What Does Health Mean?

Written by: Helen

What does health mean?  This may seem like a strange question.  I’ve said in previous posts not to think in terms of weight-loss, but in terms of your health.  In order to do this you have to ask the question ‘what does health mean?’ Or more specifically ‘what does health mean to you?’

I googled the definition of healthy and was given several options.  The first said ‘in a good physical or mental condition.’  The second said ‘(of a part of the body) not diseased.’  The WHO (World health means 2Health Organisation; not the band) say ‘health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’  By this definition I’m now feeling pretty unhealthy as I don’t think I’ve ever had complete mental and social wellbeing!  Granted it also says that this definition hasn’t been updated since the 1940’s.

So google gives me different definitions.  This is why I think it’s worth taking a moment and thinking about what health means to you.  It is such a general term and, the fact is, that health actually is very personal and unique to each of us.

A person who works with terminally ill cancer patients told me that quite often the disease takes hold suddenly; the person is diagnosed, but may feel fine before suddenly falling ill at the end.  The aim of this person would be to feel ‘healthy’ for as long as possible so they can spend more time with their families.    This is different to an obese person who may be aiming to reach a healthy weight and decreasing their risk of diabetes and heart disease.  I have a child so my own health aspirations involve being able to play with him without problem, living a long enough life to perhaps meet grandchildren (no pressure Nathan), I’ve taken up running so I set myself distances and times which I’m slowly increasing (emphasis on the slowly), oh and I wouldn’t mind a card from the queen either….  These aspirations would probably differ from someone who doesn’t have children.  They also differ to someone who is a professional runner and wants to complete a marathon.

It has been proven time and again that we are more likely to succeed when we set ourselves clear, attainable goals.  The human mind works better when it is aiming for something.  So instead of thinking ‘I want to lose weight’ or ‘I want to be healthy’, take a moment to delve a bit deeper.  Millions of people around the world are having those exact same thoughts, but you are an individual so shouldn’t your goals also be individual?

Women Celebrating Birthday

We also have to be prepared for these goals to change.  They change as we age, when we have children or if we fall ill. Mine won’t be exactly the same now as they would be at 90 years old (although I’ll still be hoping for that letter from the queen).  In old age a target might be to walk a small distance each day.  Goals can be adapted to our own situation or tailored so we can battle with what life throws at us.

This is what is so good about dieticians and nutritionists.  They take everyone as an individual and prepare personalised  diet and fitness plans based on the person in front of them.

When we feel fine and are disease-free then we can quite often take our health for granted.  We only realise how important it is and how lucky we are when it is taken from us.  The fact is that our food, our lifestyle, our environment and even the way we feel can impact our health, so it is something we should always be aware of and trying to maintain or improve.

I did find one definition of health that I quite liked, ‘a condition of optimal wellbeing.’ I think this is quite fitting.  Health is about being as healthy as we can be; not comparing ourselves to others, but embracing our individuality; not giving up on ourselves when faced with injury or illness, but persevering to be the best and the ‘healthiest’ version of ourselves.

What does health mean to you?  Has your view of your health changed over time?  I’d love to hear your comments below.  Also if you’d like to subscribe just pop your email in the box at the top and you’ll be notified of posts via email.  Thanks for reading!

 

Fit Food Friday; Carrots

Written by: Helen

Health benefits of      Carrots

Before I say anything I need to make a confession; I don’t actually like cooked carrots.  Phew, I’m glad I got that off my chest.  I enjoy them raw and take them to work regularly for snacks, but I don’t get on with them cooked.  This is just my luck as carrots are one of the few vegetables that are thought to be better for you when cooked lightly.  However, being the good girl that I am, I do still eat carrots cooked but usually in the form of spaghetti bolognese, or anything where I can mix them up with other foods and pretend I’m not eating them.

The reason I persevere with eating my carrots is because of their goodness.  And here are just a few reasons why they’re so good.

 

1) Cancer prevention

I realise that on Fit Food Fridays I’ve mentioned cancer prevention more than once, which may make you a little sceptical.  However, I really do believe in the power of foods when it comes to helping us fight disease.  I have also heard plenty of stories from cancer survivors who believe that their diet, combined with medical treatment, really made a difference to their recovery.  With regards to carrots, studies have linked them to a reduced risk of lung, breast and colon cancer.  One study found that smokers who didn’t consume carrots had three times the risk of developing lung cancer compared with those who ate carrots more than once a week.

 

2) Eyesight

I should have put this one first as it’s the most well-known.  Carrots help you see in the dark; you may have thought this was an old wives tale but there is some truth to this.  Carrots are linked with improved night vision.

 

3) Vitamin A

Carrots are very nutritious.  They give us vitamin C, calcium, iron, vitamin K, potassium and more.  But the biggest nutrient kick they give us is vitamin A.  One carrot provides approximately 210% of our daily requirement!  Vitamin A is important to our health and carrots are a great way of getting this vitamin.

Salad

 

4) Heart disease prevention

Carrots lower our ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol.  Carotenoids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

 

5) Cleanse body and protect liver

The vitamin A in carrots helps to flush toxins out the liver.  They are also thought to offer a level of protection for your liver against the effects of environmental chemicals.

 

6) Prevents stroke

A Harvard University study found that people who ate more than six carrots a week were less likely to have a stroke than those who ate only one carrot a month or less.

 

So I think these are pretty good reasons to keep cramming carrots into my cooking and making sure I eat them.  As I mentioned at the start, they are also a quick and easy snack to take to work or eat on the run.  carrots 4During my research on carrots I found something I wish I’d known when I was ten; don’t give rabbits too many carrots.  Apparently one carrot for a rabbit is the same as us eating over twenty!  They should only have them in moderation as it can cause digestive problems (sorry Cuddles! I blame Bugs Bunny, he misled me!).

Here are a couple of tasty carrot recipes for you to try:

Carrot Salad with Honey-Lemon Dressing

Chilli-Roasted Carrots

This recipe won’t class as one of your 5-a day but if you fancy a bit of cake:

Carrot & Sultana Cake

You can even use carrots for some lovely face masks:

Carrot Face Masks

Let me know below how you feel about carrots.  Do you eat enough in your diet? If you like this post then subscribe to the site using the subscribe box at the top and become part of The Think Fit Food Family.  Thanks for reading!

 

Can We Get The Perfect Body?

Written by: Helen

Beautiful young woman looking in the mirror

When we imagine the perfect body, we all have a picture that springs to mind.  In the past I have certainly had my fair share of battles trying to achieve my perfect body, but I have come to realise that I will never have this body.  This is because I’m simply not built that way, and I don’t mean I’m not built that way physically.  What I actually mean is that mentally I could never reach a place where I felt perfect.

One problem, as we all know, stems from the media where we see so many images of beautiful women with slim, toned figures and smiles on their faces. Not even going into the photo-shopping discussion, the problem is this gives the impression these women love having such great bodies and if we can achieve a body like that, then we will feel happy and confident like them.

 I think Taylor Swift (who you’ll probably agree is pretty darn gorgeous) addressed this when she said ;I definitely have body issues, but everybody does. When you come to the realization that everybody does that — even the people that I consider flawless — then you can start to live with the way you are. I’ve read interviews with some of the most beautiful women who have insecurities. And you look at them and you’re like, ‘How do you have? Name one thing wrong with yourself,’ and they could name a handful.”

We think the first step to a fulfilling, happy and confident life is in the way we look.  The truth is that, quite often, we need to look inside ourselves before we look at the outside.  I’m not saying that getting into shape and keeping fit doesn’t give you a boost because it does.  However, quite often when it comes to our body-image insecurities, these can’t be solved by losing a few pounds (or putting on a few pounds if you’re a person who’s trying to gain weight).

I think I’m an example of this.  Recently, I realised that at times in my life I actually have had my ‘perfect’ body (or close enough!  I use the word ‘perfect’ with tongue in cheek!).  After I gave birth to my son I did a two month ‘Insanity’ challenge (it involved working out everyday; very tiring and sweaty, but surprisingly lots of fun).  I lost my baby weight and, for the first time in a long time, I had stomach muscles.

Don’t get me wrong, I did feel good and I was happy with the results.  However, I also still felt like I could do more.  I remember thinking that my stomach could be more toned (and that my bum still jiggled too much!).  Now, looking back I can’t understand why I couldn’t just look in the mirror and feel a complete sense of confidence and accomplishment.  And the reason is, as Taylor Swift said, everybody has body issues.

So chances are, if we are never going to be completely satisfied, what’s the point? For myself, this is what I’ve come to realise about my own health and weight.

1) Since giving birth, I eat healthily (most of the time), and I exercise regularly, and I’m at a healthy weight.  This is pretty cool and, something to be proud of.

2) If I wish to remain at this weight then I have to put in some effort.

3) I have a two year old son who depends on me, so my health is far more important than my weight.

4) My bum is always going to jiggle a little

 

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In some ways these points may seem obvious, but actually for a lot of people they can be hard to accept.  Society has us thinking ‘I want to be skinny‘ rather than thinking ‘I want to be healthy.’  And how can we be happy with ourselves when our bum is jiggling???  I think when it comes to our body image there are a few things to bear in mind.

  • Everybody, no matter how perfect you think they are, has body issues.  It is natural and you are not alone.
  • When you think of weight stop using words such as ‘skinny’ or ‘slim’; use the word ‘healthy.’
  • When you set your goals don’t base it all around the scales and your weight.  Use tools such as BMI and waist/ hip measurements.  This makes sure your goals are health focused.  Here are a couple of links: BMI calculator and waist-hip ratio

body image

  • Take a moment to ask yourself why you want to change.  Is it for yourself?  Is it for your health?  If so, great.  Or is it for someone else, or because you feel pressured to by society, TV, magazines etc. If so then ask yourself honestly whether it will make a difference to the way you feel.
  • If you decide you have confidence issues then address these issues.  There are options you can do yourself, such as daily confidence-building exercises or self hypnosis (here is my article on hypnosis), or you could see a professional.
  • When you reach a point where you have achieved your goals, take the time to feel proud of yourself and enjoy it.  This is when you should think of maintaining, rather than thinking of how much further you can go or striving for further ‘perfection’ (I have to use ‘perfection’ in quotation marks because it’s such a silly word).

To sum up, it is important to know that our happiness isn’t down to the way we look.  Yes, if you’re overweight then losing some weight may increase your confidence, but happiness is also more than weight loss.  Our main aim should always be a long and healthy life filled with people and things that give us confidence and warmth.

Having a mental image of a body you would like to aspire to doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  It can be a picture we use to motivate us to get up in the morning and go for a run, or it can give us the strength we need to pick a healthy pudding over the chocolate cake.  We can use it as a positive tool in our lives, as long as we use it as a form of encouragement rather than a stick to beat ourselves with.  I’d love it if you would subscribe to the site via the box in the top right.  Thanks for reading!  And don’t be afraid to get those bottoms jiggling!  Basically I’m saying this:

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