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Defend Your Body's Antagonist Healthily

Fitness has never been my forte. However, thanks to the lessons taught during my Physical Education classes, I have learnt movements which aid in toning down my body. Although I am fully aware that these exercises must be done consistently for effective results, I find myself losing hope after completing heavy sessions within 2 days, and seeing no difference.  A video by Emily Balcetis on TEDxNewYork has made me realise it is all a matter of perception. Based on a simple question of why some find exercising harder than others, Emily Balcetis explains further, "So we are all looking at the very same face again. We might see something entirely different, because perception is subjective. What we think we see is actually filtered through our own mind's eye."
She continues to describe how people like me focus. I quote from her video, "So vision scientists know that the amount of information that we can see is actually relatively small. The amount of accuracy and clarity of the image is the equivalent of the surface area of our thumb on our outstretched arm. Everything else around that is blurry, rendering much of what is presented to our eyes as ambiguous. But we have to clarify and make sense of what it is that we see, and it's our mind that helps us fill in that gap. As a result, perception is a subjective experience, and that's how we end up seeing through our own mind's eye.” Apart from that, her group has come up with a strategy called “Keep your eyes on the prize”. This means that whenever we are in a marathon, our focus should be on the reaching towards the finishing line and refrain from distracting ourselves in the surroundings. The social psychologist concludes that people who practice this strategy perceive the finishing line to be 30% closer than people who were walking naturally whilst immersing themselves in the beauty of nature.

Many would question the effectiveness of this theory. It is reported that people who utilise this strategy need 17% lower effort in order for them to complete the exercises than people who are looking around naturally. Moreover, people practicing this strategy are 23% faster in the completion of the exercises than people who have no end goal. She concludes her speech, "So we all see the world through our own mind's eye, and on some days, it might look like the world is a dangerous and challenging and insurmountable place, but it doesn't have to look that way all the time. We can teach ourselves to see it differently, and when we find a way to make the world look nicer and easier, it might actually become so.” After learning to keep our eyes on the prize, we should elevate to the next level which is to exercise right.

There are four types of physical activities: endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. Endurance exercises include brisk walk or jogging, dancing and yard work whereas strength activities include lifting weights, using own body weight and a resistance band. Endurance activities increase breathing and heart rate. By this, it helps in keeping the heart, lungs and circulatory system healthy. Strength activity makes muscles stronger. Contrary to its name, balance exercises prevent falling and movements such as standing on one foot, heel to toe walk and Tai Chi promote it. Flexibility exercises stretch muscles and ensures that an individual’s body stays supple. Such exercises include shoulder and upper arm stretch, calf stretch and Yoga. Bear in mind that one should warm up before starting any type of physical activity and cool down after ending an exercise. Try different types of exercises five to six times weekly on a daily basis and in balance, eat right.

In Ms. Balcetis’ words, “Keep your eyes on the prize, eat right, exercise right”. With this, you will beam with maximum positivity and lead a healthier life. Always motivate yourself, because you are capable of so many successes. Your body’s only antagonist is laziness — beat that!

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