I was talking to a new client yesterday and he said he wasn’t as healthy as what he used to be. I asked him what being healthy meant to him. It got me to thinking about what health is to me. I was making a list of what my core health ‘values’ were. I’ve realized it all comes down to 3 things: Habits, Balance and Gut Health.
The word “health” refers to a state of complete emotional and physical well-being.
I started to brainstorm my own principles of health, what would I say if I was to explain what my coaching was about to a stranger?
Basics of health are things like getting plenty of water, eat plenty of whole foods and vegetables, and get great sleep. Sleep is something high on my priority list at the moment because it’s something I’ve been struggling with and it has a huge impact on our hormones and immunity, in particular, weight loss. But those three things are just elements of ‘being healthy’.
Being happy is a huge value of health that I have, and a lot of it comes from our gut. What we put into our mouths affects our gut health and how we feel both physically and emotionally. For me good health isn’t necessarily about kilos or how far you can run, it’s about having the energy and motivation to be your best self possible.
As a health and fitness coach I have many clients who come to me because they want to lose weight, but often what the main problem is, is that they have a gut health problem. Limited diets with lack of variety and not enough fiber is doing more harm than they realize.
Gut bacteria play several important roles in your health, communicating with your immune system and producing certain vitamins. Your gut bacteria can also affect how different foods are digested and produce chemicals that help make you feel full. As a result, they can affect your weight.
Signs your gut health needs a check-up include:
- Trouble with weight gain.
- Mood issues, depression, and anxiety.
- Poor immune system.
- Digestion issues such as constipation, diarrhea or inflammatory bowel disease.
- Low energy levels.
- Skin issues like acne or rashes.
Many of us have the mindset of being healthy means restricting what you eat and forcing yourself to exercise. Neither of those sounds particularly appealing and definitely not a long term solution. What good health needs to be, is sustainable. It’s not sticking to a diet for 8 weeks to lose 5kg for your sister’s wedding then letting it all go because it was too hard. Having a sustainable healthy lifestyle links in with habits. If we develop healthy habits it takes the will power out of living well. It will come down to automatic actions you don’t need to think about, a bit like turning on a light before walking into a dark room. Instead of having to convince yourself that the salad is the better option when you look at the menu.
At the end of the day, the key is balance. We can’t eat perfectly 100% of the time, and why would we want to? Good health and happiness is being able to enjoy a piece of cake at a birthday party and not feel guilty. It takes the good and bad out of being healthy. I personally believe one of the most unhealthy habits a majority of people hold is to judge all food as good or bad. I cringe when I hear people talk about how naughty they were. Did you steal a chocolate bar from the supermarket? No, you just ate one, hiding in your car at that so no one would see you. Acting guilty, like you had stolen it.
Food is to be enjoyed. Slow down, taste it all, and if it’s not good enough quality to be enjoyable why are you eating it? Likewise with exercise, it isn’t a punishment for what you ate. Find a way to move that you love. It’s ok if lifting weights at a gym doesn’t float your boat, find what does. Or at least find something you can learn to love.
I’d love to know, what is good health to you?
Author: Jill Lister-Martin. Certified health and fitness coach, Mum, lover of licorice, wine and adventures.
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