The Picture of Health

So what does a “healthy” person look like, exactly? I’ve had this conversation with many a person over the years, whether they be friends, relatives, or clients. There’s this idea we all have that we can spot a healthy person pretty easily.

When people feel this way, they are usually basing their guesses on outward appearance, particularly weight. I’m a small person, and people have always assumed that I am just automatically healthy because I’m small. I’m told, “Oh you are so lucky, you can eat anything you want and still be small.” Or, “I wish I could be like you and never have to exercise and be small.” Folks equate looking lean with being healthy. I’ve often reminded people, even way before I became interested in health or educated about health issues in any way, that just because I am small doesn’t mean I’m healthy! It follows that just because someone is *not* small does not mean that they aren’t healthy!

I was sent this article last week, and while it’s pretty in-your-face about what it has to say, what it has to say is important. The truth is that despite how much we obsess about our appearances, what really matters to health is our overall lifestyle. As the author of the article says: “Others will never gain weight and will stay thin no matter how badly they eat, being the unlucky few who lack the ability to make fat and thus have no visible warning sign of their poor nutrition and over-consumption. There simply is no such thing as a ‘lucky metabolism’. Thin people who over-consume yet do not gain weight are like smokers; they look fine from the outside but they are decaying on the inside.”

There are no shortcuts to a healthy lifestyle. There are many choices – – but no “secrets”. I know it’s not easy, even with the various choices that we have about how to go about it. It’s even more difficult if your friends and family are living in a different way than you are choosing to live. But as the author mentions, the alternatives to living a healthy life aren’t pleasant. It’s way easier to make small manageable changes when you are still well than to try to make huge overhauls in your life overnight when you become ill.

So worry less about appearance, and try to fight the urge to compare yourself to others. When you are in good health, you will know it by your energy level, and by how often you get sick and how quickly you can bounce back. You’ll know it by how long you can play soccer with your kids or grandkids, and by how far you can chase them before getting winded. And those are the things that matter. Those “pictures” will make a bigger difference — both in your life and in the lives of your loved ones.


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