We are so frequently told that there is a set of “healthy” habits that will work for us, and if we simply follow the plan, it will unlock the secret of being healthy.
But chances are you’ve tried following the “healthy” habits prescribed by any number of popular meals plans or wellness programs (AKA diets) and you’re still looking for the magic.
In fact, at this point you might just be completely confused about what it really means to be healthy, because so many of the plans and programs out there contradict each other.
So, how’s this for a radical idea: you can stop following someone else’s prescription for how to be healthy, and learn to create your own. Not only is it possible, it’s closer than you might think and it’s a key element of body partnership.
What does health mean to you?
Body partnership is all about tuning into your unique body to identify what feels most supportive for health and well-being.
Identifying the health-promoting behaviors that are best for us requires that we tune into our bodies and identify what health actually looks and feels like.
One of the reasons you may have struggled to stick with healthy habits in the past is because they don’t make you feel good or align with what you truly desire for your body and your well-being.
For example - almonds are often hailed as a superfood, and, while they are nutrient-rich and make a great snack for many people, when I eat them, my stomach hurts.
That’s not exactly what I desire when I think about what health feels like for me.
(Side note - this doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t eat them, I actually love the crunch and the flavor, so sometimes I do choose them. Identifying our preferred health-promoting behaviors doesn’t mean we follow them 100% of the time. Still not looking for an all-or-nothing approach here.)
If you’ve tried following a diet plan and the whole time it made you bloated or gassy, or you felt deprived and unsatisfied, you probably started to lose your motivation to keep on the plan. When you deviate from the plan it’s probably your brain trying to tell you that this plan isn’t working for you and you need something different.
So instead of feeling like you failed because you didn't stick to the “healthy” habits of a generic, one-size-fits-all plan, start honoring your own version of health.
What does healthy feel like?
Before you can start following a set of healthy habits that work for your body, you have to first understand what it means to feel healthy to you.
Start by reflecting on times that you felt healthy. What did that feel like in your body?
Did you feel strong?
Did you feel confident?
Did you feel joy?
Joy probably isn’t coming from cutting foods out of your life (though it may come from a glass of wine or piece of cake!). But, maybe you do feel joy when you feel free, or when your body moves easily.
That sounds more like my definition of health.
Use a journal to track what makes you feel healthy
Once you identify what health feels like, you can start tuning into what healthy habits help you feel that way more often. If joy is your goal, start tracking what makes you feel that way in all areas of your life.
Keeping a food journal is a good place to start, though your goal isn’t to track the calories you consumed. It’s to help you understand the way your body feels when you eat different foods.
Note what you ate, and how it made you feel.
Were you constipated or did your stomach feel amazing?
Did you have energy all day, or did you suffer from the 3 o’clock energy dip?
Next, go beyond food. Notice your sleeping patterns and how that impacts how your body feels.
What does stress and anxiety do to your body?
What about spending time with friends or certain activities?
Health is so much more than eating fruits and vegetables and exercising to maintain an ideal body weight.
Once you identify what health feels like in your own body, you can start to develop the healthy habits that will help you feel that way more often.
Need a guide on this journey? I'd love to help!