I recently listened to a really good podcast where former CrossFit games athlete turned medical student, Julie Foucher, shared several responses to the question she asks at the end of her interviews… namely “what does a healthy life look like to you?”
And, believe it or not, several of the folks she talked to stressed how important spiritual health is. In fact, Rich Froning (4 time winner of the CrossFit games) talked about how important it was “to be in the Word” every day. Very cool stuff.
As I listened to the episode I wondered how I’d answer the same question. So, today, I’m going to take a shot at sharing some thoughts on what I believe a healthy life looks like. Of course I don’t pretend to be all knowing or to have all the answers… so if you have additional thoughts I’d love to hear them in the comments section below.
First, I believe the most important “health” we can maintain is our spiritual health. It really doesn’t matter how fast your Fran time is or how chiseled your abs are… if you’re living outside of God’s grace (i.e. in sin) you’re not living a healthy life.
So, as a Catholic, my number one goal is to be in a constant state of grace. And, obviously, if I do fall into mortal sin my most pressing goal is to be reconciled as fast as possible through the Sacrament of Confession.
Having Priorities Straight
Secondly, I believe having your priorities straight is extremely important to a healthy life. Now this can go in many directions. Does your family life suffer as a result of your work? If so, this is unhealthy. Does anything interfere with your attendance of Sunday Mass? If so, not only is this unhealthy… it’s downright deadly to your soul! Do you spend more time looking at Facebook each day than you do your Bible? Ouch. I know. That one often hurts me too.
Assuming you’re living right spiritually and your priorities are in order I believe the next area of focus, as it relates to living a healthy life, should be nutrition. Now, we’ve written a lot about nutrition before and my views on nutrition have definitely evolved over the last year or so.
I started my “clean eating” plan on a pretty strict Paleo diet. It worked. Big time. I lost weight and felt better than I had in years. But, as my workout intensity steadily increased I learned I needed more carbs in my life so I introduced things like white rice back into my diet.
In the end, the most important advice I can offer is to cut out processed sugar (especially soda), eat real food (think meat and veggies), and drink lots of water.
After nutrition I believe sleep comes next. Personally speaking, I need around 8 hours of sleep each night. Some folks may do OK on less… say 7 hours… and some may need more. But, generally speaking, sleep deprived people are going to struggle in all areas of their life. Of course those of us with lots of kids know sleep deprivation isn’t always by choice… but we need to ensure we’re doing the best we can.
Now, Mike and I spend a lot of time talking about the importance of exercise so you may be surprised to find this one so far down on the list. But, at least for me, this is where it should sit in the order of importance.
I’d even go so far as to say that I believe it’s definitely possible to live a healthy life with just a little exercise assuming you’re doing everything else noted above. Put another way, if you simply get outside and move your body a few times each week (i.e. walking, playing soccer with your kids, dancing with your spouse) you’re likely going to be just fine. Again, assuming you’re doing everything else right.
Finally, the last thing I’d like to touch on, as it relates to living a healthy life, is balance. And as it turns out, I’m a decent case study for this as well.
You see, it wasn’t too long ago that I’d look my 5-year-old in the face as they attempted to hand me a small piece of their birthday cake and say, “Sorry, Daddy can’t eat that.” I’ll be the first to admit… this was stupid. One piece of birthday cake isn’t going to turn me into a diabetic!
And things like alcohol, use of media, and other “things of the world” can be included in this balance conversation. Watching a TV show or football game every once in awhile with your family isn’t bad… but if you end up wasting 6 hours of your Sunday afternoon binge watching Fixer Upper (you know you love that show!) well, you may be out of balance!
What do you think?
There are likely many more things I could have added to this list… but, at least for me, these are pretty high on my list of ways to live a healthy life!
What do you think? What did I miss? Shoot me a reply via email (if you’re reading this via email) or leave a comment below if you’re reading this on the website.
Until next time… be holy, eat clean, and do more push-ups!