The following is an excerpt from The Zen of Weight Loss: A Mindful Livable Approach to Fitness
Chapter 21 Zen of Health Promotion
What’s the purpose of an excuse? It’s an attempt to get off the hook by justifying or overlooking a shortcoming or obligation. Let’s take a look at the granddaddy of excuses; “I don’t have the time.” The recommended exercise time is a minimum of 30-minutes a day, although recent studies suggest this is only a starting point and our bodies really need more.
Start here: elevate your heart rate for 30 minutes or longer and you’ll begin to experience some benefit. Exercise puts a spring back in your step, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and fights off diabetes with a little extra work. Choosing not to exercise actually exercises the choice to tempt disease and illness. Excuses are not great supporters of self-esteem, mindfulness, or fitness. You aren’t thinking right when you try to exonerate yourself from health! Who in their right mind takes flight from health or embraces illness? The mature way to handle health promotion is to accept that daily exercise is as much a routine as brushing your teeth.
A dear friend in Virginia had a very different lifestyle than Karen’s. She was a massage therapist dedicated to the earth
religions. She embodied a free-spirit approach to life. She was a beautiful mother of two wonderful children. She didn’t go to doctors, instead optioning for a homeopathic approach to health and fitness. Generally, a homeopathic approach complements disease treatment systems (i.e., traditional western medicine). To complement a system doesn’t mean to ignore all of its practices. Conversely, she didn’t exercise or keep track of her body. When her breast cancer was diagnosed, it was already Stage III. She fought a valiant fight that ended 18 months later. Could she have warded off death had she had been in touch with her body? If she had been diagnosed earlier would it have made a difference in treatment options and the prognosis? Nobody knows. Statistics suggest that regular mammograms and self-exams
decrease mortality from breast cancer. The tragedy is that she didn’t keep up with her body and it got away from her.
Fitness lends itself to being in touch with your physical self. Just about everybody gets sick at one time or another. People who are fit are likely to get sick less often. When illness tags people in “good shape” they have more physical, mental, and emotional resources to fight back and are apt to heal quicker. The Surgeon General advocates regular exercise as a core strategy for becoming a “Healthy and Fit Nation” (2010)** The report is blunt, “Today’s epidemic of overweight and obesity threatens the historic progress we have made in increasing American’s quality and years of healthy life.” The facts are irrefutable; extra pounds hurt the body and shorten the prospect of living long and prosperously.
People who exercise have a much lower risk of ever having to face many illnesses on the nation’s menu of health crises. That said, the report goes on to state that, “Americans need to live and work in places that help them practice healthy behaviors.” The Zen of Weight Loss is health promotion. But what if, just for a moment, time is a barrier to a successful fitness routine? Journal about the time not spent working out, grabbing quick bites at the convenience store after pumping gas, and whatever took place during your regular time at the gym. Pick a few choice words that best describe the reflection in the morning mirror and the body state that finally hits the pillow each night. Are you moving towards or away from your goal?
Making time for daily exercise is a bit like having two watchdogs named Timex and Rolex. Your love is whole-hearted
Jeri Levesque, Ed.D.
Karen Fili Sullivan
and you can trust the results. The list of excuses can be rather lengthy, but here are a few rebuttals:
• No money? Try cutting out one soda a day, at $1.50 each. That saves $45 a month. Many gym memberships can be had for less than $40 a month. Work with the staff about the sign-up fee. That amount is always negotiable. Just keep talking, if the staff balks, move on to another gym willing to waive or reduce the fee.
• Don’t know how to do exercises? You may need to pay for an initial orientation and workout plan but after that you can be on your own. Ask the staff to give you a tour and explain what each machine does for body fitness. Try a free group intro lesson to see whether group workouts fit your style. If you don’t feel a good fit with staff and other clients, find another gym.
• Embarrassed to be there in revealing clothes? Then don’t wear clothes that make you uncomfortable, select loose fitting shirts and pants that cover your body.
• Too many candles on your cake? On the wrong side of the centennial divide? Sorry Dear Heart, but health promotion and disease prevention are two concepts being championed by many Baby Boomers! It’s never too late to begin to exercise. Lots of Karen’s clients are in their 70′s and 80′s. Why tempt fate? Stay on top of your game and buy into fitness.