What is Health?
Merriam-Webster defines health as “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially freedom from physical disease or pain.” Dr. Jim Nicolai, author of Integrative Wellness Rules, thinks of health as a wholeness and balance that gives us the resilience to go through the world without being knocked down and staying that way. Health does not imply that we aren’t going to get sick or have setbacks, but it does suggest that we can bounce back quickly and regain our balance.
Possessing health allows you to have confidence to walk through the world without dreading its potential dangers. It means you can be exposed to allergens without getting allergies, carcinogens without getting cancer, infectious diseases without getting sick, and stressors without succumbing to stress-related illnesses. Having health also offers a sense of fulfillment and peace that comes with acquiring this level of hardiness and fortitude. While health is the ultimate destination, wellness is the road map that gets you there.
Most of us are no strangers to health problems, illness, or pain, but most of us wish we were. And most of us would love a new lease on life with the ability to live disease-free, have more energy, and enjoy greater well-being. Is that possible, though? Is it too late to even try?
Dr. Fabrizio Mancini, author of The Power of Self-Healing believes it is possible . . . and it’s not too late. The answers are within your own body. Your body has a built-in capacity to heal itself—a remarkable system of self-repair that goes on day in and day out—and improving its ability to heal is within your control.
Health Begins at the Cellular Level
Similar to pillars made of brick that serve as support for a building, human cells are the building blocks of the body. They make up our tissues, organs, glands, and bones—they form our entire structure and undergo constant construction and repair. Just as not having enough bricks or using inferior materials leads to weak infrastructure in a building, denying our cells critical macro- and micronutrients also affects their state of well-being. In addition, if we injure our cells with harmful chemicals and toxic substances, they will become damaged or diseased.
John Pierre, author of The Pillars of Health describes the body’s cells as complex mini-factories where millions of microscopic, life-sustaining processes take place continually. If everything runs effectively, health and vitality is the result. That’s why it’s essential to provide the cells with the necessary biological building blocks that ensure optimal functioning. If we want the body to be sturdy and strong, we need to supply it generously with essential nutrients that create and maintain a solid foundation, while simultaneously reducing internal and external damage.
Vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fat, oxygen, and phytonutrients or phytochemicals (bioactive plant-derived compounds associated with positive health effects, including anti-aging) ensure that cells perform their tasks at ideal levels. Just as important, some of these nutrients help protect the body’s trillions of cells from the harmful attacks of the dangerous free radicals that bombard us constantly. These rogue molecules can cause premature aging and cellular destruction if not kept in check.
Ensuring that cells are properly hydrated and “bathed” in nutrients supplies them with the protective safeguards they need to keep free radicals contained. That’s why the foods we choose to eat are so important. What we ingest can directly assist or harm our cells—food has the power to be either an antagonistic adversary or our helpful ally.
Building Health with Nature’s Food
From the beginning of time, all people ate foods that grew from the soil. It wasn’t until the recent creations of mechanical equipment and synthetic chemicals that we became inundated with cheap processed options. Civilizations have been leading healthy lives for thousands of years by consuming whole foods.
Nature makes it easy for us to eat and has supplied us with an abundance of satisfying, easy to prepare, delicious choices. Today, more than ever, good nutrition is not a luxury—it’s a necessity. Preventive medicine is pennies on the dollar compared to our financially draining health-care system. Our need for the protective components found in fruits and vegetables has never been greater.
A diet based on vibrant plant foods is the best lifestyle choice for great health and ensuring the sustainability of our planet. We can take advantage of nature’s symphony of nutrients and phytochemicals; they nourish and protect us. What we eat contains the potential and power to create either disharmony and disease or health and vibrancy. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Exercise is Key For Achieving Good Health
Exercise is another key ingredient to achieving good health. Not only does it help maintain normal weight by burning excess calories, but it can also modify the way your brain regulates hunger, in effect making you less susceptible to food cravings. Exercise prevents depression and boosts mood in healthy people. Like laughter, regular exercise can be a treatment for depression that is just as effective as medication, with less relapse. For all of those who know the secret of exercise, movement creates energy; it does not take it away. So exercise can also be quite effective for fatigue of any kind.
Good data suggests that spending time doing more, preferably outside, can lead to just as many benefits as going to the gym. When the healthiest old people are studied, most of them are not running marathons and attending aerobics classes; but most everyone is continuing to do some kind of regular, functional activity to keep moving.
Many individuals who do not exercise mistakenly think that they have to spend hours on end going to the gym to appreciate the benefits of extra activity. This is completely false!
Significant psychological and physiologic changes begin to occur in the body with as little as 75 to 90 minutes of walking per week. As a matter of fact, it is just as good, maybe even better, to break exercise apart in small chunks of time throughout the week as opposed to just one or two larger episodes. So if you feel better gardening or mowing the lawn, walking your dog, landscaping your front yard, or having a major shopping spree at Sam’s Club, have at it. It’s good for you.
Set Health Goals
Most of us set goals in our professional lives, so why is it that we don’t apply the same strategy to our health? Goals are written in the form of future accomplishments that allow you to continually grow and expand. A SMART goal is one that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and has a time frame. For a goal to be accomplished, it cannot be described in generalities. For example, you do not want to lose weight; you want to lose 20 pounds of body fat over 16 weeks. Being specific allows you to know exactly what your target is, how to quantify both the endpoint and your progress along the way, whether it can realistically be achieved, and by when you need it to be done. Setting a timeframe to your health goals locks them into reality. Simply deciding when you will achieve something can inspire and motivate you to change, and be healthier.
Where To Start
In A Course in Weight Loss, best-selling author Marianne Williamson addresses the causal root of your weight-loss issues: a place within you where you
Neuropsychologist Mario Martinez is a pioneer in the science of the mindbody—his term for that essential oneness of cognition and biology—and a passionate advocate for its power to reshape our li
The author of the New York Times bestseller You Are the Placebo, as well as Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself and Evolve Your Brain, draws on research conducted at his advanced workshops since 2012