How to gain health with every step?

Commentary by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.

Sometimes we want to take care of our health.

We sign up for a diet, or we go somewhere to do exercise. And that is fine. However, we may follow the diet without enjoying it, because we treat it as a punishment for having misbehaved by eating too much or eating unhealthily. The same happens with exercise, we do it because the doctor tells us to or because we are overweight and we also treat this as a punishment. Actually we would prefer not to have to do these things. We do it out of obligation. And for this reason, often we give up.

Eating healthily and the right amount as well as doing physical exercise is all very well when we feel able to do it with affection towards ourselves. So if that is the case for you, try to do it because you want to not because you are pursuing something like, perhaps, appearing younger or being more attractive or to reduce that wretched cholesterol. Do it for yourself.
There is something else that you can add to everything that you already know. When you eat, pay attention to the flavour of the items, eat without rushing, as your body and your mind will be grateful that you are doing this with all of your senses without thinking about other things while you eat, without anxiety about the next mouthful. If you complain about what you eat because it is not what you would prefer then you will soon give up. However, if you do not complain and you concentrate on each mouthful you will undoubtedly savour it more and will feel greater satisfaction.

And it is the same when we do exercise.

Have you noticed that you treat your body as if it were a horse that you had to break in? We push ourselves, we do more than we are capable of in our condition and we end up hurting all over because we want to arrive quickly at the goal we have set ourselves. Do it without chasing success, without weighing yourself every day or measuring yourself to see whether your muscles have grown. Just enjoy what you do, treat your body with the sensitivity it needs. Do not force it. It is not meant to be a punishment. Do it lovingly, constantly listening to where your limits are. Feeling your tension, relaxing your muscles, breathing rhythmically, sensing your whole body, because this is you.

Do you realise that I am talking about generating a different attitude in you? That new attitude is one of the first things that will start to make you feel healthier, more alive. You cannot choose how your body will be: taller, shorter, more muscular, slimmer, but you can definitely choose your attitude. And you can do it if you pay attention to every step. When you do anything, do it as an aim in itself, not because you are chasing some form of success. Take each step as if you were arriving at the end of the walk. Without haste, as if you had already arrived. The attitude of chasing something produces anxiety and that is quite harmful in itself. Temper this attitude with a touch of affection towards yourself without censuring yourself for not being or not having something that you are not, or do not have. That is an important step towards good health.

Speaking of steps, today when you walk, be aware that you are walking. Sense your feet with each step. Pay attention to it, like a game and enjoy the sensations of your body as it moves, adopt a comfortable, upright posture without worrying about getting anywhere. Guide your body with every step.