What is your definition of health?


So the theme of my sobriety journey has been achieving some sort of overall health. I am 5'4" and was probably 140-145 lbs a few months into sobriety between my psychotropic medications, rehab/psychward food, and intense sugar cravings.

I got my goal weight of 110 lbs just the other day. Made a big post on FB about it, even, talking about how I had worked hard to lose weight in a healthy way despite my history of anorexia in my teens and early twenties.

Of course, there's that voice in the back of my head: I could lose another 5 lbs and no one would notice. I've eaten too much, I bet I could puke it up without my husband noticing. I'll get down to 100 lbs and then stop losing weight.

(If I hide this vodka in my purse, no one will notice. My husband is busy in the other room, better drink this as fast as I can. I'll stop drinking tomorrow. Sound familiar?)

I am in great health at the moment. Probably the best health of my life. I am also not drinking nor do I desire to drink. My moods are mostly stable even though I am not taking any medications at the moment. I exercise, strive to not over or under sleep, am mindful of what I put in my mouth, am not engaging in any overly self-destructive behaviors, not isolating, communicating with my husband, etc.

But I am not happy with myself. I am also not under the illusion that being skinnier will make me happy with myself, at all. So I have a unhealthy thought and a healthy thought competing for the same space in my brain.

I've had this battle a lot over the years and have talked with quite a few therapists. The usual exercise to write down what *I* think healthy is and how I can achieve those goals. The more I do this exercise, the more I start to detest the idea that health exists purely in black or white.

But I am curious what others have to say. What is your definition of health?

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

4,476 Posts

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

I am not happy with myself. That is what struck me reading your post. I think you need to figure that part out somehow.


510 Posts

For me health changes every day. It depends on what is taking the biggest priority- sometimes a good nights sleep is a win for good health for me.

Regarding physic as a marker for health- just don't...eating disorders are a sticky wicket and a way of exercising control when we feel powerless. Not being happy with yourself is a huge red flag. I would point my attention there. What are you doing for your emotional health?

I had to stop looking at weight as a proof of health and accept that as long as my body is capable (I love hiking, running, rock climbing) then I am healthy. But even in those pursuits I can make myself miserable. Suddenly three hikes a week isn't enough, a 3 mile run isn't enough, getting on the treadmill four times a week becomes seven ...

With playing music- practicing once a day got an hour becomes a five hour marathon until my fingers can not move anymore.

Healthy is having balance, being and feeling capable, and not trying to win some crazy battle against ourselves. If you are competing against yourself that's a bad sign.

My balance is physical activity that uplifts me and doesn't make me feel less than, recognizing that I can play for an hour and stop because I am learning and don't have to get it *right now*, eating until I am full , listening to my mind and body when it says "stop it, I am getting tired". Letting myself feel sad sometimes, and angry and knowing that each emotion is true, but not permanent.

When I start feeling unhappy with myself something is out of balance.

What does your balance look like?


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Specializes in ER, ICU/CCU, Open Heart OR Recovery, Etc. Has 12 years experience.

Excellent post. I was thinking about this last week when I was reflecting on what I've learned now that I am no longer required to be in monitoring. For me, that was a huge milestone but only part of the deal. I observed some things about myself that I am now working through.

Healthy, to me, is not focused necessarily on externals. It is more about can I look myself in the mirror and be ok with what I see. It is about being in balance, being able to deal with the fluctuations of the mental pendulum, and bring it back to the midpoint (for that particular day and for that particular moment). It is about honesty, acceptance, change, and authenticity.

It is about acknowledgement about where I am, for a particular point in time, and being able to not judge. It is about not "should"ing all over myself.

I think happiness is deceptive, and try not to have that as a goal. The human experience is filled with the sublime, happiness, sadness, despair, darkness, light, hope, and disappointment. I can experience any of these in a day. There was a time when I sought just the happiness without all of the other things. Now I know that if I don't allow myself to experience all of it, I'll miss out on the opportunity to learn something, and will subject myself to something that could well turn out to be fleeting and deceptive.