A lot of people want to pretend health has something to do with weight, or with athleticism. They want to pretend this because it gives them something easily visible and measurable to say “I’m x far away from ideal,” and then they can blame whatever’s going wrong in their lives on not being closer to their ideal.
The truth is that health is a lot more complicated than that; that health is not a prerequisite for value; that weight and athleticism sometimes correlate with health and sometimes don’t; that being whatever Platonic form of yourself you have in mind won’t stop bad things from happening to or around you.
Look, I’m not here to tell you that if you feel bad, you’re doing well. By all means, if something will make you feel better (long term… Don’t take this as permission to shoot up because you’re jonesing or anything) then you should do it. I am here to tell you that health sometimes means moving just a little closer to comfortable in your skin.
I want to be clear, as we start this journey together, when I am talking about health, I mean what makes me, personally, more comfortable in my skin. That means the fact that I’m downing water each time I crave a cigarette (and cutting back to eventual quitting smoking), and the fact that I made lobster pasta with a lemon pepper butter sauce for dinner last night, and the fact that I’ve taken the maxim “doing something is better than doing nothing, even if I can’t do much yet” in regard to physical exercise are all part of being healthy for me. It means that I refuse to shame myself for what has been. It means I refuse to measure health by the number on a scale or on a tag, and I choose to measure it by whether I experience fewer headache days a week, whether I can meet my eyes in the mirror, and whether I have enough patience and serenity to give as much as I take over the course of my relationships with others.
That’s health, for me: Being comfortable enough in my own skin to care about the people and world around me.
What is health to you?