Today, I approach each client with a balance of six key elements to total fitness.
- Physical Fitness involves general health habits and exercise for strength, energy and the prevention of illness and disease. It’s far more than regular exercise; it’s a replacement of habits that strengthens the immune system and leads to more energy. Kicking unhealthy habits such as smoking, overeating, excessive use of alcohol, and sleep deprivation can reduce your probability of encountering debilitating heart disease and many cancers. Be realistic in your approach. Blend exercise into your week, expect gradual improvement, keep records and reward achievement.
- Directional Fitness is about developing a joyful passion and noble purpose leading to a self-motivating life focused on personal goals and fulfillment. Decide what makes life meaningful and satisfying–what you still want to accomplish in life. Enjoy and employ your God-given talents to help others.
- Nutritional Fitness addresses the need for good nutrients in food and beverages to create healthy growth of new cells and the replacement of old ones. Decide why you eat! We tend to know the right things to eat, but without consciously knowing why we eat, we easily defer to taste over nutritional value and energy. This can lead to the body becoming addicted to substances such as sugar and fat. Overeating can set the appetite to perpetuate the habit. Six small meals per day are better than three big meals. Set realistic goals, such as eating very healthy for four days, eating fairly well for two, and rewarding yourself with some comfort food for one day of the week.
- Emotional Fitness is about establishing and nurturing relationships with good communication, empathy, loyalty, and an ability to work together, laugh together and cry together through a variety of situations. I’ve learned that there are three great obstacles to emotional fitness: striving for physical beauty, striving for perfection, and a hunger for acceptance and love. Nearly every person struggles at least a little with one of these obstacles at some point in his or her life, but more so in mid-life.
- Mental Fitness is made up of the attitudes and “mental habits” that lead to positive words and beneficial deeds. Like with nutritional fitness, mental fitness involves striving to have good things to think about, with good frequency and in good amounts. Choose to think about what is good, noble, positive, pleasant, and pure, not the ugly gossip or horror stories that spread so easily in our conversations. Choose to think about what you want to remember five years from now or longer into the future. To make good memories, think good thoughts and then act on them. Establish goals to think clearly in the present moment, establish good values, be a creative problem solver, make wise choices, and develop a strong faith-based will.
- Spiritual Fitness is at the core of the first five aspects of life and is the spiritual dimension of life. We each have a need for purity, faith, forgiveness, and establishing a beneficial and encouraging relationship with the Creator and other people. Ask yourself three important questions:
1) What is your purpose here on Earth?
2) Do you live to please yourself or to please God?
3) What are the rules that govern relationship with others?
The questions relate to how you will choose to love and serve God and other people.
My vision of these six aspects of The Totally Fit Life forms a star, with the spiritual at the core of the star. In the “Fitness Star,” it is the spiritual dimension of life that exerts a “gravitational pull” to keep other aspects of life in balance and harmony. If the spiritual dimension of life is missing, weak, or unhealthy, other aspects of life invariably suffer–even if the person refuses to admit that they do!
WILL I EVER FEEL YOUNG AGAIN?
This is one of the most common questions I get from the 50-plus age group. For most people, being young is associated with more laughter, more beauty, more freedom, more spontaneity, fewer aches and pains, less stiffness, and more energy.
- Laughter–Joy is a choice. It is a matter of attitude and perspective, and as such, is totally unrelated to the number of calendar cycles you’ve experienced. I’ve met 80-year-olds who still have a twinkle in their eyes and laughter on their lips.
- Beauty–There’s a deep inner beauty that comes only with age. Beauty is rooted in attitude and perspective, not calendar years.
- Freedom–This is often equated with having fewer responsibilities and obligations. You may or may not be able to eliminate some obligations and commitments from your life, but you certainly can reevaluate the memberships you have, the caregiving you do, and the commitments you have made involving time and finances. Adjustments are usually possible, but again, this is mostly a matter of making decisions and choices, and then doing them. Freedom is first and foremost an attitude.
- Spontaneity–No person should ever become so busy that he or she can’t take an hour of downtime in a day for reflection, recreation, and relaxation. We all need to have “margin” in our life, a concept that is related to both time management and attitude.
- Fewer Aches and Pains, and Less Stiffness–This is mostly a matter of physical flexibility, the degree a person can move and stay in motion. Keep moving! That may mean continuing to work at tasks that require you to move.
- More Energy–Energy levels are directly related to nutrition and exercise. People feel sluggish or exhausted primarily because we eat the wrong food, eat too much, and/or don’t exercise. Supplements can help restore good nutrition to the body at the cellular level. You probably can feel young again if you choose to exercise often and eat right.
KEYS TO A TOTALLY FIT LIFE
There are three keys that make The Totally Fit Life approach work for a lifetime and not just for a day, and they work for 30-year-olds and 70-year-olds alike.
Key #1: Think in ten week cycles. Most people can commit to something for ten weeks, but commitment gets iffy after that. Set a realistic ten week goal that gets you started forming habits and recording success.
Key #2: Speak dictums to yourself daily. A dictum is a formal authoritative pronouncement spoken aloud. Your character is ultimately the sum of your repeated behaviors that have become habits. Every behavior can impact character. Dictums are practical today-oriented commands about who you are and what you will do. Here are some examples:
- I will spend time in prayer.
- I will eat good and healthful food.
- I will exercise.
- I am a person fueled by good nutrition.
- I am strong, flexible, and energetic.
Key #3: Join with two other people who share a common goal and become a team of three. The “Team of 3” concept is based upon a verse in the Bible: “A threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NKJV). Motivation for the totally fit life is sustained through the power of teamwork to aid in the transformation of information into behaviors that change lives. An essential element in this process is the power of team interaction, discussion and commitment to developing healthy behaviors. This teamwork combines the individual’s intrinsic motivation to achieve a goal with the extrinsic motivation of team members. A great power of the Team of 3 ® lies in the commonality of goals and the dynamic energy of relationship.
Take the opportunity every ten weeks to celebrate achievements, revise goals and change the dictums you speak to yourself daily. Regardless of your choice, make a new written commitment to pursuing your goals for another ten weeks.
Aging well in a youth cult society is about pursuing a totally fit life that you define around the fitness star; it’s not according to who you want to emulate or by whom you want to be judged. Set your life’s course according to the gifts you’ve been given and judge yourself by your service to God and the people in your life!