I recently went in for lactate testing, and it’s an object lesson in how “my” issues come together. After all, in all the talk about learning to be “at home” somewhere, in spite of all the obsession about health, fitness, diet, and looks, we somehow still manage to forget the very basics: we are always in a location, because we are physical beings. We are our bodies.
And it’s very much on purpose that I’m trying to break the linguistic convention. It’s not that you “have” a body, you really *are* your body. A brain injury, and you are different – and it is not just our brains that make us. Of course, they are the most important part to our thinking selves, but thought and emotion are inseparable. The world is simply too complex to think everything through (and at the same time, the majority of life-or-death situations in the course of evolution were just too simple – and existential, of course – to require anything other than immediate reaction), so that we need to feel the right decisions. We often go wrong, but that only serves to strengthen the point.
Much of the time, we function as social and thinking animals, though. These things may be influenced by our feeling – of course, we act differently when we are hungry or over-fed, have a headache or are boozy – but that’s not the matter we focus on. Thus, we lose awareness of our physicality. “I” seem to be the thinking part, “my body” just sits there like a parked vehicle, only the fingers move to transfer thoughts to bits and pixels.
The body becomes just another machine, another tool, that is either ignored unless and until something doesn’t work right, or honed and polished to seeming shiny perfection.
Trouble is that, when philosophers said to know yourself, they weren’t talking about your body – but neither ignoring it, nor overdoing it, is knowing it. You need to know that you are a body, and in a place, in certain contexts…. which leads right back to my lactate testing: I think it’s true that we human beings are made to be runners, certainly long-distance movers, and I am one with the physique of a runner. I also like running as pastime, relaxation, meditation, and for its effects on fitness, and I’d like to become better at it. For that, the testing helps know where I’m at, and how I’d best go on in my training.
In daily life, I’m not looking to track everything and quantify my self too much. I’ll be looking at everyday moving-around because I think I stay thin because I’m a fidgeter, and yet do much work while sitting, which isn’t made up for by going for a run every once in a while, and I’ve also decided to track body weight and body fat percentage (more on that, later).
Food intake, for example, is something I wouldn’t want to track. I’m doing food photography when I want to write about cooking and eating, but I want to enjoy, not restrict – and it seems that how we are eating is pretty enjoyable as well as healthy.
Sounds like I’m getting totally personal, after all the philosophical ponderings, doesn’t it? But that’s just the point: You have to know *your* body, your body type, what you do, can, and maybe should want from and for yourself, and focus on these things – without overdoing it.
In these times of “toxic food environments” promoting obesity, finding the time for TV and TV dinners but not for cooking, sitting more than moving (maybe even in front of a screen in order to log calories…), it is difficult enough – and I forgot about the body images we are bombarded with every day.
So, how are you, and how do you keep yourself well, not a healthy mind in a healthy body, but a healthy, complete you?