Some things have changed in my outlook on health in recent years.
I still believe that we create better health by making lifestyle choices that enhance the function of our cells… and by avoiding the choices that interfere with that optimal function. “Pure & sufficient” choices in how we move, how we challenge our bodies, how we rest, how we sleep, how we respond to stress, how we eat, and how we view our world will all enhance our cellular function, and thereby, add to and enhance our health.
Choosing purity & sufficiency in these areas is truly just that… a “choice”.
“Toxic & deficient” choices in these same areas of lifestyle will sabotage our overall healthy cell function and subtract from our health.
This is the basic premise of how health is created, and how it’s lost. It’s not up to bad luck, bad germs, or bad genes.
What IS “health”? There are plenty of definitions to choose from, but I like the ones that encompass the many facets of our humanness. A balance of body, mind, and spirit.
Physical health – being ‘in shape’, fit, having a healthy body composition, able to move freely and without chronic aches & pains, having good energy, sleeping well.
“Chemical” health – fueling our bodies with life-enhancing nutrition, and avoiding toxicity (from food, drugs, alcohol, etc.)
Emotional health – choosing happiness, loving yourself, being at peace, feeling grateful, having a positive outlook, feeling balanced, and understanding that ‘negative’ emotions are “ok” – it’s ok to feel sad, down, gloomy, stressed, upset, angry, or overwhelmed at times… for a relatively short duration… but being capable of lifting oneself up. Able to be happy by yourself, with yourself… and with others.
Social & Relationship health – this one piggy-backs on Emotional health. If we’re able to love ourselves and find happiness within us, then it’s easier to create and maintain quality relationships that are also healthy.
Mental health – the ability to effectively manage life’s stressors. The logical ability to choose what’s ‘good’ for us… to choose happiness, to choose healthier things, etc.
Spiritual health – nurturing our ultimate connection. For me, without faith, what is there? Life seems rather trite and completely overwhelming without this central piece of the puzzle. Personally, I can’t achieve emotional, mental, and relationship health without keeping spiritual health as my main focus.
So what on earth does this have to do with “Indulgences”??
All over the internet right now, you can find countless articles about avoiding holiday weight gain, keeping your holidays healthy, and getting back on track with our health in the New Year. Much of the advice is fairly predictable – recommendations like:
– Eat before you go to the party so you’re less likely to indulge there. (Remember “fuel up vs. fill up”. It’s still good advice.)
– Alternate your adult beverage with a glass of water, for many reasons… reducing caloric intake is just one.
– Choose a smaller plate and don’t go back for a million refills!
– Just have a small bite – a sample – of those sweets, not the whole piece. That way, you don’t feel ‘deprived’, but you’re not going overboard.
– Pace yourself. This is true of food, and not “wolfing down”… but definitely true of alcohol, too. Eeeeeasy there, fella’!
– Stay consistent with your exercise over the holidays.
I agree with all this advice.
Here’s the thing. I’m still trying to find my balance with this whole “make healthy choices all the time” thing vs. “enjoy life while you can… life’s too short.”
Yep. I said it.
I’ve watched the two people I loved the most for my entire life suffer and die. It rattles you. It makes you question things. It makes you certain of other things.
I realize that we can’t load up on toxicity – whether it’s foods, medication, alcohol, or it’s stress, anger, depression, or being in chronic pain, being chronically sleep deprived or stressed out – and expect healthy cell function to be the natural outcome.
BUT, you and I both know people who seemingly make less-than-ideal lifestyle choices… but they’re here, they’re alive, and there’s a chance they might even be enjoying life! Yes, I recognize that we both know people who have made poor choices and they’re suffering now. We also know people who have made great choices… and they’re no longer here, or they’re suffering.
Guess what? I have a pretty strong feeling that WE are not in charge.
At this stage of the game, I still feel that our foundation is important – those healthier choices made consistently. But, in recent years, I’ve become less stringent about some of these things. Mostly because it just doesn’t all add up.
I believe we have to enjoy our choices, too, in order for them to manifest the level of healthy function they potentially can. For example, I truly enjoy fueling my body with fresh leafy greens each day, eating vegetables with my protein at breakfast, and avoiding grains. Really. I’ve ‘trained my brain’ to feel that these choices are enhancing my health in a meaningful way and these things really do taste great and make me happy. If I ‘hate’ eating something healthy, or I really cannot stand certain exercise, or I’m completely stressed about socializing with certain people… can my cells possibly express optimal health as a result of those choices? Hard to believe so.
For me, I feel really good when I choose to consume certain healthy foods & drinks. Those are the simple choices.
But there are those ‘in betweeners’… sometimes, I DO want that piece of pizza, or that slice of pie, or that freshly baked cookie, or that pretzel bun with my burger! Tasty toxins, indeed… but sometimes I CHOOSE to fully enjoy these things. And more importantly, I enjoy the people I’m with at the time. Relationship health and emotional health can trump textbook health in my book now!
I’m fairly certain I won’t regret sharing a full-on glutenized pizza with friends, or cheese & crackers and a bottle of wine with Dr. Hubby when I’m reflecting on my life as the end is near.
I never have and never will have all the answers to this game of health, but I like where this is headed now. I can summarize my outlook on health like this:
1) Have faith. You didn’t design this body. You don’t know what’s coming. You don’t know everything it’s capable of. You don’t have all the answers. Be GRATEFUL for each day, each moment. You just never know.
2) Respect the Temple you were given to live in. Consider all components of health… and understand that there is sometimes conflict when attempting to ‘respect’ 2 or more different components of health. (ie. Sometimes, choosing something that fuels you emotionally may conflict with something that fuels you physically. Sitting in a coffee shop having a meaningful conversation with a close friend may not benefit your physical health as much as going to the gym… but it makes your emotional health soar!)
3) Make intentional choices. Do the best you can with your current level of knowledge and understanding, and the resources currently at your disposal.
4) Find your balance between “doing what FEELS GOOD”… and doing what, deep down, you most likely know is “RIGHT”. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but only choosing by what feels good in the moment can be a dicey move, both in health AND in life. Basing all your choices on what makes YOU feel good is pretty selfish when you think about it. Find your balance when touching on all the components of your health. Learn to truly enjoy that which creates health… and you’ll find that it also creates happiness.
I shall now go hug my children, kiss my husband, have a piece of dark chocolate, ignore the housework, and take the dog for a trot in the sunshine! Blissful.
Have a story to share about your perspective on health? I’d love to hear it!