If loving your body is a crime, then I’m as guilty as anyone. My assumption is, if you’re reading this article, then you’re also likely as guilty as me – or you’re thinking about committing to this “life of crime.”
Truth be told, it is exactly our RESPONSIBILITY and at the same time a PRIVILEGE to be able to invest our time and resources into preserving and even promoting our functional health, and our emotional well-being. We’ve learned from the mistakes of previous generations that it is OUR DUTY to exemplify and, yes, to celebrate the lifestyle we embrace – what we call our Fitness Way of Life.
Living as active, vigorous, health-seeking individuals, we make choices daily regarding our own health status and the path toward improved, if not optimal health and well-being. These choices identify conscious paths of action, including how we fuel our bodies, and how we work and rest our bodies and minds to maximize our productivity and quality of life.
The conscious decision to take actions that reflect a love and appreciation for our bodies carry with it implications that fall within four specific realms:
1. FUEL: We are what we eat, and the choices we make each day regarding what we put on our plates and into our mouths have a cumulative impact on our quality of life. I may sound cliché, but living lean and loving your body includes making choices to get the most out of your food choices. Simple rules include the following:
➞Avoid excessive consumption of sugars and refined carbs. Research continues to reveal a correlation between the ongoing consumption of these “First-World evils” and real-world banes such as obesity, diabetes, heart-disease, and even cancer.
➞Stay hydrated by consuming sufficient water. Baseline recommendations for healthy people fall somewhere between ¾ gallon to 1 gallon per day. As health-seeking, active individuals, up to 25 percent or even 50 percent more is recommended.
2. EXERCISE: Use it or lose it. Forty-five to 60 minutes of exercise at least 5 times per week, including a balance between resistance training and aerobic, or cardiovascular training, is recommended for healthy individuals. Keep in mind that the body is the most incredibly adaptive machine there is, and will adjust to ever increasing levels of healthy stress, such as resistance training and moderate-to-high intensity aerobic activity. So feel free to pump that iron and follow a “progressive-resistance” program. You’ll get stronger with each and every session! And as the weights seem lighter, go heavier!
3. SLEEP/REST: Most experts agree that somewhere between 6-8 hours per night is necessary to maintain optimal health and function. But sleep requirements have been shown to be very individualized. By monitoring your own sleep patterns and how they impact your energy, performance and mood, you’ll be able to determine how much sleep is best for you.
4. MINDSET: Perspective is everything. The key is to place high value on your health and well-being, develop a plan for success, and have no shame sticking to it! Repeated, conscious work toward your goals will eventually lead to success; the self-fulfilling prophecy of positive mindset.
A wise person once said, “You owe it not only to yourself, but to those around you, to take care of YOU. First of all, if YOU don’t do it, who else will? And secondly, if you don’t take care of YOU first, how can you contribute to those around you?”
So, Love Your Body! And feel good about it!
By Pete Ciccone, IFBB Pro