What Does “Healthy” Even MEAN? Part 1: Why You Should Care

Don’t tell me you’ve never asked yourself this. Do diet sodas really make you gain more weight than regular sodas? Are granola bars better than candy bars, or not really? Does everything have to be organic? Should I become a vegetarian? Or should I worry about cutting out carbs? etc. etc.

Liz Lemon

It’s tough to filter through and figure out what’s true and what isn’t, what’s helpful and what’s a sham, what’s a fad and what’s actually beneficial. And sometimes it’s just hard to care enough. It’s easy to sacrifice long-term health for short-term satisfaction (late-night Sodalicious runs anyone? Free Chick-Fil-A days? When mom makes home-made brownies?) But the older I get (I’ve been alive for over 2 decades, this is serious), the more I research, and the more I just think about it, the more I realize that it’s worth it.

I’ve been studying a lot lately. (Okay just like the Mozart thing, when I say a lot, I mean browsing a little here and there out of curiosity). I have a minor thyroid problem (which I’ll talk about some other day because it’s surprisingly common) which has encouraged me to watch more closely what I eat, my sleep habits, and be more concerned with my overall health. Plus, getting old happens fast. I know I’m only 21, but, man…I can’t jump on the trampoline for 3 hours straight like I could when I was only half this old.

In upcoming posts I’ll share more about what we could actually do, but today I’ll start by explaining why I think everyone should care about this in the first place.

There are lots of obvious benefits of healthy living:

  1. More energy. What you fuel your body with and how much you exercise affects deeply your ability to perform everyday tasks. When you sleep enough, eat nutritious and filling food, and exercise regularly, your body can run smoothly, like a brand new car. If you live with good habits consistently, it shouldn’t be necessary to drink caffeine or other energy boosters just to get through the day.
  2. Extended life span. Disease prevention and healthy diet are deeply linked. Type 2 diabetes is one of the most widespread diseases in America. In 2012, there were 29.1 million Americans with diabetes, and only about 1.25 million were diagnosed with type 1. Research suggests that type 2, while one of the leading causes of death in America, is also generally preventable. And that is just one example! For a more extensive article about this click here.
  3. Better scholastic performance. Countless studies havebeen done to examine what helps adolescents su
    cceed in the classroom, and the data on health-related performance is ver
    y consistent. Here’s a lovely graph just in case you don’t believe me.schoolperformance
  4. Obesity is growing faster than ever. You’ve probably been hearing this everywhere for the past few years: that obesity is becoming a huge national health issue. Public schools have new rules about school lunch food and what can be included in vending machines. But legislating small things like that can’t change the habits of millions of people. Again, look at the graph. The percentage of children who are obese has more than tripled since the 70s. WHAT. If this doesn’t concern you, this should probably concern you.child obesity table5. Emotional stability and overall happiness. I know I’m not the only person who gets really grumpy when they’re hungry. When your body has the proper balance of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, everything runs more smoothly. You don’t have as many moodswings and emotional ups and downs. It’s easier to interact with other people at all times of the day.  

So, even if you don’t care about other peoples’ children being obese, you should at least want to feel good and prevent disease in your own life. I’m not saying it’s a simple thing, or that it’s easy, or that it’s even clear what you should do to be “healthy,” but I am saying that you should care at least a little bit. I’m not saying I’m good at this, I definitely have a long way to go. But for the reasons I just listed I’ve started to worry about it a lot more.

Stay tuned for my next post for a Comprehensive Guide to Overall Health (in other words: stuff I’ve noticed and things I actually believe based on what I’ve read and are still subject to change but hopefully might help you feel better and live healthier).

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