Published on NewsLocal publications.
October was chock-full with several good health causes like Nutrition Week and Ocscober (abstinence from drink for the month), and Droptober (encouraging all of us to drop 2 kilos). Now we’re at the close of the month, one wonders how those who partook are faring – indeed it’s not just about a particular month.
These might be worthwhile initiatives to kick-start us into better lifestyle practices, but advice from experts can seem as volatile as the weather.
Michael Jarosky, founder of Droptober says, “the event is all about getting rid of the bad and developing the good.” Isn’t that the point of most self-help theories?
As a result of numerous studies about our society suffering from binge drinking and obesity, we’re now being urged not only to watch our intake habits, but our thoughts about our bodies.
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology recently published a study in the Journal of Obesity, in which they found that healthy teenage girls who mistakenly believe they are fat, are twice as likely to become overweight when they mature.
Last year, results of a study were released by the Australian Institute of Family Studies ‘Growing up in Australia’. They found that boys are as worried about their body image as girls and half of Australia’s tweenagers (in this case 10-11 year olds) are dieting. Surprisingly they discovered that boys are more likely than girls to diet and exercise to lose weight.
Though the mind-body connection is widely recognised today, scientists are striving to understand how this connection affects our overall health and wellbeing. In my experience, I’ve found spirituality particularly helpful in shifting my thought from how the body looks to how I can ‘embody’ better qualities of thought, which produce healthier outcomes.
In my early 20′s I had a profound turnaround in how I thought about body image, diet and exercise. I think of it as a time when “I swapped quantity for quality.”
I’d studied ballet and contemporary dance, joined a dance company for a few months and went on to teach a variety of fitness classes. I liked the discipline of being strict with my training regime and with healthy eating, in retrospect a little too much. Though I’d never dieted I came across an article about a new food fad that promised to make me feel even healthier. I assumed it had to be bona fide because the teachers had lots of qualifications and they sure looked good!
A few months passed and I’d been feeling wonderful on my new diet. However, one night I awoke saturated in sweat, suffering excruciating back pain around my kidneys and discovered blood in my urine. For several years I’d studied the Bible, and used prayer for healing with good results, so I knew I could get over this and not be afraid. It then dawned on me that I’d been placing so much emphasis on my physical looks that I’d forgotten about balance. I felt a need to learn more about and lean on my spiritual qualities, like grace and joy and inner beauty.
The painful condition cleared up in a few days and never returned. More importantly to me I had a new understanding of my true identity, which changed my view of body image, exercise and diet. And it changed the way I looked at others – especially if they were struggling with their own issues. To this day I continue to enjoy fitness classes and good food but am no longer seduced by passing fads and fashions.
The subject of spirituality and health is reported in The Australian Medical Journal in an article entitled “Prayer as Medicine: How Much Have we Learned?“. The following is an excerpt:
“Many people use prayer, and some studies have shown a positive association between prayer and improved health outcomes. This article explores four possible mechanisms by which prayer may lead to improved health.”
I’d like to share some healthy takeaway foods – for thought:
1. It’s never too late to put away those unhealthy thoughts and exchange them for good ones. Changed thought can change behaviour. For instance, if you are feeling dissatisfied with the way you look, make a list of the qualities you express that you are proud of such as: intelligence, thoughtfulness… you continue the list.
2. Finish each day by being grateful for any good that has come your way, or for any good you have been able to share with someone.
3. Realise that you are in charge of your thoughts and can change them for the better – because you are special and have more substance than just a physical body.
- Get Fit - recommended by a Reader who contacted me after reading this piece – thanks, Kate, it’s spot on!