Physical Wellness: Our Most Precious Possession
By Wendy Betterini
What would you consider to be your most precious possession? Your home? Car? Book collection? What about... your body? It is surely your most precious possession because without it, you wouldn't be here.
How well do you care for your body? Do you exercise every day, eat healthful foods, drink enough water, get adequate sleep? Don't worry, I'm not going to turn this into a big sermon, because I've been just as guilty of not giving my body the care and attention it deserves. A large majority of us are. We live in an age of high stress, fast pace, and abundant convenience foods. For those of us who only need to walk a few paces from our desk to the kitchen, the temptation for snacking is even greater. Who has time to exercise and prepare balanced meals?
However, it's important to realize that neglecting our physical well-being can profoundly affect us mentally and spiritually. The Mind/Body/Spirit connection is strong. If we neglect one area, the others will suffer also. The goal should be to achieve a nice, even balance between all three. I'm learning that it's not as hard as it seems. It just takes a little effort.
My biggest mistake over the past several years was believing that proper care of my body would take a massive amount of time. "I'm too busy to exercise. I don't have time to cook decent meals, I'll just grab something quick. I have too much to do, so I can't get a full night's sleep." But by shunning my physical well-being, I found myself not able to be as productive and efficient in other areas. I had little energy, I couldn't concentrate, and generally felt rotten all the time.
Caring for our bodies doesn't have to take a lot of time. In fact, by focusing more attention on my physical health lately, I would venture to say that I'm gaining time, because my focus and energy level are so much better, and I get a lot more done during the day. I also sleep better at night, another bonus!
You might be wondering just how much time and effort is required? Here are the things I've been doing for myself recently:
Exercise - For me, that was the biggest obstacle because I tend to get lazy. ;-) Once I sit down at my desk, I'm glued to it all day. If I don't exercise first thing in the morning, I will keep putting it off. So I started doing my workout immediately after I wake up. I spend about 30-60 minutes on aerobic activity (walking), and some light weight training. I had to push myself at first, but now that I'm getting into the habit I'm feeling stronger and even starting to look forward to my workouts every morning. If you tend to procrastinate about exercise like I did, try making it your first priority when you wake up, and then you have the rest of the day to do whatever else needs to be done.
Food - I have always been a "junk food junky." It wasn't that I preferred that type of food, it just seemed more convenient. However, I finally realized that raw vegetables and fruit can be "fast foods" too! ;-) I also began eliminating sugar for the most part, and switched to whole grains instead of white, highly processed foods (like pasta, bread and rice). I try to eat more whole foods, because who needs all those chemicals they put in processed foods? Instead of snacking on some potato chips, why not have some nuts, seeds, fruit or vegetables? They don't take any longer to prepare.
Water - I also began drinking several glasses of water throughout the day, and immediately began to feel better. Did you know that the most common symptoms of dehydration are fatigue, lethargy, muscle weakness, headaches, dizziness and forgetfulness? That sure described me, and it's no wonder, since I was drinking mostly coffee and soda pop! Upping my water intake made a huge difference in my energy level and mental focus. You don't have to drink gallons of water, just a few tall glasses a day should be an improvement.
Rest - I'm one of those people who really needs a full eight hours of sleep every night or I get cranky. Some people can get along on less sleep, but most of us are still getting less than our bodies truly need. You may think that getting less sleep will enable you to get more done, but think about it: if you don't get enough sleep, you will be dragging yourself through the day and have to concentrate harder on your work, because your mind just wants to rest. But if you devote a full eight hours (or however much you personally need) to sleep, you will feel much more energetic and focused during the day, and be able to accomplish just as much, if not more.
There, that doesn't sound so hard, does it? :-) It's really just a matter of creating new, healthier habits to replace the old habits. Sure, exercise does take some time, but again, it can make such a huge difference in your energy level. Make time. We need to make an effort to care for our beautiful bodies, because we only get one! They truly are our most precious possession, and if we don't care for them, who else will?
Wishing you abundant health and wellness!
About The Author
Wendy Betterini is a freelance writer and web designer in New England.