What is Health? It’s more than just Fitness

There are a lot of people who can recognize that this isn’t healthy in any way, but sadly, there are those who see this as the ultimate goal. I think in a lot of people’s mind, thin=healthy. And, no matter what someone’s natural body type is, the thinner the better.

So, what is health, really, if it doesn’t mean being super thin and running around in a skimpy bikini all day?

Health is…

…Having energy. It’s being able to do what you want and need to do in a day, without your health keeping you from doing it.  You have the energy you need to move around. You have the mental energy to deal with whatever life throws at you. Ever tried dieting? I have, and let me tell you, it zaps your energy. Even if I was eating enough to have physical energy, it stole from my mental energy. So much time is spent thinking ‘is this okay to eat?’ or ‘when is the next time I can eat?’ that it is truly exhausting.

…Having more freedom. When we put self-imposed restrictions on our food, we take away our freedom. I find myself falling into this trap sometimes. I want everything to be clear cut and labeled. ‘This food is good.’ ‘This food is bad.’ But that’s not really how it works. Sometimes we need quick energy and our bodies will tell us to eat carbs instead of the slow fuel that comes from leafy greens. If we are so afraid to eat that “bad” food, we end up not giving our bodies what they really need. Is this an excuse to go hog wild and eat In’n’out every night? Please don’t think that’s what I’m saying. But please don’t go to the other extreme either- refusing to listen to your body because some magazine article told you that food was bad.

…Being Active. This means lots of different things for different people. But in general, health means that you both CAN move around and that you DO.

…Proper Body Functioning. This includes things like: proper elimination, sound sleep, and mental stability. Your body gives lots of clues when something isn’t right. Spending too much time in the bathroom?  Tossing and turning at night? Rapid, shallow breathing? Your body is letting you know that something needs to change. Though the causes aren’t always obvious, they give us a starting point of what we might need to work on.

…Loving yourself today. People of all sizes and shapes have this problem. Don’t wait to love yourself. You are amazing! The more you love yourself-unconditionally-the more you are able to take steps to real health. True change comes from loving ourselves enough to want to be healthy. Part of health is accepting where you are at in your journey, instead of beating yourself up for not being where you want to be.

Health isn’t…

…Wearing a certain size. I could starve my way into a few sizes smaller but the cost would be my health. LOOKING a certain way doesn’t mean that you are healthy.

…Being a “food nazi.”  If you are so rigid about what you will and won’t eat… you miss out. I’m not saying that every time you’re with friends is a reason to stuff yourself. But true health means that yes, you can sometimes go out for an ice cream with your family. It means that you nourish your body AND your soul. You get nutrition for your body most of the time, so that during those times when eating is not about nutrition you’re able to bounce right back.

…Being able to run a marathon. Or lift a certain number of pounds over your head in a cross fit competition, or any of those arbitrary standards we set. There will never really be a point when you can say: well, I made it. I’m as healthy as I ever need to be, I guess I can stop worrying about my health now. There will always be more goals to set, there will always be more choices to make. And that’s a good thing! Health is not a destination, it’s a journey.

…Found in a medicine bottle, a diet or a book. Health is really found within. Doctors and bloggers and all of the wonderful resources we have out there can help. But health is ultimately something we find by listening to and understanding our own bodies’ individual needs.

Health is a lifelong journey. It’s something we want whether we’re young or old so that we can get the most of what this life has to offer. And, as James Leigh Hunt said, “The groundwork to all happiness is health.”

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