Few days ago I was contacted by a reader who asked for an advise. He was wondering if I could offer some suggestions on leading a healthier life. His question made me think, what can I offer as a general advise? He is not my client, so I do not know anything about his lifestyle, eating habits, exercise routine, general health, health issues if any, and so many other things I need to know when I start working with someone.
Purpose of what I do is perfectly summed up in the tagline/quote on my website – “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” – by the way I did not say that, the World Health Organization did, this is their definition of Health. For me this became sort of a mission statement.
I do very deeply believe that our health does not solely depend on doctors, medical professionals, prescription drugs…yes there is a place for that, but the base of health has to be build on mind, body and spirit connection, on healthy communities raising healthy individuals.
I will try to describe how I envision a “healthy person” “healthy life”, and how I try to live it.
I strive not so much for a balance, but for a rhythm of a healthy flow, healthy living. In my experience, the word balance is misleading, one of the definitions of balance is “A stable mental or psychological state; emotional stability” well than, I do not know anyone who can consistently stay in balance. Rhythm – “Procedure or routine characterized by regularly recurring elements, activities, or factors.” is a much better word to describe where I want to be in life.
I hope this makes sense, but what i am trying to say, is that striving for balance in my opinion is impossible and too demanding, like a juggling act of keeping everything up in the air, balanced simultaneously – just that, may drive one insane, too stressful; but striving for a rhythm – now, that is something I can do, just flow through life in a healthy, joyful, peaceful rhythm, less here, more there, it is okay, does not have to always be perfect, just as long as it flows 🙂 it changes. This week I have time to meditate, the next I do not, all is good, it is a rhythm and it keeps flowing and changing. One week I may be eating the healthiest perfect meals, and the next, we have events to attend and I eat whatever I feel like, and it is a treat. I may have some wine, some cheese, sweets and desserts, no guilt, just pure indulgence and gratitude; and then back to my regular “healthy” routine.
This in my opinion is rhythm! Like the rhythm of life, things change, move, and yes somewhere there is a deep underlying balance to it all, but on my small human level I can only control so much, and I prefer to give that up too! Without trying to control, I want to just flow, no resistance, just acceptance.
So that is the first important part of my understating of a healthy lifestyle. Next are physical, mental and social wellbeing, as stated in my tagline “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
Physical wellbeing. Healthy body – maintaining an active lifestyle to stay fit, strong and keep the body moving. Eating a plant based diet with variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, meats. Depending on a person this will vary – some do well with grains/legumes, some do not. Some need animal protein, others do not. Dairy, eggs, poultry, fish – all is okay if it works for you, as long as it is naturally grown, wild, grass-fed, pasture raised, clean, raised humanely, etc. This will merely be a step in bringing your body to a healthy state.
Today as I am updating this post, on December 19th 2014, my diet has evolved to include any and all vegetables and clean protein – all fresh, nothing prepackaged (I do indulge in potato chips on occasion :). Some fruit. Grains, nuts, raw cheese, and legumes are couple of times a month, and only if I really want some. I love sushi and that is my “take out” choice. No dairy, no sugar.
Mental wellbeing/health. Spirituality – appreciating life for what it is, the amazing gift we were given, experiencing it! Life is not about learning lessons! it is about living and experiencing it, the good and the bad. I used to think there is a lesson in everything, and yet could never explain to myself what is there to learn from a death of a loved one. Finally I heard Panache Desai talk about it and now I understand and I know – there are no lessons. And what a relief that is to know, these “terrible” in mind’s perception, things we face in life, are not happening to us so that we learn something, they are happening for us because life is life, life is an experience. We experience, we grow! I want for my rhythm to be peaceful one, joyful. At peace with everything! Do I always feel like that? No! But now, I notice when I do not, and I never have before, and that is a step in the right direction.
Living this way helps to eliminate stress too – “Stress doesn’t only make us feel awful emotionally,” says Jay Winner MD, author of Take the Stress Out of Your Life and director of the Stress Management Program for Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara, Calif. “It can also exacerbate just about any health condition you can think of.”
And finally, Social health – Dalai Lama said: “If you want to change the world, first try to improve and bring about change within yourself. That will help change your family. From there it just gets bigger and bigger. Everything we do has some effect, some impact.”
So I believe that the only person I need to work on is me, and it grows from there to make an impact on those around me, on the community. Social health is a huge concept to address and can get overwhelming, so I focus on smaller goals.
I hope this is something that you can relate to and understand. But just telling someone to eat their greens means nothing, there are many people who eat the healthiest foods and yet they are not healthy nor happy.
To your health,