Health and fitness is a topic I have been thinking about for a couple of months. As we move forward with our week-at-a-time preparedness mission, we would be remiss to overlook the positive aspects good health and both physical and mental fitness during times of stress. And I don’t know about you, but for me the ultimate stress would be a major natural or manmade catastrophe.
Think about it. You might have six months of food, six months of water, a sustainable food garden, a fully stocked first aid kit, and tools, supplies and generators that would allow you to live off the grid if the S.H.T.F. But what if you had to flee? What if you had to grab your boots, bags and backpacks and really get the heck out of dodge? Could you make it? How far could you walk in dangerous weather conditions or uncertain terrain? And the stress. Could you cope?
Here is the result of my own inventory, taken about a month ago. The scoring is completely arbitrary but you will get the drift.
Health: Survival Woman gets an A. Not much in the way of prescription meds required, no health issues, height and weight in proportion. Survival Husband gets a C. Overweight, lots of meds, aches and pains, acid reflux and other yuks.
Fitness: Survival Woman gets a B. Walks 3 to 4 miles at least three times a week but does not do any weight training Survival Husband gets a C+. Walks when he can (but usually not more than twice a week) but does some infrequent weight training. Both get extra credit for ballroom dancing 2 to 4 hours a week.
Mental balance: Survival Woman gets a C-. Work related stress, lack of personal time, does not sleep well. Survival Husband gets a B. He does not let things bother him, easy going, makes time to do the things he loves.
Now it is your turn to take a personal inventory. Ready? Are you done?
So how do we take our scores and bump them up a notch? I have some thoughts but first let me say that it is my belief that these three survival tools (health, fitness and mental balance) work together so that improvement in one area should help the other two.
1. If you are overweight or have a curable health condition, what are you waiting for? Now is the time to start that diet, fix that bum knee, and yes, get those teeth taken care of. Stock up on some supplements (a multi vitamin, calcium, magnesium, fish oil) and don’t forget to take them. Even if you don’t have health insurance, shop around for some low cost clinics and make the investment in your health.
2. I believe that the best piece of fitness equipment is what nature gave us, our own two feet. That means that with comfortable clothes, some hiking shoes or sneakers (my favorites are Skechers Shape-Ups for both men and women – love them!) and the will to move, we can get in shape pronto. All that is required is a bit of time, some place to go, and if you are so inclined, an mp3 player with music or an audio book.
3. Mental balance is a toughie because what works for one, may not work for someone else. The Mayo Clinic says that the effects of stress on the body include:
- Back pain
- Chest pain
- Heart disease
- Heart palpitations
- High blood pressure
- Decreased immunity
- Stomach upset
- Sleep problems
My personal stress relief checklist, starting now, includes removing the piles of paper and projects that litter my workspace, not working weekends, eating at least one real meal daily and not just a bowl of cereal, and perhaps most important, taking some time to watch a movie, read a book or do something non-computer oriented for at least an hour every day, not just occasionally.
The important thing, in my opinion, is to come up with your own list and to remember to keep it simple. Approach an overall improvement in a one-week-at-a-time manner just like we are doing with prepping.
Surviving the unthinkable is something I hope we will never have to do. But if the worst happens, I want to be in top shape both mentally and physically. This is not rocket science. It is simply a common sense solution to some universal problems we Americans have when it comes to taking care of ourselves.
And if this is a topic that interests you, take a jump over to the Mayo Clinic web site and read what they have to say about stress and your overall health.
Moving on . . . pun intended
Remember I said that we took this health and fitness inventory a little over a month ago? Well since then, S.H. has gone on a diet and lost 8 pounds. Not a lot you say but this still represents about 6% of his body weight. In the next day or two I will tell you how he did it and how he hopes to make his diet a lifestyle change.
Enjoy your next adventure, wherever it takes you!