What is health?

December 20, 2012

Lisa G. Jing

Health means different things to different people and in different contexts. 

How we define health establishes our vision for our own health and, therefore, the appropriate actions we need to take to realize that vision.

I'm a strong proponent of an integrated model of health that includes our physical well being along with well being in many other areas of our lives.

Each of the various facets of health "“ including nutrition, fitness, sleep, life balance, preventive care, relationships, finances, spirituality, interventions, and responsibility "“ is critically important. None is more important than any other, and they are all interrelated.

To enjoy the benefits of true health "“ an optimal state of wholeness and wellbeing "“ all facets must be attended to simultaneously. It doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, when the basics of a healthy lifestyle are committed to habit, the achievement and maintenance of health and wellbeing naturally follow.

The role of habit cannot be overstated. As Horace Mann said, "Habit is a cable; we weave a thread each day, and at last we cannot break it." The key is to create healthy habits so that the binding force of habit is working in our favor rather than against us. We begin by weaving a thread, a simple behavior, and repeating it consistently until it becomes a habit. The secret is to start small and build from there.

Let's pick a basic healthy habit that is easy to implement and has immediate health benefits, such as staying sufficiently hydrated throughout the day. Generally accepted guidelines recommend consuming approximately 48 to 64 ounces of non-caffeinated, clear fluids each day for an adult under normal circumstances. More fluid is needed when the weather is hot or following exertion. Consumption of certain foods such as grapes, watermelon, and broth counts toward total fluid intake. Alcoholic beverages do not. Avoid sugary beverages as they add calories without nutrition. Plain, filtered water is the best option for hydration purposes.

Try keeping a refillable water bottle in your car at all times and another one on your desk at work. Make it a rule that you finish the contents of the water bottle by lunchtime, refill it, and finish it off again before you leave the office each day. See how quickly you get accustomed to drinking water and establishing this as a foundational healthy habit.

Healthy habits can be formed in a similar fashion for all the facets of health presented earlier. We'll talk about these in future blogs.

Lisa G. Jing is Founder/CEO of Synergy at Work, Inc., a consulting/training firm dedicated to transforming the workplace into an environment where people are their whole and best selves. She is a corporate health and wellness consultant with an M.A. in counseling psychology from Loyola Marymount University.

Originally published Dec 20, 2012 10:00:45 AM.