Treat your body like a temple, not a woodshed.
The mind and body work together.
Your body needs to be a good support system for the mind and spirit.
If you take good care of it, your body can take you wherever you want to go,
with the power, strength, energy, and vitality you will need to get there.
— Jim Rohn
Religious and spiritual references abound that refer to the body as a temple, a holy place, a place of reverence, respect, and beauty. But what does that really mean?
A temple is a dwelling place for God(s), Spirit, Source, Creator of all that is. A temple is a sacred revered place, holding the spirit of God. As we are spiritual beings having a human experience, our physical bodies are the housing of our spiritual essence, the place we have chosen to take residence in for our brief time on the earthly plane, where we take comfort, rest, integrate life’s experiences, expand, celebrate, and nurture ourselves.
If I walked into a temple that was dirty, smelly, broken down, decaying, or filled with trash bags of fat, sugars, and waste, I’d get out as fast as my legs could take me. So, why do we treat our bodies like disposable trash bags?
According to the article, “Obesity Rates & Trends Overview,” on Stateofobesity.org, “Obesity rates vary state-to-state, but remain high nationwide. Across the United States, more than 1 in 3 adults and 1 in 6 children (ages 2-19) are obese, and 1 in 11 young children (ages 2-5) are obese.” 300,000,000 people around the world suffer from depression, according to the World Health Organization, and 16.2 million adults in the United States (6.7% of adults in the US) have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. One third of Americans are obese, and nearly 7% suffer from depression. Why?
If you were allowed only one car to last your entire life, would you fill it with bad fluids, put on old tires, use low quality parts, fill it with trash, or toxic chemicals? No. You would use only the best products you could find to keep it in top shape. You would make every effort to keep it clean, neat, pristine, and well maintained for optimum performance and durability. You would do everything in your power to make sure it would last for your entire life, wouldn’t you?
You only get one body to last your entire life. If you wear out your body, where are you going to live?
Countless published studies show that the foods, drinks, medications, and substances we put into our mouths directly result in our record numbers of illnesses. It’s not just the type of food we eat, but also the chemicals used to mass produce, preserve, and artificially structure and design them to attract us—and addict us. These chemicals, including artificial and animal hormones, preservatives, artificial colors, thickening agents, dyes, waxes, artificial fragrances, conditioners, binders, artificial sweeteners, genetic modifiers, pesticides, antibiotics, weed killers, and many others are being ingested by us, and our Loved ones, every day. Our body temples were not designed to ingest or digest any of these, which is evident in the increasing numbers and varieties of health addictions and body afflictions.
Front Desk Position Opening!
According to Chapter 2 of the United States Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2010 Eighth Edition, (https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/), our current typical eating patterns in the United States do not align with the healthy Dietary Guidelines, as shown in the chart below. About three-fourths of the population has an eating pattern that is low in vegetables, fruits, dairy, and oils. More than half of the population is meeting or exceeding total grain and total protein foods recommendations but are not meeting the recommendations for the subgroups within each of these food groups.
Most Americans exceed the recommendations for added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. In addition, the eating patterns of many Americans are too high in calories. Calorie intake over time, in comparison to calorie needs, is best evaluated by measuring body weight status. The high percentage of the overweight or obese population suggests that many over-consume. More than two-thirds of all adults and nearly one-third of all children and youth in the United States are either overweight or obese.
As a young man and Ironman triathlon participant, I believed in a healthy diet as a standard part of my life. My motto was, “If it comes in a box, bag, or Styrofoam, I don’t eat it.” My typical routine was train most of the year, except during the period from Thanksgiving until after the new year, when I rewarded myself for all the months of training and discipline. Upon resuming training after the new year, I consumed a high protein diet for a few weeks, shed the extra pounds I had gained during the holiday break, and then continued as normal—my normal. One year I noticed that I kept losing the weight, even after I stopped eating the high protein diet. I began to appear sick-looking to my friends. I was not a person who sought the care of a physician, but I did at that point.
I was shocked when the doctor and lab results diagnosed me with Type 2 Diabetes based on the results of a blood test that measures the A1C levels and how well the body is naturally producing insulin. The higher the number, the less the body is producing. Level 6 is safe. Mine was 12. I was told that, because I had a First Nation Osage American Indian blood in my heritage, Type 2 Diabetes was in my genes and that it was not unusual to be symptom free until later in life.
My treatment protocol: Insulin three times a day; Metformin twice a day; antidepressants twice a day; heart medication; liver medication; and anti-inflammatory medication for the swelling in my feet. Being sick and diseased is not cheap. I began running again, six days a week and reduced my number to a “safe” level. The problem did not go away. It just became hidden, less easy to detect. Fast forward and one hip injury later, my A1C levels were back, at 9.
It was at that point that I was asked to watch Forks Over Knives, a now world-famous documentary highlighting the benefits of a whole food and plant-based diet. After seeing it and doing my own research, I decided to take the leap. I abandoned all processed foods, all meats of any kind, and all dairy. Within two and a half months—without exercise—I reduced my A1C levels to 6.5. At 6.5, you are considered non-diabetic. I have since started exercising again and have every belief in my A1C levels reaching below 6
The modern-day lifestyle for most Americans is a sedentary one of restricted movement. Most of us drive everywhere, rather than walk or bike, and most of us do only the bare minimum of exercise, or none at all. According to a new study by the Center for Disease Control, only one out of every five American meets the minimum weekly exercise standards recommended. Thus, the eighty percent who do not are setting themselves up for the potential of years of health problems. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2013/p0502-physical-activity.html
The U.S. government recommends that adults have 2 – 2 ½ hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, or 1 ¼ hour of vigorous-intensity activity, or a combination of both, as well as a minimum of 2 muscle-strengthening activities per week, such as lifting weights or doing push-ups.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed survey data collected from random phone calls to more than 450,000 Americans, aged eighteen and older. When asked how often and for how long they engaged in aerobic physical activity, outside of their jobs, the data revealed that only 20.6% met the total recommended amounts of exercise—approximately 23% of the men and 18% of the women surveyed. Those who engaged in the most physical activity—nearly 31%—were between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four. Those who exercised the least—nearly 16%—were age sixty-five and older.
If you see yourself in any of the statistics, are you ready and willing to change your stats and take care of your one-in-a-lifetime body temple?
The following benefits, recommendations, descriptions, and tips are from the American Heart Association.
7 Important Benefits from getting the proper amount of exercise:
- Lower risk for: heart disease; stroke; Type 2 Diabetes; high blood pressure; dementia and Alzheimer’s; several types of
cancer, and some complications of pregnancy
- Better sleep, including improvements in insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea
- Improved cognition, including memory, attention, and processing speed
- Less weight gain, obesity, and weight related chronic health conditions
- Better bone health and balance and less risk of injury from falls
- Fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Better quality of life and sense of overall well-being
Recommendations for Physical Activity for Adults:
- Get at least 2 ½ hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 1 ¼ hour per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week.
- Add moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) at least 2 days per week.
- Spend less time sitting. Even light-intensity activity can offset some of the risks of being sedentary.
- Gain even more benefits by being active at least 5 hours per week.
- Increase amount and intensity gradually over time.
Recommendations for Physical Activity for Kids:
- Children 3-5 years old need to be physically active and have plenty of opportunities to move throughout the day.
- Kids aged 6-17 need at least 1 hour per day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity, mostly aerobic.
- Include vigorous-intensity activity at least 3 days per week.
- Include muscle- and bone-strengthening (weight-bearing) activities at least 3 days per week.
- Increase amount and intensity gradually over time.
Physical Activity is anything that moves our body and burns calories. This includes things like walking, climbing stairs and stretching.
Aerobic Activity, aka cardio, gets the heart rate up and benefitting by improving cardio-respiratory fitness. When done at moderate intensity, the heart will beat faster, and you will breathe harder than normal, but you will still be able to talk. Think of it as a medium or moderate amount of effort. Vigorous intensity activities will push your body a little further. They will require a higher amount of effort. You will probably get warm and begin to sweat. You will not be able to talk much without getting out of breath.
For maximum benefits, include both moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity in your routine, along with strengthening and stretching exercises. Knowing your heart rate will also help you track the intensity of the activity.
Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Activities:
- Brisk walking (at least 2.5 miles per hour)
- Water aerobics
- Dancing (ballroom or social)
- Tennis (doubles)
- Biking slower than 10 miles per hour
Vigorous-Intensity Aerobic Activities:
- Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack
- Swimming laps
- Aerobic dancing
- Heavy yard work (i.e.: continuous digging or hoeing)
- Tennis (singles)
- Cycling 10 miles per hour or faster
- Jumping rope
5 Simple Tips:
- Exercise before bedtime for better sleep
- Take a brisk walk after dinner
- Watch one less television show before bed
- Walk 3 hours per week to help lower risk of stroke
- Get 7-8 hours’ sleep at night
One of the hardest habits to develop is the habit of making self-care our top priority. We are taught to believe that prioritizing self-care is selfish. It is not. If we are not healthy in our mind, spirit, and body, we are not good for anybody. Always putting the needs of demanding children, spouses, work, friends, community, homes, possessions, and commitments, over caring for ourselves only leads to our burn out. When we fly in an airplane, the attendants direct us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first in an emergency. They do not direct us to put the mask on our child first, or our parent, or our spouse, or our friend. If we are not operating at our highest possible potential, we could fail in our efforts to help our child, our spouse, our parent, or our friend, which could prove fatal to all parties, including us!
Take time for just YOU every day. It does not have to be much, but it must be consistent. Create an environment that prohibits you from ignoring or forgetting your self-care. What does that look like?
Here are a few ideas:
- Make an appointment or date with yourself and block out time, just as you would for your Loved one, friend, or client. Do not cancel it, reschedule it, or be late for any reason. Doing this on a daily or weekly basis will effectively and powerfully raise your knowing of how interesting, able, valuable, and worthy you truly are. Time with yourself is equally, if not more, important as time with the doctor, the mechanic, the friend, the counselor, the child, the stylist. And something you will learn from this is that you are all those people for yourself. You just do not know it yet.
- Activate the “Do Not Disturb” mode in your life. This can be a part of the appointment referred to above, or in addition to. Disconnect for a short duration every day. Turn your cell phone off and leave it in the car, workplace, or home. You can catch up on those emails, internet searches, texts, phone calls, in person conversations, and social media alerts when you are done with your “do not disturb” period. Tell your family, friend, spouse, co-worker, or roommate that you are not going to be available or accessible for a period and be specific if you need to. The world will still revolve. If you need help, there is actually a program called Freedom, which—depending on whether you need to increase your productivity, or your self-connection—is a self-managing mechanism that blocks you from social media sites, email, or the web. When you activate the “Do Not Disturb” mode in your life, make sure you include a physical sign on the outside of your door to remind others, and on the inside of the door to remind yourself.
- Turn off the action of the world, your routine, and your habitual responses to engage with people and the busyness of the world. Sit in a quiet place. Create a space that is just for you to be. Just sit, relax, and breathe. Allow yourself to not do Allow yourself to just be.
- Take a walk. And do not just walk. Notice the natural elements and beauty around you. Do not use ear buds. You will miss sounds of the breezes, water flowing, and the many birds and critters that sing and communicate with one another. Hearing those sounds keeps you in the earthly, energizing magic of the moment.
- Stretch, do yoga, or move your body in some way. Movement releases endorphins, raises your emotions, clears your mind, creates more flexibility and coordination, activates the lymphatic system to release toxins, aids arthritis and inflammation, relieves pain, and improves your blood circulation. It does not have to be full or hard-core sport or exercise, just movement. Twist, jump, turn, squat, bend, flow, stretch, hold a pose, flex each body part.
- Spend time in nature, whether it is at the ocean, in the mountains, in the sand dunes, in a field of flowers, walking barefoot on the grass, or just walking around a peaceful pretty neighborhood. It has been shown that being in nature connects you to the earth and helps ground you. Lay on the earth, sand, grass, flowers, or blanket. Stepping away from the concrete, the technology jungle, and the communication web, and surrounding yourself with nature has a way of centering you back to YOU and connects you to Spirit and the Oneness of the Universe. Wonder. Feel. Touch. Smell. Inhale. Listen. Taste. Breathe. Appreciate. Nature has a way of speaking to you if you are willing to listen.
- Meditate for a few minutes. Fifteen minutes of focused meditation is enough to create a lasting shift and feel more centered, relaxed, and focused.
- Listen to your favorite music. Get lost in it. Do whatever the music inspires you to do. Cook, draw, color, journal, clean, create, repair, clear, dance, sing. You can even choose the type of music to listen to that will set the mood for the activity you want to do, even inactivity.
- Take a nap, or rest and close your eyes, or read a book or magazine. Even a 20-minute nap pushes the reset button and gives you an entirely new start position and frame of mind.
- Singing can turn an awful day into a fun, energized, inspired day.
- Remember that every dark, down, difficult time in life is temporary. Everything changes, sometimes in as little as five minutes.
- Keep it simple. Self-care does not have to be complicated. The simpler it is, the better and easier it will be for you to do it regularly. Change it up. Try each of the above suggestions, and alternate. It does not matter so much which one you do, only that you consistently do something.
- Reward yourself for sticking to your new routine. By taking care of yourself first, and on a consistent–if not daily–basis, you will feel better about yourself and life in general, and you will become better for those around you. You will be glad you did. You will find that you are better able to create the energy to balance your emotions and navigate the circumstances in your life. You may even become addicted, and that kind of addiction is a positive, life-enhancing one!
Here is an exercise to help you get clarity on your mental, physical, and emotional health and energy.
Note each one of your actions for the next seven days and nights. Do not leave any details out, not even things you might be embarrassed about. No one will look at this, except you. Write down everything you do from the moment you wake up (even before you get out of bed) until the moment you fall asleep for seven days.
When your seven days of notes are complete, fold a new sheet of paper in half, lengthwise. At the top of the right side, write “ME.” At the top of the left side, write “OTHERS.” Next, review the past week’s notes. For each instance in which you gave to others, write a hash mark on the left side of the new sheet of paper, and for each instance in which you gave to yourself, write a hash mark on the right side of the new sheet of paper. Total your hash marks on each side. Compare the types and qualities of actions and the time involved for each. Notice how you feel and what you realize.
Your final list will be predominantly dedicated to others. That is expected. But I want you to pay attention to how much time you dedicated to yourself that week. What counts is quality, not quantity. Identifying that you played ten hours of video games is not the same as five hours of self-care—time connecting with yourself with no distractions. If you had little or no self-care or self-quiet or rest time, determine how you can create that in the next seven days. Then, notice any difference in the way you feel, your energy level, your clarity, or your awareness.
This exercise will help you identify where you are draining yourself for other people, external commitments, and excessive external actions and enable you to balance yourself, your health, and your life. Knowledge is the key to change, and action is power. If you do not know it is broken, you cannot fix it. Your spirit needs attention, to maintain mental, emotional, and physical health—and you deserve it.
Many religions say that the body was created form the earth and will return to the earth when its time is done. Let us not wait until our death and burial to connect our bodies with mother earth. Establish a regular connection with nature, even if it is just 20 minutes a day. Take time right now. Go outside. Move your body. Rest your body. Nourish your body, mind, and spirit. Disconnect from all distraction of this modern day fast paced world and the people in it. Your body temple will reflect to you the nurturing you have given it. Your spirit will thank you.
We are not human beings here to create a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings here to have a human experience, but our source of fuel, inspiration, energy, drive, focus, joy, Love, and passion always comes from our spiritual essence. That is our lifeline. Nurturing our spiritual essence means taking time to recharge and replenish. Being present with ourselves and our natural surroundings enables our bodies to release the stress, tension, tightness, and accumulated electrical charges from the world, The more we do this, the more our bodies will shift and adjust themselves toward healing, sustaining, and strengthening, not only our physical bodies, but our mental and emotional bodies—our true body temples.