As the world settles down after crowning the South African Springbok Rugby team World Cup Champions 2019, I reflect on the pique physical condition these titans were in as they rammed their way to the final. Solid masses of muscle found themselves locked in a scrum, then ‘pirouetted’ with ease to score tries and I was left wondering what enables a few elite sportspersons to get to that caliber of performance AND make it look easy?
Of course, being South African, I have a sense of pride for what these amazing human beings did, and like many, I cheered, screamed and gritted my teeth as the minutes of the final game ticked on, literally feeling as if I was PART of the game, exhausted by half time but ready for the next 40 minutes! United as a country we were emotionally, and at times physically (or so it felt), on the field with them. 90 minutes felt like an eternity!
Now, I am NOT by any stretch of the imagination a person prone to exercise daily, in fact, give me a book and a cup of coffee and I am extremely content. The idea of running on a field and reaching heights of agony, sweating in the process and not being able to lift my legs the next day due to the numbing pain experienced has NEVER excited me. In fact, many a friend has cried out to me, “Come and exercise! It will be fun” they said… I have never, and chances are will NEVER believe them. I know (watching paint dry) as I get stuck into the covers of a book would be my chosen alternative! Some call this lazy, I call it at Peace, with no need to chase goals or become as lithe (and amazingly sexy if I may add) as Mr. Pollard on the Rugby field. But watching that game this weekend inspired me, it felt like a call to action, with the sweet victory came the feeling of joy and elation, the feeling of being graced and blessed with the ability to jump up and down, run around like a crazy person and feel the sun on my face as I did so. That feeling was a feeling of being ALIVE, able, and yes, at Peace – oddly, the same feeling I have sitting with my nose in a book.
For the first time ever I understood the crazy activity people took on, for them, it may not be the Peace I consistently strive for but that feeling of ALIVENESS can also be PEACE! The knowledge that they are living breathing interacting thriving individuals. There is an energy in all actions which is contagious to the spirit of life. One rugby match made me realize that it was not just a physical unity of success for the team, the country and all of its people, but a spiritual oneness, a feeling of being ALIVE, of MATTERING, of PRIDE, the ability to call each and everyone a brother and a sister. There is a lot more to the pain and distress, time and effort it takes to get up and go and exercise, besides the health benefits physically and emotionally, there is the feeling of belonging, of forward movement, an acknowledgment of being one ball of energy which can expand and grow or wither and die.
I personally strive to go walking as often as possible – this is my sense of exercise and it makes me feel part of this little blue dot we find ourselves on and the universe that surrounds us. Every now and then I make sure I am shoeless to feel the energy of the earth and get rid of the energy overload within me, expelling it earthwards. It is a contemplative spacetime interval in my daily doings which I always feel blessed for having besides the time for a good book. After the #RWC2019, I understand that my walk and any other form of exercise I chose needs to be intentional, not just to keep bones strong, joints supple, to build muscle or gain health but to connect with an energy that is freely availalbe; the knowledge of being ALIVE and celebrating that!
As I deal with people daily coaching them in weight loss and health improvement, I am totally aware of the fact that some are just too large in stature to even take a walk around the block, my advice to many has been just to increase what you do daily. Start with small steps, set a timer and every time it goes off get up and take a short walk. Then when visiting a store, park your vehicle far from the entrance, climb stairs instead of using lifts, do what you must but do something to allow the blood to circulate in the body for your body to become aware of the fact that it IS alive and well. Do a little EVERY DAY!
Keep in mind that you do NOT have to slog it out in a gym or run a marathon within a month… start purely with the DESIRE for movement, the DESIRE for feeling ALIVE and interconnected with everything and everyone around you. I am also understanding of the fact that we tend to WITHDRAW from society when we gain weight. We let our EGO get in the way and FEAR JUDGEMENT so we start cocooning ourselves – trust me, I have been there, the thought of putting my expanded waistline out of the door proofed a to be a daily challenge. Start by BELIEVING that YOU are EVERYTHING AND MORE, made perfect by perfect and keep reaching for those better feeling thoughts. Better thoughts lead to better beliefs and better actions which in turn WILL lead to better results. Continuous hours of the ‘DUMBBOX‘ aka the television and watching OTHERS reach their goals fools us into believing that we are reaching ours without moving a muscle from that oh so comfortable coach position. MOVE… a little each day, THINK WELL OF YOURSELF… a little each day, tune into YOUR ALIVENESS to stay vibrant and truly alive… a little each day!
Once you get to the point of seeing and experiencing the value of movement besides the so needed circulation of blood (energy) in your body, reach a little further! Start understanding that this movement (I am not referring to hours of balls-to-the-wall exercise here!!) is helping improve your range of motions, strengthening your muscles, bones, and joints, and helping prevent memory loss – all part and parcel of being ALIVE!
At this point, you may even feel inspired to take on a more regulated exercise/movement routine for as happiness is an inside job, being inspired and motivated to LIVE is so too. You may want to look into some sort of activity to get you out of your home and interacting with the world we know. Start easy, slow and steady wins the race. For my larger clients and or those who like me were stalwarts of limited motion I advise the following as the next steps to a more active life:
It sounds simple, it is! Yet extremely powerful! This little package of dynamite helps weight loss, strengthens bones, keeps blood pressure regulated, cholesterol level improvement improves mood and of course lowers the risk of a few life-shortening diseases.
Get on a pair of comfortable shoes (critical especially if you are on the hefty side as pressure on ankles and knees means you need better cushioning on the feet), comfortable clothes and an understanding of what you are CAPABLE OF. Refrain from just pushing it to the limit, many would say do MORE, but, again, slow and steady wins the race. If you tackle this with right mindedness, you will learn to love it. Keep to 10 to 15 minutes until you feel your body CAN do more, tune in, the body is after all your learning device on this planet, do not ignore it. If you experience pain, slow down the pace or you end up with shin splints, knee issues, and hip problems. Over a period of time – which is dependent on your body and how it grows stronger which only YOU will know – increase the time period of your walks.
This CAN be intimidating, especially if the idea of getting into a cozzy and exposing the muffin tops may rain down terror in your heart. But, you may have access to a pool in the privacy of your own home or you may have zero concern about the perceptions of those who surround you – even better. Swimming is fantastic as the buoyancy of the water supports your body taking the strain off joints protecting knees, hips, and ankles! This makes motion FUN instead of a sweaty task if you THINK of it in THAT WAY.
CHINESE MARTIAL ARTS
This may seem an interesting one to include, again I am dealing here with people who are either overweight or have NEVER had the desire to exercise. This specific option is not necessarily the fighting scenes we witness on our dumb boxes but rather a physical art form of movement and relaxation being good for body and mind. An example, as there is more than one option, is Tai Chi which is a series of graceful motions, strengthening your core and balance with limited impact on joints. Besides the movements, like meditation, breathing is an important factor in most Chinese Martial Arts, with right breathing, you supply oxygen throughout your body in the correct manner – sometimes I think we have forgotten HOW to breathe correctly but this alone is vital to being alive after all!
As I watched the giants of the Springbok team clashing with the giants of the English team I had to concentrate to keep my mouth shut for fear of swallowing a fly… Again, for the first time, I understood muscle mass… I have previously found it tedious to watch as people worked out for the ‘show of’ muscle mass in gyms, in fact, one of the reasons I stopped going to gym is I could not deal with the consistent staring of muscles flaring in the mirrors – it made no sense to me. Now yes, there are the bulkers who love their bodies to be ripped and find joy in struggling to find shirts to fit their bulging arm muscles and they find perfection in this, I do take my hat off to them. BUT, on Saturday, 2nd of November 2019, in walks the titans on the rugby field, like the Vikings and the Scots of days gone by, their muscles are there for a battle, and here it is not about bloodshed (though there was some on the day of course), but as the wars of those years, this was all about winning or losing… desire, strength in muscles, alertness, prowess, the pride of each country, overall health, and fighting spirit, this was what determined who one the day. This IS the muscle I understand and LOVE! It is not just a frill that is paraded, the icing on a cake, it is FULLY FUNCTIONAL and is the means to the cause. These are the muscles I speak of in strength training, it is the motions put in place to keep muscles strong (which in any even assist in fat burning). As we age, we lose muscle mass, how do we hold on to this precious eye-popping candy? Strength training is it! Strength training with a purpose, of course, get the right input before starting a weight training program, start LIGHT!! Just as I advised in walking, slow and steady wins the race. Increase the weights over a period of time, as and when YOUR BODY SAYS YES…listen, it will tell you.
We live in a world of human economics, corporate takeovers, and technology, but don’t be fooled, the fittest (and smartest) WILL survive and THRIVE. As we saw this past weekend, there are winners and losers from all walks of life, and both are completely acceptable as those who strive for the gold are never lost. Their walk on their journey has allowed them to come ALIVE with purpose, desire, direction, pride, and a spiritual drive far greater than their physical bodies. If there is a need for motivation and inspiration in your life, first acknowledge being ALIVE and realize the 4 trillion to one chance of the fact that you ARE ALIVE blessed with gifts and capabilities beyond your WILDEST IMAGINATION, with this in mind you BECOME EVERYTHING AND MORE!
A special Thank you to the Springboks for bringing the Webb Ellis Cup back to South Africa in this Rugby World Cup 2019, you were all beyond inspirational, from Rassie Erasmus all the way through to physios who kept our boys in peak physical condition! #imstaying #strongertogether