We all want to be healthy, right? Well, most of us at least. So we read books and magazines, watch various shows and broadcasts about health topics on television, talk to friends, family and health care professionals and think we have all the data we need to understand what “healthy” really means. Or do we?
In my line of work, this is one of the greatest challenges of all – trying to help people understand that there is no “one” definition or understanding of the word “healthy” out there today, and how to use this word for the most proper meaning.
Too many people use and misuse this word, which leads to a lot of misinformation being passed around because person “A” says that this is healthy, and person “B” says that that is healthy and person… and you get the point.
Some people think a dish of meat and potatoes is “healthy”, some think eating fast food can be “healthy”, some think their favorite body builder is “healthy”, some think getting sick sometimes is “healthy”…
So what really is healthy? Let us explore that today, so that you do not make the mistake that so many are making and paying for it, with what matters most – their health.
Taking “Health” Out of “Healthy”
Have you ever heard the story? You know, the one where someone knows someone, perhaps a friend or family member who ate “so healthy” and still got some disease and suffered or died?
I have heard this story all too many times. It is one of the top excuses people use in response to being faced with changing their lifestyle habits, to more “healthier” ones.
So what is the problem with it?
When someone tells you that another is healthy or was healthy, or acts healthy or eats healthy, in 9 out of 10 cases we never know first hand what that person’s definition of healthy really is.
Was your Aunt Thelma acting “healthy” because she baked her own sweets? Was your friend John “healthy” because he had a salad each day? Was your Grandpa Tom “healthy” because he exercised all his life?
No matter what the example, to truly judge a person’s state of health, based on their or your, use or misuse of the word “healthy” is impossible, unless we know this person’s daily habits to a tee! This means living with this person generally 24-7 and knowing all of their habits.
To add to this, we would also need to know their mental and emotional state as well! Like how much stress was in their life and how did they handle it. Or did they have any anger or resentment issues, any negative relationships and so on and so forth.
So when it comes to assessing why one’s health is or isn’t the way it should be, relying on them telling us, or us simply thinking that they are “healthy” is just not enough.
There are too many variables that come together to make up “health” or that influence what really is “healthy” and what isn’t.
The Relative Side of Health
When I speak about health, whether to large audiences to in one-on-one consultations, I am coming from my own bias and definition of what healthy truly means. We all do this – that is have our own biases and ideas of what “healthy” means.
How, many of us form these biases, is unfortunately for the most part completely unconscious. The first come from our parents and the households we were raised in, and later on any education and educators who touched our lives, and finally the big one for most adults – the media.
Take a look at someone like Dr.Oz. He is famous today, for being recognized as someone who is health-conscious or “healthy”.
So what is the deal? Well, if we take Dr.Oz and compare him to the average person out there, then yes, he is healthy – or seems like it at least. However, if we take Dr.Oz and put him next to someone in the natural health spectrum, his ways may not seem so healthy at all!
In the end, whether we talk about someone’s state of health, someone’s eating or lifestyle habits, it really depends what benchmark we are comparing it to.
It Doesn’t Always Have To Be So Complicated
Having read thus far, you may be thinking – wow, I never thought “healthy” was or could be so complicated. And while it can, it also doesn’t have to.
There are some obvious things that we know theoretically and experientially enough about today to know that they are clear cut “healthy” or not.
Take smoking for example – nothing about this habit is healthy. Drinking alcohol – that still is under a very fuzzy line depending on what source you consult.
How about eating fresh, raw, organic vegetables – clear cut healthy. Eating refined sugar – not so much.
So while there are many obvious things that collectively we accept and describe as “healthy”, the problem still comes in, as to how much of something makes it healthy versus unhealthy.
This is normally the problem with things like meat, and alcohol and coffee, etc… So in response to this, and for the lack of not “thinking too much”, many simply resort to the famous line “everything in moderation”. Well, as I have written about the topic of moderation before, and teach my clients and audiences – no way! Don’t fall for that excuse, as there are some things that harm your body each time they are ingested, whether the effects are immediately obvious or not.
Research, question and think consciously about anything that you are not sure about and decide brand new, decide for yourself if that suits your definition of healthy or not.
Bottom line, make a commitment to yourself today, to refresh and renew your personal definition of “healthy” by collecting data from as many different sources as you can. And even then, keep that definition fluid and flexible. Locking ourselves into any one way of thinking, only limits us from continued evolution and growth.
The Ultimate “Healthy”
So in the end, do not get too attached or assign too much meaning to the use of the word “healthy” unless you have more data backing up what context that word is coming to you from.
Dairy companies tell you their products are healthy. Diet companies tell you their product is healthy. Genetically engineered food manufacturers tell you their product is healthy. Wine makers tell you their product is healthy. Aunt Leslie tells you her cooking is healthy, while Uncle Bob who eats completely opposite, tell you his cooking is healthy… and on and on the list goes.
In the end, “healthy” is for the most part a lot more complex than meets the eye, or mind in this case, and for the most part a highly relative term.
So the next time someone tells you that “they are healthy” or that “they eat healthy” – ask them “Compared to what?” and to explain to you their definition of what healthy really means to them. Then, simply see if it matches your standards or expectations of what “healthy” is all about.
This is critical, especially if you are going to use their experiences as data that is going to be used by you and incorporated into your own way of life and habits.
Don’t pay with your health, for someone else’s definition of “healthy”, which does not serve you.