Season on Flourishing – Physical Health

This is week three of the Season on Flourishing.

Everyone wants to be healthy and fit, but that is easier said than done. It takes hard work, dedication, and (most frustrating of all) time. Let this week be an opportunity to start that journey to better physical health, a reminder of something you’ve been wanting to do but never quite got around to. As has been often said, if you don’t have your health, you don’t have much. If you have your health, you can get everything else. Medical technology is so good these days that a lot of problems can be fixed, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make it a priority this week to work on your physical health in the most basic and important ways – watch what you eat and get some exercise.

● Tuesday is World Health Day. The theme this year is food safety. Take a look at the official website for information about food safety issues around the world.

● The Fooducate app is a quick way to get helpful nutritional information about your food by simply scanning the bar code on the packaging. It even suggests more healthful alternatives. Is it a perfect tool? Of course not. This app has a particular definition of healthful food that may not fit your individual diet. No nutritional tool can remove your responsibility to experiment and see what works for your body. But it can help you be more informed. It can help you quickly get more information to consider when making choices in the grocery store.

● The American College of Sports Medicine, the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world, has a lot of cool fact sheets on a variety of exercise related topics.

● Cook Better! There is an overwhelming wealth of cookbooks to choose from. Two classics which will teach you to cook basically anything and everything you might want to cook are Rombauer and Becker’s The Joy of Cooking and Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.

For a cookbook of a more manageable size, try Leanne Brown’s Good and Cheap. This is a PDF which Brown put together as a project for her Masters Degree in Food Studies. It grew out of her desire to help people on food stamps eat more healthfully and is full of incredibly cheap, easy, quick, and delicious recipes. Moreover, the book emphasizes flexibility and gives you a good sense of how to use ingredients in different ways. And you can’t beat the sticker price of free.

If you want to learn about the science behind cooking, check out What Einstein Told his Cook by Robert Wolke.

Finally, for those with a little more time to devote to learning about cooking, here is a great list of free online cooking classes.

● Following up on our mediation from last week, try mindful eating this week. When you eat, pay attention to your food. Pay attention to how it tastes and feels, and think about the long journey it took to your plate.

● Work Out! The most effective exercise plan is the one you actually do, so be more active this week (and into the future) in whatever way works for you. Make an exercise plan, join a gym, or just get outside (it’s spring – enjoy the fresh air!) and play a game (an excellent way to get exercise without it feeling like work). You can also think about small changes to your daily routine which increase your physical activity (walk or bike instead of driving to work, take the stairs instead of the elevator). Yet while you’re doing these small, manageable things, remember that it can be a good thing to push yourself. You can’t know your limits until you run up against them.

If you’re still not sure how to start working out, here is a great introduction from the folks at Reddit. If you need a little motivation, try a commitment device like Gym-Pact. It pays you to exercise (of course, if you don’t follow through, then you end up paying someone else…).

● Cook for someone, especially someone who might not be able to do it for themselves.

● Exercise (at whatever level) with someone. Having a companion is one of the best ways to stick to an exercise plan.

● As you cultivate and celebrate your own physical health and that of others, remember that not everyone is as able bodied as you might be. Donate to an organization which supports the rights of people with physical handicaps like the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund or the National Organization on Disability.

Have other ideas for how to celebrate Physical Health Week? Let us know!

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