Invest In Your Health

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: May 26, 2010

By Stephanie Marston

How many times have you heard, “you just need to eat right and exercise?” It’s become the mantra for our health conscious culture. But for most of us it sounds like we’re being sentenced to a life of hard labor–pumping iron and sweating away on the stair master plus boring eating–broccoli, low fat cottage cheese, and broiled chicken. Doesn’t sound like much fun. Investing in your health has to become more of a journey towards well-being and less of a task if you’re going to make this a life long commitment.

Most of us take our bodies for granted. We burn the proverbial candle at both ends. We throw down fast food, only move when absolutely necessary and expect that there won’t be any consequences to our neglect. But there are. Maybe not immediately, especially if you’re in your 20s or 30s when you still have a warranty on your body, but sooner or later it’s going to expire and your disregard for your health is going to catch up with you. Think about it for a minute, would you drive your car when the oil light is flashing? Not likely. Would you put low-grade gas in a Ferrari? Never. However, amazingly, we all too often abuse and ignore our most precious vehicle.

Your physical health is fundamental. Your body is the vehicle through which you express yourself and your life. When something’s wrong with your body, when you’re in pain or feeling out of sorts, you can bet that everything else in your life is affected. Your health needs to be one of your top priorities. Caring for your body is critical to living a high quality life. When you’re in a state of optimal health just about everything else in your life is better. But like everything else this requires effort. For those of you who have ignored your body, now is the time to rediscover it. Here are a few suggestions for creating optimal health.

Make Exercise Fun

Exercise is a key component for living a high quality life. You can’t expect to be healthy if you’re sedentary. In case you need some encouragement, did you know that people who exercise regularly get sick less frequently and experience less depression, anxiety and fatigue? They have fewer weight problems and in general have a more positive outlook on life. Did you know that regular exercise also slows the aging process and helps you to not only look, but, feel younger? Did you know that exercise is a great stress reducer? Women who are physically fit say that regular exercise is the most important thing they’ve ever done to enhance their life.

While regular exercise is important for everyone, it is especially crucial for women. Women lose muscle tissue as they age. While some loss is due to normal aging, more is ascribed to inactivity. We have to move our body on a regular basis in order to maintain our health and sense of well-being.

While we’re barraged with an ever-changing list of fitness regimens it’s important to find a program that you enjoy and will stick to. One of the keys to maintaining an exercise routine is not only to do something that you like, but, to have a workout buddy–someone who will keep you honest. On those days when you’d rather spend an extra hour in bed, you’ll get into your workout clothes if you know your friend is waiting for you at the gym or to go for a walk or run.

As a woman, you need to include some form of weight training that’ll help you to maintain muscle tone and overall strength. The increase in muscle strength that you gain from weight training is especially beneficial to women who are often weak in their upper bodies. If, like many of us, you need variety to keep you engaged in exercise you may want to try a combination of walking and weight training, or jogging, swimming, biking, or a samba class. Do what you can do on a consistent basis. But do something.

Have you noticed that yoga, a once obscure Indian practice is now sweeping the nation? Yoga has become extremely popular and an effective tool for staying fit while becoming more relaxed. Everyone from Madonna to model Christie Turlington, have become devotees, with good reason.

Yoga is easy to do. You can take a class or use a video tape and practice at home. Many gyms and community centers offer classes. Yoga is something you can do at your own pace. What’s more, people of any age or fitness level can do yoga. Not only will yoga keep you limber and flexible, but, the postures require concentration and attention to your breathing. An inevitable result of practicing yoga is that you’ll feel a greater connection between your mind and body and an increased sense of inner peace. Give it a try!

Another way to stay motivated and exercise regularly is to reconnect with what you loved to do as a kid. Remember how active we once were? It wasn’t that we had to make ourselves do something. Most of us rode bikes, played softball, were cheerleaders, we took ballet or tap lessons. We climbed trees, ran around with our friends, skied, swam, rode horses, played basketball, jumped rope. We were just naturally active. Why not resurrect one of your favorite childhood activities? Join a softball team, get ski lessons, sign up for ballet, join a tennis team, go rollerblading with your kids or take a spinning class. Whatever you decide to do, do something that is fun and involves moving your body.

When you’re pressed for time, walk. It’s almost become a foreign concept. We’ve become so attached to our cars that we rarely walk, but walking is a great form of exercise and can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. Walking helps you clear your mind, fills your lungs with fresh air, gets your blood moving and centers you. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn when you walk through your neighborhood. If you live within walking distance of your local market, leave your car in the driveway and walk, walk to the post office, walk to pick your kids from school. Think about where you can walk from where you live.

Finally, if you’re a confirmed couch potato, it’s not too late to change. In fact, it’s essential that you develop a new relationship with your body. Not only will regular exercise improve your health, but, you’ll feel better and look better. Think of regular exercise as an investment in your long-term health and well-being. A few minutes a day of some simple exercise will be extremely beneficial not only physically but mentally as well. As you incorporate exercise into your life you will experience more energy, as well as other physical, mental and spiritual benefits.

If you need a little inspiration, here’s a story to get you started.

Life After Death, by Rita Williams

During the two months before my birthday I decided to really have a “feel sorry for myself” crying session. Then I made an appointment to see a doctor for my annual checkup. I asked to see a woman doctor. Surely a woman could do something for me. I was tired all the time, weighed about 200 pounds and I was becoming more and more depressed.

The day came for my checkup. Mary Dailey, Nurse Practitioner, checked me for everything. She was wonderful. She told me that I had a good reason to be tired and wanted to consider hospitalizing me. My blood count was low, my estrogen level was really bad. I was 60 pounds overweight and on and on and on. Well, then and there we started iron, estrogen, calcium and daily vitamins. I call these my turn-40-year-old-meds. I told her I would start an exercise program right away. “Oh, no you don’t,” she said. “Not until we get all of this other stuff in order. You’re not going to be able to handle an exercise class for a while.” I made an appointment to see her in another three months.

Three months went by and I couldn’t wait for Mary Dailey to release me. I visited our local kick boxing, tae boe, exercise center and bought all the equipment. I paid the $200 yearly fee for a brand new start on a brand new me. Or so I thought. Ms. Dailey didn’t think it
was such a good idea for me to start just yet. “Not yet. Things are looking better but your iron is still way to low.” Her words burst my bubble. “Come on, I’m over 40 and things are looking pretty thick and saggy.” I thought to myself. It was horrible but I had to wait.

The next doctor’s appointment was three months later. I was released to start an exercise program. “Great,” I thought. “This is going to be awesome. In six months I should weigh about 140 pounds and look 10 years younger.” I put on my sweats, wrapped my hands, grabbed my towel and boxing gloves and headed to my kickboxing class.

These classes are incredible. Have you ever been to a class like this? The first row is 100 to 120 pounders. The second row is your 125 to 150 pounders and in the very back are your over heated, out of breath, out of shape, not keeping up, 160 to 200 pounders. Half way through this class I was dying. I dragged myself to the car coughing and fighting for breath. I could barely drive. I got home and lay on the floor. I couldn’t move for two hours. “Ok, ok,” I told myself. “I’ll be like this for a couple of weeks.” I tried to convince myself things would get better.

By week three, I had worked myself up to a half-hour before I left the building wheezing, crawling to my car. I decided this wasn’t going to work. I was six pounds lighter but I couldn’t stand the idea of facing another class. That was it! Six months of waiting to start this stupid class and now I just couldn’t go on. What was going to happen to me? I didn’t want to give up. But the thought of exercising to TV and tapes just didn’t motivate me.

Then I had an idea. When I was in college, I was an aerobics instructor. What if I got together with a couple of friends just to work out? I knew the perfect place for our workout, The Salvation Army Recreation Center. I visited Judy Ponce, the Social Services Coordinator. She gave me permission to use their facility. The last week of August 200, I started exercising with seven other ladies every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I worked hard putting low impact, high-energy routines together. However, this wasn’t the most difficult part of the class. I felt intimidated. I wondered, “How can I lead an aerobic class looking like this?” I realized my attitude needed healing as much as my health. I wasn’t the best qualified, but I was willing. Before long, the Salvation Army was getting calls asking about the class and we started to see our numbers grow.

For New Years I decided to place a small classified ad “FREE Aerobic Class” to encourage people with resolutions. I drove up to the center on January 3, 2001. I thought The Salvation Army had planned an event on my exercise night and forgot to tell me. I couldn’t even find a parking place. There were so many people. As I unlocked the door, I turned around and asked, “Is everybody here for the exercise class?” I got 70 yes’s. Can you believe it? 70 people started exercising with me.

So here I am, celebrating one year. I am 40 pounds lighter. My energy and self-esteem have climbed through the roof. The local news did a story on it and people talk about it to me wherever I go. My husband said he called for his prescription and they asked him if Rita Williams was his wife. They told him that I was their aerobics instructor. I have been asked to do demonstrations for the hospital health fair. The local diet programs refer their clients to me.

Not long ago, I had an interview for a job. The woman interviewing me said, “So you’re Rita. I’ve heard so much about you and your exercise classes. You’ll never realize how many women’s lives you have impacted.”

There are now over 250 women enrolled. I now instruct eight classes a week. We have two more volunteer instructors and a volunteer that provides childcare. These women held a fund-raiser. They bought the class a brand new stereo and a ton of new music.

With our one-year celebration we chose a name for our class: CardioJam with Rita…. Hold that tummy tight, tight, tight!

Learn more about Stephanie Marston and her Life Quality Seminars