I think many of us walk around with the feeling that we’re not measuring up in terms of having “healthy habits.” Consciously or not, we think that if we could just work out all day, eat “perfectly” (whatever that might mean for you), meditate consistently, etc., that we would be “in perfect health,” never get sick, be the “perfect” weight and have “perfect” lives.
Does this sound anything like you? If it does, then you probably also spend a good deal of time wishing you could be more perfect and feeling that you’re not. And that’s no way to live.
When you’ve spent as much time studying holistic health and nutrition as I have, then you encounter a lot of people who probably live as close to the ideal as possible. And let me tell you, they still get sick. They still get obsessive about food and health and exercise and meditation. They still have problems at work and get mad at their kids.
In other words, perfection ain’t so great.
One of my clients is a novel writer with a day job as an administrative assistant. At least two nights a week, she finds herself staying up until two or three in the morning, working on her novel. She told me that she really wanted to change this habit, because she had read about how staying up late can throw off your cortisol levels and mess with blood sugar. She told me that after she stays up late to work on her novel, she still feels fine the next morning at work, often feeling more energized because she feels good for having worked on her book the night before. Yet, she was adamant about going to bed earlier. I worked with her on some relaxation techniques so that she could try going to bed at 11PM, even on those nights where she felt compelled to work on her novel.
At our next session, I asked her how her going to bed early had worked for her.
“Golda, it was terrible,” she told me. “Most of the time, I would stay in bed thinking about my novel until 2 or 3 in the morning, but not working on it. Once I was able to fall asleep at 11pm or so, but I still felt off the next day. I tried to write earlier in the day but it just wouldn’t flow. I haven’t made any progress on my book.” She paused and took a deep breath. “I think I’m just going to do my usual thing from now. I feel better that way anyway.”
That’s the thing about trying to be perfectly healthy. Sure, staying up too late all the time can mess with cortisol, but not staying up when she was dying to write was messing with her soul.
Health isn’t about being “perfect” with food or exercise or herbs. Health is about balancing those things with your desires. It’s about nourishing your spirit as well as your body.
If you want to change health-related habits, that’s fine, but do so without judgment. Let yourself balance your desire to be more healthful with your other desires and goals in life. Remember your real goal — it’s not perfection, it’s happiness.
Golda Poretsky, H.H.C. is a certified holistic health counselor who specializes in transforming your relationship with food and your body. Go to http://www.bodylovewellness.com/stay-in-touch/ to sign up for her newsletter and get your free download — Golda’s Top Ten Tips For Divine Dining!