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“You take better care of your car than you do your body…”

When a wreck totaled my car last year, I decided that I could no longer justify having a nice (expensive) car. My previous career necessitated having something that looked nice, but I haven’t been in that job in 3 years.  So I got a well loved, but well cared for, 2002 Toyota Highlander.  It had 260,000 miles on it when I bought it, approaching 300,000 miles now. There’s nothing wrong with it, other than a few places of slight cosmetic damage and worn interior.  Buuuut… I also work pretty hard at keeping it that way. I check the oil every single week.  I’m gentle with it going up mountains.  I keep the leather seats conditioned.    And my sweet dad just spent several hours reversing the yellowed headlights,  which made my vehicle look sad.  I also do what everyone else does: I make sure I don’t run out of fuel. I make sure the tires have enough air.  I don’t let the fluids get low.

I’m not obsessed with my car by any means– it’s practical.  I don’t want to have to buy another vehicle any time soon, so I try to take care of this one.  I live a ways away from town, so I seem to spend a lot of time in my car.  I’m not perfect about car care (and 9 times out of 10, it’s messier than I’d like, because you know…life).  I just need it to last.  The truth is, I really do the basics of what it takes to keep my car happy and running.  But I don’t let those basics slide either.

However, I did not find it amusing when my trainer/mentor/best friend made this statement:

You do realize that you take better care of your car than you do of your body.

I’m pretty sure that I told him exactly what I thought of that assinine statement.  Except that it started rattling around in my head and getting under my skin.  My dear trainer has a way of making pointed statements that create powerful pictures. He once told me loudly in front of a crowded gym “I want you working so hard you look like you’re *passing (he didn’t say “passing”…uhem.) a cactus.” No one has forgotten that, and it was four years ago!

I tried to just ignore this latest statement as sensational, drama queen material.  But the more I tried, the more I realized he *might* have a point.  When he said it, I hadn’t been following my meal plan for several weeks.  There were a lot of things going on and I had started eating haphazardly, and having just gotten back from vacation, my motivation was gone.  Despite several warning signs that my body wasn’t doing well, I was pushing and pushing and not resting.  I had been working outside and gotten dehydrated more than once.  And I was letting my stress handle me instead of the other way around.  I wasn’t even training my own body.

If I treated my car like I was treating my body, I would have been parked.  No one expects their car to go without keeping it fueled and making sure the gauges aren’t signaling impending disaster.

I wasn’t pleased that my trainer made such a dumb comparison.  Truth be told, I’m madder that he was right. (Again).

I wasn’t going above and beyond in car care.  I was doing the basics.  But I wasn’t even doing that for my body.  Cars require several things to stay happy and functional:

  • Enough of the right kind of fuel
  • Enough fluids
  • Not getting overheated
  • Enough air in the tires
  • Proper alignment
  • Being Driven regularly

Bodies are no different.  They require pretty much the same things:

  • Enough of the right kind of fuel– I’m talking about nutrition.  I mean eating enough of the right kinds of calories, balanced between your macronutrients.
  • Enough fluids– Seriously, no one wins with dehydration.  Your body is 70% water.  And proper hydration is essential for every aspect of functionality and performance.
  • Not getting overheated– You need sleep and off days from training and actual rest.  These things play an important role in stress management (which plays a HUGE role in keeping your waistline in check!) and repair of your body’s tissues.
  • Enough air in the tires–  On a basic level, I mean getting enough oxygen.  Deep breathing and exercise play a huge role in the oxygen exchange.  (I’m a big fan of yoga for this reason, among other things).   But on a deeper level, I also mean you gotta breathe. You have to have space for you, to do what you love, and makes you happy.
  • Proper alignment– Your posture matters more than you realize.  I could talk about this in 100 different ways, but for now, let me say, If you walk around with slumped shoulders (as do most of us, thanks to technology in our laps), your body and brain are gonna suffer.  Being Slouchy McSloucherson means your organs are squished, which means they can neither receive the oxygen they need nor do their jobs properly.
  • Being driven regularly– Your car doesn’t do well when it just sits, and neither do you.  You have to at least drive your car often enough to keep the battery charged.  Your body is the same way.  The more you sit still, the less charged YOU stay, and then ultimately, all you want to do is sit still.  In the words of James Brown, “Get up offa that thing!”

Soooo…my trainer was annoyingly right. I was doing better for my car than I was for me.  Lesson learned….errrr… at least heard. But my deal with myself is that I always strive for better than before.  Sometimes we all need a reminder to stay on top of the basics.

What about you? Are you paying more attention to an inanimate object than you are to your own body?  You might be able to buy a new car if yours wears out or becomes damaged, but you can’t buy another body.

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