Good Health... What is it and where does it come from?

“Here’s to your health,” it’s often heard as a toast, a wish for wellness...but what is good health?  Is it simply the absence of illness in the body? Or is it more than that? Can you have good health, yet be unhappy or stressed?

Where does this state of wellness come from? Is it hereditary? In a bottle? Your state of mind? The food you fuel yourself with? Your activities?

I have the answers for me, but it’s important for you to consider these questions and your own answers. For me, good health is feeling vibrant and full of energy, able to do all the things I want to do in life and not feeling held back. This is much more than merely the absence of illness, and has a lot to do with my state of mind. If I feel sad or stressed one day, I don’t feel that energetic vibrancy. I may eat the same vegetables and whole grains, I may exercise, but I’m not “my best self.” I’m not complete in my state of good health. Now we all have good days and bad days, and I’m not saying that one “sad” day will ruin your health. But a persistent state of stress, unhappiness, or unbalance can absolutely have an effect on your health.

The fact is, that we must consider all aspects of our well being to get a complete sense of our overall health. Some of you might need to take medications in order to maintain your health. Some might not...for some, medications could be causing more problematic side effects than is even realized. It’s something to consider. Heredity also plays a factor. Did your grandparents and or parents die young from heart disease? Then you may need to work harder than some, to avoid that fate. A healthy, balanced diet is key to good health, absolutely. But I’ve found that state of mind and stress level plays a primary role in having the energetic vibrancy that I look for in determining my own good health.

There’s a joke that has gone around the Internet, one version goes like this:
The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

The French drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.”
Actually, it is a fact - that people from different cultures eat a diet that we might consider “unhealthy,” and yet, they seem to be healthier than we are, as Americans. While the difference may not literally be in the language, the culture certainly has an effect.  Consider the fast paced, multi-tasking society in which we live. Everything is done on the run. We don’t have any cultural traditions to help us relax. Relaxation or meditation isn’t even valued or recognized, for the most part, in our society. The Japanese people have a culture rich in meditative practices like Qigong and Tai Chi. The French people might eat and drink foods we deem unhealthy, but they eat slowly. And they know how to relax. They take time with friends and family. They aren’t rushing through the drive through, or sitting for hours on end in front of the television or other electronic devices. They walk and they have a social culture.

Is it possible that lifestyle plays such a huge role in our good health? Look at your own state of health and decide. Do you take enough time to relax? To be mindful? Do you have a practice like meditation to help you manage your stress level? What is your energy level like? Do you notice a difference in that energy related to your activities, the food you eat, the amount of sleep you get?

We all have a different state of balance. The trick is to find what works for you, to really take the time to answer all these questions yourself. It all boils down to, are you living a life you love?  And if not, what needs to change? Once you figure that out, you’re on the road to your best your most whole state...of good health.

If this is something you’d like to work on in the new year and you need support, please contact me about my nutrition and wellness program, and we can figure these things out together, step-by-step.