What does picture perfect health look like to you? Maybe it is clear skin, luscious hair, a small waistline, or even a six-pack. We all have preconceived notions of what being in good health looks like. In fact, many people determine how healthy they think someone is by their physical appearance.
Social media, magazine covers, models, and professional athletes have distorted our perceptions of what a healthy person should look like. Society has programmed us to measure our health by the numbers we see on the scale, how good we look in a swimsuit, and even by the number of compliments we receive from other people. What if all of our preconceived notions about what health looks like are wrong? What if the person with a six-pack actually is less healthy compared to the plus size model?
If we just dig a little deeper, we find out how health should be measured by other standards and can actually come in many different sizes and body types. Listed below are markers that drivers should be concerned about when regarding their health and wellness.
Regular yearly health exams give you a more accurate snapshot of your overall health. The tests that are a part of the check-up will give you important information about what is going on inside your body. Yearly check-ups screen for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. If you are at risk for developing a chronic disease such as diabetes, getting an annual exam can help you take steps to make appropriate lifestyle changes and prevent further exacerbation of illness.
Another critical part of overall health is physical activity. You do not have to train like a professional athlete in order to be healthy and feel good. Exercise does not have to be over the top and exhausting for you to reap the benefits. Regular, moderate intensity exercise helps decrease the risk of developing chronic diseases, and in some cases can actually help manage diseases if they are already present.
For example, physical activity can help lower blood sugar in people with diabetes and can be a major factor in decreasing high blood pressure. Many people exercise with the sole goal of losing weight, and get frustrated when they are not seeing results, and then quit exercising altogether.
The motivation for exercise should be the numerous health benefits it provides, including prevention of chronic illness, as opposed to just thinking about weight loss. Even without weight loss, engaging in physical activity can have many positive effects on health markers such as blood sugar, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol. You don’t need to be ripped to start a regular exercise regimen and up your health game.
The foods we consume also play another crucial role in our health and wellness. If you are not as healthy as you would like to be, start by taking a good look at what is on your plate. Eating a balanced diet that is focused on fruit, vegetable, lean protein, and whole grain intake should be a priority.
Fad diets and “quick fixes” usually aren’t feasible long-term and are not always healthy. For example, the increasingly popular ketogenic (keto) diet restricts carbohydrate intake and instead emphasizes fat and protein intake. Because the keto diet is carbohydrate-restrictive, most fruits and whole grains (even some vegetables!) must be either eliminated or severely limited. Although some people experience rapid weight loss while following the keto diet, that does not make it healthy or sustainable.
Cutting out nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains is more harmful to our overall health than holding onto an extra five pounds. In fact, weight loss due to nutrient restriction is actually unhealthy since the body is being deprived of the vitamins and minerals it needs to function.
Weight loss does not directly equate to health, so a person in a size 2 body can actually be unhealthier (have an increased risk for chronic disease) than a person in a size 12 body. What you eat and how you care for your body is the most significant indicator of health, not the number on the scale.
Drivers should focus on the healthy habits that they are trying to achieve or add to their daily routine. It is more about what we are fueling our bodies with and getting some type of regular daily exercise more than what size we need to become. The focus should be self-improvement and not what society has dictated as healthy or unhealthy. Take care of your body, exercise daily, and be happy!