Most people view the foundations of health as the food we consume and the amount of minutes we exercise each day. While what we ingest in terms of nutrition and fitness are absolutely key to the basics of human health, there are so many more elements, many unlikely elements, that play a key role in how we thrive in our everyday lives as well as for our longevity in the future. Health isn’t necessarily all encompassing of the abstinence of disease. It embodies the harmony of the body, the mind, and the spirit.
Truth of a matter is, you can be consuming nothing but celery juice and running ten kilometers for all three-hundred-and-sixty-five days of the year and still be unaligned with your well-being. Are you mentally energized and physically balanced? How are your relationships with yourself and with other people? Do you feel at home wherever you go? What do you dream about at night and can you easily recall them? Where do you see yourself in fifteen or twenty years? How difficult or easy is it for you to wake up in the morning and not look at your phone?
Let me give you a quick example: back in middle school, I never made my bed. In fact, my parents created a policy in which I had to re-arrange my bed-sheets and blankets or else I would not be allowed to play on my computer. Since this new rule, I made my bed every single morning…well, at least 98% of the time. Anyways, this habit continued on in high school where I’d rush to make my every morning before leaving my bedroom or at least before having breakfast, which would occur after working out and showering. As of now, I make my bed 99.999% of the time right after I climb out.
Okay, how on Earth does making my bed correlate with my health and fitness? Well, back in middle school, I weighed at my absolute heaviest and partook in my most unhealthiest lifestyle–a diet full of junk food, fast food, soda, barely any physical activity, no social time, and heaps of screen time on the computer. These were all lifestyle choices made out of apathy and a lack of passion. I had absolutely nothing to look forward to, nothing to anticipate upon waking up each day. Once I started making my bed, I got into the habit of creating a new habit. The art of making my bed was a way to keep myself accountable of something important to myself and feeling more rewarded not just by being able to play on my computer, but tidying up my bedroom and putting in extra effort into something trivial. Eventually, this knocked more dominos where I started investing in my health and wellness, lost weight, gained strength, making new friends, finding new pursuits, and going out of my way to explore the world around me.
This isn’t to say that all of your daily habits are direct causes of how much you weigh or how fast you can run. Correlation does not equate to causation. That being said, we are completely responsible of our thoughts, our actions, our decisions, and our investments. When you decide to pursue something, you have to put in the extra expenditure. You still have to nourish yourself with your utensils and your gym equipment. But you ingest everything around you: the air, the people, your education, the music you listen to, the amount of screen-time you have, the hygiene products you go through, even whether you decide to walk bare-foot for the day all connects with your health. Choose to invest what will bring you joy for the day and gratitude for the rest of your life.
However, there may be some juxtapositions. Sometimes a piece of candy may be the healthier option for you instead of a piece of fruit because you need to conquer a food fear. Same with taking a break from the gym or putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation such as a party or a meeting where you know absolutely no one. It definitely is beneficial for you to place yourself in a position of uneasiness to mature, so as long as you fully understand the pluses of what you’ll gain. In particular cases, you may need to leave a job, move out of your residence, or even cut a person out of your life. Just like putting in the effort to work out and eat healthier, putting in the effort to benefit your life in these manners isn’t easy. In fact, you might resent yourself and the world for such suffering, at least for the time-being.
Subconscious aspects of your life such as your dreams, instinctual decisions, and your inner emotions can also be linked to your health. Recalling your dreams and nightmares serve as healthy confrontations for your emotions, problem-solving skills, or simply finding any answers or signs in your life that you need to address such as relationships, work, etc., which all relate to your physical well-being. Tuning into your emotions allows you to freely express yourself and learn how to trek through the discomfort. Being candid with any emotions that you want to numb away may enable you to address that you need to make healthier choices for yourself, whether it be losing weight combating disease, or recovering from an eating disorder or any other mental disorder.
I won’t try to make this post too much about me, but again, I’ve been through more than I could ever imagine and I will suffer even more in the future. I put in the basic work and exercise, eat healthily, and sleep adequately the majority of the time. I allow myself to feel the agony that I wish I was immune to. I permit myself to pray that I could completely eradicate some memories that bring me to my knees in tears. I write down or draw anything and everything, no matter how sloppy or disturbing my thoughts may be. Personally, I prefer not to publicize my emotional dump–in general, I cry or throw a tantrum in my room or in any private space where I know I won’t be seen or heard by anyone else. Other times, I reach out to my loved ones, especially my family and friends. We all have different coping mechanisms for hardships and victories.
At the end of the day, to a certain varying degree, everything around you and everything that you decide to flow with correlates to your health in terms of physicality, mentality, emotional stability, and spirituality. There is no reason for you to consume or partake in anything that will bring you down in any of these manners. We are all so unique in our bodies, our lifestyles, and our values that health and fitness has to be tailored to our specific goals. What we consume will differ drastically and the journey isn’t meant to be a walk in the park. Hence, it is up to us to decide what kind of decisions we select each day to nourish ourselves inside and out.
What non-food or non-exercise related habits do you focus on to invest in your health?