Here's a mini-wellness test. For each of the following questions, answer yes or no.
* Would you characterize your life as mostly stress free?
* Do you spend regular time with a community of friends?
* Do you get out into nature daily?
* Are you mostly free of negative feelings, such as fear, depression, and anger?
* Do you feel that your spiritual health is as important as your physical health?
* Do you exercise every day and find it enjoyable?
* Are you at your ideal weight?
* Do you set clear goals for personal change and follow through with a plan to achieve them?
The more NO answers you had, the more you will benefit from following our nine keys to help you achieve a fit soul and body.
The moment you decide to adapt these ideas to your life is the moment you begin to make physical, neurochemical, and hormonal changes in your body for the better — ones that will support your goal of bringing out your absolute best.
Key #1: Balance your responses to the six types of stress.
Chronic stress produces high cortisol levels that don't go away. Chronically high cortisol will make you sick, physically and emotionally.
Stress can come from multiple sources including these six: negative emotions, too little sleep, poor diet, overwork, toxic chemicals, and inflammation.
The antidote for stress is balance. Look at each of these six stress triggers individually and work on finding small ways to reduce excesses and achieve more balance in each area. Seek more laughter, calmness, and clarity in your life.
Key #2: Quiet the mind.
Ignoring external chatter and focusing on one thought or a single repetition is an extremely effective tool for dissipating emotional stress and helping shift negative thoughts. Learning to quiet your mind also helps to reduce cortisol levels in your body and increase DHEA, a feel-good hormone that promotes feeling of serenity.
Quieting your mind can help you sleep better, eat more healthfully, and keep work and life pressures in perspective. One of the best ways to quiet your mind is to exercise, especially outside.
Key #3: Transform fear, anger, and jealousy.
Good thoughts lead us to incredible awareness and experiences. Olympic athletes know this, which is why they psyche themselves up before a big event. Each day brings personal "Olympic moments" — for instance, an important meeting, a big workout, a tough but necessary talk with a friend, or a commitment to a daily spiritual practice.
Fear, anger, and jealousy hinder our optimal performance. Bite off a smaller chunk of tasks that seem overwhelming. Get perspective on the real significance of your troubles and reactions by being out in nature. Accept the fact that challenge is normal and life is not controllable.
Key #4: Reconnect with the spiritual world of nature.
Who hasn't been touched by a rose in bloom or trees coming to life in the springtime? Having a sense that you and Mother Earth have a special relationship lets you know that everything is as it should be, which makes our souls happy.
The more you connect to nature, the more open you will be to its wisdom and calming influence.
Key #5: Honor yourself.
Self-love is the best way to honor yourself, and the most immediate tool you can use to fortify yourself against negative emotions like fear or self-doubt. Learning to honor and love yourself instantly transforms "need" into "peace."
One of the factors that eats away at self-love is boredom — boredom with work, boredom with your own repetitious behaviors, boredom with life. Try to find what's new in the old; seek out new ways of thinking and behaving. Draw strength, support, and affirmation from community.
Key #6: Know and set the quest.
To get somewhere, you first have to know where you want to go. What physical goals are you striving toward? What kind of person do you want to become? Having these answers sets your intentions, helps focus your efforts, and provides you with tangible ways to measure the results.
Set small goals. Set yourself up for success; for example, schedule your workouts at a time when you'll be most likely to do them. Turn your attention away from negative thoughts.
Key #7: Live what you ask for.
Asking for a healthy soul but choosing unsupportive friends will only prevent you from finding peace. Asking for a fit body, but eating junk foods, will only sabotage your own success.
Surround yourself with actions, thoughts, and people who will empower you and allow you to achieve your personal success.
Key #8: Slow down to get faster.
In the modern world, most people feel they must push their bodies and souls to the limit to make any gains in fitness, or in life. Slowing down allows your body to run more efficiently.
Apply small focused changes that are gradual versus intense.
Key #9: Invite your inner cave man to the table.
Our bodies weren't built to withstand the rapid changes we've witnessed in our food industry. The hunting and gathering we once did has turned into drive-throughs, super-sized meals, and chemically laden foods our organs don't have the ability to use or process.
Eating the right amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and protein based on ancient genetics keeps you from eating either too little or too much, both of which cause us to hold onto unwanted and unnecessary body fat.
Drink lots of water and eat whole, unprocessed foods.
Reprinted with permission. Publisher: BenBella Books,
Paperback Edition ©2010. www.benbellabooks.com
Article written by the authors of:
Fit Soul, Fit Body: 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You
by Mark Allen and Brant Secunda.
That mythical “balance” you’ve always dreamed of achieving is just that — a myth. But not anymore. Brant and Mark have integrated their wisdom into one book, providing practical tools you can adapt to your lifestyle and achieve results you never thought possible.
About the Authors
Shaman-healer Brant Secunda and six-time world champion Ironman Mark Allen are body-soul fitness experts and seminar leaders known for blending ancient shamanic wisdom with the latest scientific findings on nutrition, fitness, mood, and stress, and turning them into fresh tips and advice for improving health and well-being. Learn more at www.fitsoul-fitbody.com.
Brant Secunda is a shaman, healer and ceremonial leader in the Huichol Indian tradition of Mexico. Alongside other dignitaries including President Jimmy Carter, Brant cofounded the Peace University in Berlin, and is a founding member of the American Herbalists Guild. Brant lectures at conferences and universities worldwide.
Mark Allen has been called "The World's Fittest Man" by Outside magazine and "The Greatest Triathlete of All Time" by Triathlete Magazine. He attributes his success to his ongoing studies with Brant Secunda, who showed him how to find fitness not only in physical strength but also in the power of personal spirit. Mark has worked as a sports commentator and advisor for NBC.