Health Is Resilience, Not Perfection
The Non-Toxic is a place explore and improve parts of our lives we don’t typically consider when it comes to health. We do have a special interest in the clothing on our bodies (ahem, bras and undies), and how we should all have a higher standard when it comes to our first, most intimate layer. That’s just a final piece to a healthy lifestyle. However, even here, the goal is never perfection. It’s awareness, it’s consciousness and it’s intention.
Awareness, consciousness, and intention equip you to live a healthier life. They don’t require you to be perfect.
On a recent episode of one the very best health podcasts (besides our own, of course), Revolution Health Radio, the host, Chris Kresser said something that we should all take to heart. Health means being resilient. It means that you can handle stressors and missteps without falling apart. It means that you’re not so weak that some accidental soy sauce, some stray sugar, or a conventional salad ruin you. Caveat — this, of course, doesn’t apply to those with specific health conditions, like Celiac Disease or diabetes. It means for the average, health-conscious individual, that you’ve made choices that have made don’t make you weaker when imperfection strikes, but make you stronger. In other words, you’re not necessarily “healthy” if you get eight hours of sleep each night, eat a perfect diet, exercise an hour a day, meditate, wear only natural fibers — but an accidental serving of non-gluten free pasta makes you too ill to function.
Another way to think of this is the good ole 80/20 principal. Work towards 80% healthy, and give yourself 20% for life — for mistakes, for fun, for the uncontrollable.
This is common sense, and it's refreshing. Personally, it's a reminder I need, often. I have six-month-old, a little baby. Somehow, I didn’t get one of the magical ones that sleep through the night. My guy wakes up 3-4 times per night, for food, or maybe just cuddles. Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock (in which case, I’m jealous), you’ve likely heard that sleep is everything. It is the foundation for healthy skin, weight regulation, mental sharpness and a positive attitude. But I’m just barely scraping by. Amazing, at least so far, I still have energy, I’m pretty sharp and I feel good about my health.
I'm chalking this up to resilience that I've built and that I'm maintaining by dialing in the other 80% of my life. Meaning, working on a stricter diet (less sugar... it's rough), smart supplements, earlier bedtimes and meditation. It’s a lot, and I’m far from perfect, but knowing that I can impact my resilience is empowering.
We have the power to maintain against extra stressors that are out of our control. These will appear, for all of us. In the form of illness, family issues, travel, awesome bachelorette weekends, the best brunches, motherhood, professional demands and on and on and on. We may not be able to check off each "healthy" box on the list each day. But, if we're aware, if we're conscious and if we're intentional, we are on the path to health and resiliency.
It’s time we all reframed what we’re doing with health in terms of learning to thrive. It’s all too easy to read about all the healthy things you should be doing, all the non-toxic switches you need to make and all of the green options out there, and feel like you’ll never measure up. Don’t worry about being perfect. Learn more, make switches as you can and work towards this resilience. That's the end game, for all of us.