"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" - World Health Organisation.
In other words, being healthy is having the energy to enjoy your life & enjoying your life makes you healthy.
Why has 'living healthy' become such a thing ? Mainly because many of us live in contexts that make us sick, we are so far away from nature and food sources, we cannot control food production anymore, we have lifestyles that suck our energy out ( pollution, lack of sleep, stress, sedentary jobs, media addiction, unending working hours... ) At the same time we feel that we can and need to do so much and pressure is kicking in from all places, including ourselves.
Going more in detail about food, for example, I had a great read about food and the fashion of 'eating healthy' :
"to consider just what a terrifying thing food has become for millions of people in the modern world. [...] Clean eating [...] is perhaps best seen as a dysfunctional response to a still more dysfunctional food supply: a dream of purity in a toxic world. To walk into a modern western supermarket is to be assailed by aisle upon aisle of salty, oily snacks and sugary cereals, of “bread” that has been neither proved nor fermented, of cheap, sweetened drinks and meat from animals kept in inhumane conditions."
In a simple way,
the main pillars of a good and healthy life can be summarized like this:
- natural, home cooked and nurturing food
- time spent in nature
- good regenerating sleep
- strong social bonds and feeling of belonging
- personal fulfillment and spirituality
Very well, and now what? We are willing to be healthier and happier, but why is it so hard in practice?
Mainly because we are made of habits and our biological heritage and constitutional factors are influencing us more than we would like. Add to this our beliefs and social rules, what our families and communities 'impose' on us. Add on top our lifestyle and personal constraints. And then add the environment we live in, the socio-economic and cultural conditions.
It is much easier to eat healthy if your family always took the time to cook healthy meals and enjoy meals together. It is much easier to walk in Paris than in Bucharest because the public transportation gives more flexibility and you are not looked at like a weirdo when you tell your friends you walked 45 min to get from one place to another. It is easier to bike in Munich than in Paris because there are bike lanes in every direction and traffic is biker friendly; and your bikes don't get stolen. It is much easier to eat fresh vegetables in Toulouse than in Paris, as the local producers are closer, have broader choice and cheaper products. It is much easier to exercise when you have a gym at work and a flexible schedule than when you have a 3 hours commute a day and 2 kids to take care of.
Many of us just go with the flow even if is unhealthier because we crave confirmation and beloning from our family and peers. And it is much simpler. Humans are beings of comfort.
Changing behaviors is not only a matter of strong willpower,
it is much complex and hard to do.
So there are two battles: first one is the responsibility of communities and public powers to make sure the healthiest choices are the easiest ones. Developing cities and neighborhoods, companies and schools where prevention and healthy living are the norm.
The other battle is our own: beyond what the environment gives us or imposes on us, there is still the part of our responsibility and willingness to make things better. Doing things in a different way does need more energy and conviction, but it might inspire other to do so. And soon you will be a new tribe.
Here are some arguments of WHY it is important to be aware and act on our health :
- a 'healthy life' gives us energy and power to do whatever we want to do
- it decreases the risk of chronic disease (diabetes, cardiac disease, cancer, Alzheimer) which will be better for you in the future AND for your loved ones which will be strongly impacted in case you get sick
- it helps our bodies regenerate, stay focused and be creative
- it is the solid ground on which we build our life
And here are some ideas of the HOW to do this :
- decide what is really important to you. We cannot do everything and a good lifestyle base enhances everything else
- identify the habits that 'suck out' your energy like going to bed late, eating too fat, too sweet and processed food, drinking alcohol too often, sitting too much, checking your phone too often, swallowing up anger...
- find ways to reduce those bad habits by introducing new positive routines: switching off your phone before going to bed, while you work or while you talk to people, exclude packaged or pre-cooked food, replace sweets with fruits, dried fruits, dark chocolate or HOME MADE cakes out of REAL ingredients not powders, take time to cook, take the TV / phone out of the bedroom, read a book, work on your relationships and the way you communicate... ( you can read more here about the power of habits )
- get support and advice from a nutritionist, homeopath, dietitian, fitness trainer, life coach. See it as an investment and accept we cannot do everything by ourselves. And they do know more than us in those specific fields. Otherwise you might need to spend hours and hours on the internet to find the right things. They can also help staying motivated.
- have patience and see the changes on the long term.