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Holistic Health

What does it mean to be healthy? Is the measure of health based off the number on a scale, jean size, appearance or something else? Western society seems to have a backwards impression of what it means to be truly healthy. Like far too many aspects of our culture, perceptions of health are based on outward appearance. As such, those who are skinny or muscular are deemed healthy. Although these traits can indicate health they are not the full picture. A holistic approach is needed to truly understand health.

One obvious example of our culture’s misguided notions of health is the typical meal consumed by an athlete after a workout. The athlete’s plate is often piled high with meat, French fries, a piece of cake and, if it’s Friday, chicken nuggets. These meals are justified with the idea that one’s body just burned tons of calories and needs to replenish. Although the body does need calories to replenish after working out, the quality of calories matters.

Another helpful example is examining weight loss programs, like Nutrisystem. The company boasts of its success at aiding men and women around the world in losing weight. Implied in this weight loss is a sense that individuals using the program became healthier. However, Nutrisystem accomplishes such weight loss through feeding customers low calorie, processed foods that are filled with preservatives, artificial sweeteners and trans-fats. Because the included meals are so low in calories customers will almost certainly lose weight. Yet once again the quality of calories is ignored.

In both scenarios health is reduced to the sole superficial category of appearance. Yet health is much more than one’s jean size or muscle definition. In reality, human bodies are as diverse as snowflakes. Some very healthy people appear slightly overweight while some models and bodybuilders are far from healthy. This reality begs the question of what true health actually is.

Ultimately, health should be understood not only based on how one looks but, more importantly, on how one feels. This interior approach will contribute to the greatest success in health and happiness and is actually quite easy! One simply needs to eat clean and healthy and get regular physical activity. Unfortunately, many factors can get in the way of this. Dieting, counting calories, becoming obsessive about food and overly strict about eating healthy, excessive exercising, etc. can take the fun out of the process. Overall, reducing health to appearance alone is extremely misleading. Instead, keeping things simple and focusing on how you feel will result in true health.

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