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“Fitness” needs a makeover. It’s not about the size of your muscles, how fast you can run, or how much you weigh. There are plenty of physically fit people who are unhappy, eternally pessimistic, and drained of spirit. True fitness starts with emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Body and Soul: Moving from Summer to Fall

by Brant Secunda & Mark Allen

As you can guess from the title of our book, our workshops and our website we value developing the health of both body and soul, and that neither should be tossed by the wayside. More importantly, because of the intertwined nature of these two elements that every human being has, we feel that a person only reaches their utmost level of health, wellbeing and happiness when both parts are being nurtured and tended to. An unhealthy body makes it very tough to feel positive and joyful about life, as most of us have experienced when we are sick. Likewise, if we are having trouble shrugging off the weight of the world, there is usually little energy left to actually put on the exercise attire and go sweat. And when both body and soul are stagnant we may have found ourselves going down a detrimental road in search of solace that leads to taking substances (junk food, alcohol, etc) into our bodies that set both of these key components even further off kilter.

Yet, if we can summon up just one thought or image of hope or a small carrot of reward. If we can take the first steps to get ourselves back in good working order, the effect spirals up in a very positive direction. "Just put on the running shoes and go jog for 10 minutes" gets you out the door and on the way to what could have been a missed opportunity to do something good for your body. "Put the computer to sleep, go outside and breathe in the air and take in the sunlight for 10 minutes" can lighten the weight of a responsibility just enough so that you do take a break from the pressures of life and treat your soul to the treasures the world of nature offers. Both of these thoughts together, and most importantly taking both of these actions, can turn your day around dramatically. How simple can it be? These are not distractions from you current state, but rather tools we advocate you use to reset your entire being in a healthy, positive direction. And they are available to you each and every day. Sure a vacation to an exotic locale can be memorable, but research has shown over and over that the positive effects of a getaway are short-lived. Fit Soul, Fit Body is a strategy for ongoing improvements in your health and life that you can use every day.

The order that you gravitate towards doing work on body and soul is going to be personal; however, if you feel stuck in both we suggest starting with the internal environment and then moving out to the physical body. Think about it. Your body is just there waiting for the desire in your soul to move, to exercise. But if your soul is not cooperating you know what happens. Nothing! So break the gridlock by using any of our tools for charging up your soul, your internal voice, that may need an attitude adjustment. Or even better, bring both sides of the street together in one exploit...walk in the forest, hike along the ocean or a lake, climb a hill to enjoy a sunset or anything else that puts your body in motion and your soul in contact with the world of nature, which as you may know from our book is one of the keys to a healthier, happier you.

As we gradually prepare for the fall, that will officially begin later this month, it can be a great time to use the longer days to do both a little extra outside for the body as well as focus some added attention on taking that light into your heart and soul. Soak it in now, just as the earth does, so you can draw strength from the inner light as the days grow shorter. Here's an end of summer Fit Soul, Fit Body checklist:

Commit a few evenings each week to being outside during the time of sunset to take in all the wondrous colors and the sense of balance that time of day offers.

Make the most of warm days with lots of light for outside exercise. Even if you can get out in the fall and winter, there is a special energizing sensation to moving in warmth that is different than what we feel when exercising in cool, crisp air.

Walk or hike and notice the subtle changes that signify the change of season coming. Remember, our entire being is a mirror of this world of nature, and we, as humans, are also getting ready in subtle ways for the seasonal change.

If you have been thinking of a weekend getaway that affords an extended time flexing both body and soul, now's the time! If you have a special summer spot that changes along with the season, even if it is in your back yard, at the end of the block in a park or on the outskirts of town in a green zone, let yourself gravitate there and take advantage of what it offers you. Again, now's the time!

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