“The trouble with always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is often too difficult to do without destroying the health of the mind”
A great 15-minute meditation session and you defiantly say no to a second cuppa Joe. Breakfast is something with blueberries in it (and on a good day you’ll throw in some strawberries and walnuts). A spinach salad and lentil soup for lunch leaves you awake (mostly) through the inevitable 3pm snooze fest. You spend the rest of the afternoon eyeing healthy (but hearty!) fare on pinterest and then rev up the workout pandora station for your daily dose of 6pm exercise. Then you reward yourself with some avocado with dinner, and finish off the day with darkest of chocolate your guilt will let you devour.
On a good day, this is my day. On a bad day…well, the hope is that there aren’t too many of those. The question remains though, is this really a healthy lifestyle? Is this part of a formula that might lead to countless benefits espoused by doctors, the media, science, and our peers? While it is certainly out of the scope of this paper to prove so or otherwise, what I can say is that a “healthy lifestyle” is more than just a definition. It’s more than the combination of certain actions or behavior. It’s more than the desire to do the right thing. Being healthy is about so much more — it’s about striving to be happy. But how and why do we do this?
We might exercise because it releases dopamine and makes us “feel good”, we might eat whole grains and monounsaturated fats because they reduce inflammation or bloating, and we might take the stairs instead of the elevator in consideration of the environment and our heart rate. Some might say, “give it up, live a little” insisting that we are losing out on missed opportunities and are denying ourselves what we crave. To them I would argue that being healthy does not mean we are constrained by anxiety or constantly worried about calories. Hakuna Matata! Being healthy is not just a way of life nor is it just an attitude. It is a combination of both — they geed off of each other and the result is a mindfulness of an alternate and renewed sense of well-being.
Eating well and exercising may be well and good if we hope to attain a better physique or lower vital statistics. More important however, is the whole process itself. The knowledge of where we get our food from, how much we are actually eating (so turn off the television because the heir of Downton Abbey is not the one monitoring your food habits), and how much routine activity we incorporate into our lives — all of these are vital in order to “be healthy” but they are not the end all and be all. A pinch of self-awareness and reflection are crucial to a successful and healthy life.
So the next time you pass up a slice of chocolate cake in favor of watermelon, the next time you mournfully take the long way back to your house, and the next time you try hula-hooping instead of another re-run of *F.R.I.E.N.D.S. *on a Tuesday night, do it with a sense of purpose. Do it with a sense of empowerment that you have mindfully and with full deliberation made the better choice. Do it because you really want to be healthy and this is how you think you can achieve that. And if all else fails, do it because that’s what you want to do at that moment, and nothing more.