We only have one body at our disposal, and there’s no question that taking care of it should be among our top priorities.
Unfortunately, we often neglect our physical health because of the inevitable grind and bustle of day-to-day life.
We have projects to finish, meetings to attend, birthday parties to go to, family members to take care of, partners to take on dates—it’s just a lot.
We’re usually too tired or busy to exercise.
In the same vein, we tend to opt for food that is cheap and easy to prepare yet pretty unhealthy.
We put ourselves and our bodies last.
But it’s crucial to remember that health is the most important form of wealth.
Our career, our relationships, everything—all of it is for nothing if we’re sick or… well, dead.
Only when we’re healthy can we truly give our best to the other aspects of our lives.
If you’re on a self-development journey, taking care of your bodily wellbeing should be the first thing on your mind.
Here’s how to focus on your body when it comes to self-development.
1) Eat healthily
Your body is like a car. If you put the right kind of fuel in, it’ll be able to run smoothly. If you put the wrong kind, the kinds that are bad for it, then it’ll gradually break down.
We are quite literally what we eat!
But I’m pretty sure you know this already. Almost everyone knows we should eat healthily, but it’s not always that simple.
Healthy foods are almost always less accessible, less convenient, and more expensive.
It’s hard to eat right—but it’s also the most crucial thing to do.
These guidelines from the American Cancer Society summarize the main pointers for healthy eating if you don’t know where to start:
- Prioritize fruits and vegetables—make sure they’re a main part of most if not all your meals. Try to add in seeds, nuts, and whole grains too;
- Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables over canned ones if you can—but don’t stress it if it’s the only way you can eat them at the moment;
- Do your research about ingredients. Many brands sneak in unhealthy ingredients in otherwise healthy products;
- Understand portion sizes to eat the right amount;
- Minimize your intake of added sugar;
- Limit how much you eat red and processed meat (e.g., bacon, hotdogs, and luncheon meat);
- Choose leaner cuts of meat;
- Prioritize fish and poultry over red meat if you can;
- Prioritize complex carbohydrates (like grains and beans) over simple ones (like rice and pasta)
I’m not telling you to completely deprive yourself of your favorite “junk food” either. The most important thing about healthy eating is sustainability.
And if you always deprive yourself of your favorite “unhealthy” foods, then you’ll be miserable and might binge eat them even more. Allow yourself a treat once in a while.
Moderation is key.
2) Prioritize yourself
When we think of “self-care,” we often think of getting a massage, binge-watching for an entire day, or letting ourselves indulge in a whole tub of ice cream.
Don’t get me wrong; I fully believe there’s a time and place for those things!
But the ultimate form of self-care is prioritizing your health above all.
Because I can stay here and talk about food and exercise all day, and you can consume as much health or self-improvement content as you want.
But all of that will be for nothing unless you actually make a conscious decision and act!
Here’s a hack: schedule it.
Actually, it’s not even a hack. Most people who have their stuff together do this.
You need to allot a specific date and time for these things. Even money—set aside money if you need it!
- Set a date and time for your workouts;
- Set aside a budget for a gym membership or to buy healthier foods;
- Set some time every weekend to meal prep a healthy meal for the entire week;
Choose yourself and your body! And don’t forget about your mental health, either.
Sometimes, we feel lost and confused, and it also influences our motivation to move and take care of our bodies.
Because who wants to exercise in times of existential crisis? Not me, for sure.
Even though scientists say it’s really beneficial to move when you feel down, I wanted to share with you another method to get back on your “spiritual feet” and feel at your best.
I found that for me a lot of my frustration came down to not knowing my purpose in life. And I spent a lot of time trying to understand how to find it.
It was until I actually discovered Ideapod co-founder Justin Brown’s eye-opening video.
He talks about how many of us choose the wrong path when looking for our purpose and shares insights he’s got when spending time with a shaman in Brazil.
He explains how to find their purpose using visualization and other self-help techniques.
It did help me a lot, and I’m happy I stumbled upon it. So, if you feel like you need some guidance in finding your balance and your purpose in life–go watch it!
If your diet is the key to nourishing your body, then exercise is how you make it stronger and more resilient.
Exercise has numerous amazing benefits not just for your body (like muscle and bone strength and cardiovascular health), but science has also shown that it improves our mental and emotional health too.
People who exercise regularly report better moods and lower levels of depression and anxiety. This makes it a fantastic tool to get you on the right track for other parts of your life as well.
All of this makes your body and mind resilient as it ages. It significantly slows down cognitive decline and the weakening of your body as you grow older. Simply put, regularly exercising increases both the quantity and quality of life.
Again, I know it’s hard to get your body moving if you’ve been sedentary your entire life.
But here are my two main tips.
- Find an exercise form that you enjoy. Whether that’s lifting weights, running, playing a sport, or doing yoga, the best form of exercise is one that you actually do. And one you want to do for life. Sustainability above all, remember?
- Start small. Don’t force yourself into an intense workout regimen from the get-go. Not only will you fail, but you just might injure your body too! Ease into it. For example, if you’ve been really sedentary your whole life, try taking a 15-minute walk every day and see where it goes from there.
4) Immerse yourself in nature
Another thing you should devote some time to is immersing yourself in nature.
This isn’t just some spiritual belief about Mother Earth or what have you—there is rock-solid scientific evidence supporting this!
For example, a study found that people who spent at least 120 minutes a week in nature generally had better physical and mental health compared to those who didn’t.
Do the math—that’s not even 20 minutes a day!
Just think about it: our bodies didn’t evolve to be caged in by four walls all day staring at a screen. Our ancestors were out there among the plants and under the sun.
The best part is that there are many ways to merge your nature time and your workout time!
- If you’re a gym-goer, try doing calisthenics at a park instead;
- If you’re a runner, try running in nature instead of in the city;
- If you get bored with working out, try going on a hike;
- Or go swim some laps at the beach, why not?
5) Stay committed
Just as paramount as starting in the first place is staying committed.
Health and fitness isn’t a one-time thing you do where you can reap and enjoy the rewards after.
It’s an entire lifestyle.
That’s why I always preach about sustainability.
After all, setbacks are inevitable. Sometimes you’ll get tired of your routines. Sometimes you won’t be inspired at all. Sometimes you’ll encounter external difficulties.
You will stumble, and your road will be far from smooth. But see, that’s where growth actually is—that’s when you become better than you were before.
So set goals for yourself time and time again. Start small, then when you achieve that, set a slightly bigger goal. That’s how you keep yourself motivated and committed for life.
The importance of focusing on your body
Focusing on your body means focusing on you—on yourself. Think about it: you are literally your body, and your body is literally you.
After all, pursuing physical wellness also heavily benefits your mental, emotional, and spiritual health too. They are all fundamentally connected. Your brain is a part of your body, no?
Prioritizing things external to yourself must be secondary because doing so at the expense of your own wellbeing is a disaster in the making.
I’m sure you’ve heard tons and tons of these stories where a businessman is hellbent on his business. He’s so obsessed that he doesn’t eat right, sleep enough, or exercise at all.
And while he builds up a fortune, he dies early, and in fact, he doesn’t enjoy anything he’s earned. Not to mention the fact he doesn’t spend enough time with his family too—the very reason he was working so hard in the first place.
How to remain focused: Questions for reflection
The friend inviting you over on the weekend, your boss’ demands, your urge to play video games all day…
We let these things dictate what we do, often to our own detriment. Don’t get me wrong; there’s a time and place for all of those.
But I’m pretty sure a good number of you do it way too often, no? And I’m also confident in saying that none of those people feel good about it, either physically or mentally.
Here are a few questions you need to keep in mind. How you answer them should serve as your guide as you pursue your self-betterment journey with regard to your body.
- What kind of exercise do I enjoy the most? What foods?
- What’s the hardest part about getting started? About staying committed?
- What gives me motivation?
- Am I as concerned about my own well-being as I am about a loved one’s?
Before you leave…
I know it’s hard to begin your journey toward overall well-being and even harder to stick to it. But here’s what I want you to know: don’t pressure yourself.
Because who ever regretted that?