“Dr. Mantell, isn’t sitting the new smoking?,” someone asked me at a recent presentation I was giving on putting the “long” in longevity.
“It sure is,” I said. “Sitting too long causes muscle degeneration, leg disorders, organ damage, back problems, strained neck and shoulder issues, and a foggy brain.” It shortens life. So what’s with the idea of pushing a CHAIR? Read on.
Henry David Thoreau once shared that he had three chairs in his home, “…one for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society.” Doesn’t that provide you with remarkable insight about the value of a chair?
Chairs provide comfort, stability, relaxation, style and for Thoreau, “…solitude, friendship and society.”
A leader in the fitness industry, Len Kravitz, Ph.D., author, educator, and exercise scientist at the University of New Mexico, teaches that chairs provide wonderful opportunities for exercise and activity. He suggests that every time you go to sit in a chair, first sit, then stand and then sit. Similarly, when you are ready to leave the chair, stand, sit and then stand and go. A nice way to get in some extra lunges and squats during the day, right?
Well the other day, another insight into the value of a chair hit me from the other side of the moon—or somewhere mystically far away. I’ve come to see a chair as a metaphor for healthy life. Sitting too much can’t provide health. Not sitting enough doesn’t provide health either. So here’s my deeper understanding of just how to view a chair when you are lost or overwhelmed about getting on track to lead a healthy life.
Healthy living begins with clear-thinking goals. With the seasonal changes coming, it’s going to be too easy to focus on the holidays, how “perfect” they “should” be, shopping for “perfect” presents and “perfect” clothes to wear to the “perfect” party…you get the idea. YOU will get lost and be replaced by myths you won’t be able to live up to.
Take a seat on that chair over there and think about this. What are your lasting goals beyond the coming holiday season? Your health, living well, fit, peaceful and happy sound like good goals to me.
So use my CHAIR method to keep you focused on what’s really important and don’t get lulled into sitting in that chair you are on too long:
C stands for a deeply felt commitment to very specific goals. You see the goal, be aware of why you’re doing it. Commitments that are consistent and comfortable last.
H is for healthier foods, healthy carbs and proteins, healthy fat. Diet is a word I never use since it has the word ‘die’ in it and always means weight gain.
A stands for daily activity, daily tracking of food, sleep and exercise. If you track, you adhere. Shoot for 10,000 steps a day. But even raking leaves counts as activity.
I is inner motivation and inspiration—you have to have your why and it’s best if it’s personally meaningful to you.
R is for a realistic set of achievable, rewardable goals. You need something very specific that you are targeting, like you want to be entirely off blood pressure medication—not just lose some weight or tone up. Set up these goals or you chance going down the same unhealthy paths you’ve been repeatedly going down.
That’s it…commitment, healthy nutrition, activity, internal motivation and realistic goals. Now, get off your chair and actually start creating that healthier life you’ve been sitting there, thinking about. But keep that CHAIR in mind.