The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Exercise Common Sense Discipline - Turn Down Halloween Junk Food

Martial arts class fell on Halloween night this year. Would students pay lip service to health and discipline in class then go out eating unhealthy junk?

The festival of Halloween, Samhain (pronounced "saow-in") or Summer's end, Hallotide, Saint's day eve (All Hallows Eve), Day of the Dead, and a month earlier as Babye Leto in chilly Russia, is supposed to remember and revere (or at least appease) the ancestors and Saints. The idea wasn't to glorify gore or sickness (or merchandising), but think of those who are gone, just as the life of summer is gone, and thank the last harvests before the coming Winter. Gifts of food, lights, and effigies of those passed on decorate houses and streets.

My students have been learning that self-discipline is a voluntary exercise. To have inner peace, you just stop tensing your body and saying rude things. To stop slouching, you just use your own muscles to move your spine to healthy position. There is no special exercise to strengthen you to do it; you use your muscles to sit and stand straight and that gives you the exercise. There is no special exercise to be able to do the vigorous moves we do in class. You just keep moving and trying, without stopping and without complaining, and that gives you the strength. This week when I came in to teach, students were sitting quietly and comfortably straight. Their equipment was ready and neat. Since class began in September, several quit smoking, at least the day before and of class, to be able to get through class. Two students told me they had stopped binge-and-purge eating because they could not do class as well when they did, even though they had always done it for exercise classes before. They realized a better body and spirit came more from all we do in class than from an eating disorder. Others stopped eating junk because they want to be healthier, and to practice having control instead of acting on every impulse.

Sometimes, people think that training in martial arts means whoever can beat up others the most, or be the most destructive, is the best. The kneeling Zen story before class last night was the story of who is the true master:

Two wizards met on the mountaintop to see who was the greater. The first one shouted, "I control the sun. At the wave of my hand, it burns away all I see. I control the seas. I control the rivers. At my bidding, waves drown villages and destroy crops. I control the beasts of all the worlds to tear apart any who annoy me." He looked at the other wizard and said, "So, what do you do?" The second wizard said, "I eat only when I am hungry. I drink only when I am thirsty. I don't take in anything harmful."

It was clear that the second wizard was the true master - the master of himself. In class, students stayed disciplined to learn rapid hand strikes and jumping kicks. After class I had bags for them of oranges and apples, notepads to write thoughts, sprouted mung beans to mix in snacks, some walnuts to crack for hand strength. When they walked outside in the dark and cold, they seemed to glow like harvest candles, standing straight with warmth and cheer from their hard work.

Related Fitness Fixer:
Is Your Health Food Unhealthful
Are You Making Your Exercise Unhealthy?
Fast Fitness Halloween
Mischief is Not Good Exercise - Halloween Ahimsa

Sort-Of Related:
Body Farm Not Just For Halloween

More On How To Get In Shape:
Secret To Get Better and Fitter


Story and more on developing physical skills and discipline in the book Healthy Martial Arts

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Photo - Dr. Jolie Bookspan on Halloween.
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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.