“Nope, no sugar. I haven’t had any sugar for over two weeks now! I know, it’s great. And Sarah hasn’t either!”
This was a conversation I overheard my mom having with her mom when I was about eight-years-old. My mom was always on one diet or another. And her mom was too, along with my mom’s four sisters. One of them was always trying the latest and greatest and sharing it with the others.
I remember things like subliminal message cassette tapes (oh I wish I made that up, but it’s true), no sugar diets, the grapefruit diet, liquid diets and even a diet that restricted carrots (don’t ask, I have no idea).
And all of this before I’d even hit puberty. My mom didn’t insist that I follow these diets or anything, but like any young girl, I modeled my behavior after my mother’s. So you can bet that I was dieting right along with her, whether she knew about it or not.
All of this talk about dieting had nothing to do with well-being, though. That was missing from the conversation. It wasn’t about what our bodies need, or must have to sustain growth, endurance and focus. And because that piece of the puzzle wasn’t there, I didn’t learn it until much later.
And of course, I struggle with that still.
So this week, I’m focusing on taking care of bodies. Looking at how we can nourish them, strengthen them and help them run as they were truly designed: As fully-operational, high-functioning systems of support for our goals, to express love and to enjoy a rich, fulfilling life.
I don’t know about you, but as my day starts and I kick into high-gear to face my to-do list and balance all the aspects of my life, I can completely forget the one thing that makes it all possible: my body.
I’ve found myself at 3:00 in the afternoon wondering if I ate lunch, or if I’ve peed, or if I’ve had any water. It sounds funny, but c’mon. Tell the truth. You’ve done it, too.
We just expect these bodies to do what they do. We take for granted that our fingers will type, our heart will beat, our lungs will take in oxygen, that we’ll be able to jump up out of our chairs to run down the hall, get on the phone, make dinner or think through our next meeting.
[Tweet “We expect our bodies to function. But if we don’t take care of them, all hell breaks lose.”]
But any of that can break down at any time if we don’t pay attention.
Did you eat any vegetables today? Did you drink enough water? How many hours of sleep did you get last night? Can you jog or keep your heart rate up for more than 5 minutes?
These things matter. And not just because taking care of our bodies is the “right thing to do” (though, um, it is…ahem), but because you can’t focus on your goals with the full force of your mind if you’re hungry for real food, if you’re tired or if you lack physical endurance.
Sure, you can get away with it for a bit, but it’s not sustainable. You can type from your bed when you’re sick, but it’s not the same as when you’re firing on all cylinders (as my dad likes to say) and killing it in a meeting.
I really want to challenge you to take care of yourself as you chase your dreams. Notice how different you feel when you have a healthy breakfast instead of stuffing a slice of white toast and coffee down your throat. Or how much more alert you feel when you drink a cool glass of water instead of a third cup of coffee around 4:00 in the afternoon.
You’ve set your goals for a reason. Your dreams, strengths and ideas are yours alone, and they matter. But without a strong body to support you as you chase them, they will fall by the way side. Maybe not right away, and maybe not forever, but eventually your body will make you pay attention.
So I say we start today. Don’t wait until you feel sick, or too sluggish to get out of bed. Start today. Right now. Get up and drink a big glass of water. Plan a walk after dinner, or call a friend and meet them for some exercise, look up a new recipe for dinner tonight or order a salad from your favorite restaurant.
Go get ’em.