Take a moment. Think about your day up to this point, or, think about yesterday. Think about every movement you’ve made. We all have a normal daily morning routine. Just pick that routine and imagine each muscle that you move to do those things.
What if I asked you to remember every person you crossed paths with, would you be able to remember something about them? What were they wearing, color of hair, or the shape of their nose or body?
Now think about every bite of food. You may remember what you ate, but do you remember every bite? Just try to remember every bite of your favorite food you’ve had most recently.
What if I asked you to remember every breath? Did you sigh or blow out in frustration (demonstrate)? Did you constrict your breath or growl because of stress or anger? To live health, you need to challenge yourself, physically, socially emotionally, AND spiritually every day. I mean… when was the last time you got out of your box, altered your norm, even drove home a different way?
Many fitness craves, so many day fixes, diets, DVD’s, YouTube videos, blogs will tell you that their formula for health is the BEST! I am here to tell you that they are! They are the BEST way for their creators to sell their wares. I am not here to sell you a program, nor am I here to tell you the program that is BEST. I am here to help you live health.
To live health is to be conscious of it at all times and in all ways. Every movement is an exercise. Every gathering is social. Every bite is nutrition. Every breath is meditative. Every day we can challenge ourselves in all ways.
Here are some facts:
The American College of Sports Medicine says…
“Engaging in regular exercise and reducing sedentary behavior is vital for the health of adults.” Exercise is defined as doing physical activity, “beyond activities of daily living,” (Garber, et. al. 2011). In other words, in order to reap the benefits of increased health and decreased disease, the individual must do things other than what they do all day.
Cardiovascular training: 20-30 minutes, 5 or more days a week, intensity according to health.
Flexibility training: 60 or more sec (2 30-45 sec) stretch on all major warmed muscle groups,, 2-3 or more days per week, intensity to feeling “tightness or slight discomfort.”
Neuromuscular training: 20-30 minutes, 2-3 or more days per week, activities that challenge balance, agility, coordination, gait.
Buddhism touches on the reality of our social life with this lovely fact…
“There is happiness in life, happiness in friendship, happiness of a family, happiness in a healthy body and mind, ...but when one loses them, there is suffering." Dhammapada, (San Francisco State University, n.d.).
Proper nutrition is offered by many, many, maaannny diet programs. According to the USDA guidelines, caloric needs change with age and activity level, but, a specific number of calories are needed for the human body to function optimally, (nih.gov, 2013). Too little is not enough. Too much is more than enough. We all know too much cake is too much cake, but a little is ok. (Laughter…I hope).
Normal range for adult females is 1600 to 2400 calories daily.
Normal range for adult males is 2000 to 3000 calories daily.
Meditation may seem a foreign word to some, (especially after the Buddha comment) but my definition of a meditative practice is a place, time, or thing that makes you feel calm, peaceful and restored. The Harvard Business Review magazine had an article in 2015 titled, How Meditation Benefits CEOs, (Seppala, 2015). It lists these benefits to meditation.
Meditation builds resilience – “a sense of control over” and “filled…with…calm”
Meditation boosts emotional intelligence – “maintain my peace of mind” and “not responding in an emotional manner”
Meditation enhances creativity – “Relaxed state of mind opens for AHA! moments”
Meditation improves relationships – “Boosts your mood” and “increases connection” and makes you a “more compassionate person”
Meditation helps you focus – “curb our tendency for distraction” and “strengthens focus” and “boosting memory”
Now we all know the definition of the “right” amount of exercise and belong to a “right” social group, (like a local church or social establishment, or both...or one is both!) We now know the “right” amount of food. We may even have a “right” meditation practice, (like prayer, a mantra or a walk in the woods). But remember, ANY amount of change in movement “beyond activities of daily living” is exercise? To maintain health we need to exercise. So here’s the idea…….. consciously think about every movement, every interaction every bite, every breath to challenge ourselves LIVE HEALTH ALL DAY EVERY DAY!!
I may not have the same everyday life that you do, but I am going to share everyday things that will support this idea.
Situations that challenge us outside of ourselves almost always involve someone else…the guy that cut you off, the waitress who has an attitude, or your boss/employee who is acting out of the ordinary. Are you the type to REACT to this person through verbal engagement, or worse? How we respond to this stimuli matters. The Buddha basically said “suck it up buttercup” when he said, “There is happiness in life, happiness in friendship, happiness of a family, happiness in a healthy body and mind, ...but when one loses them, there is suffering” How do you respond to suffering?
Imagine that you had total control over your response. Can you ALWAYS act exactly the way you want. A functional MRI, which sees the brain as it is thinking, was taken of Buddhist Monks. After some silence the sound of loud explosion was employed. The Monks showed no reactive brain activity as a “normal” person would. This is an example of “mindfulness.” Being mindful with others is challenging us to live every interaction without regret, guilt, or reaction when the BOMBS of life go off. This is VERY beneficial to your health. Live in happiness in every interaction all day every day.
Food is nutrition/nutrition is energy, we need food for physical sustenance, but when was the last time you tasted every bite? Even if you are not hungry, when you REALLY think about your favorite food, something wonderful happens. Your mouth waters, your digestive juices start, your glandular system engages to retrieve and process the energy you are taking in. Okay, so maybe the physical doesn’t sound too appetizing, but there is also a spiritual and social component to eating that feeds your soul. So it's okay to have that dessert!
When eating a special meal, I cut each item in half - from soup to nuts. If I decide that I am still hungry at the end, I can always have another bite. I offer my taste buds a physical, emotional, spiritual, and social experience. Some foods can BE a physical, emotional or spiritual experience, (mmmmmm). Wellbeing revolves around food as deeply as culture revolves around food. Some food is soooooo good, you forget to breath while you are eating. Live every bite as nutrition all day every day.
When was the last time you breathed? You probably just took a deep breath. Breath is important, we all know that. It is one thing that we do all day every day, and yes every night. When was the last time you noticed your breath? In Tai Chi, breath is considered a part of intake of energy to the life force or the Chi. The Chi exists in the triangle between the base of the sternum and top of each hip bone and breath is pulled into that area. Physically, this produces increased oxygen. This lowers stress level, blood pressure and heart rate. Breath control also controls the freeze, flight or fight response that stresses our everyday car ride or work or health or life challenges.
A simple meditation is to focus on your breath for a period of time, increasing the time over days weeks. Once established as a practice, it is available to you at all times in all situations. Live every breath as meditation all day every day.
Now back to the everyday, all day exercise…Can everyone stand up? If you want to remain seated try to do these exercises as you can. We are going to try to live health as we stand. Think about your feet. There are three points that connect three arches. When weight is balanced equally, you are standing most effectively.
Many of us have been told to stand up straight, but straight is impossible! The body curves!!! To stand equally balanced engages several muscle groups…the quads, glutes, zipped core, and back. Engage the muscles in these areas equally. If you were to engage these muscles for a time and then release, doing several sets a day, your posture would improve, back pain may lessen, and circulation of both blood and lymph fluids (the cleaning fluid of the body) would improve.
Next, we will look at how to live health sitting at a desk. Have you ever worked from an exercise ball instead of a chair? Balancing yourself upon an exercise ball engages your core, bottom and legs. Try balancing with one foot or both feet off the floor.
If you sit, stand and sat again each time you sat, imaging how strong your legs will get? Increase repetitions to 5, 10, or more! Okay, I understand that in a meeting, there may be some peculiar looks if you were to do this, but imagine how many squats will you do in a day? As you are seated, you can be performing static exercises in the glutes, thighs and core. Imaging wearing a back brace, but your muscles are the brace. Your calves and feet can be contracted and extended, not only gaining strength and flexibility, but helping to push fluid and blood up the longest journey in the body.
Ok, can you think of a movement to change into exercise? Think about what movements you do all day and repeat them. Kind of self-explanatory, but remember to be safe. Work within the strength and flexibility you have to improve to the strength and flexibility you want. Live the postural hold while walking. Live health by alternately stretching these muscles leaning back for the core and forward hang for the low back.
Another place live health is within our everyday chores. Laundry…can you repeat steps, lift the basket extra times, or bicep curls with the soap bottle. If every time you put in a load of laundry, you did 5-7 bicep curls, you could do 20 or 30 or 40, or I hope no one here has 10 or more loads of laundry a week!.. (laughter…I hope). If every time you put away your groceries you lift, push, carry and create extra movements, imagine how much energy you would expend. In expending energy, you can intake a bit more. Live exercise every movement of every day all day.
Garber, C. E., Blissmer, B., Deschenes, M. R., Franklin, B. A., Lamonte, M. J., Lee, I.-M., …Swain, D. P. (2011). Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: Guidance for prescribing exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 43(7), 1334-1359. Retrieved from http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2011/07000/Quantity_and_Quality_of_Exercise_for_Developing.26.asp
Nih.gov, (2013). Balance Food and Activity. Retrieved from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/healthy-weight-basics/balance.htm
Seppala, E, (2015). How Meditation Benefits CEOs. The Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2015/12/how-meditation-benefits-ceos
San Francisco State University, (n.d.). Following the Buddha's Footstep. Retrieved from: http://online.sfsu.edu/rone/Buddhism/footsteps.htm
Barnett, Tom, (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://fitfolk.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/average-calories-burned-per-day.png
Google Images, (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.google.com/search?site=&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=654&q=live+health&oq=live+health&gs_l=img.3..0l10.11955.13338.0.13418.104.22.168.0.0.0.281.1057.0j3j2.5.0....0...1.1.64.img..8.5.1050.I1e_Gp28l2k#tbm=isch&q=cultural+food&imgrc=_&spf=1496695476708