Psychological or Emotional Well-being

This is an excerpt from my third book FIT AFTER 40 which is out in stores and on Amazon now.
Fit after 40How does one ever know if one is truly psychologically well? I’m not sure there is a definitive answer to that question. How we feel changes and often depends on how we react to our circumstances and the world around us. 
We are subject to a range of emotions. The balance of these emotions is more important in the overall scheme of things. Anxiety, fear, sadness and other negative emotions are not necessarily bad for us. They are, instead, signals for us to look at a situation and understand what to do about it. Instead of suppressing these emotions (which sometimes may result in many unwarranted repercussions like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, loss of friendships, isolation and so on), use them as a reminder to look deeper. 
There may be times when we feel terribly unwell within ourselves. Times of stress, family or work pressure or the loss of someone dear can upset our emotional/ psychological equilibrium quite dramatically. There are other times when we are calm even under stressful situations.
Some of us are aware of these changes as we experience them and explore them to understand the motivations and delve into possible changes to implement. Some are quite naïve about inner well-being and its implications on health. 
Think about it. Wouldn’t you say that the range and complexity of your psychological inner life is just as much a reality as your physiological and physical body? 
The Greek philosopher Socrates had said, ‘An unexamined life is not worth living.’From time to time ask yourself what’s going on in your mind. What do you think about life in general; your own life in particular? What meaning or purpose do you find? Are you happy, fulfilled, discontented or disinterested? What are the values that drive your attitudes to your existence? What brings you joy? What are your loves, your hates and your disappointments? Have you any idea as to who and what you are as an individual or how you are becoming your own person? 
Self-awareness is key to growth. How can we move forward if we don’t know where we are? 
Our emotional well-being is quite different from our physical well-being although they are intimately intertwined. While we can certainly improve mood and sense of well-being by incorporating regular exercise into our day, being ‘well’ emotionally requires other practices like deep contemplation, meditation, reflection and an understanding of our true motives and ourselves. It requires us to ask ourselves the question, ‘What will truly make for a better life for me?

Have you ever bought a Ferrari?

Have you ever bought a Ferrari?

Well, maybe not a Ferrari, but a great car, or the latest phone, or an expensive watch. Or, for that matter, anything that costs a bit of money? What do we do once we invest in expensive gadget/gizmos? We ensure good maintenance. In fact, we go to great lengths to ensure GREAT maintenance. We buy the best possible insurance policy, upgrade, service, fuel up, buy protective gear, shine, polish and basically spend a whole lot more money, time and energy on protecting our worldly investment. We are talking about a piece of metal here. A car that can be repaired, even replaced if need be.

Lets take the human body. The phenomenal human body. How much do you think it should cost? Remember we have only one body. It serves us all our lives. We need it to work for us 24/7 through all our impossible times, highs and lows. We have no spare parts and no, it cannot be replaced. How much do you think we should price it at? Priceless don’t you think?

And yet………..we place it under an inordinate amount of pressure and then fail to nourish it properly. We starve it. Alternately we stuff it with appalling food choices and expect it to behave itself. We get upset when it doesn’t. We are annoyed that it has “gained weight” or “fallen sick”. We stress it further to lose weight rapidly and unhealthily. The abuse is relentless.

Sure, we buy Life insurance and Health Insurance. That however is not the same as a “maintenance strategy” now is it? Buying life Insurance does not ensure a better QUALITY of life.

What is it that drives us to be quite so careless about our own bodies and yet pay so much attention to inanimate, material things? Is it the sense of infallibility? The conviction that somehow, we will be the ones to slip through the cracks and escape the implications of a reckless lifestyle?

We believe the rules of life do not apply to us. Perhaps justifiably. We do see some heedless humans cheerfully leading long or disease-free lives. On the other hand, we also see apparently healthy individuals sometimes dying or falling ill unexpectedly and shockingly. This is what is pointed out to me only too often when I advise people to follow a healthier lifestyle. “But what’s the point?” they ask, “look at how Mr. so-and-so dropped dead. He was fit, exercised regularly, eat healthy and yet he dropped dead”

I never said fitness was a guarantee against death! Only that it is a guarantee for a better QUALITY OF LIFE while you live. I for one, would much rather lead a full and productive life however short, than a long arduous one that is spent mostly in bed or a wheel chair in pain or depressed, suffering ailments that could have been prevented.

Have you ever bought an AMC (Annual Maintenance Contract) for anything from a water heater to a washing machine? Most of us do, for almost every piece of equipment we own. I even know someone who has an AMC for his treadmill, which by the way, he never uses!

I believe we need a DMC (Daily maintenance Contract) for the human body. If our bodies came with an instruction manual, it would probably say the following:

– Eat clean (most of the time. Occasional indulgences are allowed).

– Sleep at least 6-8 hours a day

– Exercise regularly.

– Drink enough water

– Manage stress appropriately.

– Stay busy and productive!

However, we do not come with an instruction manual now do we, so we do not bother with a DMC. Occasionally we realize the jeans do not fit or the triglycerides are sky-high and panic. Then come the desperate measures to right the wrong. Usually resulting in running for the nearest “quick-fix” remedy available. Drugs, massages, wraps, fasting, starving, drinking nasty concoctions that would probably make a skunk throw up, anything for instant results.

The panic however is short-lived. We get used to the weight gain or the high blood sugars/triglycerides. We tell ourselves it is part of the aging process. That we need to go with the flow, relax and take life as it comes. After all, most people around us suffer the same maladies don’t they? Therefore, it is absolutely natural. This is how we justify ill-health or a poor quality of life.

What if we pay as much attention to our own bodies as we do to our various material assets?

What if we begin to follow a DMC and consider our own wellbeing, both physical and emotional, as important and relevant to how we experience life?

What if we accept that WE are responsible for our own choices and subsequently the quality of our lives?

What if we treat our bodies as we would our Ferrari?

Getting started & sticking with a Fitness routine

This is for those of you who are not yet exercising. Who think perhaps that you don’t need to, or can’t. This is also for those who tend to take LOOOONG breaks in their fitness routine ever so often on some vague pretext or the other, those who tend to keep ‘falling off the wagon’ so to speak.

I’ve heard ALL the excuses –

– I don’t have time

– I don’t need to, (I am slim, I don’t have any medical disorders etc etc)

– I have tried in the past but have always failed, so why try again???

– I hate exercise, I can’t find anything I like to do.

Well, here is the news flash – you HAVE to exercise whatever your shape size, job, family situation etc etc. TIME?? I haven’t heard of anyone who has more than 24 hours in a day, so you haven’t been singled out with a shortage of time. Strangely, I find the busiest people are the ones who “find” the time to workout. No, actually they do not “find” the time they “make” the time. It’s all about priorities. You have to decide what is more important to you. Watching that TV serial or yakking on the phone or getting in a quick 30 minute workout. Once you ascertain a priority list, then the hour you spend working out becomes nonnegotiable. You magically “find” the time.

If you cant find anything you LIKE to do, just do it anyway!! Exercise is not meant to entertain you! Grow up, sometimes we just need to do what we need to do! Surprisingly, after doing it often enough, your body begins to recognize it as something you essentially do and is able to cope with the drudgery of it. It’s really all about perspective. You start looking at it as something that makes you look, feel and BE better.

Sometimes I think one of the reasons people don’t start at all is because the goals they set for themselves are so daunting that they don’t know where to begin! They expect results overnight, they think about the terribly difficult task ahead, they imagine the struggle they are faced with and just back off in frustration.

They key is to set simple, realistic goals. More important, to set more than one single goal. Make sure the goals are not all focused on your weight on the scale because, really, that is NOT the only reason you need to exercise.

Even goals like –

– I will workout 5 days a week

– I will aim to burn 100 calories more per workout next week

– I will fill in my food journal everyday and pay attention to what I eat everyday

– I will be more active during the course of the day and not plant myself in front of the Tv for more than 15 minutes at a time

– I will do sit-ups at every commercial break on Tv………….. are all goals that you can very well follow and feel pleased about achieving.

It’s not hard. Start with a 15 minute a day walk. Cover a certain distance. Increase the time to 20-30 minutes. Increase the distance you cover in that time. Add weight training to your routine at least twice a week. 20 minutes a session. Increase the intensity.

Get more active during the day. Don’t sit on your butt all day. Move as much as possible.

One of the greatest inventions is the PEDOMETER. It clocks the number of steps you take a day. Put it on and try to cover at least 10,000 steps every day.

Find a mentor. This could be an integral part of keeping you motivated. This is something like an AA sponsor/guide who is responsible for your progress!! You become accountable to them. You feel bad if you don’t show up for your workout. You feel guilty for letting them down. That’s great to start with. It keeps you motivated. After a while (hopefully) you start feeling responsible for yourself and are able to stand on your own two feet.

Gradually it becomes a habit. An integral part of your day that you are loath to miss. You start seeing results (however slow) in your body that you appreciate and this motivates you to keep going. You try new things. Zumba to your cardio. Pilates for your Core. Oh yes it CAN be fun too!