Physical Integrity

Print This Post Print This Post January 29, 2012 on 12:58 pm | In Exercise, Fitness, Health, Integrity, Physical | Comments Off on Physical Integrity

Physical Integrity

Despite the fact that January is almost over (egads, nearly 1/12th of the year already in the bag!) I have not really started on my quarterly focus (Physical Integrity) in terms of concrete plans, commitments, and most importantly actions.   While there are all sorts of “reasons” (i.e., excuses) for my delay in beginning my plans for improving my health and physique, the bottom line is that time is marching on and I need to start moving in the direction I intend.  So today is the day!

The first step, of course, is to assess my current reality so that I have an accurate idea of my starting point.  I measured myself this morning, and while the results aren’t pretty at least I now have a solid understanding of where I am so that I can chart a course to where I want to be.  Here are my current measurements:

The two target numbers are based on my current weight and body fat percentage.  At my current weight my lean body mass is 135.5 pounds.  If I maintain that lean body mass and achieve my goal of 12% body fat, then my total weight will be 154 pounds.  In order to provide a range for my weight target I have added a target based on a lean body mass of 140 pounds, since hopefully my strength training will result in an increase in my lean muscle mass.  So my provisional target weight is somewhere between 154 and 159 pounds, although my real target in terms of my physique is achieving 12% body fat regardless of my total weight.

To put my body composition goal into a less abstract perspective, I had my wife take a “before” picture to capture my current physique:

"Before" - 29 Jan 2012

While I do have additional goals as components of my larger goal of physical integrity – including improving my flexibility, strength, and structural alignment – for the moment at least I will have my hands full just focusing on transforming my body composition.  Despite the fact that my current body composition is rather far from my target, I am encouraged by the fact that I have put on a lot of this excess weight over the past few months so it should come off fairly rapidly.  Indeed, the typical weight loss pattern for me is fairly rapid weight loss initially, followed by a series of plateaus and then less rapid decreases in weight in series of downwards steps.  Despite my body composition, I am in good cardiovascular shape (resting heart rate @ 50 bpm) and have been consistent in exercising for 30 to 50 minutes several times a week (primarily high intensity interval training).  As a result of these favorable factors, I am confident that I will be able to transform my physique over the next several months.

Let the FUN begin!

True Nourishment

Print This Post Print This Post January 22, 2012 on 8:37 pm | In Diet, Fulfillment, Health, Integrity, Nutrition, Physical | Comments Off on True Nourishment

True Nourishment

Have you noticed that whenever you really take the time and effort to carefully examine one strand of your life you wind up discovering that what initially seems to be a single, isolated strand is in fact part of a vast web that connects all of the facets of your life?  Since the action associated with my focus for this quarter – physical integrity – is nourishing, I have been doing a lot of thinking about the concept of nourishing over the past week and it has opened my eyes to what an expansive concept true nourishment is.

On the surface level nourishing is a relatively straightforward concept, especially as it relates to the physical aspect of my life.  The most obvious association is with nutrition and selecting nourishing foods and drinks that support my physical being with the proper types and amounts of nutrients.  This dimension focuses on what to eat and drink, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain carbohydrates, fresh meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products.  What we eat certainly has a profound influence on our physical being in terms of 0ur overall health and vitality as well as our energy level throughout the day.

In addition to what we eat, how we eat plays a very important part in nourishment.  Eating more slowly and thoroughly chewing food until it is in a semi-liquid state before swallowing greatly enhances the nutritional value of food.  In addition to allowing the digestive enzymes in our saliva to begin the process of breaking down the food and extracting nutrients, the increased surface area of smaller food fragments enhances the bioavailability of nutrients by allowing a greater portion of the food to be exposed to the digestive processes.  Whereas large chunks of food tend to digest poorly with large amount of waste products, smaller particles tend to digest well with maximum extraction of the available nutrients and greatly reduced waste products.

Speaking of waste products, the processes involved in the elimination metabolic wastes also play an important role in nourishment.  In addition to optimally extracting nutrients from our food in order to nourish our bodies, it is also important to remove waste products from our body in order to maintain our health and vitality.  There are a number of processes involved in waste elimination in addition to the obvious processes of urination and defecation – these include respiration (exhaling gaseous wastes), flatulence (farting) and perspiration (sweating).   Especially important in the removal of metabolic waste associated with cellular activity is the lymphatic system, which relies on large muscle movement to transport interstitial fluid throughout the body.  This fluid bathes the cells within tissues thereby providing a means of delivering materials to the cells as well as removing metabolic waste products. Unlike the circulatory system, which has a pump (the heart) to move fluids throughout the body, the lymphatic system’s reliance on large muscle movement to transport fluid means that exercise also plays a vital role in the process of nourishing the body.  So even from a purely biological perspective nourishment involves a lot more than just eating “healthy foods.”

If we step back and consider nourishment from a broader perspective, it is clear that true nourishment involves a number of factors beyond the physical or biological realm.  For example, the emotional state that a person is in profoundly effects their biological state and the effectiveness of the various life sustaining systems of the body – including the digestive system, respiratory system, and circulatory system, all of which play an important part in nourishment.  More importantly, however, nourishment is not simply a function of how the other facets of our life – emotional, mental, social, relational, and event spiritual – impact our biology.  Rather, these aspects themselves are an important part of true nourishment.

True nourishment involves nourishing all aspects of our being – our physical, our mental, our aesthetic, our social, relational, and spiritual dimensions.  In this sense, health is not simply an attribute of our physical dimension – rather health and vitality are attributes of the totality of who we are.  In this larger context, nourishment means that which sustains, strengthens, and promotes the growth of our entire being – not just our physical aspects.  This enhanced understanding of the concept of true nourishment opens a vast range of possibilities for nurturing ourselves:

  • Spending time in nature, watching a sunrise or a sunset
  • Taking a relaxing, leisurely hot bath
  • Enjoying the company, laughter, and companionship of a close friend
  • Playing with your children or your pet dog or cat
  • Listening to inspiring, energizing, or relaxing music
  • Going for a long walk or bicycle ride to clear your mind
  • Watching an inspirational movie or reading an inspirational book
  • Prayer; meditation; being in silence and solitude
  • Making love

As an example of a particularly nourishing activity from this past week, on Friday I took my wife to a magnificent dinner in downtown Houston. This dinner was a formal coat and tie affair, which gave the occasion a distinctive air of being special and set apart, which in turn encouraged us both to slow down, relax, cast our worries aside and enjoy the evening.

A Taste of France Wine Dinner

* UPON ARRIVAL *

Moet & Chandon Imperial, Champagne, NV

* FIRST COURSE *

Pike and Salmon Medallion served with Florentine Sauce

Louis Latour, Meursault Blanc, Beaune Cote d’Or, Burgundy 2007

*INTERMESSO *

Pear Sorbet

* SECOND COURSE *

Tournedos with La Tourangelle Marrow Sauce

Galette Potatoes, French Beans, and Baby Carrots

Chateau Batailley, Grand Cru Classe, Pauillac, Bordeaux 2005

* THIRD COURSE *

Trio of Cheeses

Louis Latour, Morey St. Denis, Clos des Ormes, Burgundy 2003

* FOURTH COURSE *

Apple Tart

Domaine des Bernardins, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Rhone 2009

This menu, I believe, speaks for itself – it was a marvelous evening, and even though the food and drink may not meet the strict criteria of “health food” there is no doubt that this dinner, and the time we spent together, nourished us both – physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and dare I say spiritually?

Vive la France!

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