By Sharon McGoff
Do you remember your first car? Do you still have it? Most likely, it has long since died and you traded it in for a new model, many new models ago. But, what if you were told you could have one car to last your lifetime? How would you have taken care of that first car? Would you have regularly taken it in for maintenance, washed and vacuumed it, put quality gas in the tank, kept it garaged, and driven it reasonably so as to not stress the engine? You likely would have taken extraordinary care of this car, knowing it would be your only means of transportation for your life.
Compare this car to your own body. This is the first and only body you have, right? You can’t trade it in for a newer model when it wears out, yet we are not kind to our bodies. We don’t maintain them to keep them strong, alert and healthy; we don’t drive them reasonably; we don’t put good fuel in our tanks; and we survive on low quality and quantity sleep, all of which put an undue amount of stress on our body’s engine. We all have excuses for not taking care of ourselves: too busy, too tired, don’t know where to begin, don’t know how to relax/de-stress. Let’s get past these excuses, one choice at a time.
“I’m too busy to exercise.” Small steps go a long way. You don’t need 30 or 60 minutes at one time to exercise. Exercise in any amount gets your heart pumping and keeps your arteries flexible and malleable, preventing heart disease. To fit incidental exercise into your day:
Take the stairs and not the elevator. If you work on the 28th floor, take the stairs to the fourth floor, then take the elevator the rest of the way. Each week, tackle one more floor.
Walk for 15 minutes before work, at lunch or after dinner. Park far away from the building you are going to.
Walk to your co-worker’s office instead of calling or emailing, and schedule walking meetings.
If you watch TV, do 10 pushups, 10 situps and 10 squats during each commercial.
At your children’s activities, instead of sitting, walk for 15 minutes, do 15 toe raises, 15 squats, and 15 pushups against the bleachers or wall.
Play with your kids when you see them outside – remember hopscotch and HORSE?
In your office, sit in your chair and stand 10 times; put your hands on your desk and do 10 pushups; hold your arms out to the side and circle them 10 times in each direction for a minute.
“I’m too busy to eat healthy.” With the time it takes to drive to a fast food restaurant, wait in line, order and pick up your food, you could have made a healthy meal. A few ideas for each meal:
Breakfast: Low fat/low sugar yogurt with fruit; whole grain/high fiber cereal with skim milk, egg whites and whole grain toast.
Lunch or dinner: Make a large bowl of salad with pre-cut vegetables on the weekend to enjoy all week. Buy pre-cooked chicken breasts to pair with the salad and use barbecue sauce instead of fattening dressing; to serve with vegetables; or to slice in a tortilla with salsa and low-fat cheese. Make boxed macaroni and cheese without butter and with skim milk, canned tuna/chicken and vegetables.
Snacks: Fruit and raw vegetables, low-fat string cheese and Greek yogurt. These snacks are high in fiber and protein, which keeps you satiated longer.
“I’m too tired.” Numerous studies prove exercise actually increases your energy. Even if you feel tired, exercise for at least 10 minutes. If you don’t feel energized after that time, it’s not your day. Also consider how late you stay up and whether that time is well spent and worth living in a tired and worn-out body.
“I don’t know where to begin.” First, get clearance from your doctor and find out if you have any restrictions. Once you are given the “go,” start slowly. You didn’t gain weight overnight and it won’t go away overnight, but it will go away with each healthy choice you make. Slow and steady wins the race! Incorporate incidental exercises into your day, as described above, and begin with 15 minutes of daily walking. Gradually increase the time each week by 10 percent. Write the exercise in your calendar as an appointment that will not be missed, much like an important client meeting.
“I don’t know how to relax/de-stress.” Of course you do! All you have to do is BREATHE. You can do that, right? Breathing doesn’t take extra time or resources, and you can do it anywhere, anytime! Here’s what to do: inhale deeply from your belly, counting to four, letting your belly expand, hold your breath for one count, and exhale completely for eight counts. Repeat until stress subsides.
If you have five minutes, find a quiet place to sit, close your eyes and take several slow, deep breaths to clear your mind. Continue breathing deeply and repeat the word “one” to yourself as you exhale. If you get distracted, just bring your focus back to the word “one.” Remember, you can’t always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside.
Unlike your first car, this is the only body you have. Make a commitment with yourself to take care of it, one choice at a time. You are worth it!•
Sharon McGoff is a graduate of Indiana University Maurer School of Law, a certified personal trainer and health fitness specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine, and a certified life and wellness coach with WellCoaches, Inc. She owns Fit 4 Life Coaching and welcomes your questions or comments at Smcgoff@comcast.net.