Thursday, April 26, 2012

Your car or your body. Which do you maintain better?

I recently had the oil changed in the van that we use to tour in.  Our mechanic rotated the tires and checked the fluids.  I also got the van washed later that day.  I was reminded of a conversation I had with the fellas about maintenance.  

We had just finished a show where one of the performers tweaked his hamstring and I really wanted to stress the importance of making sure that we were taking care of our bodies.  I stressed the importance of strength, flexibility and conditioning.

We put a lot of miles on our touring van and as a result it requires more maintenance and more frequent maintenance than if we only occasionally drove it around the city.  The same is true of our bodies.  If all we did was occasionally challenge ourselves physically, we would not have to pay too much attention to our strength, flexibility or conditioning.

When I worked with the Houston Rockets, I had access to the weight room, the team trainer and the team doctor.  At one point, there was even a part-time team massage therapist which I too was able to make appointments with.

Now that I am not with an NBA team, I provide these necessities for myself.  I am not one to splurge on much of anything but when it comes to the three most important tools that I possess (my mind, body and spirit), I go out of my way to continually invest in their well being.  When it comes to my body, I have a membership to both 24 hour Fitness and Bally's, an investment that allows me to go to any of their locations nationwide.  The good thing about this investment is that because of the work that I do it is a business expense and can be a tax write off.  Fortunately many of the hotels we stay in have some sort of fitness room even if it is just a stationary bike.  It is definitely not necessary to go to a gym to maintain one's physical fitness - there are all kinds of things one can do with ones own body weight to stay fit.  

I also make what I think are wise investments when it comes to what I eat/drink on a consistent basis.

Going back to the van analogy, when we get our oil changed our local mechanic always makes sure to check our fluids.  He knows that we travel around the country and put a lot of miles on the engine and as our van's "doctor", he is vigilant about making sure he does his job to keep us rolling.

Sometimes I think he is more vigilant about maintaining our van than we are about maintaining our bodies.  Take fluids and nutrition for instance.  We had a teammate years ago that broke his femur.  Now understand that your femur is the largest bone in your body - it's your thigh bone.  He was barely 21 and appeared to be in amazing shape, yet he broke his femur.  Turns out he couldn't remember the last time he ate anything green, had a glass of milk or drank water.  He was basically living on Church's chicken and Coke (the soda).  

Our muscles and tendons and joints need lubrication and our bones and organs and "engine" need fuel.  Unless we are consuming what they need, they are not going to get it and will soon break down.  I cannot stress enough the importance water plays in the effective functioning of our bodies.  Water carries nutrients and oxygen to cells, regulates body temperature, lessens the burden on the kidneys and the liver, helps dissolve minerals and nutrients to make them accessible to the body amongst other things.  The human body on average is made up of 70% water and dehydration is the result of too little water intake.

How water benefits the human body
Study after study shows that fruits and vegetables are the key to health and wellness.  It is for this reason that I make it a habit to have a banana or apple not too far away.  Another easy way to include vegetables is eating at Subway and for fruit I carry a small cooler when we travel.  Eating well on the road can be very inconvenient but not impossible.  This is no Subway commercial but think about it: Most Subways have tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, black olives, jalapenos and banana peppers and you can get them all with your sandwich at no extra cost.  Why not get them all.  Think of it in terms of your car:  I know this is ridiculous but, let's say your car told you one day it didn't like oil or transmission fluid - the taste just didn't agree with it and it preferred Vodka and Red Bull instead.  Would you stop putting oil and transmission fluid in.  No, you would tell your car to deal with it because you know in order to run effectively it NEEDS oil and transmission fluid regardless of how bad it might taste.  So you feed it to your car anyway and hope it doesn't get revenge by refusing to play it's radio or refusing to roll down the window when you press the button.

Why would we maintain our vehicles better than we maintain ourselves?  I encourage you to feed yourself the things you NEED even if you don't like the taste of them, OR find tastier ways to get them into your system.  Don't be like the 5 year old that wants soda with every meal and refuses to eat his vegetables - that 5 year old doesn't know any better, WE DO!  

Don't be fooled by thinking that because you take vitamins, you are getting what you need.  That multi-vitamin you are taking may be doing more harm than good.  Check out this article and tell me what you think about vitamin supplements.  Not all supplementation has the potential to be harmful.  As diligent as I may be, I do not eat enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis so I bridge that gap by taking a whole food based nutritional product.  Keep in mind that if you are an athlete, act like it and consume nutrition like it.  Be Great!