writing about it. Don’t expect to instantly decompress the minute your head hits the pillow. Allow your brain to gradually wind down. Then, after a good night’s rest, we are much more intellectually prepared to take on the world and everything it throws at us in one day.

Eat a healthy diet. Lots of vegetables, fruits, and protein. The fewer processed foods, the better. Eat regular meals instead of grazing all day. Take a real lunch break away from your desk, computer and even the office if possible. Enjoy the taste of your food and any good company you can find. And don’t forget to hydrate with lots of water. 

Exercise brings out the best in all of us. Find an activity you can sustain no matter the season. As often as possible, get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Buy a dog if you have to have an excuse to get out for a walk. Join a jogging club, a cyclist group or a gym. Do it alone or with friends and reap the benefits exercise offers to everyone. 

Why bother with intellectual wellness? Maintaining the health of our brain is beneficial. We are more apt to think better thoughts about ourselves, others and the world we live in.

Why Bother To Build Stamina?

Why Bother To Build Stamina?

Whether competing in an athletic event, beginning and finishing a project, sticking with a commitment to a relationship or maintaining long-term goals for personal improvement, we need staying power. Quitters never finish. Instead, they become envious bystanders wishing for the inner strength they see in others and at the same time, lack in themselves. 

Stamina is Built, Not Inherited 

Anyone can build stamina and you don’t have to join a gym to do it. Stamina, whether mental or physical, is constructed bit by bit over the course of our lifetime. No one is born with heartiness. Nor is it instantaneous. Instead, we develop a fortitude for life as we set big and little goals and then move in steady motion toward them. Every time we encounter an unexpected obstacle and refuse to quit, we build more resistance to setbacks. The inevitable bumps, temporary inconveniences, and stressors that strain our endurance actually become the needed training that strengthens our courage. 

During my years as a triathlon participant, I kept a rigorous training regiment—running, swimming and biking. Unbeknown to me, I would need this mental and physical grit while taking a family camping vacation on Lake Powell. 

Every morning I took a walk from our houseboat out into the surrounding desert to watch the sunrise, being careful to watch where I was going so I could find my way back. That year, the water level was unusually lower than normal and created deep canyons that concealed even the largest of houseboats. One morning, when I retraced my footprints, I could not find the boat. Even though I retraced my path more than once and peered over the edges of cliffs, I still could not put my eye on our boat. 

At first I panicked, then I calmed down and opened the day pack I always carried. I had a full bottle of water, a ball cap, and a granola bar. Because of my rigorous training for a triathlon, I was at my physical peak and with the resolve of a competitor, I told myself that I had what it took to find my way back to the boat. After six hours of trekking through the desert to the other side of the lake, I climbed back down to the water, the boat, and my family. 

We never know what awaits us along this journey we call life, but we can expect the unexpected will happen. When circumstances seem to thwart our passageway, we can assess our resources, refuse to panic and choose a different route around the obstacle. To live and finish well, life requires us to stick-to-it no matter what. 

Why bother to build stamina? It is worth it to build endurance so that whatever we start we will have what it takes to also finish.

Why Bother with Our Heatlh?


Why Bother with Our Health?

My grandmother left the greatest impression in my life and influenced my thinking more than any other woman. While still very young, I watched how, with grace, ease and a sense of humor, she kept her house clean and organized. I observed her way of whipping up nutritious meals and noted her health regiments. Long before organic foods or exercise programs were popular, Grandma already had established habits that kept her fit. She drank vinegar water to improve her digestive tract and exercised every morning with Jack Lalanne, a fitness guru with his own televised show.  

Grandma was clear headed, energetic, joyful and a contented woman. Her steady way of living, I believe, stemmed at least in part, from the understanding of basic science. She knew that mental and physical wellness were interdependent. You could not neglect one without it affecting the other.  She firmly believed that keeping your body healthy, helped keep your mind healthy.  And so, it only made sense to me, when it came time to get serious about my health, that I would follow after Grandma and find a regiment to keep me both mentally and physically fit.

      Running, Swimming, Biking, Yoga, Repeat

I started running when I quit smoking. I knew that in order to be successful with quitting one behavior pattern, I needed to replace it with another behavior pattern. I chose running because it did not require too much preparation. All I had to do was put on a pair of running shoes, go out the door and start running. After the first few painful yards, it proved to be uncomplicated and enjoyable. I didn’t join any running clubs, but I did challenge myself by signing up for five mile runs and half-marathons. For me, running became a good replacement for smoking. 

Though I took swimming lessons while growing up, and enjoyed dipping into lakes on hot summer days, I did not become a serious swimmer until I signed up for my first sprint triathlon. The competition required a ⅓ mile open water swim. I knew that if I swam the breaststroke for that distance, the race would be over before I got out to the water. So, I taught myself how to swim free style. Now years later, swimming continues to be part of my health regimen. 

Pulling a bike-aboose loaded with my young sons was one way to strengthen my legs, but it did not give me the same thrill of road biking. Triathlons introduced me to competing on a bike, but I don’t have to compete to enjoy the summer rides my husband and I now enjoy taking. Riding long distances on open roads with blue sky overhead has a way of clearing away the worries I’ve accumulated on any given day. Though our bikes are hung up until warm weather returns, we are sure to return to riding once the weather warms again.

I can practice the discipline of yoga year-round. Though it is associated with Hinduism and for some, a path to enlightenment, for me yoga simply helps me harness breath to movement. Unlike anything else, this practice reminds me to breathe deeply and extensively even while in tough poses like balancing on one foot. 

Why bother with our health? Our mental and physical health are worth paying attention to since one without the other is less than having good health.

Why Bother To Notice Your Energy?

Why Bother To Notice Your Energy?

There are twenty-four hours in every day, seven days a week and fifty-two weeks a year. Though there are different time zones across our world, the same amount of time is bestowed upon all of us every day.  Though these statements are true about time, the same cannot be said about our body’s energy. 

Quantity of Energy

When it comes to our levels of energy, we are not created equal. Our quantity of energy relates directly to how we feel. The better we feel, the more we feel like doing. It is hard to gauge the exact amount of energy we need to live through a twenty-four hour period of time. Unlike using up the number of hours in a day, the amount of body energy we use in a day is not as easy to calculate. Yet, if we are conscious of how we feel, we know when we have drained our tank. Thankfully, there are ways to nourish and restore ourselves so that  we can move forward into the next day. 

Understanding what a body needs to be well is the beginning of understanding how to generate better quality and a better quantity of energy for our bodies. There is a basic universal foundation to wellness; eat well, sleep well and exercise. Easy to say, harder to do.  

Getting to know how different foods affect our bodies is not difficult. It is just a matter of paying attention to what happens after you eat something. Indigestion, heartburn, bloatiness, or satisfaction are a few of the results after one ingests food. For example, though I love the taste of fried ice-cream, I know from experience that I will experience a brain buzz and a dry mouth from what seemingly tastes good to my taste buds. Better for me to omit fried ice-cream from my diet and settle for a piece or two of dark chocolate. A nice and satisfying alternative. 

Going to sleep at night is not hard for me to do. But staying asleep can be a bit more challenging. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, worry wakes me with a jolt. I will suddenly wonder if I will remember all the detailed chores I need to accomplish the next day, or if I will hear back from someone I need to hear back from. Falling back to sleep usually is as simple as taking some mindful deep breaths. Sleeping is important. It is the body and minds way of rejuvenating. Without it we turn into half wits. 

Finally, there is the exercise component. Body movement helps us control our weight, improves our mood and increases our vitality. Finding what works for our bodies is important. If we are not enjoying what we do, we won’t do it.  Stationary bicycles do not work for me. I have to be on a real one where I feel the breeze, where the scenery changes and where I can smell the fresh air. I don’t run on a treadmill for the same reason. But, finding something that works for a workout motivates me to keep my workout routine. 

Why bother to notice your energy? It is worth knowing that when it comes to our levels of energy, we are not created equal, but we can be as equally wise as the next person when we choose to take care of what we have.