Day 103: What’s Healthy For Me
I contemplate every day if my actions, food, and drink are healthy for me. I do it to the point of worrying about every single meal and if I could be making a better choice. The answer is always yes. It is hard for me to eat a salad or an avocado with every meal. Oatmeal is great in the morning, but sometimes I want some peanut butter on toast, eggs, or the occasional two long-john custard-filled donuts from the Speedway with a cup of French Roast coffee. Lunch is easier to plan because in my profession I don’t have a choice when that half-hour hits and I open up my lunch box. Dinner is dynamic. From fish to chicken to pizza, rice and vegetables, Little Ceasar’s or McDonald’s. In this fast-paced, fluid life there are many decisions, and I could buy and work hard to make myself a healthy meal three to six times a day, but sometimes the bad stuff feels good.
Healthy eating and living to me have turned into what feels good. I drink a lot less than I used to because being hungover feels like shit and wastes 1-2 days, which are my only two days off. I am at an age where I want to be as productive as I can as many hours out of the day that I can. Of course, I take the necessary mental and physical breaks. Food-wise, what feels good varies tremendously, and I think that is based on the number of options that are present in this country. When I lived in Alaska, I ate whatever the cafeteria was serving and what I could get off of Amazon. I ate what I could with my resources and I was still very satisfied with my meals. Sure, I wanted more salads and pizza, but at the end of the day it all broke down into the same sugary building blocks of energy.
I have gone full vegetarian for a short while, no gluten, no dairy, no red meat, and for many months, and no drinking alcohol. In all my experimenting with food and drink, I don’t think there is ever a quick fix to any of our physical health issues, if we want to call them issues. Eating and drinking healthy everything will pay off in the long haul. So will the right amount of exercise balanced with a diet. Despite all the push for a better diet through meal plans or a better exercise routine by buying expensive equipment or a gym membership, I think that our mental health is vastly more important than our weight or cholesterol. There are many physical features of human life that demonstrate patterns that lead to cancer and disease and death, but our mental health, I think, is the starting point for any healthy movement.
If you think about it, eating healthy and exercise will not only improve the overall function of the body but it will make the brain feel good, which also helps the body function better. Which one influences the other is debatable, but the outcome is the same: we feel good. After all, it is the American Dream to feel good all the time. (Quoteth the Kramer.) Albeit, which comes first? Do we feel good so we work out or do we work out to feel better? I think it is both and it is a cycle. Even when we feel down, we want to feel better, which motives us (sometimes) to change our actions in order to change the way we feel. If we always felt content laying around, we wouldn’t do anything. The human race would end. We need the means to make some sort of wage to pay for our food and drink and other pleasures in life. Because eating and drinking and having fun are enjoyable. Which is the good feeling we strive for.
But we are not always happy with what we think we should be happy with. Everyone is different. That is the beauty of humans and all other living creatures and pieces of matter. We don’t make duplicate copies naturally. But feeling happy or at least content most of the time is something we all strive for in one way or another. It may be to take happiness for the short term. Or it could be to suffer for a while so I am happier later.
It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It can be now and it can be later. The only choice that we have to make is whether we want to make ourselves mentally happy and to what degree. There are many ways to do that. Too many to count because it will all depend on the individual. I would not say only go do what makes you happy now, nor would I say that you should always plan for the future because that’s where the real happiness is. Enjoyment, contentment, and happiness are happening every second of every day of every year. The balance of the short term and long term is what I think brings about the most enjoyable experience.
The long point I am trying to make is that I think that health and long-life depend on many factors, several of which we are not aware of. But I think mental health is the stem that will help us breed healthy habits. It’s easy to say that I need to eat right and exercise, but without the right motivation and perseverance it isn’t going to be a sustainable habit for a long healthy lifestyle. But with a healthy mind, one can do almost anything. I would argue that having a mental equilibrium is more important than eating healthy and exercising regularly because being mentally healthy motivates us to make better choices in life. And by making better choices we create better outcomes. And by being in ad positive environment (mentally) we tend to continue the habit of eating well, exercising, and making good life choices. Like all things, it is a cycle. One part helps the other. I can focus on one, but if I’m not doing my best to boost the other two then the cycle will fail. The key is to keep pedaling in all three areas. The key is to work hard to find peace. To find balance.
Author's Note #1: I am not a doctor
Author's Note #2: In reflection, I enjoyed the flow of this essay. I didn't edit it to the point that the beginning matched the end. I wanted to leave it organic, as a stream of thoughts trying to find a focus. I wasn't quite there, but I was close.