Rest, stillness, and this time of the year makes me pensive. Many thoughts have crossed my mind as I reflect on 2022 and the many unpredicted significant moments it brought. I’ve only got to the end of the beginning of reflecting on some of the big life events of 2022. We won’t be talking about those here, now, yet. What I want to talk about is the realisation that struck me as I stood up sore from my workout this morning. It had to do with my physical health.
I’ve always been fairly fit and health conscious. It seems playing competitve sport in my earlier years is paying good dividends now. Besides fitness, it taught me how to listen to my body. That is, understand when to ignore pain and push it to new limits–how to endure. I also learned when to back down. And, more importantly when to know I was not in good shape.
The thing is, if you don’t have a great point of reference for “great”, it can be easy to settle for bad. This obviously applies to more than health and fitness.
Everything we do today is an investment into the future. We get to decide the kind of investment it is.
Advice From The Ol’ Heads
In my younger years I was tentatively dismissive when some older people would say how jealous they were of what I had. Alomost in the same breath, they would encourage me to cherish what I have and make sure that I paid attention to my physical health and fitness.
Because I trusted some of the ‘old people’ I took their jealous admonishing to heart. I tried not to be too reckless with my body. In my sometimes not consistent way, I played on the fit-unfit-see-saw. Despite this, I can’t remember missing a health check up in a decade.
I want to live a significant and impactful life, and I don’t want to do it with the burden of an unhealthy body.
Orange Dashboard Light
2022 was the first time my doctor was not so cheery when he called me with the blood test results from my annual checkup. Nothing was wrong per se. Just that I hadn’t gotten healthier, neither had I plateaued, but had a slight dip to the dark–unhealthy–side.
He was right, the last few months of 2021, I was a more sedintary than I usually was. I hadn’t thrown caution to the wind in terms of diet per se. Staying away from (execess of) bad foods must always be complimented by consumption of good stuff. I should have eaten more of the good stuff.
I had to do something about it.
The Doing Something About My Fitness and Health
I took drastic action on the diet side of things. Eating more of the right stuff and some instances eradicating certain foods. This self-intervention could be considered an overreaction given that I wasn’t in the red. I was not happy that I even looked that way.
Drastic action is so necessary, and effective in the orange zone. Waiting to get into the danger zone before taking action is dangerous, and should never be an option. At the first sign of heading in the wrong direction, always do something.
I’ve heard from health professionals and friends who have barely survived life-threatening health events. The consensus: preventative work—doing something before a crisis is better and easier than working yourself out of one. I believe them, and choose to cash in on their dumb tax.
All this to say, “I made healthier food decisions and, as best as I can kept to them”.
I never messed around with this one either. This was the first time I bought two new pairs of running shoes in the same year. 2o22 was the year I ran more in one year than I did in the last nine combined. I’m proud of myself.
Because Ingrid and I had (and still have) particular financial priorities, I opted not take out any gym membership. The Nike Training App become one of my most used ones.
While doing the right thing, even the things health professionals advise, you need to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.
Even when you are taking the right measures for your health, it is important to check that it is working. Never wait until your next doctor’s visit to find out how you’re doing. As much as you can, check that you are making desired progress.
It was exhilerating and encouraging to know that what I was doing was working. Health wearables like the Apple Watch can be helpful tools to monitor some vitals–something I will be looking into this year.
Whatever you do, remember to always monitor and check your progress to make sure you’re going in the right direction. Rather find out sooner rather than later that intervention is not working. That way, you can do something about it sooner.
My Physical Health Checklist
This is the most notable endeavour to codify my physical health manifesto. Also, a checklist can be a helpful thing to have. Having something in place is definitely more productive than nothing. It is easier to improve on.
Any measures I put in place, should be sustainable and realistic.
I will be making sure that I do not skip nor take this lightly or for granted. Every check up when it should be done.
I must never ail or be incovenienced by something I can be proactive about.
Regular and scheduled check ups are not optional. Besides checking the mirror and the numbers the scale throws back, I will also explore other monitoring.
A lesson I’ve learned and I’m reminded of from time to time: when you don’t feel well, don’t take too long. Seeking medical attention early can save complications later.
Food shouldn’t be boring. It is interesting that some of my energy waned in trying out different recipes. Going forward I want to continue finding and preparing interesting and flavour-bursting meals. I’ve been relived to discover that healthy meals don’t have to be embodied in steamed broccoli.
While I make sure to eat healthy and to avoid the bad stuff, I will have yummy food. Good foods can be good.
This is more than doing the ‘right exercice’. It is also learning to listen to my body. It is possible to ignore the body.
Like looking at the dash as your drive, create moments of checking in with your body. I usually do this at the start and end of day. Hello body, how do you feel? Work your way from head to toe. I often do this lying down as I wake, going to bed and at the end of a work out session.
If you’ve stayed with me to here, I hope you got something out of my rambling reflection. I wish you great health, and more importantly that you do what you need to do to live a healthy life so that you can give the world your best. The best gift we can give to ourselves, those we love and the world is our healthy selves. It is an important foundation to being our best.