The 3 Aspects of Self-Improvement: On The Body   1 comment

The 3 Aspects of Self-Improvement: On the Body Discuss in More Detail The Goals You Have With Regards to The Body in Light of Ancient, Modern and Catholic Thought. This is A Continuation on the Self-Improvement Series, in this part I will be talking about the Body. I will be discussing the How and Why one should Improve The Body. Elsewhere I have written concerning my own attempts at Bodily Self-Improvement that,

“The first level is the Body, and as such when I say The Body I mean the Maintenance and Improvement of the Body, this means everything from, flexibility, endurance, cardiovascular, to strength/resistance training and proper diet, during this time the aim ought to be disciplining the body and bringing it under the control of the mind in virtue as well.”

-Goals-

When it came to a time of reflection concerning what I will need to do in order to Improve and Maintain the Body I came to 3 Goals that ought to be done on a stable basis:

The First Goal is somewhat obvious, whether one is heavy or in my case thin, one should desire to Increase Lean Muscle Mass. One ought to go about this by doing [depending on you look at this] in two ways. The first is by doing Calisthenic and Dumbbell or Free Weights Workouts, for simplicity sake, I said this ought to be done 3X a Week for 45 minutes to an hour. What I did in the past was take one day to focus on the Upper Body, the following day to Focus on the Lower Body, and then the Final Day to do a Test in which I would try to maintain or exceed the median repetitions that one had done throughout the course of the week concerning each muscle group. The next thing one ought to do, is to do Stretches 6X a week, stretches allow for blood flow which both keep muscles from cramping and allow the muscle fibers to be worked indirectly, try and incorporate Stretches 5 to 10 minutes before and after a workout on workout days and 15 to 20 minutes on days of no working out.

The Second Goal is also similar to First and even complements it and that is, one should desire to Increase Nutritional Food Intake. There are 3 Things I recommend doing. The first is most obvious and that is to consume a diet High in Protein and Carbs, but according to my understanding the Ratio is 2 to 1, in other words for every 2 Grams of Protein consumed, one should consume a Gram of Carbohydrates. It is also my understanding as well that, one is to consume 1x to 1.5x their weight in Protein. So if we did the math in my case it would look like this:

130 x 1.5 = ~195 MAXIMUM Grams of Protein Intake and ~97.5 Grams of Carbohydrates

The next thing I recommend is a diet high in Nutrient Dense Foods, in a word these foods are called Superfoods. They are Superfoods both because of the reason mentioned above and because they have a high level of antioxidants. When one is under any stress, whether toward a beneficial cause or just in distress from putting up with the world, we produce Free Radicals, which it is my understanding are both a source of cancer but also hinder Growth and Development. The intake of foods High in Antioxidants is very important then to ones diet. The final piece of advice that I recommend now is, to follow up on a predominantly Vegetarian Diet. Vegetarian diets have both the ability to avoid a lot of fat, but this is more of the Spiritual Component to be found in the Bodily Aspect of Self-Improvement, as a Christian who believes that the early Monks can offer us wisdom concerning all aspects of the Human Being, it was recommended by some to have a Strict Vegetarian Diet, I am not even recommending a Strict but Mostly Vegetarian Diet, to eat Fish though is far better then to Red Steak in my opinion. A few notable Early Christian’s that I would like to mention who have either endorsed or spoken of a largely Vegetarian diet are:

(1) St. Clement of Alexandria, endorsed vegetarianism as the height of a Christian Diet.
(2) St. Augustine, who although not a Vegetarian himself, witnessed many who were.
(3) St. Epiphanius, who taught that Christ was most likely himself a Vegetarian while on Earth.

Even today the Carthusian and Cisterscian Monastic Orders of the Roman Catholic Church follow Strict Vegetarian Diets. I will return on the subject of Vegetarianism toward the end of this post in order to address the emphasis on [but not strict requirement of] a vegetarian diet plan.

The Third and Final Goal is unique in and of itself but it compliments the previous Two Goals as well as The Overall Improvement Plan at that is To Progressively Abstain from Vices and the Sins of the Flesh. How does one do this though, when one is so focused on the Body? Well the first thing one ought to do is to either begin or continue seeking out Friends of Sobriety and Moderation, by doing this create a community of people who serve one another in fulfilling each others goals, maybe not directly but simply by being there for everyone else. One should also make a list of alternative actions one could do whenever temptation strikes, of course the Benedictine Monks I think had the best Motto to focus on things other then sin and that motto is called in Latin: Ora et Labora (Work and Pray), I will discuss this later though. The Final Act one can do in order to Progressively Abstain from Vices and the Sins of the Flesh is in Truth to not focus on Vices and Sins of the Flesh, but on Virtue and Purity of Body, to actually Want It rather then Not Be Tempted by What You Do Not Want.

I have a video here from Father Barron from His WordOnFire YouTube Channel, he discusses Bodily Discipline, in particular of taming the Sins of the Flesh. Now this video talks about Corporal Punishment that was used by Pope John Paul II as well, but Corporal Punishment being excluded from my Self-Improvement of the Body in order to achieve Virtue and War Against the Sins of the Flesh its important to address this and I believe the video explains my position well:

-Reasons-

You’ll need to create Good Reasons to continue this work especially when you are feeling down and discouraged, these reasons you set for yourself must be designed to save you from falling into despair and giving up on the whole thing. I want to share with you now, some reasons that I could think of that have an important Psycho-Spiritual side to them that may allow you to not fail but to endure.

The First Reason is a practical reason, one does this for the improvement of their Bodily Health whether one is overweight or underweight; high blood pressure or high cholestrol; or simply just being too lazy. The Temple of God is the Body, because of that, it ought to be the best Temple that it was meant to be, not out of Pride but the utmost Humility that you were allowed to realize that potential. The Next Reason is a psychological one, one does this to boost their sense of Self-Confidence, this sense of Self-Confidence is however not Boastful but Humble and filled with Gratitude, once again that one will be able to realize this potential, at some later time in the future I will be speaking more in-depth about Self-Confidence, Pride and Humility. The Third and Final Reason is an existential and lifelong one, and that is to always move in the direction of Improving All Aspects of Ones Being, that this is one aspect that must be met. After all, how is one to carry out what God Wills in ones life, if one does not have a body that can adequately handle as much stress (whether beneficial or not) as possible so as not to burn out? These reasons are my reasons and thoughts, for the viewer however they may or may not have helped, but I hope that this did get you started.

-Disclaimers-

Finally I must offer you a disclaimer in this work of Bodily Self-Improvement:

(1) First of all, this Self-Improvement Program is NOT like some “Get-Fit Quick” Scheme, if one expects an instantaneous gratification to be derived from this work in the form of results in a short period of time they are deluding themselves and setting themselves up to fail in the future.

(2) Second of all, one must realize that they are not only their body, it is an aspect of who I am, it should not come first in Overall Improvement. The priorities of the Body are fluid, at one point it may become of 2nd Place Importance, but it shall never take first, which is for the Christian: The Soul-Spirit that Must Be Ruler of the Body. In confirmation of this fact, let us recognize why vegetarian diets came into practice through the lifestyle of the Monks. Monks, believed in denial of the flesh, not of the body per se which they differed on but of the flesh that sinful part of us, to them Fasting served as a reminder that the Body must be subservient to the Will and the Will to God. If one should decide to Fast in this manner it is recommended that one not workout for the duration of the Fast.

(3) Third of all, in this new mode of Living one could potentially work to continue doing some of the old things that they do/wanted to do but in a new understanding, sometimes the old desires do provide us with the power to prevent our own subversion, but these old desires need to be made manifest in a manner that is considered good and appropriate to the new lifestyle.

(4) Finally and most importantly, the Body is NOT my God, it shall not be worshiped, obsessed, or glorified over. It is not meant to be something merely aesthetically pleasing but to have some very real applications. Therefore the body is a tool, not the end itself. Have you ever noticed that when you build up the potential for something so much that when you realize that potential, you feel like as if thats as far as it goes? Well thats what happens with the Body, it can only go so far, we stay only so young for so long, before we are reminded once again that we are not forever young in body. Therefore, this Self-Improvement goes beyond a set point in time, but is for the whole of ones life, this disclaimer on this part of the work cannot be stressed enough.

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  1. Pingback: The 3 Aspects of Self-Improvement: On The Spirit « Reality and Illusions

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