Health is often high on the list of importance for my clients and their loved ones. "I just want to be healthy!" they say.
But what does "healthy" actually mean?
I am a certified health, integrative nutrition, and intuitive eating coach. I am slightly obsessed with studying the human body and human behavior. I get paid to help people with wellness.
And yet, am I even considered "healthy"??
Let's take a snapshot of my current life and discuss, shall we :)
Last week I started sneezing and I thought: seasonal allergies?
No biggie! I started doing a saline rinse with my Neti pot.
Then a sore throat kicked in and I thought: hmmm, maybe a cold?
So I started resting, lots of fluids, homemade chicken soup, echinacea, zinc, essential oils and hot Epsom salt baths. The whole hippie repertoire!
Next the ear pain hit me like a ton of bricks and I thought: OH NO! An infection??!
So I started Tylenol, Motrin, decongestant, and nasal spray.
Finally, the pain got so bad I wanted to cry (I did) so I broke down and went to urgent care.
Yes, it was indeed a nasty infection in my right ear. I got some of those miracle antibiotics everyone is talking about ;) Within 4 doses I feel better than I have in a week. Thank GOODNESS for modern medicine.
So, there ya go, I have been sick. Taking lots of medication. Even antibiotics (GASP!) Unable to exercise (or really do much more than the basics of life) not even remotely eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, or whole grains. Can I still be labeled 'healthy'??
A client and I were just discussing this very topic:
What exactly is health??
Not the abstract idea of it, but the actual definition of it.
Can you define it? Go ahead. Take your time. I will wait.
Its a hard thing to define. There are some definitions floating around on the internet but they are admittedly poor and incomplete.
One I saw states it's "the absence of disease." Ha! Hardly! Someone with a chronic illness, like diabetes or an auto-immune disease, can no doubt live a long, vibrant, and otherwise healthy life.
People who need to use a wheelchair or who are diagnosed with mental illness can enjoy purposeful lives, filled with family, career, and adventure, depending on their individual desires or circumstances.
Another common definition is "a state of physical, mental, and social well-being." Show me a population of people living that 24/7 and I will check their backs for robot panels!
The hard truth is human beings get sick. We get sad. We get lonely. Sometimes acutely, sometimes chronically, and sometimes a mixture of both. We try not to. But it happens.
Not only is it OK, it is totally normal.
Health ebbs and flows, just like emotions do. It's in flux. It's dynamic and ever-changing. And just like emotions, some days are easier than others.
As parents, the hope is that your children will live happy and healthy lives. Does this mean they will be healthy and happy every day for the rest of their lives? Of course not. No one is happy and healthy every day of their lives.
As Brene Brown would say "We are hard-wired for struggle."
We can survive hard times because we are designed for them. We get STRONGER because of struggle. Our muscles grow, our immune systems intensify, and we mature emotionally. We become RESILIENT.
The danger when we take an idea like health and make it black and white is that is creates an idea of :
1. You either have it or you don't
2. You either ARE or you AREN'T
3. You are either doing things to promote it or doing things to sabotage it
This kind of linear thinking isn't helpful. First of all, it isn't true, and most of all, it doesn't actually motivate people to make lasting changes. It creates fear. And you can't scare yourself healthy.
I intentionally do not provide a pre-packaged definition of health because it is not my job to tell my clients what to do, eat, think, how to move, or what changes to make. I simply ask questions and provide resources based on their answers.
So... based on what you just read:
How would you define health?
For YOU, in YOUR life, right now?
What leaves you feeling physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually content?