In the movie The Emperor’s New Groove, one of my favorite characters, a large, young, muscle-headed man aptly named Kronk, frequently has two little dudes pop up on his shoulders. He calls the one on the right his, “Shoulder Angel,” so the other one must be his, “Shoulder Devil.”
Here is Kronk, being utterly confused at the banter between the two beings. The movie in and of itself is highly entertaining and fun to watch, but I call your attention to Kronk’s shoulder buddies for a reason.
Do you ever feel like your body tries to talk to you? And do you ever listen and do what it says?
Okay, before you call the number to get me committed, hear me out. I’ve been focused on my health a lot lately, and what things affect my body negatively or positively. I could swear to you that recently my body has begun to crave Yoga. Maybe it sounds weird, but I can literally feel it singing in my muscles and tendons, “Me want more yoga.” (<-that’s how my body talks, okay?)
There are other messages my body sends me all the time. Such as, “I need more sleep,” “Please use less caffeine,” “Why did you eat those jellybeans?” “I need movement.”
Conversely, I seem to receive other cues as well. Like, “You need chocolate,” “Eat the jellybeans, they taste so good,” “Sit down, you’re in pain.” “I crave ice cream.”
I like to think of these two different “voices” as my body’s shoulder angel and shoulder devil, in a way. Like Kronk, I can get confused when I receive conflicting messages. “Eat the jellybeans,” doesn’t really go very well with, “I need yoga.”
Because if my main goal is to take care of my body, not just to have a nice figure, but to have longevity, energy, less pain, better sleep, etc,… I need to listen to the Body Shoulder Angel, right?
I don’t want to tell you how often I cave in and listen to that little devil, though.
Think about an animal, especially a pet. Visualize a brand new baby puppy or kitten in your arms. If you’re tuned into what it needs and give it the love and nurturing it deserves, it rewards you by obedience, reciprocated love, and a happy disposition. On the other hand, if you’re abusive, neglectful or ambivalent, you lose its trust and affection.
I like to think of my body as the same thing. I happen to believe that our body and spirit are separate, and that we are spiritual beings here on earth, learning how to use the physical bodies God gave us. If we listen to our bodies with a pure spirit, we can really tune in to what it needs. Our bodies are a celestial gift, and they shouldn’t be abused.
So if I ignore my body’s true needs by eating trash, staying up too late, drinking too much soda or alcohol, etc etc (there are countless examples), am I treating this gift from God right? Do I really appreciate what I have?
As I wrote about in my “Taken for Granted” post, I’ve been very grateful that my body has all the “parts” and that I don’t have any severe handicaps or limitations. Fibromyalgia sucks, but it’s not as debilitating for me as I’ve seen it be for others.
Speaking of the Shoulder Angel and Shoulder Devil, I like to think of the Shoulder Angel as the true voice of our body. It tells us what it needs, and because it’s something else relative to my spirit, but joined with my spirit, it can’t really lie to me.
I think of the Shoulder Devil as our addictions. My sugar addiction is the real one that is telling me to eat those jellybeans, not my actual body. My body knows what’s going to happen chemically, if I eat the candy. Insulin levels shoot up, energy skyrockets, then plummets, and then I’m more tired and my brain thinks, “Wait, we need that sugar back because it gave us energy and now it’s gone.”
If you train your body to run on sugar, instead of your own fat stores (which last a lot longer and is better for your body and brain all around), you will constantly crave sugar and carbs to keep that energy going. Your body, therefor, has become dependent on sugar, i.e., addicted. That little shoulder devil!
Sugar is just one example. If you don’t give your body enough rest, and turn to caffeine to give you an awakening boost, you can become addicted to caffeine. If you don’t exercise or maintain a sedentary lifestyle, your muscles atrophy and your energy again drops.
What’s the point of all this, right? I mean, YOLO. Why not eat the chocolate cake, enjoy the jellybeans, skip the sweaty hike, avoid the gym, etc etc.
To a point, I agree. Life should be enjoyed, absolutely. But not at the expense of our health. Sickness is expensive, not just monetarily, but in time too. It can take years off your life, and hugely impact that quality of that life for the negative.
And here I come to the point. I think it’s good to learn to listen to our body, for the sake of longevity. I don’t think any of us really want to die young, or needlessly spend hours, days or weeks in the hospital if it can be avoided. We don’t want to spend our golden years hooked up to a dialysis machine, do we? I don’t.
So my goal today and from here on (after I throw out all the candy in my house), is to train myself to listen to my body’s shoulder angel. I want to love my body, so I need to take care of it. Give it what it needs, so it can give me the quality of life I want. It goes both ways. Today, I am going to find and identify those little Shoulder Devils that are speaking too loudly for me to hear the true voice of my body, and I’m going to duct tape their little mouths closed.
Who’s with me?