FITNESS is not only about VANITY but RESILIENCE. And BRAIN PLASTICITY.
I am writing this based on a comment my dear neighbor said when I gave her a special birthday gift. A homemade coupon good for a fitness session with me at the gym. This weekend she “cashed” in.
She has, like we all do, some special body stuff, so it was a time for me to help her see how she might use the machines to her advantage while avoiding her disadvantages. I like to give experiences, not just “stuff” (though her birthday bag did have some phthalate free vanilla coconut essential oil as her husband adores coconut).
While at the gym, she shared that since she and her hubbie were both rather thin, for many years they didn’t work out. They thought, as many do, that working out was just for those who needed weight control. Or vanity.
So I introduced the concept of using the machines and the time with our temple of our soul, our body, to tune in to the body to become more aware of when something needed attention. And for building a reserve of resilience.
This is at the core of healthy living, be it food, clearing out our emotions, drinking water, taking nutrients, being balanced; it’s about having a well stuffed “resilience piggy bank”.
Regular workouts, work to keep us fit.
We get injured less.
When we do get injured we mend faster.
A resilient person has a herniated disc and several months if not weeks later they are back at the gym. Of course, starting slowly and being careful, but they are back.
I want you to be resilient. Vitamin R is an essential nutrient.
Non-resilient people can walk into my practice, even in their early 30’s, having had a disc or back issue 10 years ago, and they are still using a cane. They never got over it.
They had no resilience.
They didn’t demand it of their body.
They didn’t nudge, encourage or get help to produce it in their body.
Without resilience, your injuries and illnesses… win.
They become your identity, rather than living your life “out loud” with a vast array of possibilities ahead.
Resilience is everything.
I really want you to create resilience in your life.
Illness may come. Injury may come. Aging, for sure, is a’coming.
But resilience gives us the mojo to do it like Frank Sinatra said, “our way”.
I have a mentor in oncology, Dr. Keith Block (I am so lucky and grateful, I have so many mentors I could have my own mentor meet-up).
Dr. Block taught me that one of his major goals in getting cancer patients well is motivating and showing them how to develop fitness to hone resilience. He literally puts his patients into training. Exercise training. It is not all about food and integrated chemo or nutraceuticals (that he tests and designs himself). He says fitness will be the major factor that does not let the cancer win.
I specialize a lot in nutritional endocrinology for cancer patients. So I also encourage my cancer patients to get fit. Even if they are going through chemo, or have stage four. Many of them who perhaps failed chemo and continue to live with their cancers, are not succumbing to their cancers. They are, for years now, getting fitter as their tumor load gets smaller or walled off. They would have been written off by mainstream care. But they are living with their cancer and thriving. Many of these patients would have been those that would have already died.
The precious brain, too, can be made more resilient.
Our brain is our major organ (along with our gut, our two brains) that adapts to how we live, our experiences, including stressors, good and bad, which are capable of morphing brain architecture. Function follows form. Especially in the brain.
How you live takes the ever dynamically changing “clay” of your brain and protects its shape. The better your brain shape, the more your resilience to whatever challenges come your way. You know I have spoken much on the importance of shape.
There is skyrocketing new knowledge about how we live affects, day-to-day, moment-to-moment, the shape of our brain. Better brain shape, huger capacity for resilience.
When you work out, you work out the “windows of plasticity” of your brain. Balanced hormones, more good foods “in” and more bad foods “out” of your diet, optimal gut microbiome (gut bugs deep inside your digestive tract) also work together along with your exercise, to ALL “nudge” your plasticity to help you soar.
Your “efforts” redirect your brain—and, all your bodily functions— toward better health. Rather than down the rabbit hole of inevitable frailty and aging.
There are no magic bullets and drugs to make you more resilient.
It is the sum of your MINDFUL efforts.
If you are ill, recovering from severe trauma, injury, surgery, then your motions may need to be smaller. Even sitting in a chair you can do finger and hand movement, or rock the chair, or slow neck motions. But still, there is “always” something you can do to urge your resilience and your plasticity… forward.
It is your motion along with your passion, community, food, hidden fears, acted upon hopes, and that daily discipline of dragging your butt into the gym or out on the trail or into your own exercise room or just in your chair with seated small tiny but meaningful movements, and over time, your resilience grows.
And your growing resilience today, becomes a huge foundation for your better tomorrow.
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016 Feb 25. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13020.
In pursuit of resilience: stress, epigenetics, and brain plasticity.