Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Know Thyself ... From the Inside Out

An Insider's Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger by Michael Roizen, M.D., and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
... we want you to think of your body as a home - as your home ... Your bones are the two-by-fours that support and protect the inner structure of your home; your eyes are the windows; your lungs are the ventilation ducts; your brain is the fuse box; your intestines are the plumbing system; your mouth is the food processor; your heart is the water main; your hair is the lawn (some of us have more grass than others); and your fat is all the unnecessary junk you've stored in the attic that your spouse has been nagging you to get rid of. If you can get past the fact that your forehead doesn't have a street number and that a two-story brick Colonial doesn't look all that good in a bathing suit, the similarities are remarkable - so remarkable, in fact, that we believe you can learn about how your body works by thinking about how your house does...

... we want you to take the same approach to basic body maintenance and repairs as you do in your home. You don't call the plumber if you have a little backup in your pipes. You try a plunger, lift the back off the toilet and fiddle with the floating ball, and try to remedy the problem yourself. You don't call the exterminator when you spot a fly in the kitchen. You don't call the electrician if a light bulb burns out. You rely on yourself for maintaining control over how your house ages - because you know that it's less expensive to prevent problems and treat minor ones than let everything deteriorate to the point where your house needs a major overhaul to continue functioning properly.

Ultimately, we want you to get comfortable enough with your own body so that you'll feel confident with basic body maintenance, so that you'll avoid the things that cause the most wear and tear and do the things that best maintain the long-term value of your body...
I wasn't interested in being either healthier or younger when I requested this book from the library. However, I'd heard it was a very easy to understand "how it works" book. No kidding!

I found this book both riveting in the use of simple explanations as well as inspirational in terms of why we should eat a healthier diet and incorporate exercise into daily routine. Using simple analogies, the authors cover every part of the body and explain not only how it works but what it needs for good health. As they mention Each section dispels myths (a good number of which I thought were true) has good illustrations to supplement the written info, and has a "Live Younger Action Plan." The whole "live younger" concept is to get your body's "real age" as good as it can get with moderate exercise, preventive living and a healthy diet. The idea is to make you healthy overall which is what they mean by "live younger." Let's face it, it is a rare American these days whose physical "age" is equal to or less than their birthday. Being overweight or sedentary takes an amazing toll.

They include an easy to remember cheat sheet for both daily exercise and eating guidelines. I, for one, have not been this inspired about physical health since the two day class that I took with Tom after he became diabetic. In fact, for my stretching sessions, Rose is going to begin teaching me yoga ... she is taking a year-long class in school and has the basics down now. That should not only help fulfill my body's need for stretching but also my brain's necessity to learn new things that I wouldn't normally. Oh, and I predict a lot of laughing and time with Rose. Three for the price of one ... not a bad deal at all. Highly recommended.

Here's a sample of one of the self tests that are scattered throughout the book.
Myth or Fact?
You can work out your brain with weights.

Try this self-test: Stand on one leg and close your eyes. The longer you can stand without falling, the younger your brain (fifteen seconds is very good if you are forty-five or older). That balancing act is just one sign of your brain strength. To develop better balance, you should use free weights -- that is, dumbbells and barbells -- because exercising with them works your proprioception (your ability to balance). Weight machines don't have the same effect because the weights re attached to a fixed surface, so you don't develop your balancing abilities as you lift them.
Rose and Tom had fifteen seconds each. I had thirteen seconds.

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