It feels like we can't escape it, green bowls on instagram, your best mate going on a health kick and gyms sprouting up literally everywhere these days.
The health culture seems to dominate our lives in some way, shape or form. We are either fixated on how healthy we are being or how we should need be healthier.
Why has something so crucial to our existence become such a convoluted, confused and seemingly unattainable goal for so many?
(Yes, it's not just you struggling. This is universal)
Set the bar LOWER
See that bar, way up in the distance? That is your bar that you set too high and now can't reach. When people think of health they think runs every morning at 5am, raw salad bowls errry day and ultimate happiness day once we achieve this elusive enigma. This my friend is not the reality of what true health looks like.
True health is underwhelming in the best kind of way. It is about generally feeling good, not great. Eating well, not perfect. Moving when you need it, not because you have to. Feeling in control, not allowing our ego to high five us each morning cause we 'nailed the whole health thing'.
We set the bar high because we are told to but really, who actually lives like this?!
..and if you can think of that one person at work who is 'killing it' in health they are probably one of the most uptight people you know (just saying)
Tip: Write down your version of true health then cut it in half. Half as hard, double the likelihood of you achieving it.
Expand your definition of health
Eat well and exercise. Eat well and exercise. Eat well and exercise. Yes, those two ideas have been drilled into our heads for far too long. For most we associate health with what we eat and how we move. Period. What we may not know is that there are other factors that are equally important in keeping us healthy!
Health is the sum of (this is our definition)
1. What we eat
2. How we move
4. Love and spirituality
5. Social and connection
6. Fulfilment in your job
Don't take this advice lightly guys. You can spend time with friends and it's good for your health. You can stay that 30 minutes extra at the beach to watch the sunset and that's health too. You can tell your boss what you need to keep you satisfied at work and yep, that's going to keep you healthy too.
Health = life. It's intertwined in with everything you do and thus much easier to tweak knowing that you are already kind of doing it.
So scrap that notion of 'I've got to eat better and get back to the gym' and make things easier by focusing on the whole picture.
Tip: mind map these 6 areas. Where do you direct your energy and can you see any areas that may need slight tweaking to make you happier and thus healthier?
Stop superimposing someone else version of health onto yours
Yes I get it, you are not an 'expert' health guru and sometimes you need advice on what is right for you and your health. That instagram lady who seems to be looking pretty fit or that guy who keeps talking about an anti-inflammatory diet. This is pretty normal in any situation where we do not have full information, we seek information from others. BUT, this does not mean that we have to discount ourselves from the equation when seeking and sourcing advice.
Be your own person, know what you do and don't need. If a plan doesn't quite suit you then adjust it. Be creative, have fun and enjoy health. It's not here to make us unhappy, it's genuinely an enjoyable part of life. In clinical practice my patients basically come up with their own plan, I just guide it.
Eg. going to the gym every day vs coming up with a list of 10 exercises you genuinely like and rotating between them each day.
You are unique just as the next person is so wouldn't it make sense if you tailored your health to suit you?
Tip: Continually be critiquing your health and how you manage it. If something isn't working for you then adjust to suit. Basically if it's not fun, stop it. Seriously!
Remove all labels
"I'm not healthy" "I need to be healthier" "Next week I'll eat healthy" "I wish I was healthier" All these labels are not necessary because health is not a static state. You don't have it or not have it. Health is in a constant flux of change, taking into consideration our physical environment, emotional state, life events, access to health and more generally life happening to us.
It's time to stop throwing tantrums and giving up by denouncing your health. Just stop using labels and remove the pressure off the situation. Instead focus on educating yourself on your best options given your unique situation.
Make changes in a manner that suits you
Start setting realistic, well rounded and personalised goals that suit a timeframe that makes sense to you. There is no need to transform over night, you can make small incremental shifts over a year or two if you would like.
So the good news is guys, with out all the negative talk around the culture of health, it's actually not that hard. Be you, do it in your own way and remove those unnecessary expectations you have weighing you down. Then it becomes a way of life not an unachievable goal!
Jennifer Ward, Adv dip Nat, BCom Econ, Masters Repro Med (studying)
Jennifer is a qualified naturopath with a focus on fertility, pregnancy, hormonal imbalances.
Learn more about Jennifer here
Book a session with Jennifer here
To learn more about health tips or for speaking enquires on this topic get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org