“Lively up yourself” Bob Marley
Is there anything as unattractive as a slouch? Someone who walks with no energy, arms folded or hands in pockets, looking as if they would rather be anywhere than where they are? It has always made me crazy to see people who approach their job in this fashion – it is a turnoff for their co-workers, and it sends a message of laziness, or even indifference. If you know my mother (Mrs. Catherine Jones) you know I was raised to move with purpose, to act with energy, to give your all to every task. She was legendary in our little town of Chapelton and around the campus of Clarendon College for her speed, which never faltered despite the tropical sun.
As we get older we realize that we need to work to keep that positive attitude and energy going. Sooner or later our bodies remind us that we are no longer a teenager. For me the moment came when I looked at my thighs, and missed the toned, firm muscles that I had taken for granted for so many years! It coincided with a time in my life when I was ditching some excess baggage that had been dragging me down for a while, and I decided it was time to hit the gym. I called it my ‘eat your heart out’ workout. With reggae and ska music in my ears, I would sweat to songs like “I will never grow old” and with the help of a personal trainer I managed to restrain the ravages of time at least for a little while.
Here we are sixteen years later. My routine fell away as work and school and life got in the way. But then I got a reminder that the point of exercise is not just for the outside look. When I got back from my relaxing, family-calorie-carb-fat-filled holiday, I had a phone call waiting for me. And three little words got me motivated: Low Density Lipoproteins. Yes, my LDL’s were elevated, and those are the guys that park globules of fat in your blood vessels. My father had a heart attack when he was younger than I am right now. And his father and brother both died before the age of 60 of vascular disease. So I took those three little words and ran with them. More recently I have taken on the challenge of a ‘plant-based diet’, finding that you can get pleasure, calories and nutrition from the many colors that exist in nature. And I haven’t even missed jerk chicken or oxtail!
It is important to find motivation wherever you can, if you want to improve your life. It is so easy to get into bad habits, and put off making meaningful change. But when you start to switch those unhealthy habits with good ones, it not only changes your external appearance and improves your health, it puts a pep in your step and a spark in your eye. When you ‘lively up yourself’ you tell the world that you love this life that you have been given! The glow you give off lights up the room and the positivity is infectious. We all know those people that make a room brighter when they walk in. Let us be that person!
My current exercise routine, though limited to once a week, is not only energetic, it also involves dance (if there’s music, I should be dancing!). Zumba gives tribute to those who turned work into song and dance, whether in the slave fields, or the chain gangs. Zumba turns dance into an appreciation of life and the human form. Zumba gets you sweating to a latin/salsa/afro/reggaeton beat, or even good old-fashioned rock and roll. And when it’s over you feel able to take on the world.
The years fly by, and you will be happy that you did something to try to keep that youthful zest for life. Sometimes our health gets the better of us. My mother, who died at 93, had to come to terms with a body that no longer permitted her the freedom to get up and go whenever she wanted. But she kept her mind as active as ever, filling her waking hours with meaningful activities. One of her favorite questions towards the end was, how do they keep on thinking up new things? If we maintain a curiosity about this life we are living, an acceptance that we will never have all the answers, then the world continues to be a fascinating place.
So this weekend the challenge is to “Lively up yourself”: be the spark that lights up the room. Let your passion for living infect others, and make your workplace become a funplace. And hopefully the benefits will be measured in lab values, blood pressure readings, and the view in the mirror. And if you can’t manage the gym, slip in a DVD and work out in the privacy of your own home. Dance like nobody’s watching, dig out that old bicycle, or find whatever gets your juices flowing and move it! You never know when life will slap you in the face and make you realize you waited too long.
Have a wonderful weekend, Family!