Some take an exercise approach to healthy - "I'm healthy because I run 6 miles everyday and I strength train every other day and I do yoga for relaxation and flexibility and sometimes I throw in a group exercise class for fun. I can eat almost anything I want because I burn everything off immediately. I spend about 4 hours per day at the gym!"
But that can get messy because the exercise plan for one person isn't what's best for another. Not everyone can run, not every can swim, not everyone is ready for group exercise. Some people need to run and some people need to walk. Some people need a pleasant bike ride on a trail somewhere and others need a loud, sweaty, intense spin class at the gym. And most people don't have the time to spend hours each day on physical fitness.
Some take a food approach to healthy - "I'm healthy because I eat clean. I only eat organic fruits and veggies, generally from my personal greenhouse. I supplement with herbs and spices- that I also grow and grind on my own. I avoid all processed foods and limit dairy. I eat oily fish on a regular basis and stick to lean cuts of meat for protein- if I even bother with meat. I eat for fuel, never for fun."
But that can get complicated by budget, emotional eating issues, and the myriad options for weight loss support on the market (from Weight Watchers to NutriSystem to Jenny Craig). For some people, Lean Cuisine is a good option because that's what they can afford and it keeps them away from the drive-thru. For some, keeping track of points or eating the foods shipped to you are where you have to start and stay on track. And what about all the confusion on food labels? Low fat, nonfat, all natural, unsweetened, low sugar, high fiber, organic, 2%, 4%, 1%, diet whatever - how can you know what's good for you?
Some take a supplement approach to healthy - "I take 57 vitamins throughout the day. I make sure I am covered for Vitamin a, b, d3, omega 3, probiotics, iron, chia seeds, guarana, vitamin c, immunity boosters, colon cleansers, pH balancers, energy givers, mood stabilizers, sleep enhancers and more!"
It can be very confusing to figure out which vitamins are best, what supplements are needed, what pill has which impact on your health and body function. One source will point you towards all natural vitamins made from ground up fruits and veggies, another will point you toward synthetic pills, and another will point you toward shakes and powders. And some have the opinion that supplementing at all isn't necessary if you're eating a complete and balanced, nutrient dense diet.
Others take meal replacements, appetite suppressants, have surgery, get body wraps, and many other things in order to be healthy, be skinny, lose weight, be strong.
So what do you do and where do you start?
Personally, I think you have to decide what your goal is and how you can achieve it.
For me, I see weight loss as a side benefit of being healthy.
For me, healthy living is eating real food and getting daily activity.
I started with a visit to my doctor. Together, we determined a plan that works best for me and my needs. Fruits and vegetables need to be the main focus of what I eat. Limiting boxed, bagged, packaged food works best for me. Keeping track of points and calories and carbs and such usually ends up failing me. Having to buy specific products or brands usually ends up failing, too.
Currently, I'm doing well on my healthy food choices. I'm enjoying raw fruits and vegetables each day- getting well more than my "Daily 5" servings. I am taking a multivitamin, Fish Oil, Vitamin D3, and a calcium supplement each day.
I'm working on getting regular exercise. For me, I felt best when I was running so I plan to start back on the Couch to 5K program next week (which gives me 2 months to get ready for the Kahuna Virtual 5K!).
For me, healthy isn't a weight or a size, it isn't the number on the scale, it isn't checking off a list of workouts or being able to lift a certain weight or run a certain distance. For me, healthy is a diet focused on unprocessed fruits and vegetables and getting exercise 5-7 days each week.
But I think the best gauge of knowing that the choices I'm making work best for me is that everything I'm doing is what I want my kids to do. I don't want my kids on meal replacement shakes, I don't want my kids living on fast food, I don't want my kids sitting around in front of the TV or computer all day, I don't want my kids to get their vitamins and minerals only from a pill.
I want my kids to love eating fruits and veggies. I want my kids to be active and to enjoy running, swimming, hiking, biking, dancing, walking, and more. I want my kids to see health as being about what you eat and what you do, not about what you weigh or how you look.
How do you define "healthy?"