Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lessons From The Human Body...

I have often said, "The human body is an incredible machine."

Made up of 206 bones, over 600 muscles, networks of nerves, systems for transporting blood and oxygen, a system for excreting waste... it even has a reproductive system to perpetuate our species.

At our most fundamental level we are made up of cells. These cells are essentially individual living beings. You most likely learned this by examining an amoeba floating in the glass slide under a microscope in high school.

Without the help of a scientist to keep it alive...the cell must do whatever it takes to survive. That means searching for a healthy environment to live in.

Essentially what happens is this: individual, self-serving cells band together to make little 'microcosms' that are also self-serving entities.

Then these microcosms band together with other healthy, self-serving microcosms and so on, thing you know we have a human body.

I should say, we have an individual, healthy, self-serving human body.

Like the individual cell, the human body must do whatever it takes to survive. It must do things like breathe and eat and drink water.

Eventually, we figured out that our individual self-serving bodies benefitted from banding together and working as families and small communities. We created our own little human microcosms.

I think you can see where I am going with this. If we all learned a life lesson from our individual cells, we would see that it is possible to be self-serving and still work together to benefit the whole...

If we are healthy, human individuals and we create healthy families which in turn create healthy neighborhoods and communities; then those healthy communities can band together to create healthy states and nations. This of course would make the world we live in a much different place than it is now.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The point of this post is not to heal the world (although that will be a nice byproduct). The point is to heal our bodies.

The other day on the radio I heard a blurb about how in this country we spend substantially more on 'health care' than other countries. Yet, in those other countries they have a longer life expectancy than we have here.

I have a theory.

Yes, I know. I always have a theory. But especially in a post like this one, I don't want to pass off this information as scientific fact, because I am not a scientist and I have not done any extensive trials and experiments.

Instead, I will pass this information on to you as a theory. This is a theory that makes sense to me.

Let's go back to the cellular level. Imagine a Craig's List for cells: "Individual, healthy, self-serving cells seeking same."

As a general rule, these healthy cells don't want to bond with unhealthy cells. It's just not good for survival. Although once the cells have created the microcosm... of course they will do whatever it takes to help 'sick or unhealthy' cells survive, too. It only makes sense since they are bonded together and their own individual survival (for the most part) depends on the survival of all involved.

And so, it is the same with us. We are like a team. Imagine any sports team (football, basketball, volleyball, soccer, etc.), the athletes can be great individually, but it isn't until they play great together as a team that really amazing things happen.

This is why great teams have great coaches (or managers in the case of workplace teams). Someone to make sure everyone is doing the right stuff. Doing the basics.

It's the coach/manager who makes sure the individuals are all doing their part. Pulling their own weight. They make sure everyone knows the rules, warms up properly to prevent injuries, runs the drills and makes sure that everyone stays motivated.

For individual human bodies, the coach/manager is our mind. It is the mind that makes sure that all of our systems and little microcosms are healthy, motivated and ready to work for the greater good of the whole body.

There are many things in life that we have no control over. Luckily for us, our mind is one of the things we DO have control over.

Sadly, some of us give up control of our own minds to others. Really. It doesn't happen over night. People don't wake up in the morning and say, "I think I will give up control over my own mind today."

No, it happens gradually over time. Sometimes we don't realize it until it's too late.

Maybe you were a kid and you saw a commercial on TV and decided that you had to eat Lucky Charms or Fruity Pebbles for breakfast. It was certainly an emotional decision and not a rational one. Had you weighed the pro's and con's of putting that much sugar into your body in one sitting (that early in the morning) you most certainly would have opted for the oatmeal with fresh strawberries and blueberries.

But give yourself a were just a kid. This time you get to blame your parents!

Or maybe as a teenager you decided that you absolutely needed to have that $200 pair of sneakers (or some other clothing item with a fancy label). But that's what all the 'cool' kids had, so you gave up a little bit of your rational thinking to fit in.

Perhaps it happened again as an adult. Your boss or someone that you admire, bought a fancy new (fill in the item here: car, boat, house, etc.). Well now you are just trying to 'keep up with the Joneses'!

Keep in mind that the person you are trying to keep up with is... well, trying to keep up with someone else!

It was Benjamin Franklin who said, "It is the eye of other people that ruin us. If I were blind I would want, neither fine clothes, fine houses or fine furniture."

All of that just to say something that I have said in previous posts: THINK FOR YOURSELF!

We should all make a conscious decision to make our choices reasonably and rationally rather than emotionally.

For the purpose of this post, however, I will try to limit the scope of our choices to the health and wellness of the human body. So for now, if you can afford that fancy car, house, boat, etc., go ahead and stimulate the economy! I have no objection (as long as you are not living beyond your means).

The choices I'm talking about today are more about keeping yourself healthy. Which by virtue of my theory will benefit the greater good.

For example, if you eat fruits, vegetables and grains, food that is as close to the natural state as possible, your body will be able to use that food as fuel and efficiently eliminate what is doesn't need.

Unfortunately, most of the food we eat today is processed. It needs to be processed so it has an acceptable 'shelf life' in the grocery store. This makes it more profitable. It's always about the money.

Our bodies are not equipped to process the chemicals and sugar and whatever else gets put into our food. This makes it more challenging for our bodies to digest. Sometimes little particles of these inorganic 'food stuff' get left behind to clog up our intestines or arteries or does-- who knows what other damage.

This is why we get sick or need surgeries. I may be over simplifying here, but you can understand my point:

The better we take care of our body, the better our body will serve us.

The other thing we can do to care for our body is to be sure we are getting enough exercise. In the old days when we were hunter/gatherers we would get plenty of exercise. But now that we hunt and gather at the grocery store and then drive our meals for the week home in a car, the only real exercise we are getting is carrying the bags into the house. (Hopefully they are reusable canvas bags!)

Of course, if you are having your groceries delivered, your only exercise is putting the groceries away.

For more information on exercise tips, go to my massage website ( and sign up for my FREE monthly e-newsletter (which will also qualify you for $10 off your next massage).

My goal is to send out a newsletter each month with a new tip on health and fitness. In this month's e-newsletter (the first one) I talk about the five components of fitness and elaborate a little on cardiovascular fitness. I also explain how to find your Target Heart Range and why it is important information to know.

Over the next few months I will elaborate on the other components of fitness. If there is a topic you would like to know more about, send me an e-mail and I will consider it for a future edition of the newsletter.

The point is this: It's time to follow the lead of our inner cells. We must search out healthy environments and attach ourselves.

We have to make good choices. (Now there's a life lesson!)

We have to eat right and exercise. If you don't know what that means... do a little research. Find someone who does know.

Note: If you are reading this blog from the West Coast, look up and "Have Tea With Shellee". She offers workshops on healthy eating. If you are on the East Coast, I suggest looking up Karen Sevenoff who is currently running a "Nutritional Healing Lecture Series" at the Fuller Yoga and Pilates Studio in Hartford, CT. Working with either of them will give you a great starting point on your path to healthier eating.

In my opinion, the reason people in other countries have a longer life expectancy than we have, is because they eat better than we do.

I realize that some of these other cultures make rich sauces that you might consider unhealthy, but they use fresh ingredients to make their meals, not chemically enhanced, pre-packaged, processed ingredients.

Using fresh ingredients makes it easier for the body to process the food. This in turn helps us to stay healthy, which is less taxing on the health care system.

I could go on and on about the faults and short-comings of the health care system... but that could be a whole separate post. For now, let me put the blame squarely on us.

"The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings." So says Billy Shakespeare in Julius Caesar (and I agree)!

We can blame the system: The farmers and ranchers who use chemicals and growth hormones; the grocery store chains; or even the marketing and advertising companies, but as long as we keep buying their products... they will keep making and selling them.

In a perfect world the companies would unilaterally change their ways to make their products more healthy. But alas, this is not a perfect world and so we must be our own advocates and pressure the companies to do the right thing.

I agree that we shouldn't have to do it that way, but as I said, "It's all about the money." But luckily for us, the greed of these companies makes it easy for us to use economic pressure to change their wicked ways.

All we have to do is stop buying chemically enhanced , processed foods.

If you don't have the time or space to grow (or raise) your own organic food, you could join a food co-op or buy from your local farm or farmer's market.

One of these days I should write a post on the state of farming. This is a real problem, but I will save that topic for another post.

So where can you buy healthy organic food? Here are some websites that may help:

Plug in your Zip Code and then determine your shopping radius (5 miles, 10 miles, up to 30 miles) and the site will give you options to find farms or stores or co-ops that offer healthier solutions.

You can find more ideas on the Links Page of my massage website ( that range from books to articles on genetically modified foods. Don't get me started on that!

Good luck in your search for healthier food.

Make healthy choices.

Peace and Love,