Friday, 21 September 2012

Wholesome Living and Health

Three golden rules drive longevity and health of cars universally: (a) Regular Service (b) Drive at least once a week and (c) Good quality fuel. For our owned cars, we follow them almost 100%. For rented cars, however, we flout them 100% and don't care. The very same rules govern the longevity and physical health of humans too. How far do we go in following them for ourselves? Is our concern for our health a reflection of an owned or a rented car? 

Body - The Trigger for Change
Body is what we think of when the topic is health. Though it is the most common trigger for our lifestyle change, we give a damn to the golden rules. For years, we drive it from one parking place to another with least effort and discomfort, never really mindful of what we eat. Only when it breaks down or warns us (medical reports), we pause and contemplate some 'action'. And what do we do? We enroll in a gym, make advance payments (for commitment) and try altering our eating habits. Body, accustomed to luxurious living, is now dragged ruthlessly to gym and is deprived of its favourite delicacies. This 'punishment' style of ushering a change works by forcing it into submission. Does it last beyond a month or two? 

Sustaining the Change - Will Power or Love?
The problem is our approach and source of motivation (WHY). While our motivation/WHY is to fix reports fast, the approach is like one time project. Initiating lifestyle change is easy but sustaining it is a challenge. We rely on our will-power to keep going. It does propel us out of inertia but how long can it support something we don't love? Sound health is not a onetime task. Inactivity of a period can't be compensated by hyper-activity in another. 

For lasting change, we need to weave our plans around what we love to make it a routine than a strenuous effort. A good plan respects body, has variety and emphasizes on awareness/check-ups. It starts slow and builds on, eventually engaging for 20+ minutes at a stretch. Does it mean our short walk or taking stairs is a waste? No. Our 'WHY' is an active lifestyle. We don't turn into an active human being at the stroke of 'T' hrs every day. Such activities help internalize the change and develop a passion for good health. So go for them. Few other tips are:

1. Don't rely solely on gym. It is just one of the alternatives. 
2. Don't push yourself too hard. Skip a day or two if feel like. Don't feel guilty.
3. Adopt different forms of exercises - dance, climbing stairs, jogging, cycling, skipping, sports, playing with kids, brisk walk, swimming and many more. Learn a skill, if you don't know.
4. Choose an exercise partner. It will keep you going. I was inspired and encouraged by my college friend Rohan and I still follow his words more than a decade-and-half later.
5. A fixed exercise time is helpful but not critical. 

Welcome Healthy Food
Body is as healthy as the food it digests. An active lifestyle can't undo the harm of regular unhealthy food we indulge in at parties, office, malls or even home. Avoid the swing from addiction to complete abstinence as it also relies on will-power and won't last long. To develop healthy eating habit:

1. A mindful occasional indulgence is OK. Complete abstinence is cruelty to taste buds. 
2. Become aware of the quality of your eatables, what is and is not healthy.
3. Observe your eating patterns and their occasions/context. 
4. Pre-empt your indulgence or its impact by eating healthy snack before such occasions. You won't eat something, however delicious, when you are not hungry.
5. Consciously adopt regular light meals/snacks to minimize the opportunities to slip.

Regular exercise and healthy diet keeps our body fit. But is that enough?

Mind and Heart
Mind and heart are the other two aspects to wholesome living. Mind controls our thoughts which impact how we feel. By clinging to experiences, it creates illusion of busyness, lack of time, conflict in priorities and feelings of stress. Exercise is a stress buster and cleanses the mind. Ability to 'Let Go' opens it up to new perspectives and unlocks time. Learning new skills, self-belief and being creative even in mundane tasks keeps it abuzz with healthy thoughts. 

Heart refers to the relationship we share with loved ones and others around us. Our loved ones are our support and wish two things from us - TIME and ATTENTION. So, organize your exercise schedule involving them. Express gratitude regularly for their love and concern. Think beyond self and adopt conscious kindness. Indulge in good causes and make a difference to your world. Such practices keep the heart brimming with fulfillment.

Colors on a canvas matter more than its size.
The Beautiful SELF
Wholesome living and being healthy is not just about our body. It is about the delicate balance among body, mind and heart. Your SELF, and even others around you, are chirpy and healthy when these three are in balance. It is about  indulgence in everything in moderation, not abstinence

To live forever is another fantasy but living more each day can be a reality. In a long journey, a healthy car does matter. But who sits next to you, how thrilled you are in each other's company and where all you go matters even more!!

Is it possible to pursue happiness if the pursuit itself does not make you happy? - Deepak Malhotra

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