If you’re alive, then health matters to you and your loved ones. A healthy state allows us to do the things we love while giving us the strength to fulfill our cherished roles as partner, husband, wife, father, mother, grandparent etc. It also supports us in contributing to society in general.
Unfortunately, the fast pace of life keeps us distracted and we put off developing a healthy living plan. We may even overlook signs of decline like chronic aches and pains, high or low blood sugar, fatigue, poor posture, sleep issues, high cholesterol and/or blood pressure, and digestive problems. I know from personal experience what a challenge it can be to maintain and nurture a healthy state of mind and body. The following suggestions have made a big difference in my life and I hope you will find them useful too.
3 Steps to Healthy Living
Step #1. Life is motion—so move! Did you know that movement practices like stretching, walking, pilates, qi gong, or yoga actually generate minute electrical pulsations in our tissues which help us maintain our form and stay flexible? Do you suffer from back pain, sciatica, or scoliosis? You can improve back posture and reduce pain with scoliosis stretching exercises and sciatica exercises to increase mobility and reduce pain. Thomas Hanna, a pioneer in movement exercises and successful aging, demonstrated that postural decline over time is not inevitable and can even be reversed. He suggested beginning a program in our 30s. No matter what your age, begin a movement practice if you don’t already have one in place. Daily stretching is key to releasing muscle contractions/patterns that have habituated over time.
Step #2. Choose wisely—you are what you eat. As awareness about processed foods, salt, sugar, fat, and dairy begins to build, consider changing you dietary habits and buy locally grown organic vegetables and fruits when possible. Farmers markets can be a great place to find fresh produce. Since your body is a composite of various interactive systems that require high-grade fuel to keep it running at optimal levels, help yourself go the distance. Choose foods highest in nutrients and include a variety of colors, textures, and flavors to entice your palate: fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans, and whole grains.
Step #3. Guard your thoughts—protect your sense of well-being. The daily grind can begin to wear us down, putting us in a negative state. Negative thinking causes excess wear and tear on body systems that regulate stress, reducing our capacity to cope. Thoughtful meditation, breathing practices, prayer or some form of spiritual practice, affirmations, and loving, supportive relationships will reinforce our ability to stay present so that we do not habitually project into the future or get bogged down in the past. Susan Aposhyan, a leader in bodymind practices, suggests that we “align ourselves with life.” Remember, well-being is intimately related to good health and is anchored in the body.
Making lifestyle changes can be daunting. Easy does it. Begin first by thinking about what changes you would like to make and then formulate a plan. Find like-minded people who will support your positive decisions and then just put one foot in front of the other, moving in the direction you want to go! Here’s to your health!
What steps have you taken lately to “align yourself with life?”