By Lisa Diers, RD, LD, RYT
Director of Nutrition and Yoga Services Manager at The Emily Program
Eating and living in a healthy manner is great – it can make you feel good and gives you pride in taking care of yourself. During this time of year in our country we are marketed with all the ways in which we can “Be healthy”. However, “being healthy” can mean a lot of different things to different people, and can be taken to a point of being an obsession by itself. Some people define healthy by looking at different properties of the food they eat – Is it fat free? It is free of artificial colors? Is it organic? Is it raised locally? Some define being healthy as exercise that needs to be done a certain number of times per week for a certain number of minutes. Others feel that being healthy is about your emotional well-being.
Different foods have different nutritional value and all foods play an important role in our overall well-being. Food is not only a source of energy, it contains the components essential for physical and mental health. It’s all about balance, variety, moderation, and intention — What makes sense for me at this stage in my life, in my recovery, for my body’s needs or to reach my goals? How can I begin to “Rediscover and Repair” my relationship to food and my body?
Take a moment to try this practice:
Being with answering this question, How do you define “healthy”?
Now ask yourself the question, Why do you want to be healthy? (As you defined it above).
Additionally, you may need to ask “Why?” multiple times before you get to the deeper purpose of why you want this for yourself. Here’s what this practice might look like after defining “healthy” for you:
- I want to be healthy… so I have energy and feel good.
- I want to have energy and feel good… so I can be a good friend (parent, son, daughter, employee, etc.).
- I want to be a good friend… so I can give back, be supportive, and have fun!
And so on…
This type of questioning can help sort out the difference between thought patterns or beliefs that may be rooted in obsessive or unhelpful beliefs versus what are your own core values. This deep reflection can help you connect to your genuine purpose in life.
The reality is that we are multi-faceted beings and no one “way of being” is right for everybody. When you slow down and move inward to reflect on what you need, you can begin to define what is right for you. Then you can begin to make plans toward aligning with your true or “healthy” self.
When thinking of health you may want to consider these points:
- What makes you “healthy” is unique to you.
- Health = Balance. It’s not extreme.
- If you notice extremes in your thoughts about health, perhaps more self-reflection is needed or an outside perspective from a friend, loved one, or professional would be helpful.
- Focus on the here and now. Each step you take today helps to create your future.
- When you wander away from your intention try to “Be curious. Not furious.” Often there is an opportunity to learn and grow in these moments.
You cannot change the past, nor predict the future. However, you can build and create your future in this very moment and every moment that follows.
When defining health for yourself this year, consider all parts of you, your life, what is needed to be truly healthy. Food and activity are two of many important areas on the spectrum of life which can help us keep good care of our bodies and mind. Remember, even these are a part of a bigger picture. When we stop and think about how we want to engage in life, then we can begin to make intentional steps toward fulfilling our goals.