Last updated on April 5th, 2021 at 01:30 am
Logically, we all know that we need to take care of ourselves to get the most out of life. if we’re sick, we won’t have the strength to do the things we normally do; if we’re exhausted, we won’t be able to learn anything new. We’ll only get worse unless we make the decision to make ourselves better.
But you can’t just talk the talk—having a desire to improve yourself without putting the effort out to make some real change in your life is as bad as not caring.
Let me tell you a little tale about how I knew it was time for me to change my act.
You know it’s bad when you start to get sick from treating yourself so badly. By then, it’s already too late—you try to eat less processed food, drink more water, take the stairs a little more often—but you’re already sick. Whatever you’ve got will just need to run its course until you’re better.These are the kinds of lessons that our bodies so often try to teach us when they’re trying to get you to sleep more. Slow down a little. Do something different. Get less stressed. But for the most part, our bodies don’t have a voice, so they have to try a different approach.Your body’s trying to hold a conversation with you. Eat too many carbs at lunch and you’ll be sleepy in the afternoon Play sports without any exercise and you’ll feel the effects for days. But are you listening?
I think that we usually pay it no mind—we put so many other things ahead of our health that it makes us sick (ha—get it?)! We get caught up in the day-to-day and suddenly that report is more important. Or beating the stage boss of whatever game you’re playing. Or a movie, sex, that phone call, the thrilling book you’re reading—maybe it’s even something intangible like your stresses over life.
However, the body must be kept finely tuned like a well-oiled machine.
Others will tell you to do it for health-related reasons, or to keep your mental state acute—I’m telling you to because being out of shape is no fun at all. Being exhausted is no fun at all.
Lately, I see more and more of the need to take better care of my ever-aging self. I find it harder to keep focused when things are moving slowly. I feel like crap when I eat fast food. The entire idea where I can “fake it ‘til I make it” goes down the tube as my physical limits increase.
I think I learned this best when I realized how sore I’d get after playing my intramural games, and how long it would last.
I love playing sports—when you add teams and competition to something, it makes me want to participate THAT much more. I hate swimming, but play a game of “water rugby” (what some of our Haitian and Rwandan friends in the Montreal area call “water polo” but involves getting a ball to the other side of a pool through a barricade of dudes built like linebackers…) and I’m right in the mix. I hate jogging for sheer fitness, but put me in a game of ultimate frisbee and I’ll run ’til my little chicken legs give out. It’s all about getting out there and playing to your peak performance.
But what do you do when you find that your peak isn’t quite as high as it used to be?
While helping to plan our wedding in the first half of the year, I took a break from sports. As with any bad habit, it continued on into the honeymoon and months after our return. But then it was back! It was time for the ultimate frisbee season once more and I couldn’t WAIT to get out and huck a disc! I was used to being one of the faster players on the team and my legs hadn’t had their much-needed exercise in a while — this would be great!
How wrong I was, however. Very wrong.
My first game back was a disaster. I found myself gasping for breath almost immediately into a sprint; either my opponents got faster, or I got way slower; and I couldn’t throw a disc around like I’d used to.
I was in trouble.
So now, here I am trying to balance two things that aren’t quite so easy to combine—the need to work out and improve my fitness versus the reluctance to work out unless there’s a competitive element involved.
How do you do it?
Here are 5 simple things that I’m trying to do more of so I don’t find myself in an early grave:
1: SLEEP MORE
Sleep is important. Sarah has the right idea of trying to get 8 hours a night. You’ll just hate yourself in the morning if you undersleep, and you can never make up the hours you lose!
Drink those 8 glasses of water daily! I’m always surprised at how much better I feel after flushing some toxins out of my system. I’m not generally a water drinker, but becoming one is in my best interest!
3: BE REALISTIC—CHANGE THAT ATTITUDE!
Don’t overextend yourself! Know your limits—the older you get, the more you’ll feel the physical effects of things like stress and panic. Do what you can. Stop triple-booking yourself. Keep your days as simple as possible and your body will thank you for it.
Ignorance is bliss, but you can’t blame bliss when your health is deteriorating—that’s all on you.
5: PAYING IT FORWARD
One of the reasons why you had such nasty habits in the first place is because to some extent, they were seen as socially acceptable. It’s acceptable to put manufactured crap into our systems. It’s acceptable to constantly seek entertainment out over bettering ourselves. We have the choice to keep ourselves healthy enough to live a long, fulfilling life or to die young, revelling in extreme thrills and instant gratification.
There are people in the world who would (and do) kill for the live you have; why would you want to squander it away so carelessly?
It’s time to reassess ourselves and figure out what we can do to make our lives last… and matter.