As I move from one stage of life to the next, my mind and body will inevitably change. To bring about positive changes in later stages of life I must start now. Move beyond an attitude of just getting by. Move beyond sustainability. Shift the locus of control. If I am not mindful of that control, I will not be happy with the results of my inevitable metamorphosis.
The mind and body are the driver and vehicle of life. Food is the fuel to live; exercise is the experience of being alive, of driving the body. As I move through the stages of life an alignment of the mind and body will deliver health and well being.
I am changing. Changes accumulating over my lifetime, subtly. Changes undulating to a rhythm, cyclically. Every second and every minute — by the hour, the day, and the year, my mind and body interact through inputs and outputs with the environment. Together, they comprise an open system, exchanging material and energy with my surroundings. I will experience the results of these changes whether I am mindful of them or not. This is the inevitable metamorphosis of growing up and growing old. With a mindfulness of the inputs and outputs to my mind and body, I can drive the change to the best of my ability. It all begins with a most important input to the cultivation of a healthy lifestyle.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”— Hippocrates
Food is fuel to live. The right food will nourish my body with ample energy and materials for repair; it will boost brainpower and balance my mood. The wrong food will weigh me down, mentally and physically. The subject of Nutrition provides me with names and forms to discuss the system of nutrients that are broken down and assimilated by the machinery of my body through the consumption of food.
From the latin nutrire meaning feed or nourish there comes the word nutrition. A branch of science that deals with nutrients. Nutrients are the elements and molecules my body requires to grow, self repair, and sustain my existence. The elements are called micronutrients, and the molecules are called macronutrients.
Diets are reductionist things, they vilify a particular group of micro- or macronutrients, or perhaps just sources of those nutrients. There are practitioners of every diet swearing by its results. However, many of these diets are mutually exclusive. How can they all be working for some people? There is no "processed foods diet". Because processing diminishes the nutritional content of a food. This is the only common thread I have found between them. It is unfortunate that nutrition is not a top priority of humanity. It is afterall, the first priority of a viable organism. To be fed correctly and consistently is more than the counting of calories in and calories out.
Yet there's more to just the nutrients themselves. Nutrition should be viewed as a whole system. It should include the cultivation of food, the preparation of food, and being mindfully involved in the process of my own food. It should be about repairing and restoring my own body, as well as the body of ecology that creates the food itself. It should be about the combination of foods as ingredients in recipes to create delicious meals. It should be about the seasonality of these meals as the cultivated foods are available, naturally, in a cyclical pattern of growth and harvest.
The word cuisine comes with two definitions: the manner of preparing food and the food prepared; the ingredients are just as important as the way it’s cooked. Historically, cuisine has been marked by culture and the geographic availability of the food. Cultures have developed a combination of ingredients and cooking methods that provide a complete nutrition and ensure health for it’s people. I do not have an established cuisine, I have an overload of meaningless choice. This means I have to diligently decide what is allowed in my diet and what is not. My ancestors created a complex diet with few options, I instead must sift through excess and discern what is essential.
Reading the back of a label just isn’t enough. Life has always revolved around food, so the way I go about gathering nutrition is a matter of lifestyle. My experience with the food I eat is short lived; I don’t encounter it until I’m ready to eat. If instead, I could intertwine my own life with the life cycle of the food I eat, by cooking more and growing more, I would be able to make more nutritious choices.
I can have good nutrition without exercise, but I cannot have good exercise without nutrition. Exercise is about moving my body. Everything I do is exercise, as everything I do requires me to move my body. Bringing a greater awareness to this will improve my abilities and affect my appearance, creating a positive change in the way others and I perceive myself.
It's not that exercise for the sake of beefing up, or deforming particular attributes of my physique is a negative pursuit — it just isn't the priority. Exercise for the alignment of my mind and body is the priority. Flowing out of that, motivation for other kinds of exercise is natural.
When exercise is not for external rewards, I can authentically work on myself. Enhancing my character, my tenacity and my drive to accomplish. This translates into my entire life. When I exercise I draw out my strengths by tearing down obstacles within myself both physical but mostly mental. I can bring focus to my mind, perfecting an internal view of myself while enhancing my ability and outward appearance.
Yoga and tai chi create an alignment between my mind and body. When I began with yoga practice, it was not be obvious at first, but through a greater awareness of what practice is, it became clear: If I am a yogi, everything is yoga.
Tai chi is a kung fu. When I began a tai chi practice, it was not obvious at first, but through a deeper understanding of what practice is, it became clear: everything is kung-fu.
Practice is no longer isolated to limited amounts of my time. My practice is all the time. It's in my posture, the way I carry myself, my body language and my movements. Practice translates to my strength, agility and appearance. It’s not about being the best, it’s about being able to do more tomorrow than I did today. Always practicing is another difference in the sustainable versus the regenerative mindset. With a regenerative mindset I am seeking to grow my ability to do more and thus give back more.
Changes in your mind and body occur throughout every stage of life. Intelligently guiding those changes with a mindful awareness of inputs and outputs can shift the locus of control. Move beyond an attitude of just sustaining toward a regenerative lifestyle.