Mindfulness

Mindfulness (Photo credit: kenleyneufeld)

With this section, I will share findings from various sources about health.  This pertains to all aspects:  Mental, spiritual, physical, emotional. 🙂

Enjoy. 😉

Mindful Walking

http://www.thinqfitness.com/lifestyle/EJF/Mindful_Walking

As I’ve been lounging my home, re-cooping from a fractured ankle, I’ve had it in mind as to how I’m going to get back into the practice of exercising when it is safe to do so.  Since my accident involved me not being present enough to even look where I was going enough to see a glass bottle apparently in my path, I felt like a logical frame of mind to eventually begin my foray into activity again would be through the lens of mindfulness.

In short, mindfulness in general is the experience of being aware of our surroundings, our sensations, our actions, our behaviors, everything about us that is currently happening at the present time.  This is especially prevalent in certain practices such as Zen or yoga, but it is also practiced in some psychological contexts such as one known as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT.  For more info on these, I will allow you to do your own research.  I assure you there are plenty of resources.

I looked up mindfulness as it intersects with fitness or health.  I arrived at an article all too pertinent to my current situation — one about Mindful Walking.  You can find the actual article in the link directly above.

The short of it is that although walking has been observed to be an effective exercise for physical health in many ways, when approached from a mindful perspective of being especially attuned to sensations and experiences during the course of walking, there can be psychological benefits as well.  Of course, one is less likely to trip and twist an ankle when one is paying attention to one’s surroundings.  This factor definitely caught my attention.

Deciphering Health Articles

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2011/03/my-beef-with-health-magazines/

Before I begin with articles that pertain to weight loss only and the benefits of exercise, I wanted to share one that talks more abot the experience of actually reading health articles and magazines. The above is written by a psychologist, Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.  Her second paragraph gets to the main gripe that she points out through excerpts from magazines such as Prevention  (not to disparage any one magazine).  She says to the reader, “One of my biggest gripes is that most info in health magazines is about weight loss.  There’s rarely any mention of foods that actually nourish our bodies, workouts that make you strong and clear your head and are simply, purely and happily fun.” (Tartakovsky, 2011)

As she points out how the usual message in supposed health magazines is all about shaming us into  endless guilt, she makes clear the main point of how I also try to approach my health.  This point is really more than about weight loss, since health also is not about weight loss.  There is really so much more. Tartakovsky is clearly exasperated by the narrow approach to health information that most of these magazines take.

She asks in an apparently rhetorical yet frustrated fashion, “Doesn’t it get exhausting and boring repurposing the same body-bashing, pro-dieting and thin-is-in pieces?” (Tarkovsky, 2011) I can see the author’s point here.  The goal of being healthy is not just to be thin.  If it were, there might not be a concern with people who have serious issues about their relationships with food.  It’s quite scary in a way when you think of our national obsession with shrinking and changing our appearances.

If we are concerned about health, truly, obsessing over thinness is not the way to go about that. Instead of a focus on size, numbers on a scale and cellulite, maybe we could focus on overall health including our strength, agility and our happiness?  Isn’t eating associated with emotions much of the time?  Emotional eating sure is an issue for many, and guilt-tripping over occasional indulgences is not the way to eliminate this emotional baggage.  A more sensible and moderate approach that leads to a lifelong commitment of eating well, staying fit, enjoying healthy activities and sharing these habits with loved ones is probably going to lead to greater health in the long run.

The article concludes with a strong statement about health articles in general.  Tartakovsky says, “When it comes to magazines, websites, blogs, and other writing, read what makes you feel good, uplifted, happy and nourished.  Anything that’s packed with shaming suggestions deserves to be tossed.” (Tarkakovsky, 2011). Worth noting here is the difference between good self discipline and guilt tripping.  We can practice healthy habits and try to eat health as well as exercise when we can.  If we miss a day, it is not going to help us to make ourselves feel bad over it.  If we eat something like a piece of pizza or some candy, we do not need to tell ourselves negative self talk.  This is not constructive and does nothing for our progress.   A healthy relationship with food could involve realizing that food is not divided into “evil, bad foods that if I eat them I will be a gluttonous pig” and “magic lifesaving foods that are the only foods I should ever eat”.  Life is about a healthy balance, a happy medium.

Also, stress is not good for the body, mind or soul and will lead to other health problems if you let it.  As I work toward a healthy lifestyle, there are times I eat things that aren’t whole grain.  There are times I eat things that have more fat than other times.

There are times when I eat a very strict plan, too.  As long as I stay reasonable, and as long as I follow more-or-less a healthful plan, practicing mindful habits, I will be fine.  And so will you.  🙂

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