How to Stay Healthy - Act Like a Child · 28 March 2007

Having young children and a dog is certainly a wonderful experience. They are fun to have around. They also offer much wisdom for any who are willing to listen and observe their behavior. One of the greatest lessons that I have learned from my children and our dog is how to eat right and stay healthy.

According to our children and dog, the first ingredient to living healthy is to eat right. Our dog, Yukiko, gets fed once a day. Her bowl is out all day long and she can eat whenever the mood strikes her. So she just eats when she is hungry. She does not overeat or complain about sore stomachs. She just eats what she needs. The boys are like that too. Mostly, they can eat whenever they need to do so. We try to make them eat good stuff but every now and then they will just choose to do so on their own. They rarely eat large meals. They just eat when they are hungry.

One thing that the boys actually do not do as well as the dog is to break away from an activity to stop and eat. When the boys are engaged, they would rather do the activity than eat even if they are hungry. The dog will just stop playing and go eat when she is hungry. Even if it is right in the middle of a fetch.

The dog and the kids eat only how much they want which is the other part of healthy eating. They do not gorge themselves like I often do. Even when they love what they are eating, they only eat until they are full. And unlike their father, they eat slowly. The boys enjoy their food and savor each bite. Well, Peter does. I guess that Thomas just shovels it in as fast as he can just like his father. Zachary is somewhere in the middle in terms of speed. But they all stop when they are full rather than when the plate is empty. The simple eating rules of eating when hungry, only eating as much as needed, and eating slowly are the best ways to eat as I have learned from our children and our dog.

Being healthy is more than just eating right. It also means exercising to stay fit. As an adult, I do not always have time to play basketball or soccer or lift weights like I want. But as I watch our children and our dog, I find that there are easier ways to exercise than going to the gym.

The kids and the dog are in great shape. They run around the house screaming like banshees all day long and never seem to tire. The dog will bark out the front of the house then run to the back and bark, then go outside and bark. And then she will take a nap. Run, bark, run, bark, sleep. That is her exercise regime. She just goes and goes and goes. All day long. The kids are the same. Run, bark, run, bark, play video games. They run around the house driving my wife crazy which drives me crazy and then I yell to stop them running around screaming. If I really wanted to be fit and trim like all of them, I would just join the fun. It would be great to run around with reckless abandon screaming at the top of my lungs trying to catch up with the three rug rats and the dog. We could all drive my wife crazy and stay fit in the process. She would either need to do the screaming to stop or just join in the fun. Maybe that is irresponsible. Running around all day long is no way to behave for an adult, I suppose. But it would be a great way to stay fit.

The last ingredient to staying healthy is good sleep as I have found from watching our kids. They all sleep very well. In their own beds. Of course, they all sleep well. They used up all of their energy running around the house screaming at the top of their lungs and they have no worries to keep them up at night. They are totally exhausted when they go to sleep and totally refreshed when they wake up. No need for alarms. No need for naps. They just sleep until they are rested. Sleep is a great ingredient for health.

Personally, I would rather follow the dog in terms of sleep patterns. She takes naps during the day to store up energy for running around screaming the rest of the day or the next. Those little naps recharge her batteries and give her all the pep she needs to bark at those cats, squirrels, birds, and airplanes around, in, and over her yard. Yukiko sleeps and eats and runs around when she needs to do so. That is the way to live.

It seems that the three most important ingredients to healthy living are found in the life of a child or a dog. Eat what you need when you need it. Run around all day screaming at the top of your lungs. And sleep until your body is rested. I know that if I lived the life of a child or a dog, I would be thoroughly exhausted at the end of each day. But then again, maybe that is the key. Children do not live for tomorrow. They live for each day. They spend each moment in time knowing that it will never come again, neither regretting its passing nor remembering it with longing for the good ole days. That is part of the wisdom I have learned from watching my children and our dog. To be healthy and wise, we must live life with passion savoring each moment as it arrives. Then again, I do not really want to be healthy and wise, I just want to run around all day screaming at the top of my lungs.

© 2007 Michael T. Miyoshi

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