Your Body is Your Temple. Keep it in Good Shape.

The body is just matter. It’s just a physical entity. What gives our body life is our Soul or Spirit. Without our Spirit, our body is just a bunch of organs and skin and hair. BORING. But, I believe that we have been given our bodies for a reason. For better or for worse, it is our vehicle to do our work in this life – to fulfill our purpose. If we don’t take care of it, then we will NOT be able to do the most possible good we can.

Imagine this scenario. There’s a young woman – maybe around 27 years old. She lives a pretty awesome life. She’s studying to be a doctor and she’s is socially very active. On the weekends, she’s very involved in her temple and her family functions. She enjoys having a drink a couple of times a week, but doesn’t really pay attention to how she eats and doesn’t have an exercise regimen. Okay, some of you – I know you think I’m describing you specifically, but chill out – you’d be surprised at how many friends I have who live almost this exact same lifestyle I’m describing. This girl is so helpful. In need? She’s the one everyone calls on. She’s is super loving to her friends and her family and to anyone else that may cross her path. Her life is all about service! She serves her community and is a stellar student/employee and for God’s sake – she’s a doctor! Trust me, you don’t touch sick people just for the money.

So, you might be thinking, “Well, this all sounds good. What’s the problem with her?” There’s actually no problem to be perfectly honest. She’s living a great life! But, imagine how much more she’d be able to do in the long run if she took better care of herself. If you’re drinking regularly and eating crappy most days and don’t make time for exercise, then you are piling on the risk factors. Add to that that you’re only 27 and overweight. This can easily result in several issues ranging from diabetes to heart disease to stroke to cancer to early death. And many of those are lifestyle diseases – so they could have been prevented with just a little extra care.

Additionally, for all you girls out there. It is statistically harder to find a mate if you’re overweight. Everyone thinks it’s about looks. It is to some extent, but evolution and biology trained us to look for the healthiest mates – for females, that translates into being a healthy weight, looking feminine and having a desirable waist-to-hip ratio (WHR).

A quick disclaimer before I talk about this – I am not trying to put anyone down or anything like that. I am simply trying to provide you information so you can become the best version of yourself. I have all of the above factors to qualify me as a “healthy mate”, but the only thing I’m an expert in right now is being single. I am only talking science and sociology here – I’m not giving advice on how to find a man.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way…what’s a waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) anyway? Basically, the WHR equals the circumference of the waist to the circumference of the hips. So, WHR=Waist/Hips. I just got curious. I’m going to go measure mine. BRB.

Okay, so I just measured! Here’s the verdict:

Tanuja’s Waist = 27 in (measured at the smallest part of the waist)

Tanuja’s Hips = 43 in (measured at the largest part of the hips and butt – yes, I have a giant butt)

So, if WHR=Waist/Hips, then WHR=27/43, and…

Tanuja’s WHR is around 0.627.

Damn y’all. That was super personal. But…anywho, I am happy to share if it’s going to help someone!

Hope you enjoyed that math lesson. Now, let’s get back to the juicy stuff. Why is this WHR so important in finding a mate? Like I stated earlier, we look for our mates based on evolution and biology. We subconsciously ask ourselves who is the healthiest, who is going to produce the best offspring and who’s going to be around to take care of that offspring once it’s born. Who ever thought men would be thinking like that?! Well, it’s not just them, we’re just as guilty of succumbing to our biological needs to produce healthy and attractive offspring. Think about it. What kinds of guys do you like in terms of appearance? Most people would say tall, athletic build. Maybe tall and healthy weight with no beer belly and a healthy complexion. Good features. That sounds about right. And in some cases, we don’t even mind if the guy is short, but it is important to us that he has a healthy WHR as well.

Females: Optimal WHR = 0.7

Males: Optimal WHR = 0.9

The most important thing when we think about the WHR in attracting the opposite sex is the production of offspring. We’re all meant to procreate. So here it is, straight from Wikipedia (wish it came straight from my own head):

“A WHR of 0.7 for women and 0.9 for men has been shown to correlate strongly with general health and fertility. Women within the 0.7 range have optimal levels of estrogen and are less susceptible to major diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and ovarian cancers.[14] Women with high WHR (0.80 or higher) have significantly lower pregnancy rates than women with lower WHRs (0.70–0.79), independent of their BMIs.[9] Men with WHRs around 0.9, similarly, have been shown to be more healthy and fertile with less prostate cancer and testicular cancer.[15]

Evidence suggests that WHR is an accurate somatic indicator of reproductive endocrinological status and long-term health risk. Among girls with identical body weights, those with lower WHRs show earlier pubertal endocrine activity, as measured by high levels of lutenizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) as well as sex steroid (estradiol) activity. A Dutch prospective study on outcome in an artificial insemination program provides evidence for the role of WHR and fecundity (Zaadstra et al. 1993). These investigators report that a 0.1 unit increase in WHR decreases the probability of conception per cycle by 30% after adjustment for age, fatness, reasons for artificial insemination, cycle length and regularity, smoking, and parity.[16][17]

Wow. That’s a lot to take in. Here’s more. And this was, by far, the most interesting and unexpected thing that I learned.

Using data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, William Lassek at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania and Steven Gaulin of the University of California, Santa Barbara, found a child's performance in cognitive tests correlated to their mother's waist-hip ratio, a proxy for how much fat she stores on her hips.[18]

Children whose mothers had wide hips and a low waist-hip ratio scored highest, leading Lassek and Gaulin to suggest that fetuses benefit from hip fat, which contains long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, critical for the development of the fetus's brain.[18] In addition, evidence suggests that children of low-WHR teens were protected from the cognitive deficits often associated with teen birth.

You know, I used to always be very self-conscious of my hips and butt. I didn’t understand why they were so giant! And even now, after losing a bunch of weight, they are still proportionally bigger than the rest of me. In college, my friends called me “Fertility Goddess” because of my hips. I guess they weren’t lying ha! Anyway, that’s beside the point. I shared this with you because I think it’s important to understand that we’re here on this Earth for more than just ourselves and our small little lives. We’re here to serve others if we’re going to simplify it – whether it be our family, our friends, our kids, our spouse, our community, or our world. We can’t do all that we need to if we’re barely able to take care of ourselves.

Nobody is asking you to look like a supermodel. In fact, according to the studies cited in the Wikipedia entry, supermodels are actually not that attractive. Imagine that! Sounds good to me! The point is, get to a healthy weight. Exercise your body. It is your vehicle to do your thang in this lifetime. You don’t have to worry about getting those super toned arms or getting into those size 2 jeans. You just have to make an effort to move your body 3 – 6 times per week for about 30 minutes each time. You can manage that! If you’re our 27 year old girl in the example and exercising 3 times a week for 30 minutes can help you live an extra 10 years wouldn’t you do it? It’s such a simple fix!

Exercise does not need to be boring. In fact, you need to find something that’s really fun for you, otherwise you’re less likely to keep up with it. Do you like swimming? Sports? Zumba? Personally, I’m a huge fan of random dancing. I just turn on my favorite music and freestyle all over my living room. And by all over, I mean like the 3 feet of space I have to move around J. I also invest in DVDs. I have tons of exercise DVDs and plan to keep getting more. Why DVDs? It’s easy. I don’t have to go anywhere. I don’t have to wear fancy gym clothes. I need very little equipment. For women, I always recommend Tracy Anderson DVDs. She is so feminine and her workouts will get you a long, lean, feminine, dancer type of body if you do them often enough and pair it with a healthy diet. I am a walking testimonial for that workout. For men, Tracy is actually coming out with a men’s workout as well, but in the meantime, I recommend P90x if you want to bulk up. If you want to lean out, my good friend Sumair taught me about 100 meter sprints. Best. Exercise. Ever. Be sure to warm up though. Girls can do this too obviously. I found it extremely challenging and very effective. But…unfortunately, I injured myself the second time I did it, so I needed to take a long break before getting back into it. Like I said, be sure to warm up in advance.

People. Go for a freaking walk! This is the easiest type of exercise! I walk almost daily. If you live in a commuter city, take advantage of that. If you work daily, then take advantage of your lunch break or do it right in the morning or right after you get home from work.

Here’s the thing. We need to make exercise as easy as possible for us. Humans are generally lazy. We always take the easy way out. I remember when I was younger, my Dad used to come home from work around like 6p and immediately he would go and change. Then he would go for a run, a walk or help us with our homework depending on the day and our desperation level. He is in great health now. He always made physical movement a priority. And he has always believed in eating to live, not living to eat. I, on the other hand, definitely live at least some of my life to eat. I love food. But that’s another topic for a different day. Keep your workout clothes and shoes ready to go and keep your 30 minutes to yourself or workout with your spouse/partner if you prefer. That time is yours to connect with your body, mind and yourself or both yourself and your workout buddy. We are a culture wrought with electronic devices. Please leave them at home. Or, if you carry a phone for safety, I understand. Just put it on silent (not vibrate – on silent) and vow not to check it until you get home. When you are working out, make music your only “distraction”. I actually see it as a motivator. Do not read novels or magazines. Definitely don’t watch TV (unless you’re working out with a DVD of course). You might not realize it, but doing these activities at the same time as working out is dramatically decreasing the effectiveness of your workout for two main reasons.

  1. You’re mentally distracted. Remember, there is meditation in movement. Focus on the moves and your body and your breathing only. It will help clear your mind and over time, it’ll make you a better human being.
  2. You aren’t working as hard. Plain and simple. When you have mental distractions during a workout, you slow down and aren’t as conscious of your movements – basically, just read number 1 again.

I realize this post was extremely disjointed as my posts often are. I write exactly how I talk and think. Sorry about that, but get used to it!

Again, look at this series of emails as a gift to start on a new path to loving yourself in a more complete way. This week – focus on moving your body. Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Decide that you want to exercise. If you plan to work out in the morning, remind yourself of it the night before. Set an alarm on your phone to help you wake up early and if you can program your own message in there, remind yourself why you’re getting up early.
  2. If you’re new to exercising, just carve out 15 minutes two days this week and try taking a walk or riding a bike or dancing. See how you feel. Chances are you’ll be a little out of your comfort zone, but if you keep going with it, you won’t want to stop! If you’re a more experienced exerciser, but are inconsistent, make consistency your priority. Set aside 30 minutes 3-4 times this week – at the same time each day. To get into shape, consistency is SO KEY.