Near the end of February, I began writing a fun and informative series related to four of my favorite “F-words” that are keys to creating and maintaining long-term vibrant health. They are:
- FUN: The Physiology of Fun
- FOOD: The Sweetest of them All Part 1 and The Sweetest of them All Part 2
- FITNESS: How to Make Fitness FUN
The last “F-word” for Vibrant Health is: FLEXIBILITY
Before I get too much farther, I'd like to ask you a couple of questions.
When you think of taking care of your health do you cringe at the idea of strict regimes that need to be followed?
Do you think about deprivation? Lack of ability to go with the flow?
If you do you’ll be pleased to know that flexibility is oh so important for health. And I don’t just mean being being able to bend down and touch your toes, either. While having a flexible musculoskeletal system is really important, and doing yoga is a great way to improve flexibility, the kind of flexibility I mean is flexibility in your heart, mind and attitude.
Learning to go with the flow is a good thing!
Being able to adapt to the current situation is a great thing.
I talk to lots of people who are so set in their ways that they are unable and unwilling to adapt. This inflexibility is damaging their health! And it usually happens insidiously and in everyday life. I'll share just one example of how flexibility made my family's life (and health) so much better.
When my kids were babies, friends gave me slack because we didn’t have a set nap time, bed time and meal time. We were flexible and went with the needs of each day and the opportunities of each day.
As a result of being flexible, my kids learned to sleep whenever they were tired, wherever they were. If they stayed up late they would sleep in. They were a dream to take on vacation because they were flexible about what time to eat and sleep.
But, how does this work in the real world?
I am by nature very flexible.
Still yet, I am very strict about what I eat.
And both can coexist. How?
For example, when traveling if I get hungry (and no longer have any food I have brought along) I am perfectly happy to find a grocery store and buy some produce- tomatoes and avocados are easy to find and filling. Celery sticks with avocado – hearts of romaine. All of these are easy to find and don’t require utensils or plates to eat. In fact, I have opened my avocados with my fingers at times, it's easy! Check out the video below for proof on how easy it is to have delicious, healthy food on the road:
So delicious and easy! But it required being flexible, which allowed creative solutions to arise.
When you are flexible and allow your self to adapt to any situation,your adrenals stay nice and happy. Your nervous system stays in the parasympathetic mode – and repair and rejuvenation occur more readily.
When you are uptight, nervous, controlling and inflexible, cortisol dominates your sympathetic nervous system and is in control and your body suffers – your blood pressure goes up, blood sugar rises, you start to store more belly fat and feel spaced out.
SO yes…by all means, take a few yoga classes and learn to be flexible in your body. Also, do some Heart Math to learn to be flexible in your mind and heart and learn to go with the flow and let go of trying to control everything.
This is one of my favorite ways to stay healthy…for life!
With love and appreciation,
What can you tell me about Gall Bladder and liver rejuvenation?
Hi Alice. Your question is very common and the great news is that gall bladder and liver rejuvenation start with a cleanse. Check out Dr. Ritamarie’s upcoming Green Cleanse. Countless people have had immense success with this customizable rejuvenation/cleanse. This is your first step. Thanks for your question!
Hi Dr. Ritamarie,
I really enjoyed your blog on flexibility. Funny – I was just on the phone coaching one of my employees on the same thing. My company is restructuring and we are redefining and developing our roles. My employee is concerned that her role isn’t clear right now. I explained how important it is to be flexible and “just roll with it”. It’s a hard lesson but I find that we are all happier and healthier when we release control. Thanks for all your great tips and insights!
Hello Dr. Ritamarie, thank you for keeping me informed even on your happy time with your son. I love my family and it is very special to spend time with them I am in Panama visiting my 94 year old mother and other family. Thankful that she is quite healthy other than some plaques in her left corothid artery. She eats very healthy and is very active still living alone caring for herself and her garden. One question Dr. what are the concerns on taking chia seed? There are some concerning information on the internet regarding chia seed and some health conditions. My thanks Dr.
Hi Irma! Thanks for your post. Would you mind providing some links to what you are referring to, as most information about chia indicates that it’s a great and healthy food for most people (except in the very rare cases of oxalate sensitivity). Dr. Ritamarie would like to see that info. Thanks so much, and thanks again for sharing the wonderful news about your mother.
Dr. Ritamarie, I love what you say in this article, and it’s so true. It is possible to be very committed to something (like health) and yet still be flexible and adaptable in the everyday world. Your openness to creating ways that you can honor your body and that of your kids, allowed for solutions to come forward easily. If I look back on my life, rigid thinking about things (even when I felt I was justified) has been a huge cause of problems. There have been times I have been militant, almost fanatical about health. While being committed to something that important is great, the stress was overwhelming.
The crucial moment came when I had to move to a very remote town in North Texas where people consider vegetarians “weird,”let alone a vegan or raw foodist. I would walk into the ONE grocery store and think, wow, there is no FOOD here. The stress was immense. I began to feel like the world was a very isolated, unfriendly, cold, and non-life affirming place. But I changed my way of thinking (because I simply had to), and became flexible and the veil lifted. There was plenty of food there. Not only that, but they started carrying more and more organic produce and products. I could even request they carry certain things, as the manager was extremely friendly and open to doing that. Believe it or not, my diet quickly became not too much unlike it was when I lived in CA with a Whole Foods within walking distance! All from letting go of how I thought it should look, letting go of resistance, and choosing to see past seeming obstacles and limitations.
So you are absolutely SPOT ON in this article. It IS possible to maintain passion and commitment, and yet still be open to new ways of feeling “included” in the world. And this flexibility applies to every area of our lives. Thanks again for this amazing reminder. 🙂