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Massage Today
May, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 05

Past, Present, Future (Not the Ghosts of Christmas–But of ourselves!)

By Teresa M. Matthews, LMT, CPT

Let's do a mental exercise. Focusing on your health and wellness I would like for you to remember yourself as a 17-year-old high school student. Then, do a brief but honest self-assessment of your condition today.

As a 17-year-old, you might have been in pretty good shape and full of life....maybe a little overweight or underweight but were you able to perform physically everything you wished to do? Probably so.

How about today? Is your physicality what you need it to be to perform according to your wishes? Are you lifting, carrying and moving items without struggling? How easy is it to walk up a flight of stairs? Do you consider performing massage your idea of exercising every day? Are you making the healthiest eating choices? Is your energy level where it needs to be?

Next, imagine yourself 17 years from now...

I know many of us have looked back and said, "I should have eaten better and exercised more years ago so I wouldn't be in this shape today." Take control of your life now to prevent disease and get fit.

Peer 17 years into the future... you are now the best possible version of the best possible vision you have of yourself, to paraphrase author Neale Donald Walsch. Now, ask yourself: "What will I need to do to get from here to this picture of optimal health and wellness?" And be kind to yourself. Keep real expectations by recalling where you started this exercise, at age 17.

Smart choices are where it begins and good nutrition is key. If you are carrying around extra weight, your joints are having to strain to do so and may be painful. That may keep you from a regular exercise routine which is also a necessary part of the equation. I made a sign that I hang in my office which reads "People don't get fat and out of shape because they get old; they get old because they get fat and out of shape." Think about that. Do you feel old? Are you acting "YOUR AGE"? Is it because you have gained some weight and cannot move the way you wish to? Or are your muscles tight and stiff and you do not have the ROM that you'd like to have?

Some simple fitness traits and smart nutrition added into your daily routine can get you on the right track. Just changing some of your food choices will bring many benefits. Start by eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and less saturated fats. To avoid tiredness, fatigue, and a sluggish immunity, daily physical activity should be a part of your routine, even if it is only 10 minutes at a time. You can go to www.mypyramid.gov for more information.

Mickey Mantle said, "If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself." Healthy aging is about so much more than staying physically fit–it's also about maintaining your sense of purpose and your love for life. It is also finding new things to enjoy, adapting to change, staying physically and socially active, and being connected to your loved ones and your community.

Start taking care of yourself now. Strength train with a resistance band, stretch daily, work on your balance with a stability ball, increase your cardiovascular exercise by getting out and walking. I offer DVD instructional videos which can help train or motivate you. Search the internet for information you think might be helpful and supportive. Find inspiration from family and friends.

It's never too late to begin working on your future health. There is time to make changes and reap the rewards that come from a balanced wellness program. Don't dwell on the past, have some fun in your present and be your best in the future!


Teresa M. Matthews, fitness expert and world champion athlete, has 30 years experience in the fitness industry. She is the president and founder of Health, Wellness & Fitness Professionals, Inc. and is the owner of Arlington School of Massage and Personal Training in Jacksonville, Fla. She is a sports massage instructor for the Florida State Massage Therapy Association and was awarded the FSMTA 2009 Sports Massage Therapist of the Year award. Teresa travels the country teaching self care and wellness classes. Contact her by e-mail at with questions or comments.

 

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