Getting Shape/Staying in Shape

I’m sixty-six years old this year; not far from sixty-seven. Talk with me about how important it is to take care of the body when you are younger, and I will tell you what you would expect me to say, “Your body is a large part of who you are, without it you are not.”

I recall my daddy saying, “The life of a motor is determined, to a large extent, by oil and oil changes.” We didn’t have a lot of extra money laying around. So, Dad emphasized taking care of things. He would point out what things look like when they are not cared for. “See what happens when you don’t take care of something?” And,he believed in going to the doctor to get check-ups, and when you were sick. He is eighty-six this year.

Taking care of things is important. But, nothing compares with caring for your body and your mind. Your body will be the very thing that is pronounced “Dead” when you are gone. You mind is a product of your brain. Your brain is certainly part of your body. Go to any medical clinic, ER, or hospital. You will clearly see “what happens when we do not take care of ourselves.”
Genetics certainly plays a role in health, just like a car that is made on Friday or Monday. No matter what you do to care for it, that car may be a lemon. But, that being said, we can still do our best to do our part in caring for ourselves (or our car/truck).
As a psychologist in private practice for thirty years, I consider ten things to be the most important life changing, life sustaining behaviors.

One, spirituality is important. Without dictating your faith or your religion, I am saying that research clearly indicates a positive belief system is tantamount to a better chance of living the kind of life that results in a more quality and quantity existence.

Two, learning how to think critically. I’m not kidding. We learn how to think, and not all thinking is good thinking. Critical thinking is not the same as being critical. Rather, it is thinking reasonably, logically, and wisely. This is learned. Sometimes it is learned the hard way. Choosing our thoughts by thinking positively, expectantly, intentionally, lovingly, and realistically is enormously important for mental, emotional, and physical health.

Walking the River Road

Three, Walk around as much as possible.Schedule walks. Park as far away from the store as possible, and walk. Walk down the street or road in front of your house. Wave and speak to your neighbors, but do not stop. Walk the dog. Take a walk with the kids or/and your spouse. Just walk as much as possible.

Kid at the Camp Dinner Table

Four, eat good stuff. Healthy stuff. I’m not suggesting that you go crazy trying to eat everything that is healthy for you. However, I am suggesting that you notice what you eat. Food is a chemical that you ingest into your body. It mixes with your body chemistry, and the two become one mess of chemicals. If you overdose on food, you will feel like crap, and eventually look it. If you eat the wrong chemicals your body will eventually punish you for doing so.

Five, drink as much clean water as possible. You are like a watermelon. Most of your body is water. The body loves water, clean water. Rather than drinking soda, beer, coffee, or tea most of the time, drink water more often than all the others put together. Carry a bottle of water around with you. If you aren’t urinating every hour or so, you probably aren’t drinking enough water.

Go to Bed/Go to Sleep

Six, go to bed and sleep. There is no substitute for rest. Take a nap. Get a good pillow. Like your bed. If you wake with your body mad at you for staying up to late, or punishing it with a bed that provides little or no support, then you need to invest in a great sleep aid…a bed. Get in it at a decent hour and go to sleep. Give your body what it needs, even if it means getting in the sack a bit earlier.

Seven, get excited about something. Look forward to something. Plan for something that you really want to do, and do it. Live intentionally. Don’t wait for life to come to you. Make it happen. Get out there and play. Recreation is actually Re-Creation. Sick people don’t play. Sick people don’t feel like doing anything. Unless you are sick, you need to be planning and doing things that make you feel interested and excited.

Eight, meditate. No, I am not kidding. Don’t knock it if your haven’t seriously made an effort to do it. This ONE thing will make the biggest positive difference in your life. Meditation is basically doing and thinking nothing. We should be very good at that, but we are not. In fact, we are taught that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. I interpret that to mean a “lazy mind.” Get quiet. Meditate. Learn how to do it right and get good at it. You will not be disappointed.

Never Stop Learning

Nine, be a perpetual student. Always learning. Always studying. Read. Keep your mind in the curiosity mode. Never quit learning something different. There are on-line classes, even from the biggest and best universities, that you can take free of charge. No tests. No assignments. Just learning new information. When you are driving, you can be listening to a fantastic lecture from one of America’s brightest minds. Why not? You mind and body will thank you for it.

Ten, always be grateful, humble, gentle, and listen. There is a lot of heartache in this world. Everyone you meet will be toting a burden of some sort. Having more questions than answers is a great plus. You’ve met that guy who knows everything, except that everybody hates to be around him? Life is a gift. No one wrote his/her name on their birth certificate. Be grateful for your time on this planet. Leave it better than you found it. Be kind. There is no excuse for rudeness. Don’t liter.