Think of your body as a high-powered, finely engineered transportation vehicle, like a space shuttle. Instead of liquid hydrogen, your body is powered by your own intake. The food you eat is the fuel that energizes the vehicle.

What you put in your fuel tank is burned by your high performance activity or – in the case of low-octane, junk food – is deposited in your engine. Think of your mind as the driver who takes control of and steers your body to victory or hits the wall.

Your body is very much like a car. Drive it without proper fuel or maintenance and it will fall apart. You take it for granted to get you where you want to go, until it breaks down. Then it disrupts your way of life.

Like your car, your body only speaks to you by exception. You only notice it when it is damaged or inoperative. But, unlike your car, the spare parts business for your body is not a viable option at present.

To combat disease and aging, you need to keep your bones, joints and muscles flexible and strong. The right exercise means weight-bearing exercise, not simply aerobics. The International College of Sports Medicine has now added exercise with weights to its long-time recommendation of aerobic exercise.

First, check with your physician who can assess your general condition and advise you about healthy levels of activity. Second, be aware that the effectiveness of exercise depends as much on enjoyment as on the nature of activity itself.

Just as important, if not more important than daily exercise, is proper nutrition. What you eat has a major impact on degenerative diseases. Do eat a low fat diet. Keep your fat intake to 15 percent of all daily calories. This will keep you lean and boost your immunity.

Do eat a low salt diet. Use a potassium-based salt substitute on the table and in cooking. Do eat a high-fiber diet. Fiber protects the colon from cancer, lowers cholesterol and stabilizes blood sugar. Eat 40 to 50 grams of mixed fibers daily, as in whole grain breads and cereals, especially those containing oat bran, vegetables and fruits.

Do eat a low-sugar diet. Use a little fructose in place of table sugar. Eat complex carbohydrates in place of sugar and look for carbohydrate drinks sweetened with zylitol.

Do drink clean water. Drink bottled or home-distilled water, as much as eight glasses per day.

Do eat an alkaline diet. Our high-fat, high-sugar diet creates acidity. So many people are now acidic that we spend hundreds of millions of dollars on antacids every year.

Do take daily nutritional supplements including essential multi-vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Current research confirms that we can no longer get the essential nutrients from our food alone. We must supplement even the best diet with nutrition to promote resistance to disease.

Do eat the right kinds of foods and stay away from the fast-food, fat-food drive-throughs. You are doing yourself and your children a dangerous, long-term disservice by developing the habit of eating high-fat, nutrition-poor meals.

Make your health your top priority. You can’t buy your health or life back after years of neglecting it while you earn your living.

Action Idea: List one activity you will begin to do tomorrow to improve your health and increase the quality and quantity of your life.
Denis Waitley is a leading motivational speaker and peak performance expert. He is the author of The Seeds of Greatness