My definition and perception about health has changed tremendously throughout the years.
I became mindful of my health and diet when I was 15 years old. At that time, it was about how much weight I was gaining and what size jeans I wore. At that time, to me, health was about how I looked and what the scale said. I remember believing that if I weighed under a certain number, I was healthy. But if I weighed over that magic number, I was unhealthy and gross. How I felt about myself and my health reflected on one thing, the number on the scale. I look back at that time in my life and thank God for my growth and progress in that area, because that was an exhausting way to live.I do not believe that I have “arrived”, and I never will, but I know now that I am happier and have healthier lifestyle than I ever have. Through talking to one of my coaching clients I feel inspired to share what health means to me now, some of the heathy habits I have, and how I prioritize my life in order to be healthy and happy. I know now that health has nothing to do with the numbers on the scale or the size jeans I wear. Health to me now is not even about the physical aspect. Well, that is only one part of it, but not the main part. To me it boils down to 5 things with the recurring question of: “AM I TAKING CARE OF MYSELF?”, not “am I taking care of everyone else around me at the expense of myself?” I know now, that I will not be able to fulfill my potential on this planet without truly taking care of me. John Maxwell says “Not reaching your potential is like dying with the music still inside of you.” I don’t want to die without reaching my potential and I can not and will not reach my potential without truly taking care of myself.
So I ask, “am I taking care of myself?” in these 5 categories:
1. Am I taking care of myself spiritually?
In my opinion, this is the most important. I know that when I am not taking care of myself spiritually, it doesn’t matter how much I work out or how healthy I eat. I am not healthy, happy, or fulfilled. In my opinion, this is the foundation that my health and fulfilling my true potential is built upon. I have been through seasons in my life when I neglected this area, I said things like ” I don’t have time”, “I don’t know what to do”, etc. Those were the seasons in my life when I was at my worst. After each category I will share some things I do to take care of myself. I do this to give you some ideas and things your might want to “borrow” and try for yourself. So, what do I do to take care of myself spiritually? First of all, it is my #1 priority. Nothing and no one is more important than my relationship with The Lord and I live it daily. I start my day with a devotional. I study the bible everyday, and take notes because that’s how I learn best. I am in a small group that meets regularly to fellowship, learn, and grow together. I attend church weekly. I pray/talk to God everyday and meditate/listen to God. I have several mentors, (women who are older, more experienced, and more biblically knowledgeable than me)who I talk to regularly. I have sisters in Christ who are on my level, who speak truth in love to me when I need it. And I need it often.
2. Am I taking care of myself emotionally/relationally?
To me, these 2 things go hand in hand. I am emotionally healthy when I have a healthy relationship with myself and those I love.So I ask myself questions like these; “Do I have a healthy self image?”, “What is my self talk like?”, “Am I encouraging or criticizing myself?”, “Is how I’m talking to myself healthy for me?”, “Are my relationships with the people who matter in my life healthy for me?” And I take the necessary steps to change what needs to be changed. What I have done in the past is ignore this aspect of my life. However, I have learned the hard way that by ignoring my relational issues they do not go away. In fact, they get worst and will eventually blow up in my face. So, now, I try to clean up anything that needs cleaning, apologize where I need to, forgive those who’ve upset/hurt me, and invest in the relationships that matter. And I always start with myself. I know that the most important relationship I have is the one with myself. One more thing, I really make it a point to not “gossip” about other people because I know that is not a healthy way to live.
3. Am I taking care of myself physically?
To me, that means working out/being active 4-5 days/week. It means, feeding myself food that nourishes me and my body (which is God’s temple). I try to eat only nourishing food. Well, actually, I probably do this 80% of the time. Why? I do not want to feel deprived or limited. I have learned that when I deprive myself is when I start to binge and that is never healthy. I also now understand the importance of a good night’s sleep and the effects that has on my body. And I make it a point to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Lastly, I take one day off every week to “Honor the Sabbath” this is a day of rest and enjoyment for me. It rejuvenates me, inspires me, and gets me refocused every week. I don’t know how I used to live life without taking this day. It has a very positive impact on my life.
4.Am I taking care of myself intellectually?
I know, I can not be at my best if I am not consistently learning and growing. So I make it a priority to read what I call my “required reading” at least 15 min/day, 4 days/week. I find this keeps me sharp, inspired, and moving forward. Personally, I like to rotate between health books, business books, finance books, relational books, or anything someone I respect recommends. I also have goals for how many books I want to read/year. I am very particular about what I feed myself in this category. So, I am very picky with what I watch on TV or the movies I choose to spend my time on. Anything that will have a negative impact on me or not have a positive impact on me, I choose to not waste my time on. That doesn’t mean I never watch or read anything for enjoyment, it just means I don’t waste my time on things that do not serve me in the moment.
5. Am I taking care of myself vocationally and recreationally?
My environment and the people around me both impact how I feel about myself and my life. For that reason, I think it is very important to choose a job that is healthy for me. What I found is when I love what I do, it usually doesn’t feel like work, (most of the time) and it feels like a purpose. I worked at Cutco/Vector for almost 15 years, and loved it. I learned, I grew, I impacted people and was impacted by others. I was surrounded by an incredible group of leaders and mentors. Now, I am working as a life coach and am currently working with incredible clients who I love growing with. I am grateful to have this opportunity. My job is healthy for me and that is important! Also, what I do for fun matters, A LOT!!!! I remember seasons in my life when I didn’t make time for fun and that was very unhealthy for me. Now I make it a priority to do things that I love and enjoy doing, at least once or twice every week. Am I perfect at all these things all the time? Absolutely NOT! But they are a priority and I do my best live a healthy life. I have found the more I take care of myself the happier and more fulfilled I am.My suggestion to you. If you want to make some changes to your health. Pick 1 healthy habit and implement it, until it becomes natural, then add a 2nd healthy habit, etc. You will be amazed at the impact this will have on you. “Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements” John Maxwell