Is Your Body A Temple?: Why You Should Embrace Good Physical Energy

In examining the leadership strengths that allow women professionals to be authentic and optimally effective, we at DRIVEN have had plenty to share on Grit and Resilience, known also as the G and R of GRACE In The WorkplaceTM. We’ve steered you through various facets of resilience, including the ways that good spiritual and emotional energy constitute a resilient you.

Another type of energy central to possessing grit and resilience is mental energy, which we will investigate in the future. But for now, and through the next several articles, a prerequisite of sorts will be our focus. I think of it as the keystone energy type for acquiring and sustaining grit and resilience in your life and career. This type of energy forms the core of your personal energy, and can literally decide what you will withstand vs what you succumb to. It is directly related to your personal maintenance, and can mean the difference between simply falling behind, and actually ceasing to exist. My friends, prepare to explore your Physical Energy, and to start taking it far more seriously than ever before.

In Sickness and In Health

Physical energy seems like an obvious source of resilience, and one that many of us suspect we’ve mastered simply by getting out of bed each day. The fact is, until our physical energy becomes compromised, we tend to take our bodies for granted. I never thought twice about my good fortune of being healthy until I got pneumonia. It stopped me in my tracks, and took more than 6 months to fully recover from. The experience was my wake-up call, prompting me to be grateful for my physical energy each-and-every day, and to put more thought into maintaining it.

Pause and think for a moment: If you’re in good physical health, are you grateful when you feel well, or have you normalized the overwhelm in your life, accepting as fact that there’s no way to live other than in a state of exhaustion and overextension? I put it this way because we as modern humans are living with constant stress or crisis. There’s the consistent undercurrent of daily stresses, peppered by the inevitable fires to put out, or in some cases, to helplessly endure. And because we can still walk around and get things done, we assume this state of stress is not affecting us physically. But in fact, the opposite is true. These alleged “certainties” of life literally drain our energy tanks. And when our physical energy becomes expended, our immune system is compromised. I don’t have to explain where that leads.

Shoulda, Woulda

Have you ever noticed that when your physical energy is perked, you are more capable of managing other forms of energetic challenge? Building your physical energy “muscle” is as simple as committing to good habits and maintaining your body like a fine-tuned car engine. As logic would have it, these habits are not different than what you’ve been hearing your whole life: eat whole foods, drink plenty of water, exercise often and get 8 hours of sleep every night! Simple, as I said, but not easy. The problems arise when we frame our physical upkeep as an optional task, with many “shoulds”. “I should join the gym.” “I should quit smoking.” “I should stop drinking soda.” A dear friend who’s battling an illness recently said in regret that she “should” have taken better care of herself. What she and many of us don’t quite realize is that the trick for changing “should” into “did” is to commit to being intentional about our personal maintenance.

The Cure over The Prevention?

There’s evidence everywhere that we take our sound physical state for granted. Reliance upon medication, hangover helpers and a boatload of coffee has replaced the good practice of healthy daily rituals and nourishment. Consider the dangers of sugar, and then note that the average American consumes between 150 and 170 pounds of the stuff each year. We’re eating/drinking our weight in sugar every 300 days! Compound that with the 30% of us who are counterintuitively sleep-deprived, since we’re watching television for an average of 5 hours per day in addition to our growing number of minutes squandered while interacting with digital devices.

The alternatives are within our reach. But again, intentionality provides the magic formula. Sleep alone is the greatest gift you can give yourself, and is an ideal place to start. In her book The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington declares, “These two threads that run through our life—one pulling us into the world to achieve and make things happen, the other pulling us back from the world to nourish and replenish ourselves—can seem at odds, but in fact they reinforce each other.”

Sleep on this quote for now, and prepare to dig a bit deeper into the importance of sleep in my next follow-up article.