Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Pentagon of Health

Desire ~ Determination ~ Dedication ~ Discipline ~ Drive

We are bombarded on a daily basis with ‘healthy’ images of women.  We see images on billboards, television, magazines, catalogs and advertisements all depicting the ‘ideal’ healthy woman.   What is the definition of a healthy woman?  Who defines the ground rules for being healthy? What does a healthy woman look like? How is good health achieved? Why is it so important for women to be healthy?

Health is defined in the dictionary as the following: a person’s physical or mental condition; the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; freedom from physical disease or pain. We all know health is a bit more complicated.

Society sends many mixed messages and signals about how a woman’s healthy body is achieved and what it looks like that it leaves us with our heads spinning.  We get so focused on our physical appearance looking healthy that we forget how much is involved in maintaining our mental health as well.  Our physical and mental health go hand–in-hand.  They support each other and when one falters, it is up to the other to keep us moving forward. All too often, we focus just on our physical health and our mental health takes a back seat, not realizing they are linked and both necessary to succeed.

Women encounter a variety of challenges and obstacles when it comes to maintaining our health.  Families and careers are both very demanding and women frequently put their needs at the bottom of the list. This is a bad habit. It is the first step onto a slippery slope.  Each time we put our needs last, the slope gets steeper and a lot easier to slide down making it all the more difficult to climb back up.

What do I mean by the slippery slope? An example is the lack of planning meals leads to poor nutrition and bad eating habits which leads to weight gain and in turn leads to clothes not fitting.  This sets off a chain reaction that may include low self-esteem and trigger an eating disorder to attempt to regain the body we want.  The body we think society views as the ‘ideal’ female physique.  As a result, our mental health is now under attack as well.  The self doubt, mind games and justification of poor decisions carry us further down the slope.  Sometimes, there doesn’t seem to be a bottom so we keep sliding and sliding further away.  This slide sometimes ends in a pool of depression, drug abuse, alcohol abuse or self abuse.  

Women must to learn to master balance in their life.  We are not only moms, wives or completely defined by our careers. We have needs too.  We need to make time to take care of ourselves like we take care of others.  Proper nutrition, exercise and time management are key components in maintaining this balance.  The combination of all three components keep us both mentally and physically healthy.  Exercise is a natural way to reduce stress, increase sex drive, maintain cardiovascular health and maintain bone density just to name a few benefits.  You already know the benefits of healthy eating.

Life is busy.  We are all busy. We have household chores, errands, kids extra curricular activities, kids homework, jobs/careers, exercise/workouts and many other daily obligations.  So time management plays a significant role in being successful in all areas.  There is enough time to accomplish it all but it takes planning, dedication and discipline.  Developing the plan takes some patience and time initially, but eventually it becomes part of your routine and the payoff is worth it.  Sticking to the plan requires the discipline and the desire of wanting it all requires the dedication.

Every woman’s ideal physical and mental health is different.  It is important to understand where you are at now and where you want to be.  Develop goals. Put a plan and a timeline in place to achieve these goals. Be realistic but make it somewhat challenging. Recruit a support network which includes both family and friends to enable you to succeed.  You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete, figure competitor or triathlete to achieve a fit and healthy mind and body.  If you have desire, determination, dedication, discipline and drive, you can and will succeed.

Health is not a simple concept, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to achieve.  The medical community maintains a standard for a healthy woman. Research aids in how health is achieved.  You are in charge of what healthy looks like for you.  But most important is that a healthy woman is a happy woman.