Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What is Healthy?

I've come to the conclusion that 'healthy' is not a thing.

It doesn't come in a breakfast cereal, or in a protein bar, or the latest super food.

It is not a measurement like weight or height. There is no scale you can stand on and say "Hey great! I'm 192 healthy's today".

Healthy is not a certain percentage body fat, and it is not an optimal BMI score.

There is no 'Healthy Index' (although I'm sure some PhD student is busy trying to develop one so we can all conform to a certain diet and certain type of living.)

Even the definition of Health is vague. Health can best be defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.

This definition, which was ratified during the first World Health Assembly and has not been modified since 1948.

I spent a fair amount of time really thinking about this definition. At first it didn't make much sense to me. After all, if health is well-being then how the heck do we define 'well-being'.

After really thinking about this I have come to the conclusion that Healthy is a mindset.

I think healthy is the way you approach life. The way you think about what you eat and how you exercise. It is the decisions you make in life and why you make them.

After all, physical fitness has many different incarnations.

An IronMan athlete is definitely fit, so is an NFL running back. Interestingly, neither one could so the the other's job.

No single diet can make you 'healthy' - Even if that diet is Eat Stop Eat ;)

Healthy is definitely NOT being an obsessive compulsive eater. Nor is it doing workouts you hate because some trainer told you that it's the only way to workout, or the only way to lose fat.

The secret to Healthy is NOT working out less and eating more, and believe it or not, working out more and eating less may not always be healthy either (however for most of us, this one is probably a step in the right direction). It really depends on who you are, where you are at, and what you want to accomplish.

Healthy is finding a way of eating and a way of exercising that you love, that causes you no stress, that doesn't make you injured or sick, and that gives you a body that looks the way you want it to and can do the things you want it to do.

When it comes to being healthy I think the key is finding a balance between doing the things you love and the things you need to do.

I don't believe in fat-loss workouts. I feel best in the gym when I am trying to build muscle. I like my reps low and my rests long. When I do this I actually enjoy my workouts.

I love walking. Yep long slow boring cardio. I don't do it for fat loss, I do it because it helps clear my mind. Walking makes me feel healthy, so I do it.

So here's the point of all this - If your current lifestyle (nutrition program or exercise program) is not giving you the results you want in a way that is enjoyable then it is failing you. It is not healthy.

If you are eating something or doing something you hate, and are only doing it because someone told you it was healthy, maybe it is time to replace it with something you truly enjoy.

It is possible to find a style of eating and exercising that will make you feel healthy, you just have to find it.


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Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS said...

great stuff Brad.

Anonymous said...

You and Josh Hillis seem to be two of the few people who have their heads screwed on straight about this stuff. I hope someone is listening.

billy said...

This is a great post. I'm with you.

Marcie Barnes said...


Sandra said...

I agree with all this, but what if I have hypo-thyroid and extremely high cortisol (exhausted adrenals due to stress)? I already eat VERY little each day, yet I continue to pile on the weight. The less I eat, the more I gain, in spite of weight training twice a wk. Will this diet work for me??
Also, on food-free days, do I continue to take my many vitamins, minerals, amino acids, neurotransmitter supports, etc? Or nothing in the stomach at ALL other than liquids? Thanks for answering!

Anonymous said...

Well said Brad I could not agree more, different strokes for different folks and don't be so obsessive or stressed out over what you are 'supposed' to do and do what you enjoy and the 'Health' will come! ;)