A person’s health has so many variables and can change within a day, so why are we all obsessed with being healthy? What does massage, acupuncture, or yoga have to do with being healthy? And why can’t anyone answer me when I ask them what it means for them? People stutter and say, “Well, I want to lose 10lbs or I just need to eat better.” Each of us has different associations with health.
For example, I have a family history of cancer, so for me not getting cancer in is a personal goal and what I consider healthy. But that still doesn’t answer for me what “healthy” looks like on a regular basis, maybe long term, but I’m going to make that long term goal happen by maintaining a daily health plan. In order for me to maintain some level of regular health, I need to have a picture of those daily activities and habits to get me to my final goal – old age, creaky bones, and the ability to say whatever I want to anyone at any time.
Too Much Healthy…
Did anyone else notice I used the word health or healthy in the above paragraph seven times? Are you as annoyed as I am? You should be. That’s what I mean when I say the word stinks. It gets tossed around like crazy. It weighs on us and because of that we struggle with making decisions around it. If you look it up, it has three definitions: to be free from physical disease or pain, a general condition of being sound body, mind, and spirit, or to express friendly feelings toward companions before drinking (a toast).
As the general condition of the body, an individual’s health should be paramount. It is from which all the rest of life follows. And yet, very few of us can define it for ourselves. It is important to talk about, but I’m sick of talking. I want to see some action. The problem with people and their health is they are too busy talking about it. They wallow in the ideas. They get caught up in what culture or their friends say they should be doing.
Experimenting is Helpful
Rightly so, there is no way to define good health on a broad scale. It is truly individual. So each of us needs to stop reading Facebook posts about all the “healthy” things folks are doing for themselves and start trying to figure out what it means personally. Before a person can decide on those habits, they need to experiment on what works best for them. This experimentation may last years and come and go over a lifetime.
For example, when I was in my 20s, I was mostly a vegetarian and now that I’m in my 40s (just about) I find myself needing more proteins to make it through my day. Those proteins are still mostly vegetal in their nature, but I eat meat too. In addition, regular exercise is a must. I spent about a year not exercising and I was moody, tired, and foggy headed. It was incredible getting back to exercising but it is hard. Honestly, I don’t want to leave my house to submit my body to such torture, but after I’m done I feel so much better. Exercise is different for everyone. For some walking to the mailbox 2x/day is enough. Some need to run 100 miles. You have to figure that out and you have to follow through.
That being said, it’s still not clear what healthy is for me each day. So let me define a bit more, oats and coffee in the am after a 4-5 mile run/qigong/yoga/or tai chi (at least 20mins), a mid morning snack of a fruit or veggie, salad with protein/soup/ or rice and steamed veggies for lunch, mid-day granola bar or some other crunchy snack followed with a dinner that can vary. It could be something simple like soup and bread or meat, potatoes and veggies or it could be pizza. Dinner is always real food, after that anything goes.
My diet is varied so I get all the nutrients I need. In Eastern Medicine, there are the 5 colors: red or orange, brown, white, green, yellow. Each of these colors have different nutrients. If you are not eating all of these colors you are missing vital nutrients. Ok, if you have diet and exercise down, does that mean you are healthy???
Massage, Acupuncture – Relax to Repair
Not necessarily, there is a huge chunk of your health that is defined by how you perceive yourself and how much down time you give yourself . Are you happy with who you are and how your life is. Are you fulfilled? Do you laugh and smile? Do you give yourself time to relax? Relaxing is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves because it is during relaxation that our bodies repair. This is where massage and acupuncture come in for me. I don’t have pain, but I do have stress. This stress can make me pretty miserable. Massages and acupuncture help me manage my stress. Some of you who know me well will hear me joke and say, “Massages and acupuncture help me not kill my kids!” The truth is, giving myself that hour reminds me how much I like my life. It gives me perspective.
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Acceptance is Necessary
There comes a point in life when you have to say, “this is me and I like it.” You may be overweight, balding, drink too much, not sleep well. Whatever it is, if you are happy then who cares. I have an 80 year old client who drinks every day. He has low back pain. I told him it’s because his kidneys are taxed and his back would stop hurting if he stopped drinking. His response to me,” Curran, I’m too old for that and I like to drink. If it kills me, it kills me.” He made the decision. He didn’t wallow in what culture or his wife tells him. He is happy. He has back pain and he manages it with massages. End of story.
Figure out what health means for you right now. Decide and stick with it. Own it and be happy. It may not be perfect, but that’s okay. You are wasting your energy wallowing and scolding yourself about all the things you should be doing. The decisions and therefore how you define your own health may change and that’s okay. Change is the only constant. So long as you stick to those changes and so long as they are moving you on the forward trajectory that is your life, you are doing pretty well.