Take a close look at the definition of “healthy.” Notice what you don’t see?
You don’t see specific types of food, exercise, or supplements. Within the definition of “health” or “healthy,” you won’t see fish, squats, avocados, or probiotics. You won’t see a specific diet or training program. Are those things “healthy?” Most of the time, yes. But does that mean they’re good for YOU? Does that mean they’ll provide YOU with vigor and vitality?
To some extent, everything works—but does it work for you?
This is the type of thing I hear from clients all the time:
- I don’t like fish, but everyone says you have to eat it, so I’m forcing myself.
- I think kombucha, and organ meats are gross, but I hear they’re good for you, so I’m trying to like them.
- I hate running, but everyone says you have to if you want to lose weight.
- Squats hurt my knees, but I do them anyway because I heard they’re the best lower-body lift.
- I hate the taste of broccoli, but I have to eat it if I want to be healthy.
- I absolutely dread my workouts, but from what I’ve seen on the Internet, this is what I’m supposed to be doing.
- I don’t like the diet I’m on, but it’s supposed to help me transform my body, so I’ll stick with it.
Does any of that actually sound healthy to you? It sounds just downright awful to me.
Sure, fish is “healthy.” Kombucha is good for your belly. Squats are a fabulous compound lift. Running can be great for the body and soul. Broccoli is a fab veggie. Organ meats have tons of health benefits. But just because they’re considered “healthy” doesn’t make them good for YOU.
True health is characterized by the vigor and vitality of body, mind, and spirit. In order to be truly healthy, something has to be good for your body and your soul—not just one or the other.
If it makes you happy, but it makes you feel like garbage, is it healthy? And if it’s good for your body, but you hate every moment of it, is that healthy? Physicians and clinicians may disagree, but in my book, anything that doesn’t enrich your experience of life is not worth doing voluntarily.
On the flip side, however, “unhealthy” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad for you.
Wine, bacon, butter, cheese, bourbon, red meat—these are things that mainstream nutritional outlets often deem unhealthy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “I can’t believe you eat bacon and drink wine; you’re so healthy.”
If consumed in moderation, things that are often considered unhealthy can actually be nurturing. They can be the small indulgences that keep you from binging and restricting. They can help you keep your fitness momentum and add to your quality of life.
I don’t believe in “bad foods,” but I do believe there are things that aren’t going to enrich your unique and individual path. It’s your job to figure out what those things are, to decide what’s healthy for you.
Fitness professionals such as myself can help steer you in the right direction, but I urge you to be wary of blanket statements and black and white recommendations. I urge you, above all, to do things that work for you regardless of what the media or popular opinion may say.
Yes there are certain things that are considered “healthy” for your body across the board, just as there are things that are downright unhealthy and you should aim to avoid. But that doesn’t mean that any of those things will necessarily enrich to detract from your individual fitness endeavors. Because here’s the simple truth:
- There are a hundred different ways to consume quality protein—it doesn’t have to be fish.
- There are thousands of variations of veggies—you don’t have to eat broccoli if it’s not your jam.
- Digestive health can be nurtured with several different strategies—you don’t need to drink kombucha if it makes you gag.
- There are so many ways to strengthen your body—you don’t need to choose lifts and workouts that you hate. Working out should add to your quality of life, not detract from it.
“Healthy” isn’t a blanket term that we should blindly follow without any sense of individuality, preference, or unique disposition.
Healthy Is Eating Mindfully. Be aware of flavors, portions, and how food makes you feel. Eat real food and especially food that pleases and nourishes you.
Healthy Is Training Intuitively. Listen to your body, and move with enthusiasm and integrity.
Healthy Is Living Joyfully. Practice gratitude and nurture your heart.
This is how the #EatLiftandbeHappy motto came to be and it’s how I aim to live my life every single day. I ask myself when I embark on any new endeavor, is this good for me? Maybe this is what’s good for people on average, but it in line with my intentions for my life?
Spend some time today thinking about what’s healthy for YOU. What can you do for your body that also benefits your mindset and your quality of life? Then, share it if you like.
Neghar Fonooni, fitness & lifestyle coach, entrepreneur, and Founder of Eat, Lift, & be Happy negharfonooni.com