What is body intelligence?By Mitch Felipe Mendoza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Did you ever wonder why some people easily achieve fitness results, and others find it more difficult despite the effort? Maybe it’s time to explore the concept of body intelligence, and focus now on how to improve it.
According to Jim Gavin, Ph.D, professor of applied human sciences at Concordia University and author of the article “Body Intelligence: A Guide To Self-Attunement” published in the November-December 2010 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal, body intelligence or BQ “refers to how aware you are of your body (awareness), what you know (knowledge) and what you actually do for and with your body (engagement).”
Just like an IQ score, our BQ also has different ranges: deficient, sufficient and evolutionary. You might be sufficient in one or two aspects but deficient in one. It is important to know the range of your BQ to know which areas to focus on. Having a higher level of body intelligence offers several advantages:
Being fully aware of your body signals, capabilities and limits will help prevent over-exertion and body abuse from over-exercising and too much dieting.
Knowledge of safe and effective health and lifestyle practices from credible sources and professionals will protect us from the dangers of quick-fix diets and supplements.
The correct lifestyle knowledge and skills will lead to health and fitness.
An exerciser who knows a lot about health and fitness and who commits himself to a consistent exercise program and a strict diet might not be fully aware of his stress levels and health condition as caused by his job, family obligations, and self-imposed pressure to lose weight.
He can assume he has a healthy lifestyle, but in reality, may be susceptible to mental, emotional and physical stresses he does not know about due to a lack of body awareness that disrupts balance in his lifestyle and body systems.
The first componentof BQ is awareness. Sometimes, we feel confident and call ourselves “healthy” because we know what to eat and what exercises to do. But an intelligent body knows how to listen to signals right away so it can easily adjust to the situation, and therefore achieve balance. Yes, you need to listen to your body. How?
If you feel that you are overdoing your workout and it already adds too much stress, then take a break. Take time to meditate until this practice becomes a habit.
Nourish your body by getting enough sleep, and commit to a realistic eating and exercise program by learning how to communicate with your body.
Get regular health check-ups to see what you still need to work on.
Try mind-body fitness like yoga, Pilates, tai-chi and the Alexander technique to be more aware of your mind-body connection.
Have your health and lifestyle journal, so you can really see how you are faring in your quest for a disease-free body. You can write down your food, exercise, sports, sleep, water intake, and even how your body feels every day.
A yo-yo dieter, who will always try celebrity diets or what she hears about from her officemates without understanding the principles of healthy eating, needs to work more on her body knowledge. She might be at risk for health problems because of unsafe weight loss practices.
Knowledge is essential in achieving safe and effective health and fitness results. If your motivation is high and you are trying hard to be as healthy as you can be, then go by accepted health guidelines and international standards to maximize your time and efforts and stick to safe practices in diet, weight loss and exercise.
Read updated health information from books, newspapers, magazines and the Web. You can ask a health professional for recommended books and websites.
Consult credible medical and fitness professionals to understand more about your lifestyle, health and fitness condition, and to confirm your readings.
Attend health and fitness seminars in your community to learn and experience the latest health and fitness trends. You can also invite health and fitness professionals to your workplace.
An expert procrastinator might be fully aware of his body, what needs to be done, and the current health updates, but always finds excuses to put off his “healthy living plan” due to workload and lack of time.
This person might have a chance to start the program, but finds it difficult to stick to a new eating and exercise routine, so he ends up going back to his old habits. The problem in this example is the failure to consistently engage the body in the desired lifestyle habits.
According to Gavin, engagement isn’t just about “doing it,” but about doing the right thing repeatedly until you move on to the next right thing. This is all about consistency, getting results, and then progressing to the next level of heath and fitness. However, we should always do what’s best and most realistic, based on one’s needs and condition, to encourage sustained adherence.
Effective engagement of healthy habits requires body awareness (first pillar) and body knowledge (second pillar) to ensure that you have a strong foundation.
Adapt a realistic lifestyle program that you can follow based on your schedule, food preferences, and goals. Always be open to ask help from experts, friends and loved ones.
Find ways to vary your fitness programs to sustain your motivation, and therefore avoid burnout, boredom and plateaus.
Practice time management to ensure long-term commitment.
E-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on twitter @mitchfelipe.