We can't escape it, it follows us everywhere. Green bowls on instagram, your best mate going on a health kick and gyms sprouting up literally everywhere these days.
Health seems to dominate our lives in some way or shape. We are either fixated on how healthy we are being or how we should probably be healthier.
For most, health is hard. So why? Why is something so crucial to our existence, something that smothers our days with it's constant reminders and something that is so rewarding to us so damn hard?
(Yes, it's not just you struggling. This is universal)
We set the bar higher than we can reach
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 likelyhood of you achieving it.
We limit our definitions of health
Eat and exercise. Eat and exercise. Eat and exercise. Yes, those two words 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 my 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?
We superimpose someone else version of health onto ours
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!
We label ourselves
Im 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 don't have it. Health is in a constant flux of change, one minute you may be on your A game and another you are well.. not on your A'ist game.
It's time to stop throwing tantrums and giving up by denouncing your health. Forget about the label.
There is no on or off switch to health.
All those cant's, too hard's and it's all a load of... are not getting you anywhere. Start setting realistic, well rounded (I didn't want to use the word holistic) and personalised goals because at the end of the day health isn't going anywhere. We are not going to magically stop thinking about it tomorrow so why not get it together now so it's sorted and squared off for future you to enjoy.
So the good news is guys, health.. it's not that hard, big of a deal or even ground breaking once you have it. It's just YOU, stepping it up a notch (just one), diversifying your definition of health and making sure you enjoy it without the labels!
Got a question? Comment below.
Jennifer Ward, Adv Dip Nat, BCom Econ
Jennifer is a leading Naturopath trained in herbal medicine, nutritional medicine and health coaching. Consultations available by appointment at www.jenniferward.com.au.
For speaking and workshop engagement enquiries or to collaborate email email@example.com.