Major face palm. My now 40 year-old stomach churns at those memories. A psychotherapist turned health coach who came of age in the midst of the low-fat craze of brilliant inventions such as the Snackwell cookie and the Deal-A-Meal plan by Richard Simmons I’m only now learning the real deal on nutrition and the Standard American Diet (SAD).
Alas, here we have begun another New Year; a time when we either naturally or forcefully turn inward to mourn the failings of previous years or to make boisterous claims on our intentions for turning over a new leaf. But what’s behind it? A propensity for relentless but empty self-criticism? An impulsive desire for a sexy silhouette for maximum mate attracting potential? A nagging parent or relative who won’t let you forget the 5 pounds you adopted over the holiday? Forget all of that psychodrama. By now you should have realized that health is not about being skinny or shapely. Nor is it a definitive point in time, a number of units lost or gained or hours logged in the gym. It’s about how you treat your body. Great health lies in the relationship between how you feel IN your body today and how you WANT to feel in the future. It’s about recognizing that while everyone’s optimal state of health is unique; that there are certain basic guidelines that we can all follow that will help keep us or get us there.
Recognize that health is not a given that is handed to us in youth and that we hope will last as luck might throughout the decades. Getting healthy can no longer be something we reserve for our first health scare, when we are told we are pre-diabetic or have inexplicable aches or pains. Too much is now known about the SAD for us to be pretending to live in the dark ages. The cover has been blown off the dangers behind low-fat and low-calorie, the feds are banning partially hydrogenated oils and the local food movement is gaining serious momentum. It is increasingly clear that health is a state of physical and emotional well-being that is undoubtedly rooted in lifestyle and values. Good health is the binding agent between our present and a quality future. It’s something we pass down to our children and across our social circles.
Here are 6 questions that every young person or person in good health should be asking themselves and should know the answers to that will help to create the awareness necessary to build such values:
1) What is the general health history of my family? What runs in the family? What health issues are mom and dad monitoring?
2) What am I currently putting in or on my body to prevent disease?
3)What is/was the physical activity level of my family growing up? Were we an active family or a TV/media family? This question is important to assess where your values come from and if you might like your life to be different.
4) What is my current level of physical activity (at work, play, etc.) and food consumption patterns?
5) How do I envision my life at 35, 45, 60, 70 and beyond? What body type, physical ability and mobility level do I want to have? Will there be travel during retirement? Grandkids to keep up with?
6) If my current eating or lifestyle habits do not support my vision of my future self, what am I willing to do to change that? What would it take for me to take action?
Just as you have a vision and plan for your professional life and future it’s just as important to have a vision of yourself in your body, doing the things that allow you to feel fulfilled and a plan to get you there. Without optimal health money or professional accomplishments are hardly as enjoyable or sustainable.