Bend vs. squat

A good friend went to a physiotherapist recently to get started on treating his back. The physiotherapist demonstrated a collection of small things he’d need to change to give his back relief. The principle underlying these changes was either to lean forward or to squat instead of choosing to bend.

His experience immediately resonated as I’d shared this in a post recently about the right way to lift weight (or a kid depending on what you do more often :-)).

When faced with picking something up from the ground, our backs readily offer to help shortcut the effort it takes to squat. But, every time we do so, we strain those muscles and, in the process, lose the leverage that comes from the stronger muscles in our legs.

The more we avoid taking this shortcut, the stronger and healthier our backs and legs will be.

There’s a life lesson in there somewhere too.

3 lessons on recovering from sickness

3 lessons on recovering from sickness –

1. Sickness (the cold/cough/fever kind) is the universe’s way of saying – “take a break.” Take that break.

2. The quicker we can prioritize rest, the faster our recovery will be. Conversely, the more we push it away and attempt to “soldier on,” the longer and worse the effects will be.

3. The best way to deal with sickness is to avoid it altogether. And, the way to do that is to pay attention to signals from our bodies and to take that break before we are forced to.

In sickness and in life, it always helps to do the important things before we are forced to…

Germs and shields

Writing here every day for the past decade has inspired many changes – chief among them is a higher degree of awareness about my response to various stimuli. One application of this awareness is a better understanding of how I (/we?) fall sick. I call it the germs and shields theory.

The premise of the theory is that we face attacks by germs throughout the course of the year. But, we naturally shield ourselves from these attacks when we make good regular health decisions – i.e. when we sleep 7+ hours every night, eat healthy, keep good mental health via good mental food and company, and stay active. However, when we go through periods when our ability to do some of this and take good rest is stretched, our shields come down. And, when they do, the germs hit us with some combination of the flu, throat pains, and so on. (Note: every once a while, if the germs don’t get us, we can also become accident prone)

So, what should we do when the germs finally get us? I think there are two constructive steps.

First, take a break and get those shields back up. Someone once told me that falling sick is the universe’s way of saying – “Dude, take a break.” While the germs should naturally see to this, it is worth putting a stop to any kind of work, switching off, and recovering. The more we postpone the break, the longer our shields will be down.

Second, take some time to think about what caused our shields to go down and how we can reduce its occurrence. My goal is to keep such occurrences to once per year. Such periods of frenetic activity are often not in our control. But, every once a while, we can walk away with powerful insights about changes in our operating model. Dealing with these issues now go a long way in preventing bigger issues in the future.

For example, my latest “shields down” moment is a direct result of not changing a few things as we settle into life with two kids under two.  Making it a habit to take a personal day off every few weeks to just sleep in, get some admin done, etc., has never been more essential.

Simple actions can go a long way in helping prevent issues. And, as far as our health goes, the old adage – prevention is better than cure – is spot on.

Sweating versus watching others sweat

Prof Scott Galloway of NYU has an interesting weekly newsletter where he talks about the state of big technology and his thoughts on life. On Friday last week, he had a fascinating edition summing up his approach to life strategy. While I’m sure I’ll share a couple of the nuggets that resonated in coming weeks, my favorite was “Sweating vs. Watching Other Sweat.”

The ratio of time you spend sweating to watching others sweat is a forward-looking indicator of your success. Show me a guy who watches ESPN every night, spends all day Sunday watching football, and doesn’t work out, and I’ll show you a future of anger and failed relationships. Show me someone who sweats every day, and spends as much time at events as watching them on TV, and I’ll show you someone who is good at life.

Very true.

Prioritizing rest

If you’re like most people, the first thing that gets de-prioritized when push comes to shove is your own body. We are always capable of pulling that all-nighter, cutting down on sleep, eating take-out to save time, and canceling our exercise plans.

And, yet, our bodies never complain.

Well, until they do.

When I do fall sick or find myself down with a stomach bug, for example, I’m consistently amazed as to how I never even noticed my stomach when it was functioning well.

So, just for this weekend, let’s put away our plans for taking over the world. Instead, let’s appreciate this incredible machine – our body – treat it well and prioritize it over everything else. Let’s eat great food if we feel hungry, treat it to a great run or a fun game when we feel restless and, above all else, get as much rest as we need.

The quality of our lives is directly proportional to the quality of our health. And, we get just one shot at living well. Let’s use it well.

Vaccinations

I am not a fan of injections. I grew up visiting a family doctor who administered regular painful injections. They worked every time.. but I also brought the house down every time. I think those images of pain and tears still linger and, hence, my reaction to jabs is still far from positive.

However, as I was thinking about vaccinations yesterday, I realized vaccines are completely aligned with the “a learning a day” approach. I think the “a learning a day” approach is to continually embrace pain, postpone immediate gratification, and build for the long term with a focus on learning from our successes and failures. With vaccines, we need to embrace pain, postpone immediate gratification and do so for the long term – near perfect alignment there.

So, after having taken 3 jabs today to boost my immunity along with a full health check up performed few days back, I’d just like to spread the health check up and vaccine love and request you all to take a look at your vital signs and vaccination status. If there is a vaccine or two due, go do it! A few dollars and a bit of pain is a great way to avoid weeks of trouble later.