Health, Defined.

Note: this post is sort of scatterbrained. I just wanted to jot down what has been on my mind lately. As such, it doesn't quite flow the way I had originally visioned. Oh well.

I try super hard to live a normal life during exams. Sleep enough, continue to cook, read my favorite blogs, blog myself, shower, dress nicely, make time for family, and exercise... all while cramming and writing/preforming exams.

Not all of my classmates choose to live this way. Some people really thrive off of stress and do best under pressure. To each their own: I need to feel balanced to do well during exams while others need to feel frazzled and pull all-nighters in order to feel prepared.

This exam period also had me thinking about health priorities too. For example, one classmate of mine "didn't have time" to make a proper meal the night before an exam and was baffled that I was cooking a meal with so few study hours remaining. This classmate had oatmeal while I dined on sardine salad (really good, recipe to come!) and sweet potato & blackbean mash. It is important to note, however, that this same classmate went for a run earlier that day; time was allotted for physical health while dietary health was sacrificed. Interesting.

Especially when time is limited, it appears that our true health priorities surface. Willing to stay up all night, but snack on goji berries and hemp seeds while studying? In terms of health priorities: what about a marathon runner who eats Big Macs for lunch (physical activity > diet)? Or an obese meditation instructor who is calm, focused, and stress-free (relaxation > weight)? A bright, ambitious university student who drinks too much (mental health > liver health)? Is there a hierarchy of healthiness? Does your weight trump your sleeping habits? Are lower stress levels better than a lower consumption of fruits and vegetables?

All of these scenarios had me thinking about the real definition of health. What makes someone healthy? Officially, I don't think there can be one definition of health; health varies too much between gender, age, wealth, ethnicity, culture, habitat, profession, etc. Defining health is tricky and as a result I am going to have to ask my future patients: what, in your opinion, defines health? What will my future patients need to achieve in order to consider themselves healthy?

To summarize this mess of a post, I think we need to refrain from judging people's health without knowing the full story and without knowing their health values. What if that smoker has cut down from a pack a day to only two cigarettes a day, and has recently started jogging? Also don't forget to consider that there are mental, physical, and emotional aspects of health. What you can see is only a third of the health picture.

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