Despite the millions of books, magazine articles and podcasts on healthy, you could be forgiven for being more than a little confused about what healthy really is.
Like anything else, health trends go in and out of fashion. What’s in favour one day can be rapidly out of favour the next. Take clean eating for example, previously the darling of healthy eating only to later be deemed a dirty word on the basis it seemingly implied foods were either good or bad.
To add to the confusion, read articles on any number of health related topics and you will find that very often even the experts in the field disagree and contradict each other. What hope then is there for us mere mortals?
What is Properly Healthy?
In my view, key components of properly healthy include:
Very often when people embark on a healthier regime, balance goes out the window. Initial enthusiasm gets the better of them as they dive fully in only to find they can’t keep their sprint up past the first week or two. Resolving to cut alcohol, sugar, pizza, etc all in one go is a likely plan for disaster.
Taking a balanced approach is more sustainable in the long run – and means you can eat cake at Aunt Jessie’s birthday and drink wine at your girls get together. Balance also means addressing your whole health. In relation to health, our society puts a weightier balance on eating and activity. Very often problems in these two areas i.e. poor diet and lack of exercise are consequences rather than causes of poor health with two key culprits, sleep and stress being overlooked.
Labelling and boxing ourselves in have become common. Articles on eating often advocate one type of eating for example paleo, plant based or keto.
Do we really need to be so rigid with our eating?
Variety is the spice of life and that applies to the foods we eat too. Variety of foods leads to greater diversity of gut flora, essential for a healthy gut.
On the exercise front, variety is essential too. Ask any runner about their hamstrings. Unless they build in regular stretching, the chances are they are seriously tight. If yoga or Pilates alone is your choice of movement, you would be wise to add in some cardio to your week. Variety ideally involving strength, cardio and flexibility keeps us keen as well as ensuring we use a range of muscles.
The Western view of health is rigidly narrow. On my recent Yoga Teacher Training, I was surprised to learn that when yoga began 5000 years ago, postures weren’t part of it. The closest mention of anything physical was developing the ability to sit still and comfortable for meditation. How different things are now when in many yoga classes in the west, postures and physical movement are a major part.
Holistic health takes a broader view with good health encompassing the whole person. Breathing, relaxation and meditation are just as important as running, cycling and gym time. Similarly healthy thinking and a positive attitude are equally important to health as what we eat and how much we move.
Amid all the confusion, let’s revisit a few basics:
5 Healthy Tips
- Sleep is King – or queen! If you are going to prioritise one thing, make it sleep.
- Make time to rest as well as to move.
- Play time. As much of our life is serious, make serious time for fun and laughter.
- Feel good. Boost those endorphins by doing what makes you feel good.
- Stressing about food and exercise isn’t healthy so opt for moderation over extremes and chill a little.
To leave you with a little healthy food for thought, here are 3 questions to reflect on:
- If healthy is wealthy, how rich are you?
- What price would you put on your good health? Seriously, if someone with poor health asked you to do an exchange, how much would you accept?
- How much do you – or are you willing to – invest in your health?
Finally, below are a few quotes to leave you with a taste of health, the last being a special favourite of mine:
The first wealth is health. Ralph Emerson
Health is the greatest gift. Budda
Love Yourself Enough to lead a healthy lifestyle. Jules Robson
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Image courtesy of Lia Leslie