Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Your Body is Your Responsibility

Your body is your responsibility and you choose how you treat it. You choose whether you will be fat or thin. You choose whether you will be strong or weak, fit or frail, lethargic or energetic, etc. Some people are born with physical disadvantages and some acquire them during their lives and wellness often becomes more challenging as we age. We all have challenges of varying degrees. This does not change the fact that we are responsible for our own bodies. Regardless of your physical challenges you must take the best care of yourself that you can.

The reality is that most of us do not have any serious physical challenges other than the ones we have created by taking lousy care of our bodies. Mostly what I'm thinking about is the state of being overweight and all the health problems that come from that. Also, there are the health problems that come from negative attitudes, low self esteem and failing to deal with stress.

I know it's hard to avoid stress. It's also hard to avoid junk food, alcohol and inactivity. One of the biggest problems I see is lack of education. Despite all the information out there no one seems to know what to do. I am regularly blown away by the misconceptions that people have about food and exercise.

How can you educate yourself with all the conflicting information? First of all, accept that health and fitness are long term goals. It takes time to reach your goals and it takes a lifetime to maintain your well being once you achieve it. Most fad diets and crazy exercise gadgets will not "fix" your body.

With that said, there are a few things I can recommend to make things a little easier. Of all the diets out there, my favorite is still The Zone diet. Why? Because the base principles of the diet include eating lean meats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats as well as getting proper supplements. A rule of thumb that you can adopt as well is to always try to eat the least processed version of any food. For example: eat an orange instead of drinking orange juice or use butter instead of some butter like spread.

Exercise can be really simple too. Do some kind of activity for 30 to 60 minutes 5 to 7 days a week. Alternate cardio activities with strength training workouts. Do a little stretching after every workout. There are some great workout dvds out there. For people who are already somewhat fit, I recommend P90X. The Firm is a company that puts out some great weight training videos. For workout equipment, I'm a fan of the Total Gym, a good set of dumbbells or resistance bands and a stability ball. The Nordic Track is still a great piece of cardio equipment and you can find them for a steal these days on Craig's List. Going for a walk is a classic that requires no equipment at all and still does the trick.

Keep it simple, be consistent, expect to work, expect to keep it up for life. You don't have to be perfect in order to take good care of your body. Just make the healthy choices most of the time and you'll be way ahead of the game. Your health, fitness and well being are up to you. Being healthy may seem like a hard choice but, if you keep the long term picture in mind you can see that choosing to be unhealthy is ultimately a hard choice too. The difference is that the unhealthy choices seem easier in the moment. Don't be seduced by instant gratification. Remember that 10, 20, 50, even 100 pounds of excess weight is nothing more than a long string of poor choices. What do you choose?

Best Ever Fitness

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