An Apple A Day
…keeps the doctor away. We’ve all heard that one. While it is not literal, and there is no proof that indeed it will keep the doctor away, we all know what it means. Eat healthy, and you should stay healthy…at least, your chances are greater.
There is no agreed consensus on the author of this saying, but it is part of our lore. There are many others we may, or may not have heard. While they are simply words, words can, and do possess power. Perhaps they have power to make you think differently, which can make you act in a healthier way, so there’s no medicine to take, no surgery to go through, and nothing to lose, only wisdom to be gained.
Let’s look at a few others, and their sources, if known:
- “Our bodies are our gardens—our wills are our gardeners.” –William Shakespeare Ah, free will. We get to choose how we treat our bodies: what to put in them, how much sleep to give them, how to move them—or not, how to maintain them through regular medical checkups, and what to put in our minds as well. Closely related is this:
- “Heredity loads the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.” —author unknown. Most of us know our family medical histories. A few diseases are genetically transferred, and there is little we can do. Most, however, give us at least a small chance to reduce the odds of sickness and suffering by the choices we make; most give us a fighting chance: how we eat, how much we sleep, how we control stress, how much water we drink and how much alcohol we don’t drink, choosing not to smoke—much like the “gardening” spoken of above.
- “Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos—the trees, the clouds, everything.” –Thich Nhat Hanh, who was a Vietnamese monk and peace activist. He passed away in early 2022 at age 95. Clearly, he knew what he was speaking of. Expressing gratitude in any way has been shown to improve mental health, which, in turn, improves physical health.
- “Your body hears everything your mind says.” –Naomi Judd, country singer. More research in the last few hears bears out the mind-body connection: our thoughts DO affect our bodies. Pay attention to the thoughts you have, and only keep the ones that will serve you well. We all have random thoughts, flitting through our minds, seemingly with no control. Again, only keep the ones that contribute to good health, and let the others go—especially if they are worries about your health that have their basis only in fear, not in fact. Every day, we are bombarded with more scary statistics about cancer, accidental deaths, Alzheimer’s disease and the like. Until they directly affect you, focus on taking good care of your body—and mind.
- “The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.”—Abraham Maslow, psychologist. Again, this deals with the power of the mind. The past is gone, the future isn’t here yet, but the present is just that: a present. Open it every moment, and savor it.
- “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” —John Kabat-Zinn, medical professor. Nearly all of us will experience sickness, illness or injury in our lives. Learning to accept it while doing all you can to keep yourself well is key to returning to good health. This, of course, relates directly to the power of the mind.
- “It’s no coincidence that four of the six letters in health heal.” —Ed Northstrum, wellness expert. No further explanation needed.
- “If you don’t do what’s best for your body, you’re the one who comes up on the short end.” –Julius Erving, better known as ‘Dr. J,’ famous basketball player. Again, this one, too, speaks for itself.
- “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” –Irish proverb. Laughter has long been touted as healing medicine. A good belly laugh seems to instantly improve mood, and works on our bodies, as well as our minds. As for sleep, it is truly under-rated. Think of sleep as a time to re-charge our batteries. If they get run down, your body doesn’t go. It’s like running out of gas. We need to recoup energy by sleeping. There is reason why we put infants and children down for naps when they are grumpy. Adults get grumpy without sleep, too. Unfortunately, we don’t always recognize this as the root cause, or we see it as a sign of weakness if we give in to a nap. Think of sleep as “cleaning time.” Just as the office janitors come in after hours to clean up the day’s mess, our brains and bodies need a daily cleansing to “take out the (cellular) trash” that accumulates in a day’s time.
- “Rest when you are weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.” —Ralph Marston, purveyor of positivity. Taking care of yourself is not a weakness, not a sign of laziness. As this quote implies, there is always work to do, and in order to do it, we must be rested and well-taken care of—by ourselves.
- “The body is a sacred garment. It’s your first and last garment; it is what you enter life in and what you depart life with, and is should be treated with honor.” –Martha Graham, dancer/choreographer. It is the one and only body you will ever have. You may have it altered by surgery, or, most radically, by transplants, but it is still the only container for your heart and soul, your mind and your spirit.
- “Learn to relax. Your body is precious, as it houses your mind and spirit. Inner peace begins with a relaxed body.” –Norman Vincent Peale, motivational author. Just breathe. Deeply. You are already breathing, so why not make it a little deeper. This is the foundation of physical relaxation. And relaxation is what your body needs to retool, repair and restore.
- “You have to stay in shape. My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 now and we don’t know where she is.” —Ellen DeGeneres, American funnywoman. Enough said.
- “If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” —Mickey Mantle, famous baseball player. Don’t let this quote be one of your last. Whatever your age, you can start today to improve your health. Start small; every little positive change will help add up to bigger changes.
Take care of yourself. You know how to do it better than anyone else.