Thursday, September 06, 2012

Measuring health

After reading Paleo On a Budget’s post about using a scale to help track and measure health goals, I got to thinking about my goals, and how I measure “health.”

This has not been a terribly healthy year for me. I think I’ve been healthier, mentally and physically, than in past years, but I’ve spent a lot of time going back and forth from the doctors,  trying different tests, trying to define what is “wrong” with me. More recently, I’ve had some serious digestive issues that are embarrassing, uncomfortable, and disruptive. I haven’t been sleeping well, possibly because of that. Maybe it’s “just” the stress. It got me thinking about what it would mean to me to be healthy. What would it take for me to feel that that is an accurate descriptor of myself?

Health to me means

  • Happiness
  • Fitness
  • Function

Happiness

As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression for a long time, feeling happy is my #1 concern. I have had GREAT improvements in this area of my life over the past year! I’ve found that it’s so much easier to laugh at things that amuse me. Before, I still found things funny, but it rarely made me laugh. My favorite TV shows will actually have me cracking up now. It’s a really great feeling. My anxiety is also greatly reduced to the ponit that I am able to recognize anxiety-provoking situations and choose to barrel through them (usually finding that it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared) or avoid them, without feeling lost or unclear in my mind.

Fitness

Sticking to a fitness regimen has always been a struggle for me. I’m still struggling, but I am actually seeing changes in my body now, which is greatly motivating. I am also FEELING the changes, and not just from feeling sore after a workout (usually, the day after). The bag I use to cart my lunch & laptop to and from work while I ride my scooter is pretty heavy, then you add my laptop and charger cable… well, it doesn’t sound like much, and maybe it’s not, but it felt like it for a while. lately, I barely notice it on my back when I’m walking up and down the stairs before and after work, or when I’m riding the scooter. I don’t think I can express how relieving it is to really feel that I am getting stronger, after being a weakling for so long!

Function

This ties in with fitness, but the fact that I could walk a little ways with my boyfriend on my back without shaking legs means so much to me. Sure, it’s unlikely that I’d need to cart him around like that, but knowing I am functional enough to carry someone on my back, in case of emergency, for example, is really encouraging to me. If I need to be able to do something physical, I want to be able to do it without hesitation, within reason. I’m not going to be heaving a 80 lb server around anytime soon, mostly because it’s a terribly awkward shape, but being able to help someone install one on a rack without feeling wiped out, or maneuver it in without too much difficulty would be very handy.

Scales mean very little to me. At this point, I want to gain weight in muscle. I’m not worried about gaining body fat, since I’m on the lower end of a healthy range. As a woman, it would not be unhealthy for me to have a bit more body fat, to ensure my body is well prepared for bearing children someday. We’re not talking 50lbs of excess weight, just 10-20. As long as I can function, I don’t care if I end up curvy. I am glad that after not allowing myself to weigh in for a few months last year, I no longer feel any dependency on the # that the scale puts out. In the end, even my muscular weight is arbitrary, because 10 lbs of muscle may not mean being able to lift a 50 lb box, and that’s what I want to be able to do!

So I’m not healthy because I haven’t met my fitness goals? No, I’m not healthy because I’m still working some things out in my head, and I’m not as functional as I feel that I should be. My digestive system certainly isn’t at the moment! If it was, I would say I’m “pretty” healthy, but not all the way there. Maybe next year :)

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