Health as a By-Product

April 16, 2010

Lately, I find that I am focusing less and less on health. Yet, strangely, I feel healthier than I have in a long time, perhaps healthier than I ever have. Over time we all go through changes in our ways of thinking about food and health, and we are able to look back and see where we were and compare it to where we are now. That’s the place I am at right now. I think I’m experiencing a decent amount of balance.
I used to think a lot about numbers. Calories, grams, micrograms, cups, minutes and hours. I also had big, fancy names on my mind a lot – anthocyanin, flavonoid, erythrocyte, anaerobic, oxidation. I was recently reminded of just how much this was on my mind in the past as I sorted through some old college binders and course notes.
It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. At one time it motivated me and made me feel knowledgeable. It also enabled me (and still does) to help other people. However, over time it also made me feel like health was a bit of a burden, a little too complex for my current interests.
I don’t think I consciously changed. I think my mind did it out of a necessity; necessity to remain a healthy person, and therefore, began seeking other avenues to maintain and celebrate health.
As a result I think more about being well, contentment, laughter, smiling, energy, enjoying the scenery, accomplishing goals (not associated with numbers), tasting good food, and being energized to wake up each morning and face the day. By doing this I’ve found that health is a by-product, not the main focus.
I eat the foods I eat because they taste good, and I feel better because of them. I run because I want to check out what the basset hound a few streets over is up to and see the cows grazing in the fields. I cook and write because it relieves my stress, I read because it fills me with knowledge.
Because of all this, I believe I am healthy and well.
My focus has changed. I don’t do things necessarily because I deem them healthy, I do them because I enjoy them and I know they are right for me. I feel I’m no longer seeking a means to an end, or a final goal of ultimate health, I’m simply living and enjoying.
I do have to admit that numbers haven’t completely left my life. There is a number on the scale that has my attention and when I sit down to a big salad I may think about the number of cups of veggies I’m eating. I have pace goals associated with my running. When I see a colored vegetable I often think of the nutrient in it and how that influences health. I also do a few things I don’t enjoy from time to time, like eat the broccoli I make for my husband because I know it is good for me.
However, these numbers don’t overpower my lifestyle. They aren’t the driving force anymore and as a result, I have to admit I am a much more relaxed person.

Health shouldn’t stress us out.

Do you focus on health or are you healthy because of your focus?

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  • Tamara Marnell April 16, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Right now I still think a lot about the numbers, because I’m dependent on them. I’ve been trying for a while to get away from that and just use common sense, because thinking about the calories in the carrot cake totally ruins the whole point of eating the carrot cake!

  • Andrea (Off Her Cork) April 16, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Agreed, health shouldn’t stress us out! I focus on health and I’m healthy because I’m focused. I can be both, right? 😀 My focus on health comes with food choices. I know what I like and what makes me feel good so that’s what I’m going to pick over something that might taste good but leave me feeling totally blah. Does that make sense? I’m in a really great place right now with my health and my attitude towards food and I love that part!

  • sangeeta April 16, 2010 at 10:08 am

    So true ..
    health should not stress us out…
    the numbers and the terms are good for knowledge first but they are useful when they come into our lifestyle….isn’t it?
    it is a growing process and yes the by product is to cherish.

  • cathy April 16, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Very good! It’s good to have a balanced perspective on life. I also have to wonder if you don’t think about some of these things anymore because they now come naturally to you. Regardless, a good post about balance!

  • Lazaro Cooks! April 16, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Great informative and well-written post. I think the most important aspect is working out. These days I find myself eating more of the foods that taste amazing. But my workouts have become more intense. I guess that is my trade-off. Have a wonderful weekend. Cheers!

  • janet April 16, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    I have never been one to focus on the numbers. I just use common sense and pay attention to how I feel. When I eat well, exercise, sleep enough, have a creative outlet, I feel good. When I don’t feel good I know something is out of balance and I correct it. I so agree with you that health shouldn’t stress us out.

  • Blake April 16, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Love what you said… trying to be healthy shouldn’t stress us out. Awesome.

  • sarah (Catch A Cub In Its Den) April 16, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    I am at the point where I know what I should be eating, but if I’m not tracking the numbers then I fall into old bad patterns. So my balance is during the week (when I am at work and surrounded by unhealthy food choices) I bring my own stuff and track everything, but during the weekends I allow myself more freedom, especially when eating out.

  • Joy April 16, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    It is a healthy change I think! Focusing on the wonder of life and the gorgeousness of delicious fresh food cooked with love! How could it not be the best way to live!

  • Dianne Sharma-Winter April 16, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Great Post! I was only thinking the same thing the other day! Since I live in India and have begun to adjust my diet to the seasons and the seasonal availability of food, and the principles of Ayurveda I have noticed that I no longer look at my food in terms of numbers or science but as enhancing my health! To think how many years I spent counting calories!!

  • Lori April 17, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Tamara – I hope you can get to a point of enjoying a piece of carrot cake for the flavor and perhaps memories it brings. 🙂 Some foods are meant to be enjoyed without numbers involved. It’s taken me a while to get there.

    Andrea – Just from being around you a bit, I know that you eat based on how your body feels. I think that is a very good thing. The most important part is that where you are makes you happy. 🙂

    sangeeta – It’s definitely a growing process.

    cathy – Interesting point. Maybe.

    Lazaro – Exercise is definitely an important part for me too. I don’t think you can be a foodie without it. Ha, ha! Gotta have that balance.

    janet – It sounds like you are in a good, balanced place as well.

    Blake – Thanks. I used to bring up that point when I would give presentations on fitting in physical activity. It definitely applies to diet too.

    Sarah – We all have to find what works for us. Sounds like you know yourself well.

    Joy – I agree. This change allows me to live more and feel less restrained. It eliminates an area of stress for me.

    Dianne – I feel the same way! Seasonal is something I’m really trying to focus on as well. However, I get caught up in our year round availability in the States, especially since there were many foods I missed while in Brazil. Eating what is available does make you relax a bit. For example you don’t need 10 different types of vegetables each week, just eat a variety of what is fresh at the moment.

  • 5 Star Foodie April 18, 2010 at 10:44 am

    It’s definitely a great and the right way to think about healthy eating!

  • kat April 19, 2010 at 7:34 am

    I so agree. There are days I think I should start calorie counting but I know I could never keep something like that up because I would be unhappy so I just try to do things healthier that do make me happy.

  • OysterCulture April 21, 2010 at 9:27 am

    I agree with what your saying – its so easy to get caught up in the numbers or metrics (same is true in business) that you loose sight of the real goals ie health or sound business decisions.

    I don’t use a scale or track calories, but I deliberately buy lots of fruits and vegetables and feel much better as a result. I know when I have a lapse and eat something unhealthy its not the end of the world, but more importantly I don’t feel right after it, my body is telling me – yuck – this stuff really is not that good so I now unconsciously self correct.

  • Zibi April 24, 2010 at 6:14 am

    Lori, this is a great post. For me healthy eating has never been about numbers but every now and then I catch myself wondering whether I should be eating a pizza with crust that’s not gluten free and that takes the fun out pizza!

    I totally agree that healthy eating should make you feel good, not stress you out 🙂 I think people need to give themselves time to adjust to healthier choices rather than trying change everything overnight.