Cook doesn't give this a particularly hard sell, but then with me, he's preaching to the choir anyway. He tells us that diet and exercise
have had a positive and in some cases even a profound effect on [his] own physical, mental and emotional well-being. . . . [that they are] important pieces of the puzzle. When you put all the pieces together, they'll create a picture of life as you really want to lead it, a life full of energy and vitality, productivity and joy.
In discussing his own experiences--in a section headed "The duel in the desert, the wimp-out in the weight room, and other embarrassments along the road to fitness," Cook draws the lesson of moderation, as he chronicles his shift from "couch slouch" to exercise obsession, ultimately listening to his wife's "voice of reason,"
asking the questions I should have been asking myself, such as, "Isn't exercise supposed to make you feel better?" and "Are you just going to keep adding things until you're working out all day?"
He lists the following benefits of physical exercise--at a sensible level, of course:
- You'll feel better physically
- You'll feel better mentally
- You'll feel more energetic
- Exercise will help you sleep better
- Exercise will help you attain and maintain an appropriate weight
Cook's advice on getting started?
- Commit for the long term--"Getting there" isn't half the fun--it's all "getting," and there is no "there."
- Don't overdo
- Do it regularly
Cook recommends finding something you actually like to do, as insurance against "dropping out." And with respect to the time involved in exercising, he points out that we can't expect to "find the time," but will have to make the time, and be opportunistic, building exercise into and around our other activities.
Saving time is a part of the bargain, all right. But the major premise here [in his book] is that you can slow down, treat yourself better, even take a little time for yourself, experience a renewal of spirit and energy and still get all the "have-tos" and "want-tos" done with time to spare. Regular exercise is a key part of that plan.
Cook concludes the chapter with brief exhortations concerning the things we might be putting into our newly conditioned bodies, suggesting that tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and large amounts of good ol' American fat may not be serving our intention to get more out of life, including getting more done. From interviews with "cardiologists, oncologists, and specialists in sleep and stress," he distills the following diet rules:
- Don't eat too much.
- Eat more fiber.
- Reduce the percentage of fat in your diet.
For both exercise and diet, Cook counsels us to make changes gradually, and to keep them doable and sustainable.
You won't erase and replace old habits in a day or a week or a month. Creating your new life is the work of a lifetime. Listen to your body and make adjustments as you go.
And now, delicious (if expensive) Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola with Omega 3 on board, it's time to head to yoga class. Where I will not think about my tasks for the rest of the day, but from which I will somehow emerge better able to accomplish them. I hope.