It’s a new year, the time when many people turn their thoughts and energy towards weight loss and getting healthy. It’s got me thinking a lot about what health really is.
When I graduated high school eons ago, I was 5’2″ tall and weighed 99 pounds. I was co-valedictorian (not such a big deal when you know my class was only 23 people), and in my entire school career thus far, the only B I had ever received on a report card was in sixth grade math. I was known to be trustworthy and never got in trouble. Seriously, never.
Now, in case you think I’m bragging, I say all that to say most people would’ve looked at me and said, “She’s healthy.” I was a good student, responsible, dependable, and obviously, not overweight, a sure sign of unhealthiness, right? But in reality, I was thin because I was embarrassed to eat in front of people. I was sure if people saw me eating, they would be talking about why that fat girl needed more food. Alone, though, I would eat as much of anything I could get my hands on to stop the intense huger pains and headaches that accompany food deprivation. And that obedience and dependability schtick? A cover up for low self-esteem. My rationale was that if I did and said what people wanted, they would like me.
So was I healthy? I guess it depends on your definition of health. If health means the absence of illness, then, yes, I was healthy. I was, and still am, rarely physically sick. If healthy means a thin profile, then I fit the bill of health. But if health means seeing the truth about yourself, accepting what you can’t change, and learning non-harmful ways to change the things you can, then, no. I was anything but healthy.
All these years later, I realize I’m still in search of my healthy. As I’ve been contemplating what being healthy really means, I don’t think I fully know, despite a career in healthcare. I think healthy involves exercise and good nutrition, for sure. But health is more than that. It’s a lifestyle, a way of thinking, a pattern of decision making, a journey of self-awareness, and a spiritual quest to know God that looks a bit differently for everyone. I’m finding that healthy is more than 30 minutes on the elliptical and 8 glasses of water everyday. And I’m starting to realize that finding my healthy will be a lifelong process.
What about you? What does being healthy mean to you?