We have appreciation days for so many other things during the year, so why not take a day to officially recognize the tireless, often times thankless job that our body does to keep us in the running. Unofficially we should be thanking it every day but instead we take it for granted, abuse it or feel ashamed of it.
We buy into western society's unrealistic view of the ideal body. The world of modeling and media endorse the idea that the perfect body for women is excessively thin, youthful, boyish and above average in height. In some cases, you are suppose to have a thin body but voluminous breasts (biologically impossible - hence surgery) or a tiny waist with a large bottom (again padding would be required). Designers prefer very thin models because they want their clothing to hang in a straight line and not be thrown off by a curvacious figure. The Vogue magazine is designed to appeal to the women and therefore its photos tend toward the malnourished look. Playboy on the other has the male audience in mind. Their models have more male appeal - curves, larger breasts and bottoms.
The point that I am trying to make is that 95% of the population will not meet the requirements of that perfect female or male image. Even those "perfect" models or celebrities themselves are imperfect and subject to Photo Shop touch ups. So don't waste your time or your life buying into an unhealthy illusion.
I know this is hard to swallow but you are perfect the way you are. You were given the ideal physical frame for what you need to participate in life's adventure. So be grateful when you look in the mirror and don't criticize. That body of yours is working hard to keep you in the game of life and all that it asks in return is a little respect, cooperation and appreciation. Change your goal from wanting to lose weight so you will be more accepted by society (a very critical group anyway) to the goal of partnering with your body in maintaining its health, its strength and its vibrancy for as long as possible - let it decide your ideal weight in the process.
This past week I read Harley Pastrnak's latest book 5 Pounds which attempts to simplify a method to kick start a healthier approach to getting in shape. I agree with his philosophy of keeping things simple to follow because as we all know drastic changes never have lasting effects.
His 5 step plan includes:
1. Getting 7-8 hours sleep at night
2. Taking at least 10,000 steps a day (about 5 miles of walking)
3. Focus on one resistance exercise for 5 minutes a day
4. Eat 3 meals a day, 2 snacks always including protein and fibre
5. Unplug from all electronic devices for at least one hour a day
The above list at first glance may seem a little challenging but not insurmountable and it would definitely go along way to forming a healthy lifestyle.
Benefits of a good night's sleep:
-improve memory, mood and ability to learn
-helps body to do repairs
-lowers stress levels
-increases immune system strength
Try getting a power nap of 10-20 minutes during the day to help compensate somewhat for a poor night's sleep and give you a energy boost - napping beyond 30 minutes increases the period of impaired alertness before the benefits can be felt.
-the body is made to move
-get up every hour or so and move around; take the stairs; walk when possible instead of driving, move during the commercial breaks, stand when on the phone etc.
-going to the gym 3-4 times a week is great but moving is something the body needs daily
-try using a pedometer to track the number of steps you take a day on average and see just what 10,000 steps looks like
-you don't need to have a gym membership to work those muscles
-check out 5-10 minute videos online; invest in dumbbells and do some curls and lunges while watching TV
-muscle tone decreases the more inactive you are and it also decreases with age
-increasing muscle tone, increases metabolism and helps to maintain strength and balance
-don't skip meals because it affects your energy level and metabolism
-eat at least every 4 hours or you risk binging on empty calories when you do sit down to eat
-include protein sources (ex. meat, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, yogurt, eggs, cheese, fish, tofu, milk) and fibrous carbohydrates (ex. leafy greens, legumes, carrots, peppers, mushroom, flax seed, bran, chia seeds, hemp seeds, cauliflower, cabbage, berries, celery, squash, beans, apples, peas etc.) with every meal or snack so that you feel satisfied quicker and for a longer period of time and your body is properly fueled
-empty calorie foods are those foods that you can eat and eat and never seem full - be aware
-don't exercise so you can eat more because that is just an excuse to binge - exercise because it does the body and mind good
- if you want that "treat", have it after the protein and fibre intake, to avoid sudden spikes and dips in sugar levels and that quick feeling of energy and then the feeling of sluggishness that soon follows
-give the brain a rest from always being plugged in
-the lights from the devices can interfere with your melatonin levels and thus disturb your ability to get to sleep or wake you up if you glance at your phone or ipad during the night
I would like to add another point to the list:
6. Feed the soul everyday
-laugh, play, be silly; hug your children and partner; soak in some sun; get out in nature; take some deep breathes; be in the moment; forgive; do something kind; be grateful; read something positive; turn off the news; do something that feeds your creative side; meditate; soak in a bathtub; listen to some inspiring music; monitor your thoughts-changing your perspective when negative thoughts and emotions arise; take some "me" time
Your body is the temple for your soul. If that temple is continually abused, neglected or ridiculed, then it will deteriorate and so will the soul's ability to fully express itself during this life experience. I talk more about holistic health in my topic entitled Mental Physical Emotional Spiritual Balance (free download from website).
So today, begin a new relationship and appreciation for your body just as it is. Be a conscious partner that has the body's best interests at heart. We can't control everything that may come up but we can certainly lower the risk factors. Happy Body Appreciation Day.