written by Matt Marchant
What does it really mean to be healthy? We see all the ads, and hear all the talk about "Getting Healthy", but how do we know what to look for to "Be Healthy"? How many health books and magazines are out there? Do they even agree with each other on what health means or looks like?
Our search for health can easily become exhausting and frustrating, given the pure amount of information our there, and the contradictions that we see and hear. How would it feel to be better able to identify the bullseye of True Health?
In order to do that, we first need to ask ourselves what it is we want, and look at what it is we are currently doing to become healthy. What if you found out, that you've been searching for a definition of health that is completely wrong for you? What if you found out that your approach towards health is actually making you less healthy and more frustrated? Would you be interested in learning more?
Health is like beauty, if you blindly buy into others definition and biases of it - It becomes ugly.
We all have our own way of viewing things and our own biases, and I encourage you not to buy into mine. I invite you to create your own. How does that sound? Let’s begin the process.
A New Way of Defining True Health
I offer you a new way of defining and clarifying what health really means... and not just to anyone, but what it means to you! To state again...
Health is like beauty, if you blindly buy into others definition and biases of it - It becomes ugly.
Who am I to impose my view of health on you, whether it comes from a clinical diagnosis or a personal judgement? How would you or I benefit from that? If I can’t tell you what should be beautiful, how can I tell you what you should view as being healthy? It is your body and your life - you decide for you and I will decide for me.
Now there may be some that question this approach or wonder if it is even valid for a health professional to do so. Some might say, “Isn’t health health and sickness sickness? If someone isn’t healthy, why not just be honest and say so.?” My point is this - not to define sickness, but to define health. There actually is a big difference.
As a Holistic Health Practitioner, my role is not to diagnose disease, or really to even focus on it, but to create health. A person who has a disease, has the disease. It is not that by defining health we are trying to re-define their disease. What this person may want to do, is to come to a understanding of what health looks like for them, so that they know to what, and to where they are going.
Here is an example:
A person that has diabetes may not feel that they want to stay away from sugar as much as another person does with diabetes. They may have a different view of what is included in their health values. To force or coerce this person to give up all sugar, may not be within reason for their definition of health. Although two people may have the same disease or dysfunction, they may have radically different views on what health looks like and how they choose to achieve it. Acknowledgement and respect are to key ingredients of True Health.
Let me begin by sharing my opinion of health, if it makes sense to you great, if not that’s fine too.
So what is health? Here is a more clinical definition: Health is a continuing property that is measured by how well an individual is able to fight off and overcome external or internal insults, whether physical, chemical, infectious, psychological, or social. What that basically means to me is this: Health is about how well we can maintain balance between ourself and the environment. The outside and inside environment. Health also values vitality before longevity... although longevity is nice.
For me, True Health represents finding a reasonable balance between my body and the environment. True Health is measured by how I feel physically, think mentally, and respond emotionally.
Why would I say “True” health? The best definition of “truth” that I have heard is this: That which works. To add more I would say: That which works for ME, in THIS moment, under THESE circumstances, that are UNIQUE to ME.
So here is my question, how many versions of True Health may there be out there? I would answer by saying, “As many as there need to be”. True Health simply means, what is true for you and your current views, experience, and goals for health and vitality. How does that feel to allow yourself to define health in a more personal way?
As freeing as that may feel, not all approaches to health are as liberal in allowing others to define things for themselves. After all, what would that mean for the so-called health experts. How would you feel if I imposed my view and approach to health on you?
Might this be true: When Truth is forced upon us it becomes False.
Once we are told we must follow someone else’s view of health or fitness, we are usually left with only two options: Compliance of Defiance. Compliance says, “Yes, I will do that to because you said to, and you are the expert”. Defiance says, “No, I will not do that because you said to, and you are a ________”. (you fill in the blank)
Whether we operate out of compliance to others wants for us, or whether we become defiant to those same wants, if we do not discover our own wants, he may never find our version of True Health.
Clearing the Way for True Health: Flow & Grow vs Stuck & Strained
Here is what I believe to be an effective strategy for starting your journey towards health and healing today!
I invite you to ask yourself this question: What one thing do you want most for your health today?
Do you know? There are many things that we both want and need, but for our purposes we need to find priority #1. To ask the question differently, What one thing with your health has the potential to both positively and negatively influence your life, depending on what you do?
If you don’t know your answer to that question, that is quite alright. You have time. The challenge might be this - If you don’t know what you want for you, other’s will be glad to tell you what you should want for you. That’s not always a bad thing, but in my approach to health, I am all about each one of us taking ownership for our own health and healing. That is what has been taught to me, and that is what I teach. How does that sound to you?
What does it mean to Flow & Grow vs. remaining Stuck & Strained? Think of health like you would your digestion - things should move, not stay stuck. When our bodies, minds, and emotions are free to move and flow, we grow. When our bodies, minds and emotions are stuck, we become strained.
Flow indicates some sort of movement. It can be fast or slow, but something. When we start to ask ourselves questions we start the flowing process. Being stuck on the other hand, indicates a lack of movement, whether in thought or in action. When we remain stuck, we start to strain.
The process of Flowing & Growing is a lifelong adventure, but here is how we can start to Flow & Grow today:
The 1st step is awareness.
Might the words of Moshe Feldenkrais be true, “Nature is not kind to creators who are unaware.” They might be, and in this case, without awareness, our search for health may end up leaving us empty handed. The good news is that if you are reading this you are aware. You have taken an interest in your health and in your healing. To that I acknowledge your efforts, and respect your choices.
Like with any journey, awareness asks three questions: Where are you now? Where do you want to go next? What would be your first step to get going? In creating a personal health and healing plan, you would might want to sit down and figure out where you are currently. Finding out some baseline bits of information would be of benefit. This is where an experienced health professional might be of help. For the purposes of this article, we have skipped to the second question and asked: Where do you want to go next? In order to figure out where that is, we need to figure out what health is... what it is to us. This then is your first step, asking...
What does True Health mean to me?
The next step then, might be in asking...
How do you measure or gauge your version of True Health?
Creating True Health: The practicals of how to Flow & Grow.
1. Define health for yourself.
Be careful not to become tangled up with other’s definition. Also, be careful not to fall into the health & fitness projection trap of “This is what it means to be healthy or strong”. For example, most senior citizens do not care about how much they bench press or what their body fat percentage is. Age has taught them that their goals may not yours, and most are probably ok with that. Can we allow other’s goals, and even other’s goals for us, to be something we let them own? What may happen if we continue to own other’s wants, needs, or desires?
2. Create values that fit you.
Be careful not to become enslaved by other’s value system. A value system is similar to a goal, yet with one distinct difference: A value system is a set of beliefs designed to support a goal or dream for life. Value systems are the rules that we decide to live by. What are you willing to do for health? What are you willing give up? What are you willing to add in? Unless it is your decision to do so, I would guess that it will end quickly. When we allow ourselves the freedom to choose our own health values, we free ourselves from obligation. Have you found yourself attaching onto other’s health values for you? How might that feel to let them own their’s as you create your’s?
Now in order to make a informed decision you may first need some information. Once you have all the information you feel you need, the choice is up to you. This is how we can stay aware, yet be respectful of our own authentic style.
3. Take an approach that is right for you.
Be careful not to get trampled or bored with your pace for health. If you are working with another, do not let their pace hinder your progress. There is nothing worse when running in a long distance race as trying too hard to keep up with others, or being stuck behind someone slow. I have experienced both of those first hand.
How motivated are you? Sometimes we have reasons to be, sometimes we need one to be. An example of that would be a disease. Unfortunately, it seems to be human nature that when we hit our idea of “rock bottom” we quickly become motivated. Rock bottom is always experienced differently for people. So, whatever your motivating factor is, don’t out-pace or under-pace yourself and don’t let other’s pace frustrate you.
So here is my answer to the question: What does True Health look like?
Anything I want it to look like.
Anything you want it to look like.
Decide what you want to create with your health, and take responsibility for that creation.
That is True Health.
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