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The Secret to Looking and Feeling Great Automatically: The Little Things

We're heading for the home stretch. You've got a plan now and it's almost time to implement. But first a few more little things to consider.

Life is motion; everything is constantly changing. Navigating through constant change we feel energy flow. Sometimes we synchronize and move with that energy and sometimes we oppose or work against it. Working against it is resistance.

We encounter resistance in the environment, from gravity to wind to water to heat and cold, to the mechanical resistance of matter, to the resistance we feel in our bodies from weakness to illness and disease, to resistance we struggle with in our minds from confusion to anxiety to laziness to pride to fear. These are natural elements of this reality challenging us.

You are here to do something of consequence, something extraordinary. You are involved in something difficult and challenging and wonderful. The challenges you face, the obstacles you conquer, the resistance you overcome are your lessons, your means to grow.

You're familiar with the adage, "The straw that broke the camel's back."

Envisioning a piece of straw; it's difficult to imagine a single straw breaking a camel's back. One single straw is light and flexible weighing hardly anything. But under heavy load, the addition of one light piece of straw will be the measure that goes too far. It will be the straw breaking the camel's back.

We are intimately connected to the environment and operate best in certain conditions. We need air to breathe, water to drink and food to eat. We must maintain our body at a certain temperature, neither too hot nor too cold. We require a certain amount of air pressure as well, not too much or too little. Living requires just the right balance, the right range of conditions.

We, body, mind and spirit, are well equipped to deal with, manage and overcome stress. But there is a point where stress can be too much; a point where we take on too much and stress overwhelms us. Stress can be a positive motivation for growth or it can be an insidious force wearing us down. Carefully manage stress. Keep yourself in that optimum range. While too little stress is not good, too much stress can be dangerous.

We learned to deal with most environmental stressors; other types of stress however, test us. We face biological threats, pathogens and toxins, bacteria and viruses, threats to the functioning of our bodies. We are social beings. We have needs and desires to bond, to be together, to love and be loved. Social needs are a prevalent source of stress; good and bad. And of course within our own psyches lie potential stressors, the most notable and insidious of which is fear.

Develop habits to mitigate stress and keep your mind and body operating in the optimal range. Don't take on that one straw which tips the balance. Develop habits to routinely and automatically address environmental, social, biological and psychological stress. Explore mind and body practices like meditation and prayer, yoga and martial arts, or a deliberate approach to humor and joy-filled play.

You have what you need to address stress; what you need to succeed. Adopt and nurture habits to mitigate stress automatically.

Nutrition can be a source of stress so let's talk nutrition.

You've probably dieted before. You've tried to change. What might be different this time?

You can't call a timeout to life. You can set a new course. Not everything is under your control but you have power. Take one step at a time in a new direction.

Let's walk through this process regarding changing eating habits. Your body will adapt to its environment, current conditions, and the fuel provided. If the environment, conditions and fuel are optimal the body automatically takes care of the details.

You pick a direction. Then habits set your automatic pilot. Break bad habit patterns, make fundamental changes.

The "Habits Change Process" takes you through eight steps. The starting point is evaluating the current habit patterns driving your life.

Try keeping a food journal cataloging everything you put into your body. Attempt to uncover how much you eat habitually. Include in your log time of day, type of food and drink, and amount. Think about what you feel or crave and the circumstances surrounding your eating. These are the clues to your habit cycles.

Immediately change one of those habit patterns undermining your health. If you've been to this rodeo before and know you have a soda habit or that you are addicted to sugar: stop the madness. Immediately begin changing one habit you know is setting you back.

Work on one habit at a time until you have replaced that bad habit with a habit that serves you, a habit that properly nurtures your body.

That craving you experience at 10:30pm may be the result of skipping breakfast or only consuming a donut at 7am. Your body may be conditioned to a certain blood sugar level. When you slip below that blood sugar level your body initiates a craving which it knows can be met conveniently by a soda. You have set a trap for yourself. Stop falling into the trap.

Get rid of all the things in your cupboards, pantry, refrigerator; your house that can lead you astray. Set yourself up with great tasting, convenient and healthy options – have fresh, whole, natural substitutes ready and close at hand.

Make planning and preparation a habit too.

Being lean, fit and healthy is how you are meant to be. Take the stress of eating the wrong things out of your life.

We've been talking about stress; what's a great way to relieve stress?

By playing – that's right. In this OP segment we renew our theme of resistance; deliberately overcoming resistance during daily play sessions.

We have emphasized proper breathing; discussed warming up and stretching; highlighted assets like your own body and gravity; and explored incorporating simple tools, like kettlebells and balls, to spice up play sessions. And we've extolled the benefits of yoga and Pilates.

Your body is willing and able, it is in fact eager to get stronger if you expose your body deliberately and intentionally to resistance. To build strength, endurance and flexibility test yourself; push yourself. With proper conditioning your body can do extraordinary things. All you need is an engaging spirit and the willingness to move consistently, every day. You can quite adequately exercise your entire body using just your own body weight; no tools required. However you can use tools as well.

Weights come in a variety of forms; from dumbbells to barbells and kettlebells to medicine balls; anything that has weight acts as resistance. Gyms and fitness centers offer a seemingly endless variety of resistance machines. Give them a try.

The keys to effective resistance training are: breathing properly; proper form and technique; increasing intensity – that is working muscles enough to cause them to grow; and adequate recovery.

If you play safely, for the appropriate duration and intensity, and given the proper nutrition, your body responds automatically.

Overcome resistance.

If you're looking for something less bulky than weights and machines try resistance straps, cords, or bands. Bands come in a variety of styles and tensions. Some bands have handles, some are built into more complex machines and some are simply stretchy pieces of rubber or synthetic fibers.

Bands are not bulky, are easy to store or carry around; and are inexpensive. Bands may be used in a variety of exercises and applications through a wide range of motion. The continuous tension of the band may produce even better results than weights or machines.

One more thing to consider to take your conditioning to the next level.

High-intensity, full-body play triggers the release of a medley of health enhancing hormones you just aren't going to get any other way. Every form of play is overcoming resistance, but to significantly reduce the time it takes to play for optimum fitness ratchet up the intensity.

High intensity does not necessarily mean high-impact, high-speed or high-stress types of activities. You can get all benefits of whole-body, high-intensity exercise in one play session per week – twenty minutes of high intensity plus ten minutes of warm up and cool down pays off big.

Consistency, doing something every day, and intensity, taxing your entire body, are more important than duration. I would never however, discourage investing more time in play. Have fun!

Select something you can and will do routinely then do it. Don't resist this idea of overcoming resistance and consider ratcheting up the intensity for even better results.

Now back to our big picture; our habits change process. If you've completed your plan it's time now to test your new habit routine. See how it feels and adjust as necessary.

We are going to talk about help and support in the next session – Lesson 7.

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Written by

Scott F. Paradis