When The Body Speaks, Listening Might Be A Good Idea

Physically speaking, the past year has been strange.

In April of 2014, I came back from my week of teaching in Hawaii and promptly got sick, something in my stomach that wrecked my system for a good month. (I won’t blame it on a visit to The Poke Shack in Kona right before we left, but I’m tempted to…) Since then, it’s been up and down, with various aches and ailments sporting pain levels ranging from not much to oww-that’s-crazy-pain!  (I won’t bore you detailing my shoulder and hip troubles…)  Anjie and I laugh about it now, these near-daily maladies and bothers. (The most recent was a tooth.) I’ve said several times I feel like a hypochondriac, but more than likely, my body’s just talking to me, telling me to pay attention, chuck some bad habits, and get to work, cause the wear and tear of time is starting to show itself.

The second piece of the new season puzzle, then, after the coffee thing, is working out.   (And yes, I know there’s more nutritional stuff to pay attention to, but I’ll get to that later.)

Everything I read tells me this is crucial to ongoing mental, emotional, and physical health. Lots of opinions out there about just what to do, but before the how comes the yes, as Peter Block would say.   Yes, that’s another book reference—The Answer to How is Yes: Acting on What Matters.   Block’s book is about commitment, and the fact that asking how to do a thing often masks an avoidance of commitment.   Here’s the thing…commitment is hard.   Say a firm, commitment-laden yes to something, and you’ve just said no to a thousand things that are no longer possible.   Therein is the sacrifice required. Blah, blah, blah. Nothing new here.

Except that commitment is always new, always challenging, and sure enough, as Stephen Pressfield asserts in The War of Art, resistance is ready to rise up and fight to keep us in the muck of meaningless promises, broken commitments, and doing nothing.

When I was 49, I decided I wanted to head into being 50 in the best shape of my life. And frankly, I did pretty well with it.   Nothing spectacular, but I felt much better than I’d felt in years.   I fell out of the habit a couple of years ago, and ever since, it’s been really difficult to get myself out the door with my sweats and running shoes on.

Well, enough of that, you know?

So, at 56, here we go again.   It’s not Rocket Science. Get out of the chair, spent 45 minutes in the gym, or on a walk, or doing yoga, or something.   And I’m giving permission right now for anybody who’s reading this to keep me honest.

“Hey Jeff,” you’ll say.  “How’s it going with the workouts?”   I’ll smile and say…well, we’ll see.

I can always just be lazy and not bother.   Which is the better choice?   Brain and body firing on all cylinders, or mucking through the day with brain fog and maybe a tinge of depression?


Started the day with a cup of bad decaf tea.   Awful.   Had a better cup later.   My head hurts a bit, but not bad.   Letting go of coffee?  Check.

Worked out today too.

Off and running…

7 Replies to “When The Body Speaks, Listening Might Be A Good Idea”

  1. As Anne Lamott just wrote: “Exercise: If you want to have a good life after you have grown a little less young, you must walk almost every day. There is no way around this. If you are in a wheelchair, you must do chair exercises. Every single doctor on earth will tell you this, so don’t go by what I say.”

  2. I applaud you! One of the things I’m really looking forward to in our quickly approaching retirement (9 school days) is being able to exercise more and at a more reasonable hour. I’ll keep checking up.

    1. Thanks, Ferryn…yes, please do keep checking up on me…I’ll need it. Congrats on the retirement! Someday, I’d love to hear your story…it’s been too, too long…

  3. Jeff, Well, the hard truth is we all need to do more the older we get, I encourage you to start slow but be consistent…. maybe tai chi…

  4. A gradual cutting back of the coffee might help mitigate the headaches. Cold turkey will be harder to deal with.
    I resonate with the aches and pains and with my 50 within spitting distance your post is challenging me. I started reading The Daniel Plan by Rick Warren and several doctors and i am beginning my own commitment to healthy choices. May God bless both of us in these endeavors!

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