in such a fast paced society, sometimes it becomes very overwhelming to focus on our health. we are working, some simultaneously getting their education, and others are even tasked with raising a family at the same time. with all of this on our plate, the question becomes, when do i have time to take care of me?
well, let me tell you something; we need to. if we get in the habit of putting ourselves on the back-burner, we will have nothing left to give. the same way we are making sure that the people in our lives are loving on themselves, we need to make sure we love on ourselves as well. not only does that mean giving our bodies what it needs, but also what the mind needs to maintain some level of sanity. luckily, the two work hand in hand so essentially, it’s like killing two birds with one stone.
exercise and healthy eating play a huge role in our physical and mental well-being. whenever i get a good workout in, “workout” being used very loosely here, i always feel equipped and ready to tackle the next thing on my checklist. i love walking and i definitely urge all of those with packed schedules to get into the habit of walking for at least thirty minutes a day, if nothing else. also, for you i-hate-the-gym people, walking outdoors definitely takes the pressure off of fitting that “gym look”. so no, you don’t have to worry about attractive people beside you effortlessly climbing the elliptical while you are sweating profusely and clinging to the musky air in the room.
according to this article, a daily 30 minute walk has the potential to shape our bodies and minds. by walking, we end up working our quadriceps, glute muscles, and portions of our upper body muscles—even our ab muscles y’all. be aware though, these results will not be evident after your first walk. it takes persistence and making adjustments once your body gets used to the normal routine. say you were walking on leveled grounds for the entire 30 minutes for three days, try walking in areas where you are forced to work those quadriceps a bit. truthfully, your body wants to be challenged—those muscles were literally designed to be worked. a muscle that is not challenged will never grow. when you realize that you are getting used to that new routine, take it up another notch. you can do it, trust me.
a nice stroll also does wonders for busy minds. according to the same article that i referenced above, spending as little as 30 minutes walking helps to prevent depressed moods and put a jolt in our spirits. it makes sense when you think about what's happening physiologically in our brains during a workout. the science behind it is wrapped up in what psychologists call the “fight or flight response.” during stress, heart rate increases, pores secrete sweat, our eyes dilate and chemicals are released in the brain to calm us down from the stressor. sound familiar? yes, these are similar to the responses created during a workout. we intentionally put ourselves under stress causing our bodies to react in a similar fashion as a person being attacked by his neighbor’s dog. therefore, these feel good brain chemicals called “endorphins” are released and help reduce the stress but because there is no real stress, all we are left with is a great and natural high.
i noticed this a lot over this past summer. things were getting a bit chaotic for me and i honestly wanted to get my body into better shape. it helped that i had a doctor’s appointment coming up and I wanted to honestly tell them that i had been working out. in any case, i began taking daily walks around my neighborhood and the results were phenomenal. i felt so much lighter once it was over, not to mention that i could feel myself getting more toned. not long after, i was adding onto my walks, tackling steep hills and still returning home to do reps of squats and lunges. my body was thanking me by providing me with more stamina but more than anything else, i began thinking more clearly. i was laughing a lot more and i had a lot more gratitude for the small blessings around me.
another way to feed back into our mental health is making sure that we are putting good things into our bodies. yes, the workouts are great, but without a moderately healthy diet, we risk destroying what we have been building upon. still, i know how hard it is to eat healthy in today’s society. the easiest things to get our hands on are usually the least beneficial to our bodies. we can get a mcchicken, fries, and a soda by sitting in the comfort of our own cars on our way to work, but a proper meal takes preparation and time. time— i know, it's something i already said seems to be dwindling a little every day. i get it, truly. however, that preparation will prevent us from failing.
in light of that, here are a few things i do that have been working:
1. surround yourself with only the best: reduce the amount of greasy and sugary snacks in your living space. we want what comes easy to us so, by filling our space with healthy things to snack on instead of junk food we are forced to eat better during HTGAWM and that warriors game. i always go for the grapes and maybe a bag of kettle corn.
2. prepare: set at least 2 hours aside earlier on in the week to make a hearty meal that will last you throughout the week. by doing this, we reduce the urge to call papa john’s or run to the nearest wendy’s after work.
3. pack your own lunch: this one is pretty self-explanatory. i tend to be a picky eater as it is. however, this tip has not only helped me save some money but keep my body happy.
while many of my co-workers are running out at lunch to grab something, i love knowing that won’t be necessary for me.
4. broaden your horizons: so i’ve kind of developed a love for putting new things together. growing up in a jamaican household, rice & peas and some stew chicken is would suffice for me. however, i’ve found myself wanting to be more creative and try new things. it’s starting to become a fun activity; trying to find things to put together in the kitchen. it might not be the same way for others, but it keeps me motivated to eat healthier since i know firsthand what is going onto my plate.
all in all, we have to put good in to get good out. we cannot expect sitting around and wallowing in our excess body fat to do much for our mood. we have to dedicate a few minutes every day to keeping our bodies moving. that way, we see our own growth and begin taking on new challenges. it does not take having to pay a personal trainer. we know what our bodies need and most often, we can give it those things. when we look good, we feel good and eating good is no different. trust and believe, you’ll thank yourself.
peace, love & blessings.