Good Enough Health – what does this mean to you?
‘Tis the season in which we get bombarded with messaging and marketing about becoming our best selves. Some of the messages we see are direct: Lose weight, be happy. Some of the messages are more coded: It’s finally time to make yourself a priority. At the end of the day, though, both avenues to your fragile post-holiday brain are focused on selling you the idea that this is going to be the year to get shiny and in shape. Maybe it’s even the year to get in control of your life, after a year spent in the throes of a pandemic and a version of the unknown none of us could have predicted.
I’ve been in the fitness industry for over two decades and I can tell you that those ideas are not worth pursuing, not now and not ever. I can also predict that this year will be a very lucrative year for wellness companies, as every single person I know – including myself – wants to be shiny and in control of their life in 2021. This may be the year that even the skeptical among us take the bait and hyperfocus on a diet, a new trendy fitness program, a juice cleanse, or an expensive vitamin regimen.
When I dial back this urge, even in myself, I discover that underneath it all is a simple desire to be healthy or, to be more fancy about that word, it is a simple desire to be in a state of congruency with my insides and my outsides. If I want to be shiny and in shape, the truth is that I want the simple state of good enough health. I want good enough digestion, good enough sleep, stable blood sugar, lack of illness, good enough mental health, and good enough connection with other humans. The hard reality is that none of us have had Good Enough of any of that this year. And that is what makes us so vulnerable. Our standard of self care has slipped to extremely low levels out of a duty to make all the impossible things work. And we all want to reverse this quickly, don’t we? And we all believe that with a little bit of elbow grease and will power, we can change the course of our lives.
The reality is that this is not the case. No one could have done this year better. No one could have resisted the urge of the sweat pants, I promise. We’ve all just stayed above water and this is not the time to wish we had looked more graceful while flailing. Instead, what if it is the year to re-anchor ourselves to the basics of good enough health and surrender the outcomes of what that might look like for each of us?
For me, personally, this means that I am going to take stock of what Good Enough Health means and I am going to claim it without taking the bait that means I need to diet, tone up, or buy tons of skincare products. And I’ll admit there will be some grief in this process. I want to believe forcing myself into a container where sweaty, toned, smiling, tanned humans live will scratch the itch I feel. I want to believe that I can pummel myself into superhero behavior, which would mean that the difficulties of last year were my fault, which is oddly comforting. I don’t want to face the underbelly that we, as tender humans, are tasked with living in unpredictability every single day. I don’t want to face that reality because then it means that it could happen again and it also means that my job is to find joy/health/peace/security even when it does.
So, what is the way forward then? I have chosen to greet this grief by doing basic things that serve my true wellness and declaring them non-negotiables:
- Doctor’s appointments that I have been avoiding
- Better sleep rules and regulations in my household
- Attempting stillness, instead of scrolling
- Daily movement for at least 5 minutes
- Fun, stupid pointless fun
My suggestion to you, as both a fellow human and as a fitness professional, is to declare your own short list of non-negotiables and re-anchor yourself there. Resist the urge to co-sign an agreement with any product or company that wants you to work on yourself in superhero ways or unsustainable ways. When you feel the ping of the draw to their promises, free yourself instead. Remember that your container of Good Enough Health is yours.
As for the daily movement component of your non-negotiables, I can assure you that this aspect of your declarations is essential and feasible. Finding a way to fit a small amount of exercise in every day has been proven for years and years and years to be a key factor in longevity and overall good enough health. The beautiful thing is that any movement is the right movement, which means that you get to choose how you want to move for a short period of time every day. Let me repeat: There’s no right way, except the thing you can do regularly.
It takes courage to believe this and it takes a teensy bit of messy, imperfect willingness to give it a shot. But I have to believe that when I’m old and I’ve earned my wrinkles, I will be proud of myself that this is the container I chose in 2021.
PS: Here’s a link to 30 days of 5 minute movement hacks that very much might qualify as enough movement. Disclaimer: If you prefer fitness instructors with brushed hair and good moods and matching outfits, this may not be your speed.