How we define health is probably the most foundational starting point to becoming healthy. After all, without a clear vision of what we are aspiring towards, we all but guarantee our falling short. So what does it mean to be healthy? How do we measure our overall well-being? In this article, I breakdown Total Health as simply as you've ever seen it.
Our bodies are incredibly complex. Truly, they're incredible. Awe-inspiring. That said, while fascinating to marvel about, this complexity can make optimizing our health a difficult task to navigate. Sticking with our health goals is already challenging enough as it is - the least we can do is ensure our goals actually make us healthier!
The way I see it, our well-being boils down to 4 main categories: fitness, internal systems, body control, and nonphysical. Within each of these categories exists several elements, and for each element, we could develop an independent game plan for improvement. For the sake of this article though, I'll focus on defining health and save the "how-to's" for another day.
Here is my full breakdown of total health:
This is the part of health that you see on the cover of magazines, and the part that tends to get the most attention on our New Year's resolutions lists. When we're talking about fitness level, elements we can look at include:
Muscular Strength (e.g., how much weight can you lift?)
Muscular Endurance (e.g., how many reps can you do?)
Muscular Power (e.g., how high can you jump?)
Speed (e.g., how fast can you run?)
Agility (e.g., how quickly can you change directions?)
Cardiovascular Endurance (e.g., how many laps can you swim / miles can you run?)
BMI (body weight in relation to height)
Body Fat % (body composition)
In other words, are our bodies working properly? There's a lot going on to keep tabs on:
Heart (resting heart rate)
Lungs (breathing control, deep breathing, total lung capacity)
Brain (chemical balance, active neurotransmitters, etc.)
Digestion (stomach, bladder, intestines)
Nervous System (five senses, fine motor skills, pain threshold, etc.)
Other Organs (liver, kidneys, skin)
Hygiene (esp. dental)
There is something to be said for skillful mastery that reveals a different aspect of health than brute ability. Think less gym rat and more martial arts enthusiast. The factors related to Body Control include:
You've heard me say it before: we are more than a body. Due to this fact, there are plenty of nonphysical variables that very obviously contribute to our overall sense of physical health. Some of these are:
Mental Health (e.g., low stress, anxiety, depression, etc.)
Meaningful & Mutually Beneficial Relationships
Forgiveness & Inner Healing From Emotional Wounds / Pain
Peace, Joy, Love, and Hope
Freedom From Self-Destructive Mindsets And Behaviors
Ongoing Relationship With God
There you have it, the 34 elements within 4 categories that comprise our total health. So what do you do now? Try this:
Open a note on your phone and copy and paste this list. For each factor, score yourself on a scale of 1-3: Bad (1), Okay (2), or Good (3). Once you do that, observe: is there any particular category that's lacking? Are you giving all of your attention to Fitness but missing the importance of Body Control? Are you thriving in the Nonphysical elements but your Internal Systems are out of whack? It may be popular to deep-dive into just one or two of these 34 elements in an effort to become health gurus, but our total health has less to do with specific expertise and more to do with our all-encompassing reality.
Focus on giving more attention to your areas of weakness. I bet your overall well-being will improve far more quickly and dramatically that way compared to if you operated solely in your strengths / comfort zone.
Make no mistake, we weren't all dealt the same hand when it comes to health. Just like every other aspect of life (e.g., money, intelligence, etc.), we enter the game with different circumstances, aptitudes, and measures of potential. Still, even though we can't guarantee ourselves perfect health, we can most certainly do our best with what we've been given!
Talk to me! What elements of total health are you thriving in? What are your weaknesses? Are there any aspects that I failed to mention?
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