What does being HEALTHY mean to me?
The word HEALTHY is used a lot but it seems every person has a different definition of what HEALTHY is. When you try to get someone to define what it means to be healthy it's often a struggle for them. Part of that struggle comes from not wanting to admit areas of their life that are not healthy.
Some people clarify that they are "healthy to a point" while others might define their life as "healthier than most." It's rare but you will also find those individuals that will simply say they are not healthy and they don't care to be.
No matter where you fall in the HEALTHY continuum, I want to share with you my idea of what it means to be HEALTHY.
I believe there are seven areas that you need to focus on to live a HEALTHY life. It's more than just food and exercise.
To live a HEALTHY life you must spend some time focused on healing. This includes physical healing, emotional healing, relationship healing...really any area of your life that has been broken and needs to be made whole again. Just as healing from an acute injury such as a broken bone means visiting a doctor for help, healing the other areas of your life could include the need for outside help.
It’s ok, in fact I recommend, seeing a mental health professional, counselor, or pastor for help with emotional or relationship trauma. A healthy person takes advantage of the resources offered in their community to help heal.
Yes, my idea of what it means to be HEALTHY includes eating healthy foods. This is a very tricky piece of the puzzle for most people who follow a Western diet. There are so many food products advertised or labeled as healthy when they actually are not healthy, that the concept of eating healthy is extremely confusing.
I highly recommend following a mostly plant based meal plan. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts...these are all foods that are natural in form and therefore your body will react well to their nutrients. But eating right is not just about adding healthy foods but also making sure you avoid the dangerous foods. Even once in awhile indulgences can cause lasting effects for 30 days or longer...just from one unhealthy meal. If you are having that one “cheat meal” a week and struggling to find the health you desire, I’d remove that “cheat meal” and see what kind of difference you see.
This area of a HEALTHY life encompasses so much more than exercise. Sure, exercise is great and should be a part of a healthy lifestyle. Activity refers to anything and everything you are doing to get your body moving. Are you gardening or mowing the lawn? Are you going for leisurely walks with the family? Do you shop regularly? Do you get up and walk around while on a phone call?
These are all forms of activity - things that increase your heart rate and improve your range of motion in your joints. There is an adage that if you don’t use something you’ll lose it. Well, if you don’t use your muscles you’ll lose them. And that includes your heart.
Your lifestyle is made up of everything that you do on a day-to-day basis. What type of career you work in, how you spend your money, do you read or watch television, do you go out on the town for entertainment or do you prefer to stay home.
When you look at the idea of lifestyle in this manner, a HEALTHY lifestyle becomes one in which your actions are creating positive reactions in your community or sphere of influence. If you are helping others improve their lives, reach their goals, or overcome obstacles then I would say you are living a positive lifestyle. Just keep in mind you must practice some self-care as well. Helping others at the detriment of your own well being is not healthy.
Although I’m an introvert at the core, I fully believe that we have been created for relationships and community with each other. Why do you think there are so many different versions of the saying “we are stronger together than as an individual?”
Having relationships with other people that we can lean on in times of trouble, celebrate our victories with, and simply enjoy the journey of life with is a huge part of living a HEALTHY life. Some research suggests that you can live a longer life simply by having a close group of friends that you communicate with on a regular basis. The level of happiness you can achieve being around your homies has a definite stress-reducing effect on your mind and body.
We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine. Did you also know that the most pleasing word in the English language is “smile?” What they both have in common is that you can’t laugh or smile if you aren’t at least a tiny bit happy. Maybe it’s just for a fleeting moment, but you are happy in that moment. The positive energy that you create from your internal happiness leads to better health.
I’m not suggesting you fake being happy to take advantage of some magical powers it can have on your life. You need to find ways to be genuinely happy in order to be fully HEALTHY. For many of us that means we must make a conscious effort to stop complaining about the life we have now simply because it’s not the life we thought we would have.
The ultimate deciding factor in the level of health of your life is...YOU! Are you using your own free will to make the decisions necessary to live a HEALTHY life?
Are you healing the areas of hurt in your life?
Are you eating proper, healthy foods?
Are you active every day?
Are you making a positive impact in your community?
Are you spending time with your friends regularly?
Are you doing the things that make you happy?
Are you taking care of you?
If you answered YES to a majority of these questions, I believe you are well on your way to living a HEALTHY life.